Skip to content

Words new to me: эстафета

April 25, 2013

From Pisemskii’s Men of the Forties (Люди сороковых годов, 1869):

Luckily present for this was Simonov, who immediately knew what to do – he ran for the doctor and with his own money sent an estafeta to the colonel.

К счастью, что при этом был Симонов, который сейчас же нашелся – сбегал за доктором и послал, на собственные деньжонки, эстафету к полковнику. (part 1, chapter 18)

The colonel doesn’t live in town and his son is sick, so in context it looks like эстафета must mean some fast method of communication, and sure enough: per Dal’ it’s a postal system using mounted couriers with shipping paid in advance by the sender. The word can refer to the entire system or a single letter sent by it. At one time there was a masculine variant эстафет as well as эштафета and штафета. The etymology according to Vasmer: some Germanic word is thought to be the origin of the Italian word staffa ‘stirrup,’ which with a diminutive suffix becomes staffetta ‘mounted courier.’ French borrows this as éstafette, which leads to эстафета, while either Polish sztafeta or German Stafette leads to штафета. Not unlike эшпатон/эспонтон/эспантон ‘spontoon.’

In modern Russian эстафета is a relay race or the item passed in a relay, such as a baton or the Olympic torch.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: