January 01, 2018

Words of the Year

Words of the Year
Victor Bogorad

Every year, a group of Russian word-lovers, headed by linguist Mikhail Epstein, vote on the word – or rather words – of the year. Beside the value for translators and students, who need to know how Russian is expanding and changing, it’s a great snapshot of the year gone by. And it’s usually really funny. Or very sad. Or both.

The first impression of the 2017 nomination list: the preponderance of Englishisms, Americanisms, Trumpisms, and AboutTrumpisms. In the Word of the Year category, we find баттл (a battle, but of rap musicians); биткоин (bitcoin); and блокчейн (blockchain). We also find хайп (hype) and the Russified хайпожор (hypeglutton, from hype and жрать — to chow down), a person using company logos and social media to hype himself.

This sort of thing involves вирусный контент (viral content), another nominated phrase.  And while we’re down with a virus, let’s mention токсичный (toxic), which has become almost a parasitical word in 2017. There are токсические люди, мужья, коллеги, начальники и клиенты (toxic people, husbands, co-workers, bosses and clients). If you spot one, run.

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