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Learn Russian with homosexual terms of endearment! November 23, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

“Darlink, you kvite educated person,” began the Russian, with perhaps the greatest compliment he’s ever paid me, as I stood peeling potatoes over the kitchen sink. “Vot fish eat?”

I got to grips with an annoyingly tiny potato and my equally tiny brain got to grips with, “Do fish eat plankton?” and then with wondering whether I could get away with saying plankton with a Russian accent and that actually turning out to be a Russian word. (Not to be tried too frequently, that one, for any of you thinking of hazarding guesses at vocab with random Russians you meet. I couldn’t remember the word for desert once and inevitably came up with something that meant dessert.) (It worked in this case, though.)

Of course it all got me worried about how uneducated I was. All those years of edumacation and I don’t even know what fish eat – I had a mental flash of my niece desperately hoping I’d kill the family goldfish as she tried to get me to feed the bastards, all the while happily telling me about the time her brother accidentally (we assume) overfed the aquarium’s previous tenants to death. They kill goldfish more classily in Russia. The Russian’s brother was once blitzing his zits with a quartz lamp but accidentally blitzed the goldfish to death too. I think the fate of a goldfish is an unhappy one, torn from nature to live in the suburbs and mentioned only in stories of their untimely and, usually, unheroic deaths – and can’t be sure what Russian for plankton is. All that tax-payers’ money gone to waste.

So to assuage my guilt, and to make sure whoever may come across this will learn something useful from my blog, and to – who knows? – stimulate a part of your brain that might not ordinarily be stimulated, it’s time for your first (with BiB, at least) Russian lesson. Learn with BiB. 

Now when I was a professional tea-drinker in Russia, one of the duties I was meant to perform, between sessions of sloshing around in tea, was to give the ne’er-do-well ruffians I came into contact with something resembling English lessons, all the while keeping an eye out to see if any of them were nicking each other’s coats or, which was a less frequent occurrence, were engaged in something that could, by any stretch of the imagination, be called nice. But what my vast wealth of pedagogical experience taught me was that if an element of competition could be brought into the lesson, and there was winning and losing to be done, which, if they were lucky, might even lead to an opportunity for some sour feelings and, if doubly lucky, a chance for a bit of wanton violence, they were gripped.

So your Russian lesson’s going to be a quiz.

Now whereas Chaz and Caz, unless that whole tale is apocryphal, or bespeaks some perverse twist of my own memory, went in for calling each other ‘my little tampon’, the Russian and I, when bothering to speak, and in addition to the classic ‘darling’, think terms of endearment should come from the animal kingdom. And be in the diminutive. So it’s my-little-…s all round. No ponies though, sorry.

So, fill in the blanks.

1. Моя рыбочка (moja rybochka) – my little …

2. Моя кисочка (moja kisochka) – my little …

3. Моя жабочка (moja zhabochka) – my little …

4. Моя свиночка (moja svinochka) – my little …

5. Моя крысочка (moja krysochka) – my little …

6. Моя выдрочка (moja vydrockha) – my little …

(*pronunciation guide, to make sure you don’t unimpress your Russian victim. ‘Moja’ is pronounced maya, stress on the second syllable. The stress is on the first of the three syllables for all the cutesy words, and is to be followed, more or less, by utch-ka.)

OK, six cutesy names for animals should do you for your first lesson, and have you sorted if you plan to fall in love with a Russian any minute now. Two are guessable, perhaps. Whoever can come up with all six covers themselves in out-and-out glory. If the learn-Russian-with-BiB franchise takes off, I’ll make merchandise including wallet-size flashcard prompts so that you’ll never be left high and dry.


1. wyndham - November 23, 2006

Nope, sorry, didn’t understand any of those. Even the guessable ones!

2. pleite - November 23, 2006

Flippin’ ‘eck, Wynders, that was quick. But I trust you’ll be checking back in to get the answers at some future date so you can impress every former Soviet type you ever meet? You were so quick, in fact, that I didn’t even have time to edit the post, which I’ve now decided against, to include the hilarious intelligence that ‘vydrochka’ could, if you infantilised your humour and brain completely, and put the stress on the o, sort of, in a roundabout way, mean an exhausting wank. But it doesn’t. And I’ve never called the Russian ‘my exhausting little wank’, as that could hardly be called endearing.

3. wyndham - November 23, 2006

I would have thought an exhausting little wank was a contradiction in terms.

4. pleite - November 23, 2006

Yes, unless the wanker in question is of failing health, of course.

