Paul McKeown wrote:
George Szaszvari wrote:Perhaps Russian doesn't lend itself to having loan words so readily accepted into English as happens with other European languages.
That can't be right. Vodka is one that springs to mind immediately. Never mind bliny, apparatchik, zek, Bolshevik, Menshevik, Kolkhoz, babushka, Gulag, mammoth, pogrom, ruble, kulak, tsar, Kalashnikov, tokomak, beluga, dacha, raskol, ukase, stakhanovite, oprichniki, cheka, KGB, Sputnik, tundra, banya.
I'm sure others could expand this list without trying hard at all....
While you quote some good examples like: tundra=desolate, mammoth=massive, tsar=non-elected presiding officials, I'm not sure about some of the rest. You might be showing off your own familiarity with Russian vocabulary and culture, but it also raises interesting questions about loan words, defining "loan word" itself being a whole different can of worms:
So perhaps I was really thinking of "general currency" when I used "loan word". One question is whether all the names used qualify. Take "Vodka". National drinks, dishes, etc, are usually known by the name of their country of origin, as with Greek ouzo, Hungarian palinka and gulyas, Italian grappa and lasagna, etc, so if they are loan words then just about any drink or dish in any language becomes a loan word in every other language. Okay, vodka is more commercially widespread/ popular than most examples, and is made everywhere nowadays, and certainly has general currency.
However, names like Menshevik, KGB, Cheka, ruble, sputnik, are trickier. KGB and Sputnik were very commonplace in talking about Soviet times, but still only refer to those Russian specific things, just as drachma, Parthenon, Soyuz, or the Iraqi Baath Party, which are just names. Are they also loan words? I guess they are.
On our chess related loan word theme, is Comrade Kalashnikov's rifle a chess loan word, as in Kalshnikov Sicilian, or is it just silly British schoolboy humor (mis)appropriating the name of something perceived as dispensing violence? Just like the nonsensical, if humorous, "Frankenstein-Dracula" variation of the Vienna. Come to think of it, aren't Frankenstein and Dracula also loan words? It might be simpler to ask what is NOT a loan word in English.
And I really don't understand dredging up obscure words like Oprichniki, Zek, Beluga as examples since they are hardly common usage.
And I wouldn't be too sure about "banya" since banyo is basic Greek Î¼Ï€Î¬Î½Î¹Î¿
, and doesn't it also have a Latin connection? Hmm, someone else can explore that...
You are always a lively contributor to this forum, Paul, so keep on truckin'. I can see some advantage in trying to close discussions with categorical black and white conclusions, as you seem to prefer, a kind of adversarial approach seeking checkmate, but I have, unfortunately, always had a predilection for looking into as many sides of an issue as possible, soliciting other views, and exploring beyond the routine, a more inquisitorial attitude, but it can tend to start things which are hard to finish, and in today's summer heat (oh yeah, it ain't even summer yet, oh well...) gives me a great big freaking headache... now I need to go finish gathering the ripe fruit in the garden, and then file the hammer on that revolver...and where did that whisky bottle get to