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Posted: 18 August 2012 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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This reminded of something I once read about a Soviet newspaper typo-ing Stalin’s name such that Stalin (man of steel) was rendered as “man of shit”. The story goes hacks were afeard for their lives but he let it go after allowing protracted bricking.

Yeah, this is a common anecdote (Сралин [Sralin] for Сталин [Stalin]; srat’ is the Russian verb ‘to shit’); unfortunately, it’s impossible to say whether it ever actually happened (though certainly misprinting the name of the Leader or of other sacred icons did happen and was punished).  I found a pretty thorough discussion online by somebody who seemed to know what he was talking about; he said that such misprints were the nightmare of Soviet journalists, and cites a misprint Салин [Salin, as if from salo ‘fat, lard’] for which the editor was arrested and a passage in Vasily Grossman’s great WWII novel Life and Fate (which I reviewed here) involving a proofreader who “did seven years for mixing up a letter in Stalin’s name.” He says there are two stories about a “Sralin” typo; one involves a Makhachkala newspaper and the disappearance without trace of the whole editorial board, the other a Voronezh newspaper and nothing more than the firing of the editor-in-chief. Take your pick!

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