5. bowleserised - November 23, 2006

1) My little moo-cow
2) My little kitten-witten
3) My little sheepikins
4) My little piggsy-wiggsy
5) My little goatynuts
6) My little Grey’s Zebra-Webra

6. Taiga the Fox - November 23, 2006

I’ve got no idea, but here’s my list:

1. My little fish
2. My little pussy-cat
3. My little froggy
4. My little piggy
5. My little rat
6. My little seal

7. Marsha Klein - November 23, 2006

Guessed the piggy one before reading B’s translations. Will now spend the morning muttering “my little piggy” under my breath in cod Russian, thereby confirming my co-workers impression of me as a bit mad.

In other news, much of Scotland’s gorgeousness is accessible by train (I am also a non-driver)

8. leon - November 23, 2006

Blimey, thought you’d vanished from the face of the blogging earth for a second there. What’s “mouse” in Russian? “Mish” or something like that, isn’t it?

I used to refer to an ex of mine by the diminutive of what her name would have been if she’d been Russian.

9. Taiga the Fox - November 23, 2006

Oh, btw, I had a pleasure to work with a Russian woman called Marsha for last two weeks.
Oh, and nice new home, BiB.

10. Adrian - November 23, 2006

I’ll have a guess, for mainly spurious reasons:

1. my little frog (ryb is like ribbit which is the sound of a frog)
2. my little snake (kiss is like hiss which is the sound of a snake)
3. my little zebra (zhab is like zeb, probably)
4. my little pig – I guess this is correct, svin being close to swine
5. my little cuttlefish
6. my little doggie.

11. Mangonel - November 23, 2006

1. Little Woodlouse
2. Little Horny Toad
3, Little Mongoose
4. Little KGBaby
5. Little Mouth-organist
6. Little Ram

As packed full of sexual innuendo as an egg is full of meat..

12. MountPenguin - November 23, 2006

Oooh, I tried learning Russian many many years ago when the whim came over me to learn a foreign language with an exotic alphabet, but after about 45 minutes with an introductory textbook it became clear to me that it had a grammar even more fiendish than German, with which I was having extreme problems at the time. So I took up Chinese instead, which was grammatically much simpler yet infinitely more exotic, and which lead me via a complex series of events to Japan and Japanese, which is pretty much off the scale as far as rational systems of writing go.

Now circumstances are causing me to take Thai lessons, so I’m afraid I won’t be putting in any flash card orders soon. Though maybe we could pool resources and come up with an international series.

13. Mangonel - November 23, 2006

Mr MountPenguin sir, please sir, can you help us? We would like to know the Thai for ‘Fucked if I know’.

14. BiB - November 23, 2006

Working backwards… Mango, incidentally, ‘fucked if I know’ in Russian translates as ‘cock knows’, and I don’t mean rooster, if ya hear what I’m sayin’. Incidentally, your toad-guess was very good, and you’re the only person to have got it, but, alas, in the wrong place. But is there an animal called a mouth-organist?

Penguin, I am happy to go into business with you, producing terms-of-endearment flashcards. Might your lady-friend be willing to make some Japanese ones too and, by then, we should have most of the planet covered? Russian is, indeed, fiendishly complex, and I’d never have started learning it if I’d known then what I know now. Which is an utterly stupid thing to say. But it’s been worth it. Opening up another world, and it’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. (The language, not the world.)

Adrian, very good, and spot on with the pig. By the way, I must add that my choice of animals was quite random and dependent on them being feminine, two-syllable nouns, as only then would that cutesy ending work. So dogs, horses, ponies have only been discarded on linguistic grounds.

Leon, I was here all along! When I am diminutivised in Russian, the result is a noise which also means, by a twist of bad luck, deodorant. Very unfortunate.

Marsha, do you mean I could do a romantic train-ride up the west coast? Is that the gorgeousest bit of Scotland? Knowing the trains and the UK, it might end up costing more than a full-time chauffeur, although I have actually been, occasionally, pleasantly surprised when buying tickets for journeys that don’t involve London.

B., (skipping over Taiga, who has so covered herself in glory that the order can even be ignored) very good for getting the two guessable ones. Kisochka comes from kisa (Finnish for cat, incidentally, is kissa), meaning kitty, rather than straightforward old kot, which means cat. Moo-cow, sheepikins, goatynuts and Grey’s Zebra-Webra were only left out for reasons of sonority.

Taiga, first prize, grade A and 300 gold stars to you. But I’m guessing your Russian pal mustn’t be a country gal as she’s made a couple of minor errors, which I must correct in case you get into any nature-related scrapes in Russia. Zhabochka is, strictly speaking, little toad. Liagushechka would be little frog, but I’m splitting hairs. But I have to be properly strict with vydrochka, as a vydra is an otter, not a seal. And it was thrown in as vydra is also a rude word for a lady in Russian, like ‘old bag’. (Staraja vydra.) Mysteriously, coat-hanger is another way of being rude about a woman. (Staraja veshalka.) But, foxy Taiga, what is really stupid of me is that I put zhabochka, which destroyed the poetry slightly, in the list at all when I should have used lisochka, which means, I hope you’ll be pleased to hear, little fox.

