On the Linguistic Curiosities of Mark Henry and Lana (“Boy” and “T’up”)

I have never had even the tiniest shred of interest in Mark Henry until he came out and lectured Rusev about disrespect and all that. In particular, I thought this was a brilliant line:

“Listen up, boy…” And then, to Lana, “…and maybe you can translate what ‘boy’ mean to me.”

It was such a profound idea I almost wondered if I heard him correctly. And I started to ponder how, if I were Lana, I might translate his particular usage of “boy”. “Малый” just doesn’t capture the nuance. It was also a slightly different nuance  when Randy Orton said to Roman Reigns, “Never again, boy, never again!” Such subtle variety in “boy” vernacular.

Lana herself is a deepening linguistic enigma. She speaks with a cartoon Russian accent in English, but has a rather authentic accent in Russian to my (trained but not native) ear. Yet she pronounces “Vladimir Putin” with a distinctly American accent. And she speaks very slowly in both languages, which is not like a Russian lady — they talk a million miles an hour, every one I’ve ever met anyway. Lana is a curious hybrid character — she plays a Cold War cartoon to the American audience, and yet she has certain affectations of authenticity for international viewers. Her Twitter profile, even, is a mix of authentic and satirical. On the one hand her pictures highlight the fact that she is a bombshell to an almost ridiculous extent — that is a Russian woman stereotype. But then, here’s her little mini-Twitter bio:

Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition. I grew up in the U.S.S.R. Story teller. Entrepeuner. Activist.


That’s trendy, on Twitter, to call yourself “a storyteller”. And it’s also something they do in the former countries of the USSR, comment about how they were all born in the USSR — which republic and so forth — I’ve seen and heard it happen a number of times. And, she incorrectly split the compound word “storyteller”, she typo’d “entrepreneur”, and those periods in “U.S.S.R.” strike me as awkward punctuation in the internet era. She types like a Russian whose written English is not quite fluent, but her spoken accents betrays this insinuation.

And then there was that moment, the funniest moment, I think not this RAW but the last one, when she said, in her slow cartoon drawl, “Shut… T’up.” Hitting the “t” in “shut” with a punch of staccato, and then adding another hard “t” before “up”! Seriously, what are we to make of this? Written joke? Improv? Honest mistake? Was this an obscure Boris & Natasha reference or something? And then Jerry Lawler, with that almost off-mike “Tup?” Subtly drawing attention to it, perhaps himself in a sly improv reaction. Or not, who knows? What a strange little comedic moment, the “T’up”! What exactly inspired it?

And on a final linguistic note, I am delighted that we now have a German announce table for guys to throw each other into. May it have a long and storied history of funny violent moments like its counterpart, the Spanish announce table.



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