Atheist Alley February 4, 2008

Atheist Alley

It’s not named after anyone in particular, but apparently, this old street sign in Moscow (which says “Bezbozhnii Pereulok”) translates to “Atheist Alley”:


(via The Blingdom of God)

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Renacier

    Great, now I have to go to Russia and steal a sign.

  • “Godless alley” if you translate it literally.

  • J Sveda

    Renacier, sorry to say that, but i made litte research using good old friend Google and i turns out that since 1993 the lane was renamed to “Protopopovskiy pereulok”. If you still want to see where it is, look at Google maps.

    I wonder what the new name means in English?

  • Daggerstab

    The new one? “Archpriest‘s Alley”. I am not surprised – “decommunization” of street names was common in Eastern Europe during the 1990s. (For the record – I’m not Russian, I am Bulgrian and I had to look it up in the dictionary.)

  • J Sveda

    Daggerstab, I thought that it has got sth to do with priests (East Orthodox priests are called ‘pops’). The reason of renaming isn’t surprising at all, too – Soviet Union dissolved in ’91, just few years before the photo was taken. Only place was spared and I just don’t know why – the Red Square.

    BTW I’m from former Eastern Bloc country too – the Czech Republic.

  • Milena

    I was going to comment to give the literal translation, but I see Anatoly beat me to it. By the way Daggerstab, I’m Bulgarian too. Yeah, and my grandmother still refers to many streets by their communist names.

  • Mriana

    I like it. 🙂 Renacier, take me with you? 😈

  • Glad you enjoyed the pic!

    A few words about the translation:

    If you look at Russian-English dictionaries–including the standard versions published in the USSR throughout the Soviet era and afterwards–you’ll find that the noun form of the English atheist is bezbozhnik. Bezbozhnii is the adjectival form.

    Yes, one can literally translate bezbozhnii as “without god” or “godless.” But the same is true of atheist, which is an adjectival form derived from the Greek theos (god) and a-, which, like bez-, is a prefix signifying privation.

    When choosing a translation, it’s important to respect nuances in meaning, especially implicit connotation. There’s a linguistic reason this site isn’t “”–historically the word “godless” had a negative connotation; it was a value judgment as much as a description. “Atheist” emerged as a more-or-less neutral descriptive term, with the Greek itself conveying philosophical respectability.

    It’s precisely this value that Soviet rhetoric sought to convey. Soviet atheism spoke of itself as a science–not the “godless bolshevism” decried by Western critics, but a scientific rationalism grounded in the natural order.

    In short, Atheist Alley is not just a literal translation–it also more accurately reflects bezbozhnii‘s meaning in a culture framed by Marxist orthodoxy and not the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Protopopovkskii Pereulok, on the other hand . . . Bozhe moi!

error: Content is protected !!