bubkes/bupkis, etc.

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 3 04:05:51 UTC 2010

On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 8:35 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> More general observation: I noticed quite a number of clearly Slavic
> words ("barabantschik", "molodyets"--both in Kogos's spelling) and other
> words that were quite familiar from both languages, but with no clear
> direction from one to the other. One example is "kurveh"--which is a
> standard Polish slang for prostitute (kurwa) and a fairly common Russian
> word for "hussy" or slut (kurva). I've always wondered about the origin
> of this one. It might be related to the Slavic root kur- that basically
> means "chicken" (Russian "kuritsa"=="hen", "kurinnyi" =="[from] chicken"
> adj.). Then, again, it might not.

I have no idea what these words, _barantschik molodyets_ - only the
latter of which is "clearly" a Slavic word - mean in Yiddish. But, in
Russian, a _baraban_, of Turco-Tatar origin, means "drum" and the
Russian agentive, _-shchik_ in LC transliteration, is simply "-er."
Hence, the Russian word means "drummer." Assuming that Kogos's
_tschik_ = [tSik], then the Yiddish form is more Russian than the
Russian, since     _-shch_ [StS] is derived from Old Church Slavic, a
South-Slavic language, whereas Russian is an East-Slavic language in
which the normal reflex directly from proto-Slavic is [tS], as in the
well-known _apparat-chik_. It's the case that _shch_ and _ch_ have
different single-letter representations in the Russian alphabet. So,
even though it could be argued on the basis of this single example
that /-t+StS/ > [tS], we know that this is not the case.

Polish _kurwa_ is dated only to 1415 and its etymology is too vexed to
go into (< ancestor/relative of English _whore_, < Latin _curva_, <
Common Slavic _*kury_, etc.), Russian _kurva_ likewise (< Pol.
_kurwa_, < the root _kur_ "chicken," CSl. _*kury_, etc.). FWIW,
Russian _kurva_ is rare enough not to be included in the Bol'shoi
russko-angliiskii slovar'.

OTOH, Russian _molodets_, in which -de- represents a sound that can
also be represented by -dye-, among other styles of transliteration,
is Russian back to proto-Indo-European, being a distant relative of
English _mild_. I learned it only as an exclamation meaning something
like, "Way to go!", with which the BRAS is in agreement, in so far as
literary, IME, BrE "Fine fellow!" can be translated into colloquial
AmE. The Russian root /molod/ has to do with "youth"/"bravery," with a
zillion derivatives.

For those interested in such things, though it's unisex, the
dictionary lists the word _molodets_ only as "Masc." OTOH, A word from
the same root with the same meaning, _molodchaga_, though clearly Fem.
WRT grammatical gender, is listed as "_Masc. and_ Fem." That is,
_molodets_ can be modified only with Masc. adjectives, *regardless* of
the natural gender of the person referred to. But the apparent
grammatical Fem. can be modified with a Fem. adjective just in case
that the referent be genetically female.

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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