Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”. But what if the shape of your world changes so much that your language can no longer service it? Then it’s time for people, the creators of language, to invent new words to describe the new reality they are living in.
In this article I collected 23 words and phrases that did not exist in Ukraine before November 2013, when the Revolution of Dignity happened. These words were collected from commentary sections on Ukrainian news websites. Due to Ukraine being a multilingual country, the comments were left by users both in Ukrainian and Russian languages, therefore, both Ukrainian and Russian words are present in the list.
The new slang reflects less then friendly relations between Russia and Ukraine. Thus, the neologisms listed here are predominantly negative, scornful and pejorative.
This blog post was created to illustrate linguistic innovations on the territory of Ukraine. This blog post was not created to arouse polemic discussion about the nature of relations between Ukraine and Russia. This blog post is dedicated only to neologisms and slang words that appeared recently in mass media.
This list is undoubtedly not exhaustive. There are words that escaped my notice, and there are words not included in my list, because they existed before 2013, but simply acquired additional meanings.
For now, the usage of these words is limited mainly to the Internet: forums, social networks and commentary sections on various web-sites. However, they are slowly seeping into the offline life and could be heard from time to time in buses and long queues.
Green words reflect spelling in Ukrainian, blue words reflect spelling in Russian, and words in red are spelled the same way in Russian and Ukrainian. Transcription is provided inside [brackets] with a stressed vowel being capitalized.
АТОшники [atOshnyky/atOshniki] — Ukrainian warriors that serve in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) zone.
Тітушки/титушки [titUshki] — young men, usually well-built and athletic, who are used to organize provocations, to intimidate, to beat and to break up peaceful protests.
Мінстець/минстець [minstEts] — Stets is a surname of the Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine. Stets was appointed a minister several months before the actual ministry was established. “Minstets” is a combination of “minitisry” + “Stets” and is used to describe forum-, social media- and website-users, who promote the point of view of the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine.
Порохоботи/порохоботы [porohobOty] — combination of “Poroshenko” + “bot”. This term is used to refer to forum-, social media- and website-users who leave comments, posts, tweets or other messages that praise the president.
Воналюби/воналюбы [vonaliUby] — combination of “vona” (she) + “liubyty” (love). This term is used to refer to the supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko, the first female Prime Minister of Ukraine.
Ольгінці/ольгинцы [Olgintsi/Olgintsy] — in 2013 in Russian mass media appeared a scandalous article about web-brigades who leave positive posts about Russian authorities on various forums, social media and commentary sections of news-portals. One of the brigades was located in Olgino (district in Saint-Petersburg). Journalists discovered an office, where a lot of people were hired to leave posts, create threads and participate in forum discussions to shape and manipulate public opinion.
Зрадофіли/зрадофилы [zradofIly], зрадоботи/зрадоботы [zradobOty], зрадотряд [zradotriAd] — these words were grouped together because they have the same root. “Зрада” [zrAda] is translated from Ukrainian as “treason”. The first word in this group is formed by adding suffix –phile to the root, thus creating a word with a meaning of “loving”, “friendly”, or “friend”. People described as zradofily are people who see treason and betrayal in everything Ukrainian government does. Zradoboty and zradotriad are formed by adding roots –bot– and –otriad– (bot and squad, respectively). These words are used in the same meaning as zradofily, but with the added negative connotation which suggests that those people were paid to write about treacherous and anti-Ukrainian nature of everything government does.
I also find it interesting that instead of the traditional “Yes/No” answers in online surveys regarding what’s going on in Ukraine, you may find “Перемога/Зрада” (Victory/Treason).
Толерасти/толерасты [tolerAsty] — a combination of “tolerance” + “pederast”. A derogatory word the Ukrainians call themselves to express the opinion that we are too tolerant and allow our government to screw us over time and time again.
Хуйлостан [khuilostAn] — a word invented as an alternative name to “Russia”. The first part of the word is “khuilo”, which literary translates as “dickhead”, “dick”, “prick”. Nowadays, it is used in Ukraine as a synonym to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. The second part of the word “-stan” (as in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, etc.) is used to emphasize Asian and Middle Eastern nature of Russia. Thus, Khuilostan is a country of Middle Eastern model ruled by a dickhead. The same with a slang (not a neologism) Москвабад [moskvabAd/maskvabad] = “Moskva” (Moscow) + “- bad” (as in Ashgabat and Islamabad).
