More on the Ukrainian Language

My world was turned upside down recently when someone told me the word грубий (hrubi) meant crude. For all my childhood, the word meant fat. Online translators confirmed my error.

Was the entire Ukrainian diaspora using the word incorrectly?

I seems we diaspora Ukrainians are not alone. Our habits came from somewhere. I took great comfort in this reference to the arcane definition which seemed popular in my American Ukrainian community as a child:

Те саме можна сказати й про слова грубий — товстий. Мені більше подобається «груба книжка», а не товста. Чому? А тому, що так казали мої баби в Ромні й Недригайлові (цебто на Лівобережжі), та ще й досі так кажуть у народі навіть діти

Other diaspora peculiarities (I’ll use transliterations):

“koshykivka” instead of “basketball”
“kanapka” instead of “sandvich”
the arcane “lyshcheta” for skies instead of “lyji”

See also:
(my original post about the Ukrainian language)
(Ukrainian words from my diaspora childhood which haven’t quite worked in Ukraine)

7 Comments

  1. Mom

    Seems to me these rules and definitions are not 100%, and regional use has a certain amount of validity. Your grandparents and I and your dad used “hrubyj” to mean fat….and it doesn’t seem right to invalidate how generations have used the word. I have very occasionally heard the word to mean coarse, as well. Words do have more than one meaning we all know. Can diaspora be considered a region, why not! They did not invent the meaning they brought it with them. Language is after all a living, evolving thing.
    So there, I do not believe you were in error!

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  2. Alex

    One more thing is that russification also included deliberate policy of making some Ukrainian same-sounding-but-with-different-meaning words to match Russian ones. One particular word that comes to my mind is “дурний” which traditionally meant something free or rather that came easy way but now mostly, same as a in Russian, as foolish.

    Reply
  3. Roman

    I get conflicting view, but at least a couple people have told me that the diaspora words, specifically kopani miach (football european), and koshekivka (basketball) are Polish.

    Reply
  4. Alex

    “I get conflicting view, but at least a couple people have told me that the diaspora words, specifically kopani miach (football european), and koshekivka (basketball) are Polish.”

    That’s could be true, but I guess in bilingual environment, such Ukrainian-Polish or Ukrainian-Russian, when new word or rather word for a new concept, like a foreign game, comes it will likely end up to be the same in both languages. At least, I think so.

    Reply
  5. Mom

    My Bukovyna friend who is enjoying your blog, emailed me with another thread to this discussion. “Tovstyj” also means fat or fatty and pertains generally to food, though I can remember my mom using the word in the diminutive form as an affectionate reference to chubby babies or toddlers.

    Reply
  6. Andy

    I think the word “koshekivka” was invented in Plast camp just for need of a Ukie word for the game. Remember “lylyk” was the term for a bat in baseball?

    Reply

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