🇺🇸 When a Loanword Gets to You Real Bad. Analytic and Synthetic Languages

Ordinarily, we tend to save the best for last.
This goes for meals, surprises, bad news and what have you, fill in the blank as you see fit.

I will make an exception to this natural preponderance of ours to shed some light on the weirdest phrase I’ve ever come across in Russian.

The weirdest to date, bar none.

Stuff like this stopped being funny 100 loanwords ago.

Yes, I know, I know. In the last article I promised to compile lists of English loanwords, but boy… This example blows everything else I’ve stumbled upon so far combined together out of the water so totally big time that the example in question deserves its own standalone article.

I just feel that this very egregious example must be brought to light out in the open for everyone to see on the off chance of getting the right folks thinking and doing something about it.

I don’t know anymore.

One thing is certain, the abyss of using English loanwords in Russian is truly bottomless.

It’s been so for some time now.

Be advised that the following comparison is expressed in the form of metaphor to point out the extent of my intellectual pain and anguish.

Not for faint of heart

Have you ever been hit by a truck? Hope it never happened to you. Neither did it happen to me.

Upon reading what you’re about to read below, I felt that not only did the truck hit me, but it also kept running over me some 50 times over by shifting back and forth between drive and reverse. Not a smidgen of splatter left of me on the road, all on the wheels.

That’s how bad the following loanword is.

You be the judge

комплаенс риски.jpg

If you’ll pardon my French, what is this bunk?

Well, the expression “compliance risks” does exist in English alright, so it’s no bunk in English, just so we are clear on that.

But when it comes to Russian… I can’t even begin to fathom what kind of aberration coupled with downright agony could have pushed someone to write a transcribed English expression like that.

And that’s exactly what happens when you push loanwords usage beyond the point of ridiculousness, writing newspapers, mind you.

The Rage



Ridiculousness, you say.


Who comes up with that stuff?

Let it be reminded that all the loanwords are taken from Russian newspapers. Not from some comments section, not from some street chatter, but the newspapers. Imagine that.

Just because you, the journalists, of all trades, blatantly write an English collocation using Russian letters, doesn’t mean that the English stuff you’ve mindlessly transcribed into Russian alphabet is now somehow official and supposed to be understood across the spectrum of the Russian speakers.

It is not. It never was. And it never will be. Deal with it.

Do something about it

I don’t know, buy a dictionary. Then open it (it’s important), read it (and no slacking), digest the information (let it sink in. It’s easier said than done, but c’mon… you are smart fellas, I’m sure), and make use of your newly acquired vocabulary in your writings avoiding the words transcribed from English.

Never say die! You’ll get better at it sooner than later.

In fact, whose brilliant idea was that to transcribe English collocations into Russian and use them as if nothing wrong had happened?

Sigh Anyway…

The Alternative

There’s no such word as “комплаенс” in Russian. But even before getting to the bottom of meanings….

Here’s a scoop for ya, scribe boy! English is an analytic language, whereas Russian is a synthetic one.

It has nothing to do with the former being about thinking too hard about stuff and the latter being about doing whatever synthetic you might be thinking about upon hearing the word “synthetic”.

Analytic language

To keep it simple, in English you can slap words together and get new combined meanings out of them, i.e. “compliance risks” with no or little morphemes such as endings, suffixes etc. That’s how English works.

“Compliance assessment”, “compliance week”, “compliance report”… the list is endless.

Synthetic language

Russian, in turn, is far trickier as it employs endings and all that jazz to make life of Russian language learners real hard… and it’s just the way the language is.

You don’t just slap words together to minimize word count in Russian. Ain’t gonna work. But apparently, that’s what they, the journalists, keep doing – slapping words together, thus obfuscating the meaning of their message.

To correctly interpret English phrase into Russian, you’ll likely need to change the word order around, add some 4 extra words / particles and write it all in such a way that makes sense to us, Russian folks.

Which brings me to the next point…

The Alternative. Finally.

Риски связанные с несоблюдением законодательных требований

(plus you can specify with what exact laws you comply)



I asked around, 9 / 10 folks had no clue what “комплаенс-риски” stood for, and it’s no wonder. The Russians do not talk like that, nor write, unless you work for some big companies and being brutally subjected to corporate lingo all day every day.

Seems that journalists bend over backwards to keep up with the Jones’ corporate lingo real hard, oftentimes pushing it beyond the point of ridiculousness, in the end becoming the butt of a joke.

At the same time, “Риски связанные с несоблюдением законодательных требований” was alright, 10 / 10 understood the sentence.

The rest is silence.


4 thoughts on “🇺🇸 When a Loanword Gets to You Real Bad. Analytic and Synthetic Languages

  1. Awesome response, Ilya! 🙂 🙂 Whenever I see words like this, I try to imagine a more accurate translation. My Russian vocab can’t always cope with the task, though, so it’s really interesting to see how a native speaker would handle it.

    By the way, have you seen this video yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the read!
      Well, Katherine, what can I say here…
      As far as the video, I have a funny-slash-unnerving premonition as to what I am about to see and hear there, so… for me to make it to the other side intact I need to be mentally prepared. As of now, it’s not the case. I’ll give it a shot tomorrow. I can see a stream-of-concsiousness-type article looming on the back of it.
      Thanks for the vid, by the way!

      What’s really about Russian is that I feel like lots of expressions are fixed, it’s just the way they are, and for Russian language learners to get such things right… can’t even begin to imagine the amount of time being put into practice; whereas in English, you slap words together and there you have it. No pesky “частицы” “склонения”, you name it.
      For all that, I admire people who dedicate their time to learning Russian. They’re doing an incredible mental job.

      I even manage to get wordy in the comments section…
      For the next articles, I’ll try and focus on providing more examples of accurate translations or rather how I would’ve used such and such phrase / word in Russian.

      Good day!

      Liked by 1 person

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