Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What does the following phrase mean?

In Soviet Russia, piracy pirates YOU.

What is implied by "piracy pirates YOU" and what by "IN Soviet Russia"?

Update 1: My difficulty was because the term "pirate" and "piracy" are senseless to apply to Soviet Russia because there was no, strictly speaking, author rights. Nothing to pirate. Everything is already belonged by everybody.

@Ed Guiness, thanks for the link, I have never heard of them. At my youth other themes were popular like:

  • American to Russian: 'In the USA, I can come to The White House and cry out: "Reagan is a moron"'
  • Russian to American: 'I also can come to Red Square and cry out: "Reagan is moron"'

And those in your link are somewhat unknownat my time and even less now since currently everybody is is quite indifferent to politics.

Update 2: Subjectively, I gave credibility to George Orwell's 1948's 1984, rather more universally known and earlier than Yakoff Smirnoff.

share|improve this question
    
Can't help but think of the Rocky movie where Dolph Lundgren tells him "I must break you" in that thick Russian accent. –  Will Feb 10 '11 at 13:43
    
I'll point out that piracy pirates really does mean nothing. They did it for the redundancy. To use another meme "obvious man is obvious" –  horatio Feb 10 '11 at 15:34
    
How can piracy pirate someone? "Pirates" is used as a verb, but the phrase is meaningless. It was written by someone blindly applying the meme without caring whether it made sense the way "...radio listens to you" does. –  Jeanne Pindar Feb 10 '11 at 18:59
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

It's a (rather unfunny, IMHO) variation of the (rather unfunny, IMHO) "In Soviet Russia" meme. The most famous examples are probably "In Soviet Russia, TV watches you!" and "In Soviet Russia, radio listens to you!"

Encyclopedia Dramatica has more examples.

So, what the sentence basically says is, "in all normal countries, you pirate stuff, but Soviet Russia was so backwards that stuff would pirate you".

share|improve this answer
add comment

It's a style of humour originated by Yakov Smirnoff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakov_Smirnoff#Russian_reversal

For example

In America, you assassinate president.

In Soviet Russia, president assassinate you.

share|improve this answer
8  
And it's become an internet meme, which means some people reflexively repeat it even in ways that make no sense. –  Jeanne Pindar Feb 10 '11 at 13:46
    
from your answer I understood that it is commonly used in the West but it is rather confusing to hear and understand in Russia. –  Gennady Vanin Novosibirsk Feb 10 '11 at 14:54
    
Well, in Soviet Russia there was no President, so it is confusing - whose president of which country assasinate Russians. Besides, as a matter of fact, in the USSR Russia was not formally separate autonomous part (in contrast to other republics). The term Russia was not generally used to refer to any specific part. As such it was used only after desintegration of USSR. So, your phrases is complete nonsense for Russians –  Gennady Vanin Novosibirsk Feb 11 '11 at 9:02
1  
It would not be the first time that memes originating in USA were not understandable by the natives of the place the meme was using for effect. –  mplungjan Jun 10 '11 at 16:59
1  
PS: One of my favourite cold war jokes had a punch line of "New skirmishes on the Sino-Finnish border" –  mplungjan Jun 10 '11 at 17:03
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.