Thursday, November 08, 2007


Apparently, the word "razvodit'" in Russian means both "to breed" and "dilute."

I don't know what to think about that, but I suspect it's just about the right intellectual tension. Feel free to comment or illuminate the semantics here, especially if you speak Russian, as I sure as heck do not!



BorderWars said...

P -

I managed to come up with two posts in response to this challenge. Here is the first:

Razvodit and Vodka

- C

Steve Bodio said...

Hmm. AS your correspondent Christopher confirms, "razvodit is the transitive verb "to breed".But "dilute"is "razbavlyat". Close but no cigar (;-D)

PBurns said...

Could it might mean both things, at least ideomatically? The closest I ever came to learning Russian was dating a communist girl who had a "Body by Fisher," if you know what I mean. Much ideology was suspended in my youth . . .

In any case, see this Russian environmental cartoon from 1967 >>
(click on the picture to read the poem caption at the bottom), in which there is some kind of pun going on (or so the caption says) about breeding surgeon and diluting the ink of government bureaucrats.

As for diluting dogs by breeding them, I think you can *concentrate* the genetics of dogs too -- in fact that is generally what is done. Some times good things are concentrated, and sometimes bad. It works both ways. Etymologically, I was wondering what the shared root was that got us the leap of language and thought in Russian?

For those familiar with the "Body by Fisher" line, see >>


BorderWars said...

P -

I did find that cartoon in my google research and make reference to it in my second post (working, working).

I believe the essence is that with diluted ink you can tell any number of fantasies (breed histories, anyone?). There's also a passage from a book that you'd laugh at regarding razvodit and swindling people out of their money.

Good stuff. Post due later today.

Also, kudos to Steve for that Russian artist post a few weeks back. I'm still enamored with that illustrator.

- C

BorderWars said...

Ok, so this little thought experiment has blossomed into way too many posts. Here are three more:

Dogs and Razvodit

Dilution and Reproduction

Vodka and Dogs

In the final cut, that cartoon didn't make it as I've pretty much summed it up in that last comment... with diluted ink you can write whatever you want. Nice parallel to invented breed histories being important. Point made.

Here is the passage from the book that you'll enjoy. Obvious point being that the ethic of show culture (rich people throwing a lot of money away for what?) can be seen as an endeavor to swindle people out of their money:

Conjuring Hope: Magic and Healing In Contemporary Russia
By Galina Lindquist
p. 213

"There are more slang words for the ways in which a person can be made to part with his money. One can be 'thrown on money.' In this case, one suffers a one-time loss as a result of one's credulity...

Another possible pitfall in this category...requires that the victim should have a decent fortune to begin with. The trick is called 'razvesti na den'gi'. Razvesti means to make one part with someone or something, to divorce, dissolve or dilute, but razvodit' also means to breed, rear or cultivate. This is when a person is swindled into investing a large sum of money in an enterprise, and is left with nothing. In this case, the victim is 'divorced' or parted from his money, but he can also be seen figuratively as an agricultural species especially bred by the 'croppers' so as to yield a one-time harvest.