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Old 04-11-2001, 02:26 PM
SuaSponte SuaSponte is offline
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Just curious. "Tovarisch" (sp?) was an imposed ideological term under the Soviets, but has it become so ingrained in the Russian language that it is still the proper form of greeting/address?

Sua
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Old 04-11-2001, 03:07 PM
Olentzero Olentzero is offline
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Da net. Ty chto, s uma soshel?!

First off, it wasn't like Lenin and Trotsky invented the word. It existed before the Revolution.

Secondly, it was really only a title used among members of the Communist Party, rather than the general populace - at least as a form of address. It was generally held in bad form to call anyone "comrade" just on general principle. As a matter of fact, the phrase "Tambovskii volk tebe tovarisch" (A Tambov wolf is your comrade) originated in the prison system when the guards forgot they shouldn't be calling the prisoners that.

Most people - even the Communists - addressed each other using the standard first name + patronymic to superiors and equals, and by the last name if a junior. I believe "Tovarisch N" was used in more formal situations, such as meetings ("I give the floor to Comrade N").
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Old 04-11-2001, 09:34 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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To answer your question, in my college Russian classes (4 years ago), which were taught by a Russian expat and a bilingual child-of-immigrants, both agreed that the term "tovarisch" is no longer used as it is both passe and a reminder of the bad old days. It might be used ironically by some the younger generation though.
Ruth
(who can still remember how to say "I study international marketing" in Russian for some reason.)
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Old 04-11-2001, 09:49 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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And in my Russian class 20+ years ago, we were taught the word as a real part of the vocabulary. But as I recall "droog" (I have no idea how to spell it oficially in the English alphabet, but in print it looks closer to "dpyr") was commoner, and is translated as "friend".
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Old 04-12-2001, 03:14 AM
Timchik Timchik is offline
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Moscow resident checking in...

Nope, tovarishch is only used in an ironic sense now, except maybe among Communist Duma deputies (members of parliament) and fringe Stalinists.

The formal term of address is gospodin (Mister) or gospozha (Miss/Mrs/Ms).

If you're calling out to someone you don't know on the street, it depends on relative age/gender:

Molodoi chelovek! = Young man! (up to maybe 35, or even older if it's a pensioner talking to you)
Muzhchina! = Man! (middle-aged and up, younger if being addressed by a teenager)
[I'm 36, and get molodoi chelovek/muzhchina about 50:50]
Dyevushka! = Girl! (like molodoi chelovek, this can be used for women who are well into their 30s, especially if they are saleswomen in a store)
Zhenshchina! = Woman! (age range like Muzhchina, except for:)
Babulya! = Granny! (from about 50 onwards)

You can really offend someone if you don't use the form appropriate for their age/relative status. It was probably easier when you could call anyone tovarishch (though even in Soviet times, I suspect you came off as a bit of pompous ass using tovarishch in everyday situations)

There are also a whole range of other less polite but still friendly forms of address, usually used by drunks cadging a cigarette/spare change, e.g.
Paren'! = fella!
Bratets! = little brother!
Starik! = old man/old fellow! (can be used for any age)

We won't get into the unfriendly forms of address, as there probably isn't space on the server for all the forms (Russian mat, or cussing, is nearly infinite in its variety)
  #6  
Old 08-22-2016, 05:32 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timchik View Post
Moscow resident checking in...

Nope, tovarishch is only used in an ironic sense now, except maybe among Communist Duma deputies (members of parliament) and fringe Stalinists.
A few weeks ago I visited Transnistria, a predominantly Slavic region that unilaterally declared independence from Moldova in 1990. Though no longer Leninist, they're exceedingly proud of their Soviet heritage. The government has retained all the old iconography (hammer-and-sickle flags and coats of arms); they maintain all the old Soviet-era statues, monuments, memorials, and political placards, and have even put up some new ones in the same style. And yes, some of the people there even use the term tovarishch ("comrade") unironically. On our first day, the landlord of our guesthouse had to register our stay, which involved taking us to the Ministry of Interior in Tiraspol to fill out some forms. Whenever she addressed the people working there, it was as tovarishch. Except for us, nobody seemed to think this was the least bit unusual.
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Old 08-22-2016, 07:57 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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I always thought it odd for Russians to use the word "comrade". I don't know which language "comrade" originates from, but it sure does NOT sound East European. Thank you for teaching me that it is merely the translation of "tovarisch".

