Sunday, October 7, 2012

Russian anecdote about Vovochka

  This is a very old anecdote that many Russians know. It features Vovochka, a character of quite many Russian anecdotes. There are a few versions of this particular story, I'm posting the one I heard in childhood.

Учительница показывает детям ужа и спрашивает:
-Дети, вы знаете, кто это такой?
Никто не знает.
Тут Вовочка встаёт и подходит к ужу. Он гладит ужа по голове и задумчиво говорит:
-Так вот ты какой, северный олень!

A teacher shows a grass-snake to her pupils.
“Do you know who this is?” she asks.
No one knows.
Then Vovochka stands up and approaches the snake. He strokes its head and contemplatively says:
“That's how you look like, the reindeer!”

The phrase «Так вот ты какой, северный олень!» (“That's how you look like, the reindeer!”) became some kind of an idiom. I hear it often when someone sees something new and unfamiliar. You can easily impress Russians by using this idiom. ;-) For example:

You are in a shop. You see an exotic fruit you've heard about but have never seen before. You might exclaim in surprise: «Так вот ты какой, северный олень!» It can be translated also as «So that's how you look like!»

Or, you finally see that new gadget, fondle it and say «Так вот ты какой, северный олень!» 

Do you now think that Russians are weird? :D


  1. OK... so what does a reindeer gotta do with new things?

    1. I've no idea :D It's weird Russian humour. This anecdote started it, but why there was a reindeer there in the first place is a mystery for me.

    2. I've updated the post with examples of how you can use it.


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