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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hey, Pal! How'd You Like a Knuckle Cutlet?

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Not long ago, a friend of mine doing research in Moscow for several months was the victim of a brutal mugging during which he lost not only his laptop, but one of his front teeth.

After the initial shock, he felt surprisingly unselfconscious about walking around town with a toothless grin and a battered face. It was only when he was planning a trip back to the West before his wounds had healed that he started to worry.

I couldn't blame him. After all, if on the streets of San Francisco he might look conspicuous, in Moscow he passed black eyes and funky- looking face scars all the time. Some of these wounds are undoubtedly self-inflicted with the aid of alcohol (more on that in another column), but many are clearly the result of violence. It may come as no surprise, then, that there are plenty of expressions in Russian dedicated to the fine art of beating.

First of all there are expressions meant simply to threaten, without actually going through with the punch. Among these are budesh' imet' bledny vid — you're about to look pale — or the rhetorical a po morde ne khochesh' (do you want to take it in the face)? This latter expression is asked in the form of a question, kind of the Russian equivalent of "How'd you like a knuckle sandwich?"

Indeed, judging from all of the expressions that imply a blow to the head, the uppermost part of the body seems to be a favorite target.

Among these are davat' v nyukh, or to hit in the face. Alternatively, you can davat', or give it to your victim, po shapke, or on the hat. If you are looking for a more defined target, there is vkatit' promezh glaza, or to knock someone between the eyes.

My personal favorite when it comes to facial violence, however, is iz litsa delat' kotletu, or to make someone's face into a cutlet. This, by the way, can also fall under the threatening category: Smotri! Ya iz tebya seichas kotletu sdelayu, or, Watch out! I'll turn you into a cutlet.

I do not mean to imply that other body parts are linguistically ignored. Take, for example, the excessively graphic . Simply translated as to beat up, this literally means to pull someone's legs from his derriere.

Of course, those who prefer an overall roughing up may opt for those verbs that do not specify body parts. There is certainly no dearth of these. Take, for example, vlepit' (to strike), vmochit' (to bloody up) or vpayat', to beat (from the verb to solder).

And then you may prefer a more poetic form of punishment, such as zvezdanut' — literally, to make someone see stars. I am not sure if that is what my battered friend saw, but by the time he came to it was certainly nightfall.