I've heard of:

  • Курица - не птица, баба - не человек!
  • Курица - не птица, Украина (Монголия, и т.д.) - не заграница!

any other interesting ones?


Курица не птица is an adage (поговорка) , a short metaphorical saying, which, unlike proverb (пословица), lacks a moral on its own and is used to emphasize another sentence.

This is used in the form курица не птица, А не Б (meaning that А is a Б only formally, lacking the essential featured of Б)

Dahl mentions it as курица не птица, баба не человек which is a proverb and is probably the origin for this adage.

Also common are:

  • … [студентка] (химичка, физичка, any other technical major) не девица
  • прапорщик не офицер
  • … [some hated car brand here] не машина

and lots of others.

Googling for "курица не птица * не" -заграница -человек will yield lots of other usage examples.


I've heard only Болгария — не заграница, actually. It has a political background. In the Soviet time, "reliable" people were allowed to go abroad, заграницу. However, ordinary people had practically no chance to go anywhere outside the socialistic camp, including Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Cuba and some other. And only prominent (actors, musicians, sportsmen) and "very reliable" (usually---KGB- or politburo-related) people could go to such countries as Austria, England, France etc. GDR (DDR) was considered somewhat in between.

The rating was based on the consumer experience. In the Soviet Union, there were almost no interesting consumer goods to buy. Going abroad was giving a chance to bring something nice. Obviously, from England or France, with their free market, one could bring nicer things than from planned economy-ruled Poland and Bulgaria. Hence, to the question 'Have you ever been abroad?' there might be a proud answer 'Yes, in Bulgaria' and the scornful Болгария — не заграница.

Probably, Mongolia could also be a subject of this phrase, however I never heard it. Not many people were going in that direction. Ukraine was not a foreign country at all, since it was inside the USSR. May be, now people apply this phrase to Ukraine as well, but then it's probably a joke.


There is another series of similar proverbs featuring синица as a little bird that does not worth anything:

Синица не птица, а прапорщик не офицер
Синица не птица, зять не родня
Синица-не птица, Польша-не заграница
Синичку хоть в пшеничку, а толще не будет
Хвалилась синица море спалить

Though in some cases even such small bird still matters (examlpes from Vladimir Dal's dictionary):

За морем и синица птица (там всё едят)
Мала синичка, да ноготок остер
Не величка синичка, да та же птичка

It is interesting that the "Синица не птица" cannot be found in National Corpus and Google Ngrams, but "курица не птица" is mentioned in Pushkin's letter:

Это напоминает славное решение, приписываемое Петру I: женщина не человек, курица не птица, прапорщик не офицер. [А. С. Пушкин. Отрывки из писем, мысли и замечания (1827)]

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