Sunday, 25 June 2017

Clockwork Language - Glossary of Nadsat

The phrase “As queer as a clockwork orange,” which inspired the title of Anthony Burgess' famous novel, is first of all “good old East-London slang,” as the author explains in an interview conducted after the success of Stanley Kubrick's film based on his novel. (If you've missed it, you can find it here!).

Intending to bring together “the organic, the lively, the sweet, in other words 'life' – the orange –, and the mechanical, the cold, the discipline,” the writer added “an extra meaning” to it, thereby giving life to a “sour-sweet word.”

“Anybody who knows cockney slang would know the term, anybody who doesn't can give a meaning to it,” comments Burgess. In the same way, the writer crafts new meanings for his novel by giving to some Russian words “a Joycean* twist into English.”

The Nadsat Language is Burgess' creation for his “little squib of a book”

* Burgess was a renown Joyce scholar and Joyce passionate.

Glossary of Nadsat Language

Words that do not appear to be of Russian origin are distinguished by asterisks.

*appy polly loggy – apology

baboochka – old woman
*baddiwad – bad
banda – band
bezoomny – mad
biblio – library
bitva – battle
Bog – God
bolnoy – sick
bolshy – big, great
brat, bratty –

bratchny – bastard
britva – razor
brooko – belly
brosay – to throw
bugatty – rich

cal – feces
*cancer – cigarette
cantora – office
carman – pocket
chai – tea
*charles, charlie – chaplain
chasha – cup
chasso – guard
cheena – woman
cheest – to wash
chelloveck – person, man,
chepooka – nonsense
choodesny – wonderful
*chumble – to mumble
clop – to knock
cluve – beak
collocoll – bell
*crack – to break up or 'bust'
*crark – to yowl
crast – to steal or rob; robbery
creech – to shout or scream
*cutter – money

dama – lady
ded – old man
deng – money
devotchka – girl
dobby – good
*dook – trace, ghost
domy – house
dorogoy – dear, valuable
dratsing – fighting
*drencrom – drug
droog – friend
*dung – to defecate
dva – two

eegra – game
eemya – name
*eggiweg – egg

*flip – wild
*filly – to play or fool with
*firegold – drink
*fist – to punch
forella – 'trout'

gazetta – newspaper
glazz – eye
gloopy – stupid
*golly – unit of money
goloss – voice
goober – lip
gooly – to walk
gorlo – throat
govoreet – to speak or talk
grahzny – dirty
grazzy – soiled
gromky – loud
groody – breast
gruppa – group
*guff – guffaw
gulliver – head
*guttiwuts – guts

*hen–korm – chickenfeed
*horn – to cry out
horrorshow – good, well
hoga – foot, leg

*in–out in–out – copulation
interessovat – to interest
itty – to go

*jammiwam – jam
jeezny – life

kartoffel – potato
keeshkas – guts
kleb – bread
klootch – key
knopka – button
kopat – to 'dig'
koshka – cat
kot – tomcat
krovvy – blood
kupet – to buy

lapa – paw
lewdies – people
*lighter – crone?
litso – face
lomtick – piece, bit
loveted – caught
lubbilubbing – making love
*luscious glory – hair

malchick – boy
malenky – little, tiny
maslo – butter
merzky – filthy
messel – thought, fancy
mesto – place
millicent – policeman
minoota – minute
molodoy – young
moloko – milk
moodge – man
morder – snout
*mounch – snack
mozg – brain

nachinat – to begin
nadmenny – arrogant
nadsat – teenage
nagoy – naked
*nazz – fool
neezhnies – underpants
nochy – night
nozh – knife
nuking – smelling

oddy knocky – lonesome
odin – one
okno – window
oobivat – to kill
ookadeet – to leave
ooko – ear
oomny – brainy
oozhassny – terrible
oozy – chain
osoosh – to wipe
otchkies – eyeglasses

*pan–handle – erection
*pee and em – parents
peet – to drink
pishcha – food
platch – to cry
platties – clothes
pletcho – shoulder
plenny – prisoner
plesk – splash
*plosh – to splash
plott – body
podooshka – pillow
pol – sex
polezny – useful
*polyclef – skeleton key
pony – to understand
poogly – frightened
pooshka – 'cannon'
prestoopnick – criminal
privodeet – to lead somewhere
*pretty polly – money
prod – to produce
ptitsa – 'chick'
pyahnitsa – drunk

rabbit – work, job
radosty – joy
raskazz – story
rassoodock – mind
raz – time
razdraz – upset
razrez – to rip, ripping
rook, rooker – hand, arm
rot – mouth
rozz – policeman

sabog – shoe
sakar – sugar
sammy – generous
*sarky – sarcastic
scoteena – 'cow'
shaika – gang beating
*sharp – female
sharries – buttocks
shest – barrier
*shilarny – concern
*shive – slice
shiyah – neck
shlem – helmet
*shlaga – club
shlapa – hat
shoom – noise
shoot – fool
*sinny – cinema
skazat – to say
*skolliwoll – school
skorry – quick, quickly
*skriking – scratching
skvat – to grab
sladky – sweet
sloochat – to happen
sloosh, slooshy – to hear, to listen
slovo – word
smeck – laugh
smot – to look
sneety – dream
*snoutie – tobacco
*snuff it – to die
sobirat – to pick up
*sod – to fornicate, fornicator
soomka – 'bag'
soviet – advice, order
spat – to sleep
*splodge, splosh – splash
*spoogy – terrified
*Staja – State Jail
starry – ancient
strack – horror
*synthemesc – drug

tally – waist
*tashtook – handkerchief
*tass – cup
tolchock – to hit or push
toofles – slippers
tree – three

vareet – to cook up'
*vaysay – washroom
veck – (see chelloveck)
*vellocet – drug
veshch – thing
viddy – to see or look
voloss – hair
von – smell
vred – to harm or damage

*warble – song

*yarbles – testicles
yahma – hole
*yahoodies – Jews
yahzick – tongue
yeckate – to drive

zammechat – remarkable
zasnoot – sleep
zheena – wife
zoobies – teeth
zvonock – bellpull
zvook – sound

[Found online, here]


For another glossary, compiled by Burgess, see:
Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. Authoritative Text Backgrounds and Contexts Criticism. Ed. Mark Rawlinson. New York & London: Norton, 2011. 123 – 128.

For the Italian-speaking (or, at least, Italian-understanding) readers: 
Arancia meccanica - "Ad alta voce"
Arancia meccanica, the Italian translation of A Clockwork Orange, translated by Floriana Bossi and read by the actor Marco Cavalcoli for the programme “Ad alta voce” of the Italian Radio channel RAI Radio 3. 


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