Marina Orlova


Screen capture from Marina Orlova’s YouTube video about nicknames.

(Click image to view the entire video on the HotForWords YouTube channel.)

If you don’t know about YouTube sensation Marina Orlova then you are probably fast asleep in some Internet backwater. Marina is the Russian girl who according to Harper Collins came to the United States six years ago to improve her English skills and to prepare for her Ph.D., but she ended up staying in the U.S. simply because of the warmer weather. The video above has already had a staggering 4,155,849 views. What is it about? The etymology of the word ‚nickname’ of course! This would not be P2E if we did not publish some mild criticism, though the video was so much fun, it seems rather churlish to do so.

First of all, is ‚Fluffy Fluff’ really a nickname or is it just a funny given name? Second is ‚Koba’ Marina’s real nickname. Several million Marina fans would like to know. Thirdly, while dealing accurately with the evolution of the word, Marina skips over the emotional value dimension of nicknames. Russian like Polish is littered with diminutives and these can be used – just as English nicknames may be – as a term of endearment. Of course, they can be used in an emotionally neutral or even negative way as well. Polish to English translators beware, ignoring the emotional value of words is like sailing towards a rocky coastline without a chart.

Finally a few links for those who are interested in studying the Marina phenomenon further. The first link is to a vintage edition of Rocketboom recorded in the days this vlog was hosted by the amazing Amanda Congdon. Quite a few similarities, n’est-ce pas? The second link about the word ‚apologise’ is specially for one particular ex-pat blogger who I know will enjoy learning about the original meaning of the word. The third link is to the Wikipedia entry about Marina, and the final link – which I suspect will be the most popular – is to Marina’s own website.


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