14 Aug 2013

Word of the Day: “Shturmovshchina”

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Soviet consumers used to dread receiving a car or appliance produced by a Russian factory in the waning days of the month, when the workers, who had idled away their time day after day, suddenly sprang into action to meet the monthly production quota by “storm producing” everything. Production speed went up stratospherically and quality control went down precipitously.

I never knew the Russian word for “storm production,” but M.H. Forsyth supplies it.

[T]oday I discovered a word that is so useful that it describes most, if not all, of my futile life. The word is shturmovshchina, and it may even be worth learning how to spell it.

Shturmovshchina is the practice of working frantically just before a deadline, having not done anything for the last month. The first element means storm or assault, the second is a derogatory suffix.

Shturmovschina originated in the Soviet Union. Factories would be given targets and quotas and other such rot by the state. However, they often weren’t given any tools or raw materials. So they would sit around with their feet up and their tools down waiting until the necessaries arrived, and it was only when the deadline was knocking at the door and the gulag beckoned that they would panic, grab whatever was to hand, and do a really shoddy, half-arsed heap of work.

This too is my policy.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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Never Yet Melted » Word of the Day: “Shturmovshchina”



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