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Thread: "Old people" in russian

  1. #1
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    "Old people" in russian

    Hi,
    today I had a conversation with a russian guy that told me that, in Russia, they usually call old people (I mean, even people that they do not now in person) as "granfather". And he also adds that it is not offensive at all.
    I have some doubt about this info, and I would like to have a confirmation from you, if it is possible, about it.
    Because It sounds to me very strange.
    In fact, in many languages, refer to a senior, that you never met before, as "granfather" can be very offensive.

    Thanks for the clarification...

    Henry

  2. #2
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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    I specify that this guy ment it is possible to refer as "grandfather", without any offends, lso people that do not have grandchildren..
    Just because they are old.

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    Administrator MasterAdmin's Avatar
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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    An old man is "дед" in Russian. The diminutive form is "дедушка". Nothing offensive. The word can mean both "grandfather" and "an old man".
    ~ Мастерадминов Мастерадмин Мастерадминович ~

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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Yes, it's rather common and it's not offensive. It's quite friendly, in fact. The same goes for "grandmother". By the way, "babushkas" which is used by many foreigners as a general word for old Russian women, literally means "grandmothers".

    Surely you can get a glare or two if you address a youthful looking 60ish man or woman as "grandfather" or "grandmother", but not because of the issue of having or not having any grandchildren. They can get unhappy simply because you (kinda) called them "old", and some people are touchy about that.

    Also you may find interesting, that men and women who are complete strangers (or at least not relatives) are rutinely called "uncle" and "aunt" by young children, or by people who address young children.
    For example a mother can tell her little kid: "Look at this uncle" (meaming "Look at this man").
    It's not offensive either, though it's considered childish, and an adult can use this kind of language only as a joke.

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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Thanks a lot for the very complete answers!
    Now everything is clear to me.
    Thanks again!

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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Interesting topic, as I am planning a trip to Russia next spring. So, gRomoZeka, if we ever meet, will you call me дедушка? After all, I am old enough to be your father, maybe even grandfather. You can find a recent photo of me on vkontakte or Facebook.

    I am puzzled at what my reaction would be. I certainly don't feel like a дедушка.

    =:^)

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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Darn! Could not check your photo, vkontakte deamands silly things like adding more info to my profile in order to see it.

    Anyway, I'm sure you still fall under the cathegory of "мужчина". "Дедушка" as a form of address is not about actual (estimated) age. An actiive man with a bounce in his step will be called "мужчина" even if he's whitehaired. "Дедушка" applies to those only who looks very old and, well, grandfatherly. Of course a child can address a 50 y/o as "дедушка" just because everyone over 40 looks equally old to him. But that just proves that it's about how you are percieved (which is influenced somewhat by speakers age), but not about your actual age.

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    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Diminutive дедушка is rarely aplied to a stranger old guy, it mostly used for someone's own grandad. But there is another diminutive, дедок, wich is slightly offensive and can't be used for calling your grandfather so, it is mostly applied to strangers. There is another variant of the word дед - дедун, wich is strongly offensive (it means something like "old fart") and I don't recommend to ever use it. The last example is not very common because offending old people considered very bad taste in Russia. After all, "старикам везде у нас почёт" as the song says.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Quote Originally Posted by Basil77
    Diminutive дедушка is rarely aplied to a stranger old guy, it mostly used for someone's own grandad. [...]
    I don't agree. It's used quite often - if it fits, so to speak. But there are very few occasions when you need to address a really old man on the street, and in many cases people don't use any forms of address other than "you" (вы) addressing strangers.

    "дедун" is so uncommon, that it's not even worth mentioning, imo. Unless you are going to list all forms of "дед" with all existing suffixes.

  10. #10
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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    An actiive man with a bounce in his step will be called "мужчина" even if he's whitehaired.
    Or even "молодой человек", by some women.

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    Re: "Old people" in russian

    Calling an old stranger as "ded", "dedOk", "dedUlya" is disrespectful and even rude, although unfortunately common among "simple guys". It's like calling another unfamiliar guy as "muzhik" (like "hey man, come here").

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