https://www.duolingo.com/frogger2013

Offensive and/or Dumb Russian Pet Names

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I’m embarrassed to ask this question, so I’ve been avoiding the subject until now, bc I think it’s actually going to become an issue soon.

My husband and I have been studying Russian, and have been making some Russian friends. We have been contemplating having them over to our house, but I’m a little embarrassed by the names of our cats.

Not to go into too much detail about why, but long before we decided to learn Russian, we named our cats Кошка and Изгой. Obviously, the name Кошка is super unimaginative.

Изгой, however... I know it means, like, a kind of a violent outcast (which meaning suits him), but I don’t know if the word has an extra offensive or disturbing nuance to it. I might also mention that my Russian friends may be what one considers to be morally conservative.

Can anyone who has a good handle on Russian language and culture help me? I’d like to know if I need to be prepared with an explanation for the names, or if my Russian friends might not think anything of it, or if I should just act like I don’t know how these cats got into my house. My Russian is not good, and their English is great for carrying on a conversation, but I would not be able to talk myself out of an uncomfortable situation on the fly in either language.

Thank you!

6 months ago

11 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/nikon144
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There is nothing offensive in the word "изгой", no hidden offensive meaning. I would think you have a good sense of humor, for you called your cat "Изгой". Also, I know a russian person whose cat bears the name Кошка, so it's not unusual. Though I don't know what you mean by "morally conservative", it seems, there is no problem with those pet names.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/frogger2013
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Спасибо!! Here’s a lingot for making me feel so much better about both names. Thank you for your reply

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/1Pozin2
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You are lucky, you have only two cats and their names are good though I think Изгой (Paria) does not like his name very much. But our friend has ten cats. No problem for me. I remember only two of them - Guy and Bad Guy. The funniest thing is they live in Russia.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Solarlynx
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Изгой is a rather literary word, so it won't offend any sensitive ear. Though your friends might wonder why the cat got it. As for Кошка, our neighbors had a cat with similar name Киска, it wasn't original, but AFAIK nobody considered it strange.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kim87643

"Изгой" - это не ругательство для русского человека, можете не переживать по этому поводу.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TimK77777
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Изгой translates as "rogue" (at least in the context of international relations: "rogue nation" = страна-изгой).

As for this being a pet name, there is nothing offensive or disturbing about it in Russian, and in any case you can just say that it sounds right for this cat, which is a perfect reason.

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Evelyn468953

"...if I should just act like I don’t know how these cats got into my house." I can't help with your question, but this made me laugh out loud. I'm now off to pretend that I don't know how my own cat got into the house. :)

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirokha

Actually, изгой was originally a name for a prince who was stripped of his hereditary rights for princedom. Quite noble!

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise
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I like your comment and find it quite accurate! To my knowledge it is true meaning of the word originally :-))

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise
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Hi, I am a new member on Duolingo.. I am fluent in Russian (by my ancestry French and Italian)and lived in Russia as a young person as well as graduated from a university there ...I assure you that there is absolutely nothing offensive in the word "izgoy" It is an old fashioned and a bit outdated word with somewhat romantic and even noble meaning. It is not a word that used in Russian everyday speech. It does mean someone who has been exiled out of their social group/or out any form of group "belonging" for variety of reasons.. I am quite surprised that you are worrying about possibly mis-perceived cat names..I think you are making an issue out of something that is not.Most Russian people will like your cats names or take them with a doze of humor..or ignore them..Either way i do no see how it could offend them. The name "Koshka" has nothing to it either..It simply means "cat" or "kitty"..and as such would rather be perceived as cute rather then offensive. "Izgoy" sounds fancy and romantic rather then anything else.. Hope this helps,cheers!

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise
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Thank you for the lingot.. Спасибо большое, желаю отличного дня.. :-)) ))

6 months ago
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