Today we begin a new weekly theme.
stakhanovite - a Soviet worker honored and rewarded for exceptional diligence in increasing production (AHD) from from Alexei G. Stakhanov
I suggest that ithe word in use is not limited to Soviets, and means "an exceptionally hard worker" -- with pejorative overtones of overzealousness. Comment?
The word in use:
samizdat –an underground press (AHD). from Russian "self publish"
In computer jargon, the term means "any less-than-official promulgation of textual material, especially rare, obsolete, or never-formally-published computer documentation" (The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing)
apparatchik – an unquestioningly loyal subordinate, especially of a political leader or organization (AHD)
1941, originally in writings of Arthur Koestler, from Rus., from apparat "political organization," (ety on line)
The word in use:
Potemkin village - something that appears elaborate and impressive but in actual fact lacks substance: "the Potemkin village of this country's borrowed prosperity" (Lewis H. Lapham)
After Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, who had elaborate fake villages constructed for Catherine the Great's tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea. (AHD)
or: an impressive facade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition (1937) (M-W)
The term in use:
glasnost - an official policy of the former Soviet government emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings. (AHD) a Soviet policy permitting open discussion of political and social issues and freer dissemination of news and information (M-W) from Rus. "publicity," used in a socio-political sense by Lenin, but popularized in Eng. 1985 by M. Gorbachev (ety on-line)
Although each dictionary cites this word only as a particular Gorbachev policy, I suggest that the word in fact is not limited; it can be used for a like policy elswhere. The word in use:
gulag – a forced labor camp or prison, especially for political dissidents; or a place or situation of great suffering and hardship, likened to same
GULAG-the Russian acronym for the Main Directorate for Places of Detention
Our weekly theme ends with a familiar word whose hidden story demonstrates the power of the aptly chosen word. AHD gives part of that history, and Asimov gives the final twist (each paraphrased).
bolshevik - An extreme radical: a literary bolshevik
AHD: Bolshevik, an emotionally charged term in English, is from an ordinary Russian word for "bigger, more." The name was given to the majority faction at 1903 congress of Russian communist leaders. The smaller faction was known as Men'sheviki, from "less, smaller." The Bol'sheviki, who sided with Lenin in the split that followed the Congress, subsequently became the Russian Communist Party.
Question: Who gave this group that name?
Asimov: Lenin had a sure touch for propaganda. He in fact rarely won a majority on votes, but when managed to get one at that meeting in Brussels, he immediately labeled his group the Bolsheviks, "the majority." Though his group won few subsequent votes, and was actually a minority, the name "Bolsheviks" stuck, adding to the prestige of Lenin’s followers.