Magazine article Russian Life

Mauvaix Phone

Magazine article Russian Life

Mauvaix Phone

Article excerpt

Ten years ago in this column (October 1998, to be exact), I raised the issue of phone etiquette (you'll have to get the book to read it now). So it's high time for an update, especially now that every Russian has a cell phone (and every second Muscovite has two!).

One's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is commonly called a [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (note the "rough" suffix [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], or, more tenderly, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

Take note, however: today, no Russian under 30 uses the verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Instead, it is the era of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (from [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]-to dial a number). A twentysomething says [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (literally "dial me") instead of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Or, worse, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. A typical statement is: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] This means, of course, "I dialed him, but he did not pick up." Yet an unwitting translator, absent context, could correctly translate this as, "I picked some (flowers, mushrooms, whatever) for him, but he wouldn't take them."

In a similar vein, no one ends a conversation any longer with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (the laughably non-committal, "let's call one another"). This has been shortened to a derived noun: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Some will also use the cringe-worthy (i.e. stylistically awful) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

Then there is the standard recorded statement you'll hear when the person you are calling is out of reach:[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" ("the person you are trying to reach is unavailable or beyond the zone served by our network"). So cliche has this phrase become, that it comprises the chorus in a pop song by the group [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 312 (City 312):

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

No one knows us out of zone

We can breathe the air out of zone

We made a point to be out of zone

We are out of zone

We are out of zone

Out of zone

Not only stupid, but, as John Cleese puts it in A Fish Called Wanda,:

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"stupidissimo." But what can you do?

Cell phones have themselves changed. Now they must have a color display screen ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and a [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (note the youth slang for "camera"). …

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