Alright you primitive screwheads, LISTEN UP!!

Alexandre "Sunny" Kovalenko Alex.Kovalenko at
Thu May 19 07:10:48 PDT 2005

On Thu, 2005-05-19 at 14:06 +0200, Harti Brandt wrote:
> On Wed, 18 May 2005, Gary Kline wrote:

> GK>	Andrey, while I'm talking to a real Russian, I've got a 
> GK>	question that you can answer.  [[Sorry that this is going
> GK>	far OT, gang, but I've been wondering about this since I read 
> GK>	Dostoevsky.]]  *Why* are some people addressed by their
> GK>	first name _and_ by what may/must? be their middle names??
> GK>	I remember some woman who seemed upset at Boris Yeltsin
> GK>	(when he was still President) call him "Boris 
> GK>	[A_Very_Long_String_of_Characters]"  Is this to indicate
> GK>	irony, or affection, or anger...  or what?
Not pretending to be "real" Russian (or really Russian ;), I would still
like to point out that concept of the middle name is not clearly
applicable to the name forming schema in Russia (or Ukraine for that
matter). Third part of the name (besides surname/family name and first
name/given name) is made up from the first name of your father suitably
mutilated to reflect the fact that you belong to his family. This form
would be different from your father's name and, normally have male and
female version. Rules to produce this form from the original name are
fairly formalized, so knowing the name of your father, native Russian
speaker would rarely have a difficulty coming up with the proper form.
Now, on to the original question -- use of the (for the lack of the
better term) "paternal" name is somewhat equivalent to the use of the
Mr./Mrs/Ms. prefix in English speaking cultures (now, not being native
to one of these cultures, I beg for forgiveness if my understanding is
incorrect). This means that Michail Sergeevitch Gorbachev (sorry, I do
not remember Yeltsin's "paternal" name) could be formally addressed as
Michail Sergeevitch or Tovarisch Gorbachev (prior to Perestroika), with
"Tovarisch" giving way to "Gospodin" in past-Perestroika times, but
never Michail Gorbachev. Out of the two using last name with the prefix
form would be something reserved for public forums and such. Now, to
circle back to my original explanation, his father's first name would be
Sergey and his sister (provided he had one) would go by <First name>
> While Andrey is still typing his answer... Just to make it more confusing: 
> In Russian there are usually dozens, if not hundreds of different forms of 
> the first name: Tatjana - Tanjusha - Tanjucha - Tanja - Tanka - 
> Tanjetschka - Tanjuschetshka ... Some of them having some kind of 
> emotional load which may depend on the concrete situation and the relation 
> between the two people. 
I would have to point out that in the form of first+paternal only one of
the above could be used, eg. Tatjana Sergeevna. 
> Furthermore besides refering to one by first name 
> or first+middle name, you can also refer by last name only, which is kind 
> of offending. And you can refer by middle name only which gives it a kind 
> of vulgar intimacy (hope that's the right word for it).
Use of the last name only was not considered offensive (at least in
mid/late 80s) under the same circumstances where roll call might be
applicable, e.g. teacher addressing pupil, or in the military setting.
It could also be used with the same level of intimacy as addressing
people by "paternal" name only. 

Alexandre "Sunny" Kovalenko (Олександр Коваленко)

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