"Why me?" Top phrases by which you can recognize a person from the USSR

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Total gray and constant shortages had a strong impact on the language of Soviet people

Everyday life has a strong influence on the language of a society-any professional philologist will tell you that. Especially if it is such a specific way of life as life in the Soviet Union.

The total shortage of goods, the suppression of individuality, and the ubiquitous communist ideology had such an impact on people that we still hear the phrases they used in Soviet times. Blogger Maksym Mirovych has compiled a vocabulary of Soviet people that can hardly be translated into another language without a detailed explanation of the context. If you use these phrases, it means that the influence of the "scoop" on you is still ongoing.

"Who's the last man standing?"

The total shortage in the USSR gave rise to the phenomenon of widespread queues. Seeing one, a Soviet person would first ask: "Who's the last one in line?" and took a seat, and then asked what exactly was behind it. And the lines were not only in stores. They could also be seen in medical institutions, government agencies, and any organization providing services.

"Thrown away"

The goods that these queues gathered for were often described by the word "thrown away." And no, it wasn't about recycling, but about the habit of sellers to throw goods on the counter. And the more scarce the product was, the more spectacular the gesture was supposed to be. People lined up to buy what was "thrown away" regardless of the level of need for it. It could be anything from sausages to chandeliers to household appliances. Today, this word in this sense has almost disappeared from use.

"Where did you get it?"

Another manifestation of the total shortage in the USSR is the constant interest of its inhabitants in where and what they could "get". At that time, people did not really buy goods, but rather got them. To do this, they used their acquaintances with trade workers and other connections. Exchanging money for goods was problematic, and the process turned into a real quest. Fortunately, nowadays people mostly buy or order the things they need in their everyday life.

"Shall we do it in three?"

To explain this phrase, we need to give a fairly broad context. In the USSR, the average lunch for an enterprise worker in the canteen cost about 80-90 kopecks. This means that those who did not pack their own food had about one ruble in their pockets every day - for food and travel. At the same time, a bottle of vodka cost 2 soviet rubles 87 kopecks. To buy it, you had to find two other people who had this daily budget. It was not appropriate to express such an intention directly, because they often drank during the lunch break so that they could return home in the evening almost sober. So this euphemism was born.

"Why me?"

Initiative was punishable in the USSR, so a typical Soviet person got used to not showing it, not doing work, and just going to work (by the way, another typical phrase from those times). They would still be paid strictly according to the tariff scale, regardless of the results. Therefore, these workers were not known for their hard work. They were even indignant when someone tried to assign them any responsibilities and tried to find out why they were being punished. Yes, there was no official unemployment in the Soviet Union, but there was practically no work with such an approach.

"Look how businesslike he is!"

This is also the source of the indignation that made other people want to take the same initiative. Any ideas, attempts to do something better, to improve processes were usually met with a wave of negativity. After all, only one person will bring an idea, and everyone will be forced to work. Therefore, typical Soviet people had a negative attitude to such manifestations.

"What, do you need it the most?"

Unfortunately, this approach is still alive today. In order to survive, the best thing for a Soviet person to do was to keep quiet - not to say what he or she thinks, not to try to do anything, to show himself or herself in any way, to get into the field of view of those in charge. This tendency was reinforced during the Stalinist repressions of the 1930s, when the society was dominated by total fear of physical destruction. In psychology, this is called learned helplessness. Such people try to minimize their needs and do not treat well those who do not want to live by the same rules. Sometimes even with good intentions - this is how they show compassion for those who could potentially suffer because of their own initiative.

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