Russian narcotics terminology.
November 19, 2007 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Russian narcotics terminology translation help, please. NSFW.

My Russian-speaking teenage students burst out laughing today at the mention of the word "burka" during a discussion on religious minorities.

With lots of prodding and assurances that I wouldn't call their parents, they told me the word was the same as the Russian for something to do with marijuana.

They then attempted to describe various parts of a bong or pipe, I think, but I wasn't really sure. They were certain that this was something only used when smoking marijuana rather than some other substance, but I'm not at all familiar with any kind of smoking apparatus, and while I've been to the Russian Wikipedia page linked from the English "Bong" article, I can't seem to find this word with a "find in this page" hunt for all the words starting with the Cyrillic letters "в" and "б", which make a /v/ and /b/ sound, respectively. A search on Google for "бурка", which is my closest guess at transliterating the word exactly, didn't seem to bring up anything relevant.

Might a word starting with some other letter be making the sound at the beginning of this mystery word? Or is this not related to a bong, but to some other way of inhaling marijuana smoke?

Anonymous because I like my job.
posted by anonymous to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

My Bol'shoi slovar' russkogo zhargona [Big dictionary of Russian slang] has бурка (burka) only as slang for 'fur coat'—but in a Google search, the third hit is this bong design page, which seems pretty relevant. (The word doesn't occur on the page itself, which is in English.) I can't find any other source for this meaning, but it's always hard to document current slang. I hope a native speaker shows up to clarify.
posted by languagehat at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2007

Some clues in this thread (not verified SFW). It appears to be slang for a DIY bong made from a plastic bottle, although some people mention they haven't heard the term before (I haven't either). I don't think it's a widespread term.
posted by Krrrlson at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2007

Apparently it's also sometimes referred to as a бульбулятор, which I think is a pretty awesome word.
posted by Krrrlson at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2007

Bingo, Krrrlson's right.

бульбулятор, бурка, or буль all mean the same thing:

пластиковая бутылка с прожжённым отверстием в боковой стенке (для вдыхания дыма) и фольгой, проколотой в нескольких местах и намотанной на горлышко.

Crude online translation:

plastic bottle with the burnt opening in side wall (for the inhalation of smoke) and the foil, punctured in several places and wound around the neck.
posted by ORthey at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2007

бульбулятор, in my experience, generally refers to water-based smoking devices (буль-буль is the onomatopoeic expression for the sound of bubbling in Russian). I haven't encountered the word you're asking about, but I assume that it refers to the plastic bottle variety specifically.
posted by nasreddin at 7:25 PM on November 19, 2007

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