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Russian Internet Slang: «Олбанский язык» or «Жаргон падонков» Posted by on May 1, 2009 in Culture, language, News, Other Blogs

If you can’t see the hilarious comic above with Н. В. Гоголь [N. V. Gogol’] burning his second volume of «Мёртвые души» [“Dead Souls”] and the people in the background saying: «Аффтар жжот!» which is Russian internet slang for «автор зажигает!» [the author (of a post etc) rules, i.e. sets on fire], you can always take a look at it on my personal blog here. I don’t know about you, but this illustration of one of the most annoying events in Russian literature (can you believe «Коля» [diminutive of Nikolay] robbed us of a possible masterpiece??) made me laugh for a very, very long time.

I always thought that my generation would be the first to give the following words of wisdom to the next one: ‘once you’ve finished writing your doctor’s dissertation, make sure you erase all of the smileys before turning it in.’ But apparently the 80’s generation has failed in this important field, something that I realized while reading the following in the news this morning about the 90’s generation: «ПоданнымМинобразования, вшкольныхсочиненияхвсёчащевстречаютсяошибки, связанныесальтернативнымсетевымязыкомтакназываемымолбанским“. Юныероссиянеиспользуютвписьменныхработахсловапревед“, “чёнить“, “какнить“, смайликиисокращениявроде LOL» [According to facts from the Ministry of Education, in school essays more and more often occur mistakes connected with alternative internet language – the so called ‘olbansky’. Young Russians in written works use the words ‘preved’ [instead of «привет»], ‘chyonit”, ‘kaknit”, smileys and abbreviations like LOL.]  The article I’m quoting here goes under the name of «Депутаты Госдумы вновь хотят бороться с олбанским языком» [“Deputies of the State Duma once again want to fight with the ‘olbansky’ language”] and made me very interested in the phenomena of this fascinating ‘alternative Russian language’. I decide to look into it a little bit more, and so I sneaked into www.yandex.ru to search for more sites about this captivating version of the ‘great and mighty’. (If you want to search for Russian sites Yandex is the best there is, much better than Google, as it is the only search engine on the internet capable of dealing with Russian morphology in a competent manner. Just so you know – and yes, on Yandex you can search for Russian words in any of the six available cases you might want!) There I found many interesting sites about this language that is also known as «жаргон падонков» [‘padonky jargon’], the last word comes from the Russian word «подонки»which means ‘dregs; residue’. The expression «подонкиобшества» means ‘dregs of society’, for example. I even came across an online dictionary with English translations of the most popular expressions used in this language on the following site: «Жаргон падонков» [Scumbags’ slang]. That site is well worth more than just a swift look.

Now your first reaction at all of this might be ‘that’s boring and has nothing to do with Russian language, but is purely a social trend in modern society’, but wait a second, because this is far from everything that can be said about «албанский йазик» [one of the many ways of spelling the language in its own ‘language’]. My friend Varvara at the Philological Faculty at Ural State University here in Yekaterinburg wrote and defended her «кандидатская диссертация» [candidate dissertation; roughly something in between a master’s degree and a PhD] on this subject last year. She studied how the rules of Russian phonetics show themselves in this language and if they ever get ‘broken’. In her dissertation she concluded that this alternative Russian sociolect follows the rules of Russian phonetic perfectly, which is not much of a surprise as its orthography is based entirely on pronunciation. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

«Превед!» instead of «привет!» [Hello!] – here the alternative spelling is based on the fact that an unstressed «е» is pronounced like an «и», and that a «д» in the end of a word is always pronounced as a «т».

«Аффтар» instead of «автор» [author (of a post; of a comment)] – once again we are confronted with a rule of Russian phonetics that makes the letter «в» before a «т» sound like an «ф» [soundless consonants always make sounded consonant soundless after themselves in Russian 😉], and that an unstressed «о» should always be pronounced like an «а».

