Gopnik (Russian: го́пник) is a pejorative term and a social slur used in Russia, post-Soviet countries, and Israel to refer to aggressive young lower-class suburban male dwellers (usually under 30 years of age). coming from families of poor education and income, somewhat similar to British chavs, neds, or Scallie subcultures. The female form is gopnitsa (Russian: го́пница), and the collective noun is gopota (Russian: гопота́).
The gopnik stereotype includes predominant use of underworld mat slang, flagrant disrespect for the laws (such as mugging and beating up passers-by; public consumption of alcoholic beverages, most usually – the least obvious "Jaguar" cocktail or homemade beverage created by adding vodka into fizzy pop for same reasons) and love for snacking on roasted sunflower seeds while remaining squatted, spitting the seeds' shells.
Fashion preferences include flat caps, Adidas tracksuits, often cheap and obvious counterfeits or label-less replicas. Shoes include dress shoes and loafers, often made of PVC or artificial leather. In the winter, a leather jacket and a "gondonka" (a beanie or knit cap) are added to a typical Gopnik's attire.
Another hypothesis is that "gopnik" derived from the acronym GOP, probably a reference to Gorodskoye Obshchestvo Prizreniya (the municipal agency for care of destitutes), the numerous almshouses organized by the government after the October Revolution.
Another version translates the acronym as Gorodskoye Obshchezhitiye Proletariata (The Municipal Dormitory of the Proletariat), putatively organized in the 1920s in Leningrad in the hotel Oktyabrskaya, which quickly became known for the criminal activities of its inhabitants. The major argument against this theory is that there are no surviving records proving the existence of such an institution in Leningrad.
Another theory refers to old slang word "гопать" (literally, "to gop") was already "Dal's Dictionary" and it means "sleeping on street" on the slang of "mazuricks", St. Petersburgh's crooks.
Another hypothetical chain links to English slang phrase "gob stop" being used as "gop-stop!" order to stand still to the person being robbed. Such a usage could happen, because gopnik's collective robbing has modus operandi of suppressing victim by surrounding and asking sensetive questions in loud voice, thus "jokingly" testing the victim for courage rather than perform outlawed activities. Point for gopnicks is, that person, who easily breaks and "gives" goods, phones or accessories, can't clearly describe to the police all the details of gob stop.
Literature, further reading
- Фима Жиганец. Жемчужины босяцкой речи. Ростов-на-Дону, "Феникс", 1999. ISBN 5-222-00958-0
- Потапов С.М. Словарь жаргона преступников. Блатная музыка. Народный комиссариат внутренних дел, 1990.
- Владимир Козлов. Гопники. Ад Маргинем, 2003. ISBN 5-93321-041-2
- Russian plural гопники (gopniki), also гопота (gopota), and гопари (gopari).
- Beiträge der Europäischen Slavistischen Linguistik (POLYSLAV)., Volume 8, 2005, ISBN 3-87690-924-4, p. 237
- Ханипов Р. «Гопники» – значение понятия, и элементы репрезентации субкультуры «гопников» в России // "Social Identities in Transforming Societies"