by

c6

Commissar Markov has long been a loyal party member, but I fear his growing influence in state policy.  Perhaps it is time to cash in a favor from my friends at the Kremlin.

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33 Responses to “”

  1. Harold Says:

    We, wonderful Americans, sure do love to laugh – Which is why I love this site!. Someone give this guy an award already! Awesome!

  2. Denis Says:

    “Girls dream of marriage, but once married- everything becomes the opposite.
    Fed up with the husband, who gorged himself on pears,
    and from the mother in law there is never a respite..”

  3. Harold Says:

    We, ugly Americans, sure do love to laugh – so long as its @ others’ expense. Someone hx0rz this site already. Lame.

  4. Shawn Says:

    for a few minutes I thought Harold wasn’t paying attention anymore… if he hates the site so much why does he comment on every post?

    thanks for the real translation Denis.

  5. Squeaky Francis Says:

    Cats in Russia eat pears?

  6. zygote Says:

    Harold (#1) FTW!

  7. Dan Says:

    Harold if you hate the site so much why do you continue to drive traffic to it?

  8. Harold Says:

    Thanks, Zygote! I was cut-pasting the same stupid response into the last entry, when I realized something:

    Just because daddy let all my uncles pay him to touch my no-no area doesn’t mean I have to be a humorless fuckstick and troll this wonderful site all day. Now that I’ve decided to move on, maybe I’ll attempt to find friends now to fill my empty and joyless life!

  9. Throbert McGee Says:

    “Fed up with the husband, who gorged himself on pears,
    and from the mother-in-law there is never a respite..”

    Although Denis’s translation is correct, it misses a couple of key points:

    First, in Russian, “the HUSBAND who ate too many PEARS” is a rhyming phrase — that’s exactly why it’s “pears,” and not some other food, in order to rhyme with the Russian word for “husband.” So a less literal but more effective translation might be “the hubby who got chubby.”

    It’s also worth noting that in Russian, the word for a wife’s mother-in-law (“svekrov”) is totally different from the word for a husband’s mother-in-law (“tyoshcha”) — thus when a mother-in-law is referred to, there’s never ambiguity about which spouse’s mother you mean. And in this poem, of course, it’s the wife’s mother-in-law who is a source of headaches for her daughter-in-law.

    The reason I bring this up is to point out that in American humor (and I think in anglophone humor generally), the stereotype is for the husband to complain about HIS tyrannical mother-in-law (the “tyoshcha”). Jokes from the wife’s point-of-view, about HER m-i-l (the “svekrov”), are less common.

    I’m not sure if there’s any “deep underlying meaning” to this, but I will observe that there are several Russian fairy tales in which the male hero discovers that his lovely young wife is actually the daughter of Baba Yaga, the wickedest witch in all Russia — yet Baba Yaga turns out to be relatively generous towards her mortal son-in-law, and uses her magic to help him in whatever quest he’s on. (Contrast with the bad treatment that Darren always got from Endora in “Bewitched.”)

    On the other hand, there are NO fairy tales in which a woman finds out that her new husband is Baba Yaga’s son — and when female heroines cross paths with Baba Yaga, the witch usually tries to make the girls into stew!

  10. Throbert McGee Says:

    Also, if you were to run the Russian through Babelfish, it would give you something like:

    “…and the husband who ate too much of pears is sitting on the livers…”

    But that’s not a mistake — in Russian, “to sit on someone’s liver” = English “to totally annoy someone”; “to get on someone’s nerves”; “to be a royal pain.”

    So my suggested colloquial translation of the whole thing might be:

    “Young women’s marriage fantasies
    Are the opposite of life:
    Hubby, now chubby, is a pain-in-the-ass
    And his mom calls YOU a bad wife!”

  11. Throbert McGee Says:

    And here’s my own poor non-native attempt at a caption in Soviet-style Russian:

    Граждане, будьте всегда на чеку в защите Родины от фашистов!
    В сих днях, и собственная же супруга может оказаться — самим Гитлер-котом!

    (Citizens, be ever-alert in defending the Motherland from fascists!
    In the present days, even one’s own wife may turn out to be Hitlercat himself!)

  12. nightgoat Says:

    thank you for the explanation and real translations. you really do need an explanation of the translation because russian and western culture is so drastically different that humor doesn’t translate at all

  13. Throbert McGee Says:

    “even one’s own wife may turn out to be Hitlercat himself!”

    Just a little follow-up trivia for non-Russians: What we in the West call “World War Two,” they call “Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voyna,” which is usually translated “Great Patriotic War.” And while we Americans typically think of WW2 as a war primarily against “Nazis” (at least in the European theater!) the Russians always speak of it as a war against “fashizm” — which is not incorrect, of course, but puts a different spin on it.

    But here’s the fun trivia: because the Cyrillic letter for the “v” sound happens to look identical to an English “B,” their abbreviation for “Great Patriotic War” looks just like “ВОВ”. (But pronounced “veh-oh-veh”.)

    So in Soviet post offices and state-run grocery stores (for example), there used to be signs reading “Veterans of BOB will be served first”!

  14. Harold Says:

    Please kill me. My life is empty and meaningless.

  15. oh hello Says:

    Throbert, thank you for your etymological commentary. It makes this site even more worthwhile. Rolcats, thank you for being amazing.

  16. Harold Says:

    An American and a Russian are reading the moronic rolcats blog. The American says to the Russian “In my country we have freedom, I can even make fun of our president.” The Russian responds “So what, in my country we can make fun of your president too.”

  17. bubbles Says:

    thank you Throbert McGee!

  18. Harold Says:

    *sob* Oh god……DADDY! WHY DID YOU LET THEM TOUCH ME?!

  19. Zoe Says:

    Throbert, those explanations are so great! They make the mistranslations even funnier. 🙂

    Harold… No one cares.

  20. thanks Says:

    Spasibo Mr. McGee

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Mr.McGee, please keep up the linguistic/historical examinations. Most interesting.

    What is your background, if you don’t mind me asking?

  22. John Borwick’s blog - Neat stuff John likes. » links for 2009-02-27 Says:

    […] Яolcats (tags: funny russian cat kitty betrayal kremlin) This entry is filed under Links. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Leave a Reply […]

  23. Throbert McGee Says:

    “Mr.McGee, what is your background, if you don’t mind me asking?”

    I’m an American who studied Russian in college and then lived in Moscow for a little less than a year (where I worked as an ESL teacher) back in the early ’90s — shortly after it stopped being the USSR and was just Russia again.

    Nowadays, I’m very out of practice with spoken Russian, but I’ve always tried to keep up with reading it. So this blog is quite a lot of fun for me just as a translation exercise and a chance to refresh some things I’d forgotten. (I’ve always had trouble keeping all those different “in-law” words straight, and had to double-check my Russian dictionary for this one, to make sure I wasn’t getting things backward — in this case, English happens to be so much simpler, though that’s not always true!)

  24. lis Says:

    I love the website! The pseudo-soviet-style captions are hilarious (I still love the little cabbage best) and then to have a bit of background on the original is an interesting bonus.

  25. Pirate Mike Says:

    No recognition that this is Hitler cat, eh Demitri? That certainly changes things.

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