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The other day I heard a friend of mine speaking Russian to her mom on the phone, and she said, "да, она очень найс", switching to English (nice) for the last word. When I asked her about it, she said that по-русски she would have said <<хорошая>> but that this wouldn't necessarily refer to her disposition specifically like "nice" does, and is more cumbersome. So two questions: 1) is it becoming colloquially acceptable to use "nice" in Russian? And 2) are there other situations like this where a borrowing is coming to replace a Russian word in certain situations (due to increased specificity)?

  • You can speak medical terms, they should match in most cases.)))) – John Toe Jul 1 '17 at 21:00
  • I gather that you and your friend live in an English-speaking country. Your friend is just salting her Russian with English words. I know lots of people who do this. I have heard the "there is no Russian word" excuse too. I do not know why people think that. – David42 Jul 5 '17 at 16:03
  • Yes we live in the US. I think both of the answers I've gotten to this question are acceptable...if the comments on each were included! – MAA Jul 5 '17 at 16:09
  • Sorry, my English is not so good to I could get yo message clear... But in Russia we talk never so... We use English words sometimes cuz it sounds more cool, unussually or to not mix it with existing terms... but not in this case. – Шах Jul 9 '17 at 20:52
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Well, it's definitely a slang nowhere even near gaining any traction enough to claim it is a widely-accepted colloquial word. Yes, true, some younger (ha-ha) hipsters use it, but I'd rather claim that some of soviet hippies slang was more widely adopted. I'm mentioning hippies mainly because their slang also was heavily influenced by English, like, "хайратый" (from "hair"), герла (from "girl"), шузы (shoes) etc.

I'm not trying to neglect any kind of foreign influence, this happens a lot in any language, it's just that "найс" de-facto is not there yet, if it will be at all.

The same social group uses such borrowings as "харассить", "абьюзить", "фан" (from "fun") - but still, time will tell whether this hype will change the language.

As of the second part of your question - that happened a lot throughout the history of Russian. Some words, like "серьёзный", "юзер", "киллер" co-exist in Russian alongside with their "pure" counterparts.

  • фан as in "fun" is indeed a rather specific slang, OTOH фан as "fan/fanatic" is common – Arioch Jul 3 '17 at 8:32
  • @Arioch - indeed, фан от fun, let me edit the answer to make it clearer – shabunc Jul 3 '17 at 9:02
  • Never heard any of mentioned "hippies slang" words. That looks more like Runglish to me. Living in Germany I can tell that a lot of Russians living here do exactly the same, but with German words – UVV Jul 5 '17 at 6:32
  • @UVV nevertheless it was a thing, check out, for instance philology.ru/linguistics2/rozhansky-92.htm – shabunc Jul 5 '17 at 7:28
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Is it becoming colloquially acceptable to use "nice" in Russian

No, as far as I can tell, it's not.

This word would probably be not understood by Russian speakers not speaking English and living outside English speaking environment (that is majority or the Russian speakers).

Direct borrowing of adjectives (without adapting them to Russian paradigm) is not characteristic for Russian at all.

There are lots of words in Russian which can be used to convey the meaning of "nice person": милый, любезный, приятный etc., each of them having its own specific.

Since both your friend and her mother are apparently bilingual in both English and Russian, your friend used the first suitable word in either language to cross her mind (most probably because she met the woman she was talking about in an English-speaking environment) and didn't bother with adapting it for Russian.

Are there other situations like this where a borrowing is coming to replace a Russian word in certain situations (due to increased specificity)?

Of course, as soon as there appears a concept worth distinguishing with a separate word, the word emerges in the language, either through borrowing or in any other way.

For instance, Russian for "pastry" is пирожное, a word which was coined in XIX century, first as a collective noun only. A certain type of pastry was at first called английский хлеб, but when it become popular enough to deserve a term on its own, it was named with a loanword кекс (from "cakes"). Both muffins and cupcakes used to be called that, however, later, as they gained popularity in Russia, they came to be known as маффин and капкейк in Russian as well.

However, all verbs and adjectives borrowed from other languages are adapted to Russian paradigms: парковаться, джинсовый etc. If the loanwords are hard to adapt to Russian as adjectives or verbs, they become nouns and are used analytically: цвет хаки "khaki", читать рэп "to rap" etc.

  • I got it, you're saying it might be a practice of convenience for Russians who are bilingual in English, but would never be understood by monolingual Russians. This makes sense, I do the same kind of mixing with my friends/family who speak Russian, but of course monolingual English speakers just look at me funny. – MAA Jul 2 '17 at 12:46
  • "can be used to convey the meaning of "nice person": милый, любезный, приятный etc., each of them having its own specific" - and that is it. The words of different languages overlap partially, but not completely. So "nice" in this situation just was the most proper was the girl felt to convey her idea. Since she knew another party would grok it - she just went on with that word. That is also how professional slang is getting born. Because translations from "common vocabulary" would not be totally it, so a foreign word gets transliterated and becomes common in that specific niche – Arioch Jul 3 '17 at 8:39
  • I mean, I do not think it was "used the first suitable word in either language to cross her mind" case, I think it was "choose best fit" case instead. – Arioch Jul 3 '17 at 8:40

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