The Great Wait

by Nathan Hamm on 12/1/2005 · 10 comments

It continues in Tashkent.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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anon December 2, 2005 at 11:24 am

re: agonist Thu Dec 1st, 2005 at 05:45:08 PM PDT justadood (User Info)
wish I hadn’t forgotten what russian I’d learned..
Bablefishing is instructive and amusing:
It was necessary today to taxi my mega-racing foreign-produced brand ZAZ-9’8 to the servicing.
Turn.Gasoline Ai-80 did not become dearer, there is no gasoline of brand Ai-91 in the city generally.Dispensers they speak the base of “Chinabod̶y; it is closed; therefore rake with the delivery of gasoline into the city. They will lie surely.

Yes, and long ago from 1 number they do not increase, will increase the numbers it is such 8 or 9 they will ask to transfer privety to family.

Still loves people without the turn either to be wedged in or to form a new number, but today column was held to the surprise splochenno, they passed no one excess in the turn. Even impulses of some women to form the third row sternly suppressed on the root.

Brian December 2, 2005 at 11:59 am

Well, if it makes you feel any better, apparently the Russian grammar and spelling of the people’s comments is absolutely horrible.

Lyndon December 2, 2005 at 9:10 pm

Brian, apparently this intentional misspelling or “creative” spelling is a huge trend in the Russian-language blogosphere. Crazy kids…

There was a big story about it in Russian-language Newsweek last May ( ), and I was going to blog about it but never got around to it. Plus, the concept – and its relevance – is kind of hard to explain to non-Russian readers. Not to mention how hard it would be to translate into English a Russian-language article about people intentionally misspelling words in Russian.

But I digress. I just wanted to mention this here so that people don’t think the younger generation of Russian-speakers in Uz-stan is illiterate in their mother tongue. If anything, their use of this slang shows how well-connected they are to Russian trends, at least those which play out on-line.

varske December 3, 2005 at 12:09 pm

Is the misspelling the same sort of thing English writers do in text messaging eg ur or tx, or tabloid headline writers use eg gotcha? Or is it something completely different?

It would be interesting to read your blog about it.

Lyndon December 3, 2005 at 12:15 pm

Varske, I think it’s more artful than just abbreviation or the use of colloquial slang. It’s a whole new form of internet slang, incorporating abbreviations from English (e.g., “IMHO,” but using Cyrillic letters), but also intentionally misspelling Russian words in ways that look funny and usually replicate the way they are actually pronounced. It’s the sort of linguistic play that’s pretty hard to explain in the language involved, let alone in another language. You can try machine-translating the article I linked to above, maybe the author describes it better than I can. I won’t have time to post about it for the next 10 days or so, unfortunately.

Lyndon December 3, 2005 at 12:41 pm

A bit more on this topic…

If you know Russian but aren’t familiar with this “new” orthography, here are a few examples:

“Оказца” (instead of “okazyvaetsia”)
“Аффтар – аццкий сотона” (instead of “автор – адский сатана”)
“Поцтолом” (instead of “под столом”)

Some of the changes just shorten or alter the spelling of words to reflect the way they are pronounced, and thus the “misspelling” serves to make the on-line conversation more informal, more like an actual conversation.

Here’s a typical passage where there are lots of spelling “mistakes,” but I’m betting they are all intentional: “гуляя по ентернету нашол кетайский журнал, на абложке каторой изабражена наша камрадша.”

Call it a subversion of spelling norms, a little “orange revolution” in the comments section, if you will.

Can we ever understand the ways of the youth? I think not.

Robert Mayer December 3, 2005 at 3:59 pm

That’s an interesting bit of information. We do the same thing in Chile with our Spanish.

Que turns into “ke” or even just “k” and “juevon” turns into “weon.” Things like that. We don’t even have a w in Spanish!

David December 4, 2005 at 9:58 am

Back to the matter at hand, one thought around the table at dinner tonight (in Tashkent) is that the long lines for gas are due to the expectation of a big price increase shortly, not that there’s already a shortage…

Peter December 5, 2005 at 6:36 am

I’m still unsure about the distinction between gasoline (i.e. petrol) and gas in the context of this story. I was always under the impression that motorists in Uzbekistan could alternate between the two options, and that gas was preferred because cheaper.
Some articles I have read appear to lay the blame at the feet of something called Uznefteprodukt (Узнефтепродукт), which is presumably the state energy resources agency. That said, the ‘neft’ part of the name makes me think of oil, therefore not gas. Also, again I may be getting a bit confused here, is it not the case that Uzbekistan is self-sufficent for its gas requirements, if not oil? All the more so after Uzbekistan cut off gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan earlier this year.
As a resident in the country, David seems the best qualified to clear this up. If he doesn’t mind, that is…

A.U. December 5, 2005 at 7:55 pm

Uznefteprodukt – is part of the Natioanl Holding Corporation UZBEKNEFTEGAZ.

Uznefteprodukt – is in charge of all refineries and also is in charge of the oil products sales.

Not sure who is blaming Uznefteprodukt, but they are not the ones responsible for the shortage. The problem is with supply of crude oil.

Uzbekistan’s is running out of oil!

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