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When the word ends in -щина what does it mean?

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I'm learning my Russian vocabulary and there's a lot of words ending in -щина (женщина, трещина, годовщина, дедовщина, чертовщина). Does this suffix add some special meaning to the word?

asked Jan 13, 2013 by Beluga (200 points)

2 Answers

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Note:
it-ogo and Larusja provided great explanations. Here are my observations on the question. Perhaps, we could turn it into a community wiki (there is a feature for this) and create the combined answer.
 
The suffix -щина (or -овщина) is used to form nouns. There are two types of words ending in -щина:
 
1- The first group includes simple words where the -щина suffix has no particular meaning. There might have been a special meaning in the past but it's now lost and the suffix is just a part of the word as a whole. Some of the words in this group are:
  • женщина (woman)
  • община (community)
  • годовщина (anniversary)
  • морщина (wrinkle)
  • толщина (thickness)
  • трещина (a crack)
2- The second group includes words influenced by history, literature, culture and traditions. Most of such words express criticism and carry a negative connotation. The words in this group can be formed from the names of people, historical phenomena, and notions that are being criticized. When you look at English translations of such words, you will notice that -щина is translated with the help of English suffixes like -ian, -ism, -ness, -dom, -ing and others.
  • толстовщина (The Tolstoyan movement)
  • обломовщина (Oblomovism; Oblomov is a character of Goncharov's novel)
  • маниловщина (Manilovism; Manilov is a character from Gogol's Dead Souls)
  • лысенковщина (Lysenkoism)
  • чертовщина (devilry, devildom, diablerie)
  • поножовщина (knife fight, knifing)
  • любительщина (amateurism)
  • дедовщина (hazing)
  • казёнщина (red tape)
  • безотцовщина (fatherlessness, fatherless child)
  • обыдёнщина (commonness, uneventfulness, trivial round)
  • деревенщина (country bumpkin, redneck; literally, someone from a village)
answered Jan 13, 2013 by Alex (13,670 points)
selected Jan 13, 2013 by Beluga
0 votes

 

I think that -щина is also suffix which we use to make nouns from words with connected meanings: Годы -> годовщина; Жена -> женщина; Треск -> трещина; Обломов -> Обломовщина

I found some information about it:

  • Словообразовательная единица, образующая имена существительные женского рода, которые обозначают бытовое или общественное явление, идейное или политическое течение, характеризующееся признаком - мотивирующим именем прилагательным или словосочетанием с ним, а также именами исторических деятелей и литературных персонажей (достоевщина, театральщина и т.п.). Также могут иметь вторичное собирательное значение (военщина и т.п.), значение единичного лица – носителя признака (деревенщина).

In two words: words with щина mean something like household or public phenomenon, ideological or a political trend or group of people who connected with the based word...

  • Словообразовательная единица, образующая имена существительные женского рода - обиходные названия территорий (Владимирщина, Киевщина...).

Making names of territories which rounded basic town (it-ogo was right in first post)

answered Jan 13, 2013 by Larusja (1,210 points)

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