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Lesson Transcript


Michael: What is Russian slang like?
Saodat: And is it commonly used?
Michael: At RussianPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following scenario: Natalia Ivanova uses a slang expression Ben Lee has never heard before.
"It's all good.'"
Natalia Ivanova: Всё ништяк. (Vsyo nishtyak.)
Наталья Иванова: Всё ништяк. (Vsyo nishtyak.)
Бен Ли: Что это значит? (Chto eto znachit?)
Наталья Иванова: Это значит "всё хорошо." (Eto znachit "vsyo khorosho.")
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Наталья Иванова: Всё ништяк. (Vsyo nishtyak.)
Michael: "It's all good."
Бен Ли: Что это значит? (Chto eto znachit?)
Michael: "What does that mean?"
Наталья Иванова: Это значит "всё хорошо." (Eto znachit "vsyo khorosho.")
Michael: "It means, "all good.""

Lesson focus

Michael: Slang is an aspect of language that isn't usually taught in the classroom, but it can be important for becoming proficient. Slang is defined as a set of words and expressions that are regarded as very informal. Nevertheless, they can be useful, since they can help someone to better convey feelings and implied concepts. Slang is usually an aspect of the colloquial language, and, for this reason, it changes really quickly or differs from subculture to subculture. In Russian, "slang" is
Saodat: сленг (sleng)
Michael: In this lesson, we'll talk about some of the most common Russian slang words and expressions.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Natalia says "It's cool?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Saodat: Всё ништяк. (Vsyo nishtyak.)
Michael: Here, we have an expression composed of two words. The first word,
Saodat: Всё (Vsyo),
Michael: is Russian for "everything." The second word,
Saodat: ништяк (nishtyak)
Michael: is a Russian word that you won't find in the dictionary. That's because it is considered a slang word. However, in this context, it could mean "good" or "perfect." In that case, what Natalia was saying was "Everything is perfect." Or, in short, "It's all good." This is a very popular expression among Russians, so when someone asks you how you are doing, or,
Saodat: как дела? (kak dela?)
Michael: you can tell them,
Saodat: Всё ништяк! (Vsyo nishtyak!)
Michael: "It's all good!"
Michael: So far, you've learned that slang is an important aspect of colloquial language. It is often limited to small groups and it can change quickly or become obsolete. You've also learned one of the most common slang expressions in Russian, which is
Saodat: Всё ништяк! (Vsyo nishtyak!)
Michael: or "It's all good!" Why don't we take a look at more Russian slang words and expressions? Let's start with
Saodat: Офигеть (Ofiget') [SLOW] Офигеть (Ofiget')
Michael: This Russian slang expression has German origins.
The word eventually evolved to become an expression that Russians use when something unbelievable happens. It has no literal meaning, but it could mean several different things, the most common one being "I can't believe it" or "Wow!" Another common Russian slang word is
Saodat: Дешёвка (Deshyovka) [SLOW] Дешёвка (Deshyovka)
Michael: a word that refers to something that's cheap. This expression has three uses. One, it can be used to describe a product that's cheaply made, two, it can be used to describe something that can be considered a steal or, three, it means something of poor taste, worthless but at the same time often it's sarcastic; to have an effect. So, for example, if you've found a fancy-looking dress at the thrift shop, you could say,
Saodat: Приобрела это платье всего за 200 рублей. По дешёвке! (Priobrela eto plat'ye vsego za 200 rubley. Po deshyovke!)
Michael: or, "I got this dress for only 200 rubles. So cheap!" Our next slang word is
Saodat: Круто (Kruto) [SLOW] Круто (Kruto)
Michael: This one is a universal term that's equivalent to the English word "cool." You can use it when describing something fashionably attractive or impressive. A similar term would be
Saodat: Прикольно (Prikol'no) [SLOW] Прикольно (Prikol'no)
Michael: a slang word that could mean "cool," "fun," or "dope." Now, we can't talk about cool and fun without talking about parties. In Russian, the slang word for party is
Saodat: Тусить (Tusit') [SLOW] Тусить (Tusit')
Michael: It's the equivalent of the English expression "Hanging out," and is the perfect word to describe the national pastime of the Russian people, getting together with friends and family to unwind. Of course, you can't go to a party or hang out with your friends if you don't have money. There are many slang terms referring to money in Russian, but one of the most common is
Saodat: Бабки (Babki) [SLOW] Бабки (Babki)
Michael: This word literally means "Grandmas." They say the term was derived from a hundred-ruble bill that bore the image of Yekaterina II, Russia's longest-ruling female leader.
Michael: Most of the Russian slang terms you will encounter today were born on the Internet, particularly social media. One example is the word
Saodat: селфи (selfi) [SLOW] селфи (selfi)
Michael: a loanword from English meaning "selfie." Another one is
Saodat: лайкнуть (layknut') [SLOW] лайкнуть (layknut')
Michael: which, like the first example, is borrowed from the English expression meaning "like." And, finally, there's the expression,
Saodat: запилить лук (zapilit' luk) [SLOW] запилить лук (zapilit' luk)
Michael: which literally means "to saw onion," but, as a slang term, it translates as "to post the look." This is what you say when you want someone to upload a picture of their OOTD or outfit of the day.
Cultural Insight
Michael: Not all Russian slang expressions are limited to a couple of words. Others come in the form of long phrases, such as
Saodat: Пошарить в карманах будет не лишним! (Posharit' v karmanakh budet ne lishnim!)
Michael: or literally "To search in pockets will not be superfluous." This one may sound like a proverb, but it's meant as a slang expression and should not be used in formal situations. Here's another one:
Saodat: Слушай, не тормози на повороте! (Slushay, ne tormozi na povorote!)
Michael: This one literally means "Listen, do not brake on the turn!" This is a slang expression Russians say when they want someone to hurry up and not cause further delays.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Saodat: Пока! (Poka!)
Michael: See you soon!

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