Streetwise Professor

December 18, 2009

I Couldn’t Make This Up

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:09 pm

In the irony department: When on the plane last night after writing the post on skinny Russians, what did I happen to read in the New Penguin Russian Course* but this footnote:

In a culture where fat tends to be regarded as a good thing (it keeps the cold out), there are some features of the Russian language that should intrigue westerners obsessed with slimming.  [NB.  The author is a Brit.]  Note that худой ‘thin’ also means ‘bad’, поправиться ‘to get fatter’ also means ‘to get better’, жирный ‘fat’ has associations with richness (жирный кусок ‘fatty piece’ is used of something tempting), and the phrase с жиру беситьсй ‘to be in a rage because of fat’ means ‘to be too well off.’

Which could all explain why some people are a little touchy on this subject.  Just sayin’.

* If you’re wondering, the answer is slow but steady.

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  1. Let’s not forget about the great Russian hero Lev TOLSTOI.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 19, 2009 @ 10:03 am

  2. Let’s not forget that the Russian language does not have a word for ‘freedom’.

    Comment by So? — December 19, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  3. Hmm. “Жирный ‘fat’ has associations with richness”? Is it different in English? What about “fat cats”? “Living off the fat of the land”?

    As to the first statement, I think the author got it wrong, too. It’s just a simple observation: ill people lose weight, and when they are getting better they are gaining it back. In fact, the main (based on root) meaning of “поправиться” is indeed “to get better”.

    Comment by boba — December 19, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

  4. BOBA:

    You’re a ridiculously ignorant fool. “Fat cat” is a DEROGATORY TERM. Barack Obama just used it to publicly slam bankers. It is not “something tempting” as SWP indicated. “Living off the fat of the land” clearly implies laziness.

    If you don’t know how to speak English, you should not open your fat stupid mouth.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 20, 2009 @ 7:25 am

  5. to La Russophobe

    Ban me!

    But thanks for your reference:

    Because I really thought that somehow the connection between gaining fat and getting better was missed in English. How could I forget about “fat and happy” and “fat and sassy”?

    Comment by boba — December 20, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

  6. He-he… And talking about жирный кусок ‘fatty piece’, “kill the fatted calf” is actually from the Bible (return of the prodigal son). Oh, those Russians!

    Comment by boba — December 20, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  7. (for LR) Not “from the Bible” literally, bat has its roots in the Bible.

    Comment by boba — December 20, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

  8. I happened to watch Elia Kazan’s “Arrangement” yesterday- The hero of Kirk Douglas tells to himself there: “You’ve got the perfect arrangement- FAT job, ” etc.
    Does it tell anth. about skinny/fat americans?

    Comment by a. russian — December 21, 2009 @ 2:42 am

  9. A.RUSSIAN: No, but it sure does tell a lot about your foreign language illiteracy!

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 21, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  10. SWP, in slang today, “fat” means highly desirable. Except I think that they spell it “phat.”

    Also, I harken back to medieval and Shakespearean times, when being fat was taken as one of the signs of personal prosperity.

    Anyway, to me, “pleasantly plump” sounds a lot better than “жирніьй”

    Comment by elmer — December 22, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  11. Man, that Michael Jordan is so phony!

    Comment by So? — December 23, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

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