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Thread: Is there a word for "nerd" or "geek" in Russian?

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    Властелин Valda's Avatar
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    Is there a word for "nerd" or "geek" in Russian?

    I asked my Russian friend but he can't think of any. I find it weird because we have even those Hebrew.
    "Особенно упорно надо заниматься тем, кто ничего не знает." - Като Ломб

    "В один прекрасный день все ваши подспудные знания хлынут наружу. Ощущения при этом замечательные, уверяю вас." -Кто-то

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    умник?

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    Почтенный гражданин Dmitry Khomichuk's Avatar
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    Explain what is "nerd" and what is "geek" and what is the difference?

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    Nerd is ботаник in Russian (lit. one who studies botany).

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Khomitchuk View Post
    Explain what is "nerd" and what is "geek" and what is the difference?
    In the movie «Иван Васильевич меняет профессию», the character Шурик could be considered a nerd/geek. There isn't an absolute distinction between the two words -- they both refer to someone who is very intelligent/academic/scholarly but lacks basic "social skills." (Shurik builds a time-machine in his apartment but is barely aware that his wife is dissatisfied and cheating on him with her movie director.)

    But sometimes "nerd" may particularly suggest academic/scholarly interests more than "geek" does. So a "nerd" could be someone who's very interested in science and does well in biochemistry or physics classes (for example), but a "geek" is someone who is obsessed with science-fiction and gets into passionate arguments about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is superior, but isn't necessarily a good science student.

    P.S. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both frequently mentioned as examples of "alpha nerds" who became incredibly wealthy and successful because of their nerdishness.

    P.P.S. Speaking of Shurik and the movie «ИВМП» -- is it possible that, by giving a 20th-century novelty ballpoint pen with a naked lady inside to the 16th-century Swedish ambassador, Жорж Милославский might have changed the course of history (as in the Ray Bradbury short story "A Sound of Thunder" where a time-traveler steps on a Jurassic butterfly) or possibly might even have created a paradox that would tear apart the fabric of the space/time continuum and cause the universe to split into two parallel dimensions? If you have ever gotten into an argument with someone over these questions, then you are definitely a geek/nerd!
    Last edited by Throbert McGee; July 4th, 2012 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Edited to add proper "guillemets," because I'm a geeky nerd.
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    Shurik builds a time-machine in his apartment but is barely aware that his wife is dissatisfied and cheating on him with her movie director
    Это был его сон.

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    Подающий надежды оратор IamMarat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valda View Post
    Is there a word for "nerd" or "geek" in Russian?
    Ботан, задрот.

    Оба - неформальный язык, но!
    "бОтан" (ударение на первый слог) - шутливо, по доброму.
    "задрОт" (ударение на второй слог) - грубо, отчасти нецензурщина. Но сказанное в кругу друзей - очень точное слово

    They are informal, but...
    "бОтан" (first syllable is stressed) - easy, humorous way of speaking; kindly.
    "задрОт" (second syllable is stressed) - slang, sometimes vulgar. Taboo in formal speech. But it's a very certain word. Especially when you say it among the friends.

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    Властелин Valda's Avatar
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    Nerd is ботаник in Russian (lit. one who studies botany).
    My dictionary says it only means botanist, and doesn't give further definitions :-/
    "Особенно упорно надо заниматься тем, кто ничего не знает." - Като Ломб

    "В один прекрасный день все ваши подспудные знания хлынут наружу. Ощущения при этом замечательные, уверяю вас." -Кто-то

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    Подающий надежды оратор IamMarat's Avatar
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    Ботаник (botanist) is an obsolete word. It was popular in USSR though
    БОтан is an up-to-date word. Actually, it is a derivative from the word Ботаник.

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    I prefer ботАник, because it's less insulting of all abovementioned words. You may say it lovingly and tenderly I don't think it's obsolete, despite it was popular in USSR. It suggests academic/scholarly interests and corresponds to nerd. Reduced form ботАн (or бОтан) may also be used, but sounds less polite.
    It's colloquial speech, so you need dictionary of Russian slang for such words

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    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    Russian has all those diminutive suffixes for familiars, used in various ways. Use one that has something of a good-natured teasing or ribbing sense, and put it on учёный/учён.

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    Russian has all those diminutive suffixes for familiars, used in various ways. Use one that has something of a good-natured teasing or ribbing sense, and put it on учёный/учён.
    Hmm, I can't construct appropriate word this way.

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    Подающий надежды оратор IamMarat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xdns View Post
    I don't think it's obsolete, despite it was popular in USSR
    Well, yes, I hastened to draw such conclusion. БотАник, of course, isn’t an obsolete word. But you can hear it mostly among the older generation. Nowadays young people commonly use contracted forms (бОтан, ботАн). And бОтан is much more likely to be heard instead of ботАн.

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    BTW, geek is just гик. We simply borrowed the word
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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    задрОт
    Does that imply someone who engages in дрочка regularly, or is it a different root?

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    Властелин Valda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Does that imply someone who engages in дрочка regularly, or is it a different root?
    Just found out the definition for дрочка ... hehe!

    BTW, geek is just гик. We simply borrowed the word
    Oh. That makes it simple, then

    Thanks
    "Особенно упорно надо заниматься тем, кто ничего не знает." - Като Ломб

    "В один прекрасный день все ваши подспудные знания хлынут наружу. Ощущения при этом замечательные, уверяю вас." -Кто-то

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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Does that imply someone who engages in дрочка regularly, or is it a different root?
    technically it does (that's why it sounds extremely rude), but the meaning of it is the same as 'jerk', 'stupid person', 'prick'... this is teenager slang, so not many people know it (again, it sounds very rude).

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    i think many people now can say "гик" (borrowed)... Ботаник is someone seriously involved in studies (mostly science, but sometimes in humanities too) and, yes, very often lacking social skills (i'd say "ботаник" is a 20th century term, but 'гик' is a 21st century term). But one has to remember that geeks, nerds, ботаники suddenly appear to have social skills when they gather in companies where only nerds and geeks are present.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valda View Post
    Just found out the definition for дрочка ... hehe!
    Actually the initial meaning was to rub/polish the deck of a ship, quite a boring and not pleasant work.

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Just found out the definition for дрочка ... hehe!
    Two related rhyming phrases for the interest/entertainment of us foreign learners -- the first is traditional; the second is from a poem by Иосиф Бродский.

    Каждый дрочит, как он хочет. (lit, "Each one wanks as he wants" -- in other words, "Everyone has different tastes")

    and

    Между прочим, все мы дрочим. (lit., "By the way, we all wank")

    To repeat what alexsms said, the word is quite rude -- so it's good to understand, but as a foreign student of Russian you should generally avoid using it!

    P.S. English usage note for Russians: to my American ears, "wank" sounds rather mild and funny, but I believe it's ruder and more graphically sexual in UK English. It's the opposite for the US English "jack off" -- quite rude in the States, but milder in the UK, as far as I know. (Just one of the many differences in English depending on the side of the pond you're on...)

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