Slang Used in the Russian Underground

Written by Tanya Koyfman

The language used by native Russian hackers to communicate over the Web is a unique mixture of modern Russian slang, technical English terms from the hacking world and abbreviations commonly used in Web discussions. In addition, non-Russian words are frequently affected by Russian grammar, thus creating new words decipherable only by native Russian speakers with a computer background.

Another noticeable characteristic of this interesting language evolution is the prevalent use of curses, utilized to express a specific idea and not just to swear at other forum members. Moreover, many Russian words are used in new, computer-related contexts with a meaning totally different from that defined in the dictionary. From our experience, these are the hardest to understand if you do not possess a profound understanding of the different hacking fields.

There are plenty of examples of the mechanism of forming words with an English stem and Russian grammatical additions: check, test, crypt, traffic, accounts, information, subject and hide become “chekanut” (чекануть), “testit” (тестить), “kryptanut” (криптануть), traf (траф), “aki” (акки), “infa” (инфа) “subj” (сабж) and “khaid” (хайд). These words have become such an integral part of forum communication that sometimes a Russian speaker will have difficulty separating the non-Russian part of the word.

Abbreviations from English Internet slang also make an appearance, although usually with minimal changes: ТС (originated from the English Topic Starter), FUD (used in English versions, meaning fear, uncertainty and doubt) and ИМХО (from the English IMHO, meaning “in my humble opinion”).

As regards adopting words from other semantic fields, sometimes a lot of imagination is required to figure out the new meaning of the words. For instance: the word “zaliv” (залив) usually means spill. But on Russian forums, it describes a method for stealing financial data.

The following is a good example of the unique, rich language used on Russian forums:


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