Ignorance fought!
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Old 08-22-2016, 09:02 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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I always thought it odd for Russians to use the word "comrade". I don't know which language "comrade" originates from, but it sure does NOT sound East European.
Wiki says it comes "from the Iberian Romance term camarada". I already knew it to be the same word in Catalan, Valenciano and Spanish, guess we can add Portuguese and Galego.

In turn, RAE says that camarada derives from cámara (chamber, room), as its original meaning would be someone with whom you share a bedroom, although not necessarily a bed.

Last edited by Nava; 08-22-2016 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 08-22-2016, 09:52 AM
gnoitall gnoitall is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
A few weeks ago I visited Transnistria, a predominantly Slavic region that unilaterally declared independence from Moldova in 1990. Though no longer Leninist, they're exceedingly proud of their Soviet heritage. The government has retained all the old iconography (hammer-and-sickle flags and coats of arms); they maintain all the old Soviet-era statues, monuments, memorials, and political placards, and have even put up some new ones in the same style. And yes, some of the people there even use the term tovarishch ("comrade") unironically. On our first day, the landlord of our guesthouse had to register our stay, which involved taking us to the Ministry of Interior in Tiraspol to fill out some forms. Whenever she addressed the people working there, it was as tovarishch. Except for us, nobody seemed to think this was the least bit unusual.
Did you have to salute the border customs guards and declare "Glory to Arstotzka Transnistria"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Wiki says it comes "from the Iberian Romance term camarada". I already knew it to be the same word in Catalan, Valenciano and Spanish, guess we can add Portuguese and Galego.

In turn, RAE says that camarada derives from cámara (chamber, room), as its original meaning would be someone with whom you share a bedroom, although not necessarily a bed.
So, "roommate". Taken over-literally, seems odd in context. "So, Roommate Lenin, what do you think about Roommate Stalin?"
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Old 08-22-2016, 12:02 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
Did you have to salute the border customs guards and declare "Glory to Arstotzka Transnistria"?
No, but man, that was the fanciest-looking border crossing I've ever seen. The guards refused to let us take photos of it, though that hasn't stopped other people from doing so.
  #11  
Old 08-22-2016, 12:39 PM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is online now
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Isn't the word (masculine nominative) for "your" in the familiar tvoi?
  #12  
Old 08-22-2016, 03:28 PM
Nava Nava is online now
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Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
So, "roommate". Taken over-literally, seems odd in context. "So, Roommate Lenin, what do you think about Roommate Stalin?"
Not quite, because the term refers to someone who is part of your household, of your family, or of your company (as in military)... it isn't just someone with whom you share housing, but someone you live and work with. Someone you would trust "with wallet, horse and wife" (or, in the updated version, "with wallet, car and wife").

Last edited by Nava; 08-22-2016 at 03:29 PM.
  #13  
Old 08-22-2016, 03:47 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Please note that this was originally a 2001 thread.

Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2010: Odyssey Two, written in 1982, is largely set on a Soviet spacecraft with three U.S. astronauts tagging along for a mission to Io in, well, you know the year. There's a short humorous memo of how "tovarisch" is considered passé:

To our American guests:

Frankly, pals, I can't remember when I was last addressed by this term. To any twenty-first-century Russian, it's way back there with the battleship
Potemkin - a reminder of cloth caps and red flags and Vladimir Ilich haranguing the workers from the steps of railway carriages.

Ever since I was a kid it's been
bratets or druzhok - your choice.

You're welcome.

Comrade Kovalev
  #14  
Old 08-23-2016, 06:19 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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My wife's parents grew up in socialist, soviet-aligned, Guyana. And they definitely use "comrade" casually in conversation (e.g. "hey comrade" as a kind of "hey man")
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