Ватний рейх/Ватный рейх [vAtnyy rEikh] — literary translates as “Cotton Reich”. “Ватний/Ватный” is an adjective derived from the noun “вата”. In the same semantic field are the words “вата” [vAta], which translates as “cotton”, and “ватники” [vAtnyky/vAtniki], a type of warm winter clothes worn in Russia. Although these words are not new, they acquired a new meaning. Now these words are used to describe the Russians with Soviet Union mentality. The “Reich” part is used in its Nazi German meaning.
In addition to traditional “хохлы” [khokhlY], “кацапы” [katsApy] and “москалі” [moskalI], which citizens of both countries happily employed to insult one another, a bunch of new words of offensive nature appeared. When it comes to name calling, the languages of Ukraine has seen an outburst of neologisms which at first were just Internet slang, but quickly broke into our everyday life.
Укри/укры [Ukry] — short for the “Ukrainians”. A new pejorative word invented by the Russians to denote the Ukrainians.
Укропи/укропы [ukrOpy] — has the same origin as “укри/укры”. What is interesting about this word is that it had positive connotations in Ukraine, but negative connotations in Russia. “Ukrop” is an abbreviation of “УКРаїнський ОПір” (Ukrainian resistance) and sounds the same as dill in Russian, which led to the silhouette of dill being embroidered on the military chevrons as a sarcastic symbol. Such chevrons were popular among military personnel, volunteers and ordinary people. In 2015 a political party with the same name (Ukrop) was registered in Ukraine. Politicization of this symbol angered Ukrainian society, and it was no longer printed on chevrons or used in military circles even for sarcastic purposes. Ever since, the word “ukrop” no longer had positive connotations in Ukraine.
Зайвохромосомні/лишнехромосомные [zaivohromosOmni/lishnehromosOmnye]— adjective that translates as “one who has an extra chromosome”. Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation said in his interview that after all catastrophes that Russia faced in the 20th century, the reason it still exists is because the Russians have an extra chromosome. It is a well-known, scientifically-proven fact that extra chromosomes cause various disorders, e.g. Down syndrome. Thus, this adjective is used in Ukraine to refer to the Russians and their mental abilities or lack thereof.
Вяликоросы [vialikorosy] — literally translates as the “great Russians”. Several centuries ago the Russians called themselves as “великоросы” (the great Russians) and the Ukrainians — “малоросы” (the small Russians). Nowadays, the desire of the Russians to emphasize their greatness led to them replacing “е” with “я” (великоросы — вяликоросы).
Рашисти/рашисты [rashYsty] — combination of “Russia” and “fascists”.
Скрепні/скрепные [skrEpni/skrEpnye] — adjective derived from “скрепы” (clips). This adjective is used to denote the Russians. The concept of “духовные скрепы” (literary “spiritual clips”) existed a long time ago, but no one really paid it any attention before it was reintroduced by Putin in late 2012. The concept lies in some obscure values [specific values were never mentioned] that are supposedly keeping the Russian nation together. The new turn in the spiral of negativity occurred when those vague spiritual values were used in 2015 to justify the Russian annexation of Crimea a year earlier.
Ихтамнеты [ikhtamnEty] — a compound consisting of three words “их” + “там” + “нет” (pronoun + adverb + particle). From the very beginning and up to this day Russia persistently denies its invasion of Ukraine. When the Russian president was asked about the presence of Russian military forces in the East of Ukraine, he answered: “Их там нет” (They are not present there). Thus, the word “ихтамнеты” is used to denote Russian military forces that are there, but not there.
Жидобандерівці/жидобандеровцы [zhydobandErivtsi/zhydobandErovtsy] — another compound which is formed according to a more traditional template of “noun” + “о” + “noun”. Just like the word ukrop, zhydobanderivtsi is viewed differently by both sides of the conflict. This neologism consists of the words “hebe/heeb” (rude way to call a Jew) and “follower of Bandera”. Stepan Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalist, so being his follower has different meaning to the Russians and the Ukrainians. While, the Ukrainian side sees nothing wrong with loving Ukraine, the Russian side disagrees. The anti-Semitic undertone of this neologism is connected to the fact that the majority of Ukrainian government practices Judaism even though it is not a dominant religion in Ukraine.
Понадусейний [ponadusEynyi] — adjective derived from the combination of “понад” + “усе” (above + everything). Expression “Україна понад усе” (Ukraine above/before everything) is a motto of Ukrainian nationalists who call to fight for independence of Ukraine. Thus, this adjective is used to describe a person who is loyal to Ukraine and supports its independence.
A new list with neologisms of the year 2017 will be published in the beginning of 2018, so stay tuned.
© 2017, IRYNA KURYLIAK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.