Stepanov E. N.
It is time for Odessa to get out of Catacombs
Translated by Roman Mysak
Odessa Language is as colorful as its culture, literature, history, its inhabitants the blood of whom are mixed of tens of European and Asian nations. Odessa language pile does not leave anyone indifferent: some criticize it; some are for its protection, saving and developing Odessa language. The main problem of language Odessa history is that no one has ever made a good research of this history.
As any good mother, Odessa presents its language inventions to many other languages, but first to Russian and Ukrainian. But only few patriots of the City know about Odessa trail of such inventions…and scientists from Germany, Finland, Switzerland, USA, Russia, Israel, and Byelorussia… So, in many styles of Russian language on the territory of its usage many words and sayings are implemented into language and firstly got kind of typing word in Odessa words like: otkritka, kino, negritenok, ban, pizjon, gnat pchjel na Odessu, krome shjutok, shja!, vira!, maina!, malchjukoviy, koresh, korephan, sljushjay sjuda and hundreds of others. Third part of words and phrases, words-emphasis variants from “Experience of the dictionary of incorrectness and in Russian colloquial language (mostly in the South of Russia), based on Odessa inhabitants language and published by V. Dolopcheviy about hundred years ago is now used in all Russian dictionaries and are treated as standard vocabulary. Lots of financial terms of Italian origin (avizo, kontkorrent, etc), which were considered as neologisms in 1990s, were widely used in Odessa languages as well as in Russian.
When you hear that “Odessa is not always goes with the times”, you agree: Yes. Even more Odessa goes faster, than it is ordered to go by central bureaucracy and sleepy province. And propagation of the center law-makers with their view as to language of Odessa locals like incorrect, made many of our homebred writers like I. A. Babel and M.M. Zhvanetskiy to perfect Odessa expressions from direct speech of its speakers, and their own too. You should read Odessa stories” by Babel and think of how the tongue of Odessa robbers are described. How could Odessa’s dude Benya Shout rebuke Slobodka’s robber Manka like: “Manya, you are not at work. Be calm, please..”? / Manya, vji ne na rabote, cholodnokrovney... / Of course, not. More real would be a phrase like;” Hey, you are not in, stay cool”. / Manya, shja, vji ne na dele! /
Nowadays, Naum Syndalovskiy is considered as Petersburg patriot, peterisms’ history writer (Petersburgs’ words and phrases, idioms). The scientific basis of the work was embodied by Petersburg’s professor in Russian language V. V. Kolesov in the book “Tongue of the City” (1991). Such kind of work has been developed in Moscow. Now professor V.S.Elistratov directs this work and it is supported by Moscow administration. By the way, standing up for the uniqueness of the Moscow language and its influence on to the development of Russian literary language, this scientist considers Odessa language as provincial. The wish to see Odessa as a deep province is at the plagiarism fans that try to appropriate the authority of harbor songs, which were born in Odessa port. Now it is a genre of Russian chanson. Many of old harbor songs are distorted. Some Petersburg’s, Moscow, Rostov and Ekaterinburg’s authors like A. Rosenbaum, M.Shufutinskiy, and L. Uspenskaya compose and perform new songs, but they are still named Odessa’s song.
Odessa city folklore lives in a conscience of the world art bohemia and it is ineradicable in Odessa too. There are several reasons. First, odessism is not an ignorant province as the ones who have never lived this Odessa life, even if had lived there for some years in our CITY, tell us sometimes. Odesism is a state of soul of a man in whom intellect and emotions, a serious attitude to life and humor with no vulgarity, inoffensive adventurism and wish to be in public are harmonically joined brining good for the society and himself, and, of course, a keen sense of language and love to word games. Second, having created for hundred years the atmosphere of intolerance to Odessa’s folklore and language, being afraid of Odessa “separatism”, provincial bureaucrats with their provincial minds make native Odessa speakers spread out all over the world. And all over the world Odessa people gain general acceptance and understanding resulting into general interest in Odessa phenomenon of the world. Third, the words Odessa and Odessa people are widely used as a profitable brand for many modern show and show business itself.
It is time for Odessa to get out of the Catacombs, stop hiding and start to live full life with the many-languages culture, thin humor and talents. We should not stay waiting when we are studied like aborigines from Australia, research like paleontological exhibits and described in some doubtful “scientific” works of Swiss and Finnish pseudodoctors and pseudomasters. We have to start ourselves to study and make popular our historic past, undetermined present and the least predictable future.
E. N. Stepanov, Doctor of Philology.