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Russian? Anyone?

naughty bunnies


This was on the back door of an otherwise plain white work van I saw on the commute home tonight. Anyone?

Yeah, I know. Lame post, but I’ve goofed off all day and I hesitate to break a perfect record. It was a cinch the stapler post would dominate the blog all week, anyhow.

Uncle Badger says I deserve you guys. Sometimes, it almost sounds like it’s not a compliment.


Comment from Muslihoon
Time: October 5, 2007, 6:39 pm

Soblyuday distantsiyu!

Meaning: “Maintain distance!” The relevance of the rabbits escapes me.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 5, 2007, 6:51 pm

Oh! Thank you. I was trying to pull “copulate” out of the first word, but I know it doesn’t work like that.

Keep your distance or we’ll be forced to screw like bunnies? I have no idea…

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 5, 2007, 7:01 pm

I think it may mean, “Keep your distance or you’re screwed!”

Or maybe, “Get off my ass!”

Either that, or “Not so deep, darling!”

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: October 5, 2007, 7:01 pm

Probably “Don’t ride my ass” or somesuch. Perhaps stop signs are triangular in Russia. Google russian road signs!

Comment from Shawn, but not lowercased shawn
Time: October 5, 2007, 7:28 pm

Maybe it’s some kind of “If the van is rockin’ don’t come knockin'” thing, but in Russian?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo with some caps and some itty bitty letters
Time: October 5, 2007, 7:40 pm

Yeah, Shawn (bnlcs), yeah. “Keep your distance”. That makes sense.

Comment from nbpundit
Time: October 5, 2007, 7:46 pm

Then again maybe it means ‘dahlin’ would yew massage
ovah theya just a tad?’
/not really…

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 5, 2007, 8:27 pm

Road humps for next 10 miles?

(For the uninitiated, I honestly thought Auntie would die laughing, the first time she saw the ‘road humps’ signs over here in Englishland).

Good job I’d been out the night before to get them set up, really…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 5, 2007, 8:30 pm

They don’t SAY “road humps”…they’re road signs that look like brassieres with “350 yds” writ underneath.

Oh noes! Playtex Cross-Yer-Hearts for 1050 feet!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 5, 2007, 8:59 pm

Yeah, the weasel’s half right. What it says is ‘Humps for 250 yards’.

Ever seen a weasel pee itself?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo with some caps and some itty bitty letters
Time: October 5, 2007, 9:20 pm

Weasel wee.

Makes me think of ambergris (gently sun-ripened, ocean-soaked, floating whale barf. Yum.) for some reason.

Is weasel wee used in perfumes? Seems like most everything else is. I swear, they probably use Rhodesian butt-crack sweat in some perfume, somewhere. You can probably bet on it. I shall see…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 5, 2007, 9:23 pm

Yes! That’s it! ‘Humps for 250 yards’! Heeheeheehee!

First time I met Uncle B’s mum, we’d gone over one of those bad boys on the way and smashed a bottle of wine in the back. We arrived smelling like a two-week toot!

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: October 6, 2007, 1:42 am

They use python pee as a bat deterrent. Say python pee three times fast.

The “humps” signs exist in NZ and Aus as well. And I think I did see one that actually said road humps, but I don’t really remember.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 6, 2007, 6:43 am

Python pee? As bat repellant?

Good to know. Its one of those pieces of info that – when you need it – you need it really, really badly.

When we’d run into those road humps dirt-riding motorcycles we called them whoopdeedoos because…well, just because.

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: October 6, 2007, 7:42 am

I wanna meet the guy who’s collecting python pee. I don’t want to shake his hand I just want to meet him.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: October 6, 2007, 12:26 pm

Cyrillic…in America? Where’s Joe McCarthy when you need him?

Comment from porknbean
Time: October 6, 2007, 2:15 pm

So, if you applied python pee to repel bats, would pythons want to hump you?

Comment from Former Lurker
Time: October 7, 2007, 6:44 am

In Maine, they have signs that read “Road Heaves.”

Ever seen a road throw up?


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 7, 2007, 10:14 am

The road could be heaving a sigh of relief? Or frustration? After all, they usually only get laid once.

Comment from Dawn
Time: October 7, 2007, 1:03 pm

In Arizona they have signs that say “Be Alert”. My husband’s grandfather always said “because Lert’s are popular.”
I never met the man, but he was a grand old guy.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 7, 2007, 3:54 pm

Yes – and I’ll never buy a Toyota. If I want an ota, I’ll buy a real one.

Comment from porknbean
Time: October 7, 2007, 6:31 pm

McGoo, McGoo, McGoo. You are a saucy one. LOL

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 7, 2007, 7:21 pm

Really? And here I always thought I was just a garden-variety common smart-ass.

You can call me Bernaise – my favorite sauce.

It has *all* of the calories. When you eat Bernaise sauce, you not only violate any diet you’re on or ever were on or ever will be on – you violate anyone else’s diet within hundred’s of yards.

It is the only sauce who’s recipe starts out, “Melt all the butter you can possibly afford to buy in a double-boiler…”

Did you know its almost Hollandaise? Or vice-versa, I guess.

