July 01, 2011

The Art of Draznilki

The Art of Draznilki

Every Russian learned a few key дразнилки (teases) in childhood. According to Vladimir Dal’s dictionary, дразнилки – это выражения, которыми умышленно сердили кого-либо (“expressions that are used to anger someone on purpose”).

Most often дразнилки are short, rhymed verses created by children to poke fun at someone, usually with cruel intent, often referring to some physical trait, and equally often not making logical sense (these, as the past column, fall in the category of “things you may never use, but should certainly know”). To wit: a chubby boy might hear “Жирный, жирный, поезд пассажирный” (“Fatty, fatty, big as a passenger train”). A redhead (рыжий) with freckles would be taunted with “Рыжий-рыжий конопатый убил дедушку лопатой” (“Freckled, redhead killed his grandpa with a spade”). Конопатый is a synonym for веснушчатый (freckled), and конопушки means веснушки (freckles).

A snitch who tells on his peers to the teacher (or his parents) gets this:

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