([identity profile] wrote in [community profile] learn_russian2014-11-23 03:28 pm


Is there a slang word материк that means something like 'the big city' or to the capital?

In a recent film, Комбинат надежда, which takes place in the industrial town Norilsk, they keep saying something like "На материку улетаешь?" which I assume means, "Are you leaving for the big city?" What is this word? Is it slang? In 12 years of speaking Russian I haven't heard it...

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 08:31 pm (UTC)(link)
материк is a big land, opposite to an island or semi island. however, it may be used also for very distant destinations, too. it means that people leave to the center of Russia.

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 08:34 pm (UTC)(link)
As far as I understand, Norilsk in that phrase is assocated with island, surrounded with empty, uncivilised lands instead of the sea.
But I guess it's better to wait for response from someone leaving in that area to be sure.

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Yep, материк is used in those kinds of places to refer to populated part of the country that is far away.

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 08:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Yep, you're right

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 08:53 pm (UTC)(link)
It's Siberian/Russian Far East/Russian Arctic slang. "Большая земля" is another term for the same idea. It means more or less "civilization". Not necessarily big cities, but reasonable mod cons, decent roads and reliable transport.


[identity profile] 2014-11-23 08:53 pm (UTC)(link)
In some areas of Russia's continental land people could be cut off the civilization for many months. No land or sea transportation is possible, no food or fuel delivery, etc. No land trip is possible out of the factory or the settlement due of nature conditions - weather, distance, hazards, etc.

Think about "The Gulag Archipelago" as of a set of populated camps (equivalents of islands or colonies), where prisoners are cut off the metropolis by distances and guards.

Check this song as well to color the picture:
Edited 2014-11-23 21:14 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 09:14 pm (UTC)(link)
No, "материк" or "большая земля" is not a big city, but the main part of the country as opposed to relatively small isolated places like Norilsk, which are not islands indeed, but feel like that:

"... центральные части России на Колыме зовут «материком», хотя Колыма не остров, а область на Чукотском полуострове, – но сахалинский лексикон, отправка только пароходами, многодневный морской путь – все это создает иллюзию острова. Психологически иллюзии нет никакой. Колыма – это остров. С нее возвращаются на «материк», на «Большую землю»."
Варлам Шаламов:

Александр Городницкий "На материк":

[identity profile] 2014-11-24 12:55 am (UTC)(link)
It takes a lot of time and effort to travel from Magadan or Norilsk to Moscow/Central Russia, so the inhabitants of such places feel like they are living on distant islands.

I also think that the best translation is simple "main land".

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 09:14 pm (UTC)(link)
"Main land" is, as I think, a good way to translate it to English

[identity profile] 2014-11-23 09:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Your question is not very clear from your post.

Do you feel that dictionary meaning is not enough?

[identity profile] 2014-11-24 06:18 am (UTC)(link)
No, in this case this word have another meaning. Viata wrote best comment, i think.

[identity profile] 2014-11-24 06:00 am (UTC)(link)
Recent political discussion renewed this topic. Now many oppositioners talk about probable federalization of Russia, and using words in the meaning like this brings roots of this discussion to the top.
Yes, there was a disconnection between distant cities and the central part of the country.
At the same time, this pattern you may track in using word "город" - "city". it was pretty typical to say "пойдём в город, прогуляемся" having in mind central part of the city (Kremlin or just main square, main street). People from suburbs go out for a walk or shopping there. Talking about suburb I mean every part of the city except central.

[identity profile] 2014-11-24 06:44 am (UTC)(link)
Literally, it's "mainland". The figurative meaning has already been explained. Sometimes, the word "материк" may also be used as a synonym for "континент", but not in this particular case, apparently.

[identity profile] 2014-11-24 06:05 pm (UTC)(link)
на материк

[identity profile] 2014-11-27 09:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Where exactly did you hear "к материку" in this film? I only heard "на материк", "на материке" etc.