“The Devil has laughed at all of us”

During the trial of the trio known as Pussy Riot (more accurately, of three women from the performance-art-protest collective bearing that name), the clerks of the court in Moscow took it upon themselves to translate or paraphrase their English name as “бунтующие кошечки” = “rebellious pussycats”. Here’s more from Language Log :

With the international attention given to the trial and conviction of members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot on charges of “hooliganism,” many have wondered online whether Pussy Riot is a translation of a Russian name. But no: the band consistently uses Pussy Riot (in Latin characters) on its official LiveJournal blog, even though most of the text is in Russian (in Cyrillic characters). This isn’t too surprising among punk/alt-rock bands worldwide. Whether it’s the Japanese noise rockers Boredoms or Russian ska-punks Distemper, musicians very often use English in Latin script for the names of their bands (and titles of albums and songs), even when their lyrics are in their native language. But how have Russian sources identified Pussy Riot? Most media outlets have followed the band’s lead and have used Pussy Riot even in Cyrillic text (e.g., here, here, and here). Others have transliterated the name of the band into Cyrillic characters, as Пусси Райот (e.g, here, here, and here). Cyrillicized Пусси Райот even shows up occasionally on the band’s LiveJournal (as in the title to this post), though most often in comments left by others. . . .




Tempering the calls in behalf of absolute liberty, one might spare a charitable thought for Moscow’s Orthodox clergy, who themselves, just a generation ago, were being thrown in the gulag or the psikhushka (psych ward for dissidents) simply for the beliefs they held. Patriarch Cyril’s reaction to the Pussy Riot cathedral demonstration is not a little poignant, the cri de cœur of a besieged curator, doubtless a scorned figure for many in Russia’s very young republic (Weren’t Soviet citizens formerly required to take an oath upholding atheistic statism ?). In any case, here are the words of Cyril I, he who stands as sworn guardian of the Ineffable :

“[T]he Devil has laughed at all of us. . . . We have no future if we allow mocking in front of great shrines, and if some see such mocking as some sort of valour, as an expression of political protest, as an acceptable action or a harmless joke.”






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