15. MountPenguin - November 24, 2006

Mangonel, the nearest I can get is “mai kao jai”, which means “I don’t understand”, and is one of three phrases I was actually able to make any use of while I was there recently (the other two being “thankyou very much” and “please do not give me anything spicy to eat”). I suppose one could try “mai kao jai boom boom” but that sounds like it would come out as “I don’t understand fucking” which may not precisely convey the original intent.

16. BiB - November 24, 2006

Penguin, indeed. And which would be a perplexing thing to say at any time, unless perhaps when wanting to politely resist a resistible type’s advances.

All this talk of Thailand is reminding me of the saddest vision I’ve ever seen, which Wynders told me I needed to blog about. I’ll get round to it one year.

By the way, Leon, I forgot to answer; yes, Russian for mouse is мышь (mysh’). So I suppose we could have had a мышечка (myshechka) in the list too, and I’m sure you’ll all be fascinated at the o having changed into an e. What do you mean, why? Following a sibilant, of course!

17. bowleserised - November 24, 2006

I want to be called “moja vydrockha”. I must go email LA…

18. BiB - November 24, 2006

But, darling, in its (correct) my-little-otter sense (but also, unfortunately, old bag) or its imagined, but vaguely plausible, my-exhausting-little-wank sense? Hopefully the former!

19. bowleserised - November 24, 2006

Oh, either of those is quite sweet, don’t you think?

20. pleite - November 24, 2006

Well remember to get the stress on the right syllable, depending on your choice, or all hell might break loose.

21. Ed Ward - November 24, 2006

>>But is there an animal called a mouth-organist?

Kids today! Aint’cha never hearda Bob Dylan?

22. Taiga the Fox - November 24, 2006

Oh, thank you, thank you, kiitos, kiitos. I feel so shiny with all those gold stars, lisochkas and all. Actually my dear colleague Marsha didn’t help me at all with this (she’s back to St Petersburg) so I did the guessing myself.

23. David (TEFL Smiler) - November 25, 2006

Sorry – I’m a bit late on this one. I meant to comment when I first read it. Anyway, here are my guesses:

1. Fish (I recognise this from the only part of a menu I can ever look at in Eastern Europe.)
2. Cat?
3. Cow/dog/sheep/goat/aardvark?
4. Pig? (Or is that disturbingly obvious?)
5. Horse?
6. Donkey?? (Blind guess at how you and your betrothed might speak to eat other in moments of passionate ecstasy.)

Right, I’m going to read the other comments now…

24. pleite - November 25, 2006

Ed, I have to plead huge ignorance here. I’ll get googling Dylan and mouth-organist right away. (My four-year-old nephew likes Dylan, though, so perhaps the love has skipped a generation.)

Taiga, perkele, is this Finnish humour, or are you in fact a Russian-speaker, or, even more cunningly, a real Russian lisochka, or was that really the best guessing since some nasty type in the UK won the national lottery twice?

David, three out of six ain’t bad. Three silver stars to you! I’m not sure ‘ecstasy’ and ‘passionate’ should be positioned too closely to each other in a sentence referring to a bitchy old couple who’ve been together for almost seven years!

25. David (TEFL Smiler) - November 25, 2006

Thank you; I accept my three silver stars with pride and delight – they’re shiny, after all. I like shiny.

Typo in my comment: ‘speak to each other’, not ‘speak to eat other’. Not sure if that’s Freudian! ;-)

26. pleite - November 25, 2006

And I Freudianly didn’t notice it. Actually, we’re both putting on so much comfort winter weight that we could do with eating big chunks off each other. One joy of wordpress is that you can edit everything, which you couldn’t at blogger, but I will, of course, leave your typo nestling nicely.

27. Em88 - June 9, 2008


1. My little fish.
2. My little pussy.
3. My little toad.
4. My little piggy.
5. My little rat.
6. My little otter.

28. BiB - June 11, 2008

Em88, but tell me, you haven’t been labouring over this all this time, have you? Otherwise I think I owe you compensation for loss of earnings. In any case, you’re bang on. Hello! And good Russian knowledge.

29. Em88 - June 21, 2008

Thanks. *blushes* I`m teaching myself Russian so I have the phrasebooks and dictionary to help me. Nah…..it took me 10 mins on the day.

30. BiB - June 23, 2008

Тогда поздравляю тебя!

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