Post by Jerry Friedman
I'm impressed that the article discusses "poshlost"
without mentioning Nabokov.
It is strange that the readily findable articles
about this word:
ignonre its morphology, with which every analysis
ought to begin, cf. B.F. Porshnev: "If you want to
understand something, find out how it came to be."
However else shall we understand how it acquired two
so different meanings:
The classical 19th century dictionary by Vladimir
Dal had two definitions of it: an old, originally
neutral one ("long-standing, anachronistic, age-
old; ancient, old-time, time-honored") and a new
one, already with negative connotations ("trite,
common, outmoded; indecent, considered rude, com-
mon, base, ignoble, coarse; vulgar, trivial").
which both follow from the word's morphology?
Poshlost' derives from the perfect aspect of the
verb "to go." The older meaning refers to things
that have come from the past, but during the great
tearing-down of traditional Russian values in the
reign of Peter the Great what had been time-honoured
became time-damned, and a new, negative, meaning
emerged from the same root. The best English rendi-
tions for it are "timeworn" and "hackneyed", for
something in or with which one travels a lot becomes
literally worn and hackneyed.
It is now easy to see how such secondary shades as
'vulgar', 'banal', and 'indecent' extend the general
() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/\ http://preview.tinyurl.com/qcy6mjc [archived]