Pretty cool how all this sauce stuff works. Those cunning french.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 7, 2007, 8:10 pm

Has some team or other won some kind of sporting contest tonight? Hooligans are running in my streets shouting “let’s go, <unintelligeble>, let’s go!” I lost twenty bucks on <unintelligeble> some years back, so I’m understandably sore.

Yes. The sports gene. I doesn’t has it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 7, 2007, 8:12 pm

Indians! That’s what they’re shouting.

Dot indians or feather indians?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 7, 2007, 8:32 pm

Maybe we’ve been invaded. If its the dot kind, I hope they brought curry. Yum. The other kind can keep their damned corn. ‘Course it does ferment nicely. yee-ha.

Sports. Meh. Ritualized & symbolic warfare. If I want warfare, I’ll watch the real thing.

Comment from Hucklebuck
Time: October 8, 2007, 3:01 pm

Actual, word-for-word translation form the original Russian: “Warning! Putin Ahead!”.

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 8, 2007, 6:37 pm

I never saw this sign in Russia. There is a sign that says something like “coblyudai poryadok.” The sign you saw is probably a take-off on that by some Russian truck driver.

Coblyudai poryadok literally means “maintain order.”
Maybe it means stay in line/don’t pass. Or maybe it just means observe the traffic rules.

It may even be a play on the word “blydyar”–bedroom.
Bludyar itself is a pun based on two words “budyar”–boudoir and bludit’–to have promiscuous sex.

Probably the joke is some complicated sexual pun based on roadsigns. The rabbits would suggest that.

Like rabbits need a sign about that. Probably that is the joke.

Just a guess. Some of their jokes are really complicated word-play mocking authority.

I didn’t drive in Russia and I steered clear of colorful language.

If you ever rent an air mattress at the beach in Russia–signs are posted in the rental kiosk that say “don’t take the mattress in the water.” The air mattresses are just for the deck chairs. I got in a lot of trouble for that. once. And I laughed at the lady when she told me my mattress was wet. But not for long.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 9, 2007, 6:23 am

Why? What did she do to you?

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 9:24 am

Oh, nothing too bad. The old bag just wagged her finger in front of my nose, jerked her thumb in the direction of the sign, and chewed me out before a long line of Russians while I was standing there shivering in a dripping-wet bathing suit and soggy gym shoes.

Kind of like getting yelled at in school.
Getting shrieked at in Russian is kind of unnerving.

She flipped out when she said my raft was wet, and I said “of course.”

Wiped the smile off my face.

But what do you think of my speculation about your sign?
Russian jokes often are based on puns and wordplay that mock the rules. Like a sign that presumes to dictate rabbit behaviors. You have to know a lot of slang and puns to get their jokes.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: October 9, 2007, 9:55 am

I bet its connotation (rather than definition) is: “In America, you stop; in Soviet Union, Mother Russia stops you! Now be like Patriotic Bunnies and make soldiers for Mother Russia. Now!”

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 9, 2007, 10:26 am

Goodness, I have no idea. I’ve worked with several Russians over the years; they were even more alien to me than most aliens.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: October 9, 2007, 12:24 pm

Russians are interesting. A got along well with the ones at my former job because I speak a bit of Russian. (Seeing a brown guy speak Russian with a decent accent and able to read and write it as well shocked them considerably. Fortunately for me, it helped to elevate my standing in that department, which was important to steadily assuming a more leadership rôle. And it allowed me to “speak in code”, as it were, when dealing with customers.)

But otherwise…they were interesting.

And to be more of a pedant: when Snapple writes “coblyudai”, he/she means, I assume, “soblyudai”. A significant problem in transliterating Russian into English is the existence of Cyrillic letters that resemble Roman letters but have a different pronunciation. One example is the aforementioned “c” (which would be rendered as “s” in English). Another is “p” (which is “r” in English); “P/p” has the “r” sound in Greek as well. Another example, a bit more interesting, is Cyrillic “g”: its uppercase version is Cyrillic “D”, and both have the “d” sound. But this rendition of the “d” sound is only in informal writing. Russian has another character for the same sound that does not resemble any character in the Roman or Greek alphabets.

There is also Cyrillic “e”, which is pronounced with a slight “y” sound before it. There is another character for the “e”-sound without the initial “y”. What may complicate matters in this case is that the latter letter is rare; the former is more often used to transliterate the Roman “e” into Cyrillic. Similarly, Russians use we render the Cyrillic “e” as the English “e” unless where doing so would be ridiculous: the Russian word for “no” is “нeт” which we, nevertheless, render as “nyet” as in this case the Cyrillic “e” does have an evident “y” beginning. But the Cyrillic “e” does not always have a “y” sound: sometimes rather than having an initial “y” sound, it changes the quality of the preceding consonant.

