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Hitting New Lows, Like Always, in 2013

Published: December 27, 2013 (Issue # 1792)

Слова года 2013: Words of the Year 2013

Now that 2013 is drawing to a close, I checked out my favorite word-obsessed Russian sites for the final tallies of слова года (words of the year).

In one of my favorite competitions, more than 500 linguists, writers and other language-minded folks vote for the year's top words in various categories, including words, expression and phrases of the year. Their top word of the year was госдура — a play on госдума (state duma) that means state fool. This phrase was coined by television host Vladimir Pozner, who later said that it had just been оговорка (slip of the tongue). Perhaps it was an ­оговорка по Фрейду (Freudian slip)?

In 2013, the Russian parliamentarians were busy little bees. They produced more — and more bizarre — laws in a year than in the previous decade. So it's no wonder that the top expressions of the year included антисиротский закон (anti-orphan law), aka закон Димы Яковлева (the Dima Yakovlev law, named after the little boy who died in an overheated car after being adopted in the U.S.), aka закон подлецов (the law of scoundrels, named after the deputies who passed it).

Another top phrase was взбесившийся принтер (berserk printer), used to describe the law-printing machine in the Russian parliament.

Organized religion in Russia also took a linguistic hit this year with святобесие, which was defined as одержимость своей святостью или святостью своих принципов и убеждений … выплеск ненависти и гордыни под видом защиты святынь (an obsession with one's own righteousness or the righteousness of one's principles and beliefs … an outpouring of hatred and pridefulness under the guise of defending what is sacred). Someone who acts like this is святобес, what I would call a "self-righteous religious nutcase."

Святобесы are often part of another top 2013 word: религархия (religiarchy) — сращение политики и религии во властных структурах (the fusion of politics and religion in the state structures).

This year, I enjoyed several of the top-rated phrases. The winner was вот как-то так (something like that, that's about it), which has apparently become a parasite phrase used to end blog posts or statements. Since to my great shame, I'm already an over-user of linguistic hedges — как-то, как бы, вроде как (somehow, sort of, something like) — I haven't noticed it.

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Times Talk


Wednesday, Apr. 23

Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of society’s most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.

Thursday, Apr. 24

Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.

AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.

Friday, Apr. 25

Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from

Saturday, Apr. 26

At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.

Sunday, Apr. 27

Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.

Monday, Apr. 28

The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.

Tuesday, Apr. 29

Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.