🇺🇸 The Russian Expression “Бегу – волосы назад” Explained

Yes! I know some of you have been waiting for this for a while now.

I figure it’s about time I started writing articles on Russian, its intricacies, pesky interjections, general tips, you name it (I’ll diversify categories as I write articles on Russian).

For the first article of the series, I decided to explain to you at length one expression that had piqued my curiosity some time ago.


Бегу – волосы назад

beg
the picture I have upon hearing the expression

Examples

A: Could you help me find my glasses?

B: Бегу – волосы назад.

A: You should talk to him more.

B: Бегу – волосы назад.

A: Stop fooling around!

B: Бегу – волосы назад.

Pretty much, covered all the bases.

Well? Any idea what the expression could mean?

Literal meaning

Бегу – волосы назад

I run – hair back


*making it more comprehensible*

On my way, wind blowing my hair

What? What’s going on?

Say, you are a woman or a guy with long hair.

You like jogging. You also like to have your long hair hang down.

No ponytails. No caps. Noting to keep you hair fixed / in place.

Now if you try and run very fast, your hair will be blown by wind.

giphy1

You got the idea.

But for that to happen to your hair you need to run like mad.

Which brings me to the next point

Figurative meaning

What do 3 examples above have in common?

Read them again and think hard.

Careful now, don’t overcomplicate it.

I’ll help you while you are thinking.

First off, we are dealing with requests, advices, and commands.

Then, have a look at the rough translation by yours truly:

Бегу – волосы назад


Like hell I will (politer connotation in Russian)

Yeah right… ’cause I’m gonna come rushing to help you? etc…

So, what do we have here?

There’s a thing called “antiphrasis”.

“Man, today I got mugged, beaten up, fired, and my wife divorced me too. What a great day!”

“Great” would be an antiphrasis here, since it has an opposite meaning of what it actually means. Thus we moved into sarcasm territory. Sweetness.

And if we apply our newly-acquired knowledge to the Russian expression…

Putting the pieces together

If someone asks you to do something, asks you to help him with something, advises you what you should do, or simply commands you what to do / not to do normally you will be all eagerness and courtesy to do what you’re being asked of, not to mention your quickness with the matter.

You will do it so fast, in fact, you will be running so fast to accomplish the task / request that your hair will be blown back by wind.

Some rapidity!

Under normal circumstances, that’s exactly the mental picture you should be conjuring in your mind upon hearing:

Бегу – волосы назад

However, since the expression is not used in its direct figurative sense

That leaves us with the “antiphrasis” meaning, which is slightly impolite for my taste, but not without a funny vibe to it.

All slang-ish like.

A: Dude, can you help me set up my computer?

B: Бегу – волосы назад.


What “B” really meant is:

Dude, I so totally wanna help you set up your computer that I’ll fall over myself 20 times over while running, wind blowing my hair back, to help you out with whatever minor problems you might have going on there with the computer… But you understand that I don’t mean it, right? Honestly, I think that by now you should realize that if there’s one thing I won’t be doing anytime soon it is helping you out with your darn computer.

That’s, more or less, how the phrase works.

I can’t tell you the exact origin of the expression, I simply don’t know.

Instead, I can tell you how it got popular around a year ago.

6 Minutes of Fame

You know, any way you slice it, 100 million views for a music video intended for a Russian speaking audience is a pretty off the charts figure.

The traction it got was insane… Everyone I know was humming “Лабутены” or at least in one way or another heard about the song.

If you start watching the music video below, it will bring you right away to the time when the expression “Бегу – волосы назад” is used.

And the song itself is not half bad, a tad bit of sailor language in there… but there you are.

Layers of sarcasm?

It’s Russian we’re talking about here!

Of course, layers of sarcasm can be added to the expression with tiny words and interjections!

Trust me, it’s the native Russian speaker who is telling you that!

I’m going to dive into great detail here, but I’ll give you some examples off the top of my head:

Уже бегу – волосы назад

Ага щас! Уже бегу – волосы назад

Such tiny words for such layers of sarcasm.

Fear not! I will go over the above selected words one by one in my forthcoming articles on Russian.

Word of Warning

Should I really mention that you don’t want to pull this expression on your boss and that it is sort of limited to informal settings?

Anyway, I did mention it lest Russian language learners should get into any trouble.

Ah… almost forgot. There is some chance that if you try and use the expression on Russians above 35, the meaning might be lost on them… and might be not at all. It depends on a host of factors, but this tiny detail is worth keeping in mind. 


There you have it!

The first expression I wanted to teach you.

Its usefulness might be objectionable to some, but hey, language learning should be fun, eh?

Plus you never know what you may come across in you language journey. Maybe you will hear this very expression the next day from reading the article and the meaning will not be lost on you.


Anyway, thanks for the read!

If you feel like dropping some lines (suggestions, ideas, criticism, corrections, and what have you) in the comments section below, then, by all means, be my guest! Rest assured your comments will be graciously replied to 😉

Until next time!

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