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Words new to me: арапник

June 20, 2012

арапник “hunting whip for dogs,” “long hunting whip with a short handle”

Словом, эта прелестная девушка была фавориткой из фавориток, и пребывание ее в доме Вишневских заключало в себе много от всех отменного. Степан Иванович, даже выезжая на охоту с борзыми, брал Гапку с собою и не довольствовался тем, что она, одетая черкешенкой, едет в покойном рыдване, а брал ее оттуда и возил перед собою на седле. Когда же девушка уставала от неудобного и утомительного путешествия на лошади и сон начинал клонить ее головку, — Вишневский не отдавал ее ни на чьи чужие руки, а тотчас же прекращал полеванье и бережно, на своих собственных руках, вез Гапочку домой. И боже сохрани, чтобы кто-нибудь из его свиты завел в это время какой-нибудь шум и нарушил им детский сон возлюбленницы пана!.. Виновный не миновал бы сырой ямы и ременных арапников. (464, continuation of the passage with пестовать)

Part of a rich array of Russian words for “whip,” with бич, кнут, плеть (плетка), нагайка and with the variations арапленик and арапельник.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2012 9:36 am

    A friend who does not read Russian but is somewhat fascinated by the language frequently jokes that he’s suspicious of a culture that has so many specialized words for things like whips, knouts, cudgels, etc. I’ve yet to come across an article that examines this phenomenon of richness of vocabulary in this department. But of course 19th century Russian literature is replete with all sorts of regional terms for just about everything. I can’t imagine any Russian, at any time in history, except perhaps Vladimir Dahl, understanding or even being familiar with more than a minor fraction of them.

  2. July 6, 2012 12:54 am

    Now you’ve got me thinking about how many regionalisms there are in nineteenth-century Russian literature, and I keep convincing myself of different things. There are certainly plenty in Leskov. I feel like many writers either avoid them or use a handful of regional terms in a showy and distancing way, while mostly sticking to the literary language. But no doubt I’ll start seeing them everywhere now!

    • July 6, 2012 9:28 am

      Well, they are everywhere! I’m convinced that one reason Tolstoy and Turgenev and Chekhov and a handful of others gained early popularity in the West is that their works contain almost no regionalisms or dialect. Whereas translating Leskov can be a nightmare because of these two features. And I believe many very fine writers never really made it either in Russia or outside it because the regional features and dialect have made them in various ways impenetrable to readers. Melnikov-Pecherskii somehow did it all and, though very much a regionalist who used plenty of obscure terms, managed to reach his readers and hold their attention. Perhaps having Alexander III as his great patron helped.

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