Russki: impolite or not?

I always thought Russki was an impolite word for a Russian person. However, the Sochi Olympic ski jumping facility is called the Russki.

So, what’s the straight dope? Is “Russki” rude, or is it acceptable?

“Russki” just means “Russian” in Russian.

I don’t know how rude “Russki” is in English (I don’t think I’ve ever heard it in anything but a tongue-in-cheek-hearkening-back-to-the-Cold-War sense.), but just because it’s not rude in the original language doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not rude in English. For example, “Polak” just means “a Polish man/person” in Polish, but in English, (spelled “Polack” per English orthography) it’s considered a bit of a slur.

ETA: The dictionaries I checked do seem to consider it disparaging and offensive.

A quick look on several online dictionaries shows that the term is somewhere between disparaging to offensive.




http://dictionary.babylon.com/russky/
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Russki
http://www.yourdictionary.com/russky

It would be as impolite as a Russian calling an American "American’.
You would have to decide if it is impolite or not.

Somehow, I don’t think the Russians would insult themselves or their own facility. Could be wrong, tho.

Yup. There’s a perfectly cromulent English word for Russian, which is “Russian”. Switching into another language - a language that you don’t otherwise speak or understand - to point to someone’s Russianness is to emphasise his otherness, his difference from Normal People Who Speak English. In most contexts, it’s at least at risk of sounding somewhat derogatory. The same would go for most other nationalities, I would think.

No, it would be as impolite as a Russian, speaking English to an American, calling him an “Amerikanskay”. “Russki” isn’t an English word, it’s a crude phonetic representation of the Russians’ adjective for their own nationality, and when used instead of the proper English adjective, it has come to denote a slur, I suppose probably because it underscores and subtly ridicules the language difference and in effect says, “you are not one of us, you are funny foreigners”. Even in the US, with a common language, words like “Yankee” weren’t always meant kindly, and didn’t always refer to an overpaid athlete in a sports team.

During the bad old Cold War days, ISTM it was used rather frequently, and most commonly by right-wing type of people who saw Яussians all as one homogeneous bunch of godless commies. So Яusski always had the connotation of, not simply Яussian, but always meant “those damned godlesss Яussian commies”

In the cold war era USAF, “Russki” carried the same connotation that “Kraut” did when used to refer to Germans during WWII. You respected their capabilities as a foe, yet held them collectively in contempt for the moral failings of their totalitarian government and individually in contempt for the presumed personal failings of being willing to serve a corrupt and evil regime.

Not a neutral term; not even a little bit.

Wrong.
*Calling the direct object of a sentence in the direct object’s language, the Russian would call the American “American”. *
I think if one understands Russian, at least a little, they would understand that Russki is a Russian word.
It isn’t a crude phonetic representation of the Russian’s adjective, it is an exact transliteration. Transliterations, being the best possible, aren’t crude representations.
To people who want it to be a slur, it is a slur. If somebody uses it as a way of showing that they understand it’s meaning, it isn’t. Your supposition is just that, and it is incorrect, because you don’t know why somebody says it. Perhaps you could ask somebody who uses the word. Something tells me that you’d prefer to lecture rather than ask, however.
Even in the US, the term ‘Yank’ isn’t automatically an insult/slur.

Sorry, handsomeharry, that’s not how languages work. An imperfect (and invented) analogy: “Asshole” might be Swahili for “really nice person,” but if I have a conversation in English with someone, even if we’re standing in a park in Dar es Salaam, and I call them this, I would be insulting them (or at the very least risk my meaning being understood as an insult).

You may lament that the transliteration of the word for “Russian” in Russian has a different meaning in English, but you can’t change that fact.

Well, yes, if you only heard it from right-wing type people who saw Russians as one homogeneous bunch of godless commies, it would mean a bunch of godless commies.
If, however, the Cold War had been over for, say, 25 years, mol, it may not mean the same thing, and perhaps by people who don’t view Russians that way.

Analogies don’t work that way, either. Analogies are called analogies because that’s not how things are, but, how things *may *be viewed, as an illustration. In this case, you’re doing it to make black into white.
If I have a conversation with you in English, and call somebody “Russki”, you don’t know what I mean, because you don’t know WTH ‘Russki’ means, and, if you did know what it means, (Russian, adv. or Russian, ethnic noun) or stinking commie; so, assholes notwithstanding, you have three valid choices, yet, you think I want to insult somebody. I could just want you to ask 'What’s Russki mean?" so I could impress you, but, you have me pegged as Gen. Jack Ripper wanting to commit mass murder.

Actually, YOU’RE the one who has a misunderstanding of how languages work.
In the broader context, for the last 25 years, since the Cold War ended, people have, allegedly been less inclined to go weapons hot w/the Russians.
Now, the world has become smaller, and we have more interactions with Russians, as with other people.
With satellites, we can see more Cyrillic letters on their bldgs, and with audio, we can hear the Russian athletes, due to our compulsory interaction with them in these Olympics, use the term more readily. People want to know what **Pyccki/Russki **means, because they see it all over the place. People who understand Russian will say “Russki, which means Russian”. They aren’t going to go into diatribes about how people who use it are racist/commiephobes. They are going to answer the question. And, more internationally inclined people are going to use it. The momentum will go away from what a small class had considered an insult.
What, am I going to be pissed because a Russian calls me ‘American’, when that’s what I am? Are Russkii’s going to be angry at me for calling them Russkii? No? What’s the point of insulting somebody who doesn’t get insulted? If I have a conversation with somebody, in Gorky Park, and call somebody Russki, I don’t care whom you want to call an asshole, I am describing said person as being Russian.
So, you have got a minor lesson in globalism and how languages work. Use it to your advantage.

I’m not sure what satellite technology and globalism has to do with the definition of words, but it is pretty clear that dictionaries pretty much uniformly consider it an insult. Since we’re in a forum for factual answers, the consensus of well-respected dictionaries quite simply trumps your opinion and way of thinking.

I just say Ivans.

Well, I might if I knew that in Russian it was used as a slur. Compare with the word “Polak.” Insulting in English, simply means “Polish person” in Polish.

Once more, with feeling: “Russki” means a particular thing in English. It just does.

Now, you are proposing something interesting: that, during the almost 25 years since the end of the Cold War, its English meaning has changed, from “pejorative word for a Russian person” to simply “Russian person.” You may be right that its meaning is changing (but I’d like to see some evidence), but I am positive it has not lost its pejorative tone enough so that you can use it without fear of being misunderstood.

You are unduly influenced by the mere fact that you happen to have some special knowledge: that “Russki” in Russian simply means “Russian.” Very few English speakers possessed that knowledge 25 years ago, and very few possess it today. If its English meaning is indeed in the process of changing, it’s probably not because more English speakers are now aware of its meaning in Russian than before.

I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it yet. I haven’t read the whole thread but the first letter in this word: Яusski is not an “R” sound in Russian. It is a vowel and is pronounced “ya” (maybe “yah” is a better transliteration). The “R” sound in Russian is “P”. Similarly, the backward “N” is actually another vowel, pronounced like a long “E”.

The old Soviet Union abbreviation CCCP, which we pronounce cee cee cee pee, is actually ess ess ess air in Russian.

This commercial has been brought to you by the proven pedant, J. We now return to your regularly scheduled thread. :smiley:

Wise. Clarity of intent is the hallmark of a gentleman. :slight_smile:

Polack is an insult in American English. I’ve never heard it used In Britain or other English speaking countries.