«Кагдила instead of «как дела [how are you doing?] – but in this question the opposite is happening: the soundless «к» before the sounded «д» makes it sounds like a «г», and once again the unstressed «е» must be pronounced like an «и».

As you can clearly see from the three examples above, ‘olbansky’ was not founded out of nothing, but on the firm foundation of Russian phonetic trickery. According to Swedish Wikipedia, the internet portal «Удав» [spelled ‘correctly’ as «Удафф» of course; meaning ‘boa (snake)’] played and still plays a large roll in the development of this language. Be sure to check it out, especially its collection of ‘daily pictures’ are worth a quick glance or two. So, what conclusions can be made today with this brand new knowledge we have acquired?

1. It is not only important to study Russian phonetic because it will help you pronounce Russian words correctly, but also because it can be used for fun online. Try to leave a comment to today’s post in your own best ‘alternative Russian’ using the phonetic rules that you know. Instead of using the polite «Здравствуйте!» why not spice up things with «Страствуйтьи!»? An extra plus to anyone, who like me in this example, can squeeze in a little accent in their ‘remakes’.

2. It is very likely that when a cure for cancer is invented in 20 years it will be publicly announced in the following manner: ‘Wow found cure for cancer :)’ commented by the scientific world with one word: ‘respect!’.

3. I’m ashamed to say that I actually believed the words «рулить» [to rule; an exact copy of the English word used in much the same meaning in Russian] and «юзать» [to use; same as with the first word] to be real Russian words. I even used them a couple of times. But they are not to be found in «Толковый словарь русского языка» and even less in «Словарь великорусского языка Даля»

What can you say? Isn’t it an adventure to study Russian language? Something new every day! Happy 1st of May everyone, by the way: «Сднёмвесныитруда And yes, outside my window here in the Urals it has been snowing all afternoon… «Пагода вот токайа!»

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Comments:

  1. Lisa:

    This is a great topic, and of course it’s funny to see my old phonetics-based spelling mistakes turn into slang!

    Since рулить already meant steer/drive, it makes the “rule” meaning feel like natural bilingual word play.

  2. Charles:

    Thank you for your appreciation! I’ve been following the evolution of olbanian for some time now, it’s probably best explained as being a kind of Russian leet, relying more on phonetics than on letter design.

    Не стесняйтесь, пишите мне. Может вместе можем улучшить мой словарь…

  3. Bonya:

    One slang word I don’t see in the linked dictionary or mentioned here is енто, which I recently ran across while reading some short stories. Couldn’t find it in the dictionaries, image searches didn’t make sense, so I finally found a Russian chat room and asked a couple of the teens online what it was.

    A variation on это, as it turns out….

  4. Stas:

    2 Bonya: энто is rather rural dialect something like local-yocal and common to people who don’t have or have little formal edication and don’t read very often.

    2 all, just a rant: I don’t like язык падонков… It was funny in the beginning but now after at least couple of years it just seems that падoнки have nothing to offer and just now re-use it be funny. I would feel sorry for them if they weren’t so annoying.

  5. Shraddha:

    Hi,
    I found ur topic vry interesting… In the beginning when i was learning Russian language i used to form verb like this means i used to add jst -ать, ить with english verbs… Ur topic encouraged me to look into this direction… I’ll look for such words and get back to u…
    Till then bye…

  6. Natasha_TLadmin:

    Меня язык подонков ужасно раздражает. Я наверное старею :(, как говорится, отстала от жизни.

  7. petr:

    Would misspelling район as раён count as Олбанский?

  8. Natasha_TLadmin:

    I would say if it is really misspelling,then it doesn’t count (it is actually spelled like that in Belorussian), but if it is intentional, then it counts.

  9. karin:

    Hello

    Im a student of russian language and im about to start working on my final master thesis. Im very interested in the russian internet slang fenomena, and im wondering if its possible to get a copy of your friend Varvaras work? Maybe it is available online?

    All the best