And I should not forget to mention that the Cyrillic “e” is also used in place of the Cyrillic “ë” (pronounced “yo”). A good example is the surname of the last leader of the Soviet Union: we spell it “Gorbachev” but pronounce (or should pronounce) it “gorbachof” because the “e” in our transliteration copies the Cyrillic, whereas the actual letter (though one would not know this off-hand) is “ë” rather than “e”. We copy the latter because the Russians do not always put the dots on “ë”. But they pronounce it as “ë” anyway, and we follow suit (mostly: we are more wont to say “gorbachof” rather than “gorbachyof”). The discrepancy between the final “v” being pronounced “f” is normal in Russian: a few voiced consonants become unvoiced at the end of a word, but this change is never written. (The “v” sound is rendered as Cyrillic “B” (the lowercase is a smaller version of the uppercase, which form does not exist in the Roman alphabet). Another one of those characters that has a certain sound in English but another in Cyrillic. The presence of such letters makes transliteration prone to mistakes. It would be tempting to render the Cyrillic version of “Gorbachev” (“Гopбaчeв”) as “Gorbacheb” into English. Interestingly, the English character “b” specifically resembles the lowercase version of “Б” (said lowercase being “б”), both of which represent the sound “b”. The English character’s uppercase version (namely, “B”) resembles the uppercase “B” (lowercase being “в”, which the English character also resembles) of Cyrillic, both of which represent the “v” sound (“f” at the end of a word).)

Russian is actually very difficult to pronounce correctly. I have not begun to mention the quality of consonants, stress, intonation, and the fact that Russian morphology produces large words which Russians seem to use effortlessly.

Not that anyone cares.

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 5:13 pm

I always get confused transliterating if I’m not being careful. I knew the rules a million years ago.

Yes, I meant Soblyudai, not Coblyudai.

The Russian letter C is sounded as S in Russian.

There is also American and British style of transliteration.

I have articles about Russians on my site. Mostly murdered ones, unfortunately. Like Politkovskaya.

Russian jokes are often very complicated puns and frequently very vulgar.

The voiced consonants like Russian V are not always devoiced at the end of words. It depends what comes after the voiced consonant in the next word when you are talking.If you listen to tapes, it just becomes second nature.

I’m kind of out of practice, but it comes back.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 9, 2007, 5:16 pm

The only joke I remember a Russian telling me is: the baby is playing with a razorblade. Her smile is getting wider and wider.

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 5:45 pm


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 9, 2007, 5:47 pm

Well, I don’t suppose it’s any worse than dead baby jokes or “what do you call a man with no arms and no legs…” jokes. Still, it wasn’t exactly Disney.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: October 9, 2007, 9:51 pm

Snapple: Thank you! That was edifying. A question: what are some differences between American and British transcription systems? I personally do not follow any system per se: just what seems best to me at that moment.

I do know systems make an extensive use of “j” to represent the “y” sound, which becomes quite confusing for us English-speakers who are used to seeing that character represent the “j” sound. (In many European languages, “j” does represent the “y” sound. In French and Turkish, it represents the “zh” sound (like the “s” in “leisure” or “pleasure”).)

I find language-based conversations to be quite likeable.

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 10:58 pm

I had to learn all those transliteration rules in school, but I forget because I don’t use it.

There are rules, however. There were some differences between American and British translation, but there may be new rules now. But these days we have computers, so people usually just type the Russian instead of the transliteration. In the old days, we used transliteration because we were using typewriters.

Where it does come up is when you search for names in a database. You have to know different possible spellings or you might miss something. Dostoyevsky Dostoyevskii, etc.

If you go to http://www.rferl.org you can see the modern way to spell Russian names.

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 11:11 pm

I have some funny Russian jokes on my site.

There is this Soviet spy named Stirlitz–like James Bond. The Russians mock him because he is so smart and such an incorruptable “straight arrow.” HE uses an intellectual approach to secret work and only killed one person in his career.

The Russians know that’s a crock.

Hsre are some stirlitz jokes.


If you search Stirlitz on my site, maybe more are there.

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 11:28 pm

The KGB, the GIGN and the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at catching criminals. The Secretary General of the UN decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest and each of them has to catch it. The CIA goes in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that rabbits do not exist. The GIGN goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and make no apologies: the rabbit had it coming. The KGB goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

Comment from Snapple
Time: October 9, 2007, 11:30 pm

A hotel. A room for four with four strangers. Three of them soon open a bottle of vodka and proceed to get acquainted, then drunk, then noisy, singing and telling political jokes. The fourth one desperately tries to get some sleep; finally, frustrated, he surreptitiously leaves the room, goes downstairs, and asks the lady concierge to bring tea to Room 67 in ten minutes. Then he returns and joins the party. Five minutes later, he bends over an ashtray and says with utter nonchalance: “Comrade Major, some tea to Room 67, please.” In a few minutes, there’s a knock at the door, and in comes the lady concierge with a tea tray. The room falls silent; the party dies a sudden death, and the conspirator finally gets to sleep. The next morning he wakes up alone in the room. Surprised, he runs downstairs and asks the concierge where his neighbors had gone. “Oh, the KGB has arrested them!” she answers. “B-but… but what about me?” asks the guy in terror. “Oh, well, they decided to let you go. You made Comrade Major laugh a lot with your tea joke.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_political_jokes

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: October 9, 2007, 11:46 pm

Thank you!

I liked the last joke the best. Thanks for the laugh!

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