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26 September 2018

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Watch Your Tongue

Author: Michelle A. Berdy

May/June 2016
Survival Russian
Page 26   ( 1 pages)

Summary: A short primer on some useful and not so acceptable bits of prison jargon.


Detainees in Russian pre-trial detention are now forbidden from using obscenities or the jargon commonly used among criminals (???????? ? ???????????? ????? ??????) when talking to each other or the correctional facility staff.

This “jargon commonly used among criminals” is more commonly called ????, as in ?????? ?? ???? (talk slammer slang). Interestingly, such jargon didn’t start in jail, although no one is sure of its exact origin. It may have originated centuries ago among ?????, traveling salesmen who sold sundries, as a way for them to communicate without the marks – er, customers – knowing what they were saying.

But now it’s so engrained among “the criminal element” they can barely converse without it. So, to help them – and you, if you end up in jail – here’s a short primer of some common ???? phrases and their contemporary literary Russian equivalents.

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