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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sausaging Around All Day

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???????????: to have a good time, to get drunk, to get high, to dance

The slangy verbs ????????? and ??????????? are all-purpose words that describe an enormous range of activities and emotions. I can't think of any verb in English that is so multi-purpose. Even the word "screw" (or the obscenity it replaces) must be modified (screw up, screw around, screw over) to give you even a fraction of the Russian verbs' meanings.

????????? is most frequently used impersonally -- ???? ???????? -- and seems to describe any intense emotion, from misery to joy, with the misery side the most common. ???? ???????? can mean "I'm freezing" or "this bothers me." If you are standing for an hour at the bus stop in January and hear ???? ???????? uttered through chattering lips, you can assume the first meaning. Of course, it could also mean "this cold is a real bummer."

If said in a stern tone of voice, it can mean "to upset someone." ??? ?? ???? ?????????? ???????! (Why are you bugging everyone? Lay off!) From here it is short step to "depress someone." ??? ?? ??? ????????????? ??? ????? -- ???? ?? ????? ????????. (Why are you telling me about the army? It's bringing me down, man.) The day after the night before, you may also hear your teenage neighbor moan ???? ??? ????????! (I've got a wicked hangover!)

You have to pay attention to tone of voice with this verb. If someone says, "???? ??? ??????, ????? ?????. ????????? ??? ??-?????????," it could mean, "Pasha called me when he was drinking. He was having a great time." Or it could mean, "He was really bummed out."

??????????? has a range of meanings associated with getting high and drinking. "????? ??????? ?? ? ?????? ???????????," could mean "Last night Pashka and I got high on drugs," or "Last night Pashka and I drank a lot." Here you can use the English slang "to get screwed up" or "to get fried," which are also nonspecific about the source of the intoxication.

??????????? can also mean "to have a rousing good time" that may involve substance abuse, or may not. ??????? ??? -- ??????? ?? ???? ???????????! (My 'rents aren't around. Let's go out to the dacha and party.) Or it can mean "to dance," with the sense of really cutting loose on the dance floor. ?? ????????? ???? ??? ??????????, ??? ???? ???? ?? ??????. (At the disco Pasha really got down and nearly broke his leg.) Or it can mean "to fool around," "to get up to mischief." ?? ????? ? ???? ? ??? ???????????, ??? ??? ???????. (We went to the movies and jerked around so much they kicked us out.)

There is also a noun ????????, which means "a fun party" or "a disco with dancing." ???????? ????? ? ???? ??????? -- ??? ?????? ?????? ?? ????. (There's going to be a bash at Pasha's tonight -- his parents went out to the dacha.) And there is a related adjective ?????????, which means "fun, the life of the party." ????? ????????? ????! ?? ?????? ?????????. (Let's invite Pasha. He's a riot.)

Then there's the meaning of "to joke around," either in a fun or mean way. ?????? ???????????! ? ?? ???????? ??????! (Quit joking around. I'm serious!) ?????? ???????????! ??? ?? ??????! (Knock it off! She's crying!)

If this weren't enough, ??????????? can also mean "to hang around," or "to spend time unproductively." ???? ???? ? ????????? ??????????, ? ??? ?????. (I putzed around all day at the institute and didn't get a thing done.) ?? ?????? ???????, ????? ??? ?????????? ? ??????. (He went to study and then spent a year knocking around Paris.)

The moral of this column is: If your teenage kids use ??????????? or ????????? -- check out the context very carefully. And don't let them ??????????? with Pasha.

Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.