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I'm studying the Russian language and I try to watch lots of Russian television series. Recently I have watched the comedy show Наша Раша and in a specific sketch a character Иван Дулин many times repeats something like the words: "Вон оно чё" or "Вот оно чё". I have tried googling, but haven't found any answers. Does anyone have any ideas what those words might generally mean? When would a person use them? :)

Thank you for any help!

Here are some examples I found:

"Вот оно чего Михалыч! Выйдешь ты сейчас в цех, а меня нет, ни у станка, ни в столовой, даже в Челябинске меня нет."

"Вот оно че Михалыч, мне давеча сон про тебя приснился. Идешь ты значит по цеху в красных труселях, все по сторонам оглядываешься"

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    LOL, never expected to see a question about this series here. Just don't forget that Челябинские мужики настолько суровы, что намазывают на хлеб нож!
    – sharptooth
    Jul 12 '13 at 6:55
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As @Riateche correctly pointed out, "чё" is a slang word for "что" - meaning "what". "Вон" (in this context) means "that" or "there" (similarly, "вот" for "this" or "here").

There are two - somewhat different - meanings this phrase can take.

It is used to express an understanding of something at last, i.e. if somebody couldn't understand something for a while and then finally it dawned on them, it would be the right time to use it. The English equivalent would be "That's what it is!"

Consider this dialogue:

– Не понимаю, нафига тебе нужна эта штуковина?
– Эта штуковина - это ключ от замка на моём сарае.
– Вон оно че!

with its English equivalent:

– I don't get it, what the heck do you need this thing for?
– This thing is the key from the lock on my shed.
– That's what it is!

Here, the meaning of "вон/вот" is "that/this". In its second meaning, "вон/вот" is used as "there/here" and means, literally, "here's what" or "here's the thing"/"here's the deal". It would be used to express a level of certainty or authority at the start of a speech, for example:

Вот оно чего Михалыч! Выйдешь ты сейчас в цех, а меня нет, ни у станка, ни в столовой, даже в Челябинске меня нет.

Here's the deal, Mikhalych! You'll come out now onto the machine floor - and I'm not there, not near the workbench, not in the canteen, not even in Chelyabinks.

or

Вот оно че Михалыч, мне давеча сон про тебя приснился. Идешь ты значит по цеху в красных труселях, все по сторонам оглядываешься

Here's what [it is], Mikhalych, I saw a dream about you the other day. You're walking along the machine floor in your red underpants and looking around.

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  • "чё" is an informal version for "чего", not "что".
    – smsrecv
    Jul 14 '13 at 12:09
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    @smsrecv Not true. Consider phrase чё это такое?
    – Aleks G
    Jul 14 '13 at 12:11
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    @AleksG чё это такое? = чего это такое? But you can't replace что with чё in the sentence Он сказал, что он вернётся. Because as I said чё does not mean что, it means чего and therefore cannot be used as conjunction
    – smsrecv
    Jul 14 '13 at 12:59
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    чё means exactly что - but it can't be used as a substitute for it in all cases. I can't think of an example where чё means clear чего - can you give one?
    – Aleks G
    Jul 14 '13 at 13:34
  • @smsrecv I posted a separate question to confirm this.
    – Aleks G
    Jul 14 '13 at 13:43
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"чё" is an informal version of "что". "Вот <вон> оно что" usually means expression of surprising. See dictionary page for definition and examples.

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