Tuesday, August 14, 2012

the horrorshow jeezny

I'm re-reading Anthony Burgess's 'A Clockwork Orange' starting with part 2, trying to study his mastery of the Nadsat dialect, which he invented for the purpose of establishing Alex DeLarge's teenage gangster's voice.

Nadsat is English with a large helping of Russian nouns, verbs, and adjectives thrown in. Verbs are no problem, because the construction of them is anglicized, so a loud laugh is "gromky smecking" in Nadsat, with the -ing (gerund) construction a bit of English tacked onto a Russian phrase.

'Clockwork,' like most of my other favorite novels (Catcher in the Rye, Moll Flanders, Huckleberry Finn), unwinds in that perfect, first-person voice which lends a story immediacy and credibility. The very finest authors become experts in producing such a voice.

It doesn't take long for a reader to pick up the rhythm and logic of Nadsat, what with context clues providing the meanings to unfamiliar Russian words. For example, "He was very boastful and started to make with a very sneery litso at us all and a loud proud goloss" presents no problem to understanding.

i wonder if the old malchick himself, Putin, knows how to make Nadsat. He may be a grazhny bratchny of a dictator, but he's got a higher-functioning gulliver on his pletchoes than any of the dumb prestoopniks we've got in politics over here. He also viddies the day coming when a regular jeezny in a world with the bolshy gromky malchick Uncle Sam, or bezoomny Israel is not possible. To prepare for this, he is putting out the slovo that Russia is going to get a lot more airplanes.

Trouble reading any of this? Consult the Nadsat dictionary.

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