Корупция 15-7-2010

There are a lot of words in Bulgarian that are funny when you hear them because, after straining to understand the conversation, you immediately know what is being discussed. These are words like, “Корупция,”// pronounced Koh-roopt-see-ya// korooptsia. A lot of adopted words have this “tsia” sound at the end of them.

It sounds like corruption, and guess what? That’s what it means.

My host brother has a bum hand – birth-defect – and he had to get it checked out by a doctor on Wednesday.  He needed to get some x-rays and he got them, but then the doctor asked them for 50 leva, cash, outside of paying for the service. He asked them for a bribe/tried to take advantage of them.

Of course I was not there, and if I had been, wouldn’t have understood the situation anyway, so maybe my hosts misunderstood something, maybe. I’m going with “no,” though.

They didn’t pay the money, which is good, but they are a little worried about the situation because they don’t want to go back to that doctor.

After the outrage of the story dies down there’s a kicker, though, which is that “corruption” is an adopted Western word that wasn’t in Bulgarian. Baba tells me it wasn’t there before they got “Демокрация”//Demokratsia//Democracy, another Western word they adopted. She also said that maybe when they had Communism in the country the media was too complicit and so they just never heard about the corruption. That sounds pretty likely to me considering the stories I’ve heard from other Bulgarians – that the Communist regime was a very effective system for suppressing information.

The fact that the word for corruption is one they adopted from the West is unsettling. Maybe it shouldn’t be, maybe we just gave it a name and that cultural transfer is like shinning a little sunlight on an age-old problem. I like that narrative a lot better.



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