Magazine article Russian Life

The Enobling Deception. (Survival Russian)

Magazine article Russian Life

The Enobling Deception. (Survival Russian)

Article excerpt

Cheating, deceit and lies are vices as old to Russia as its folklore and culture (see story on p. 60). Of course, no one likes to be cheated, but there is cheating, and then there is cheating ... As the poet Alexander Pushkin once proclaimed, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. "The ennobling deception is more dear to us than the dark, base truths."

In Alexei Tolstoy's fairytale Buratino, a translation of Pinnochio, the heroes Fox Alisa and Cat Bazilio cheat the hapless wooden puppet Buratino after luring him into the Field of Miracles in the Country of Fools ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The two rascals have advised Buratino to bury his golden coins in the earth under a tree, and then water the buried treasure so that it will grow to an even greater treasure. Buratino falls for the scheme and Bazilio and Alisa sing, while digging up Buratino's money after he has gone, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]." ("You don't need a knife to rob a fool--just tell a big lie and do whatever you want with him.")

Given this cultural "heritage," it should be no surprise that we have many derivations for the word [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (cunning, perfidy, guile). The noun is [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ruse, cunning, ingenuity) and there is even a proverb praising this "virtue": [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Cunning is your second mind). There are also some useful diminutive suffixes ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), with which you can declare that someone's eyes are [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("have a little ruse in them") or [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Other slang words for cheating abound. There is the ubiquitous phrase [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("to turn Dinamo"). It derives from the "Dinamo" machine of the 1920-1930s and came into modern usage in the 1960s and 1970s, when [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] meant cheating taxi drivers by asking them to wait while you ran in to get your billfold, only to run out the back door, stuffing the driver. A general synonym is [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--to cheat or fool someone. The crook who is "turning Dinamo" is known as a [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. …

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