That's, Like, Totally Bad Russian
By Michele A. Berdy from The Moscow Times
Конкретно: (as a parasite word), helluva, for sure, really good
Russian has a number of filler words that Russians call слова-паразиты, literally "parasite words." Sometimes they are used as intensifiers, but more often they just seem to appear in your speech all by themselves. Nasty little parasites that they are, you don't notice them until they have taken over half your utterances. And then ridding your speech of them is virtually impossible.
Like all speakers of Russian in Moscow, I've been infected by the parasite как бы. This is a perfectly useful phrase that means "as if." You can use it legitimately in sentences like, Как бы в шутку он сказал, что хочет жениться. А, может быть, он серьёзно? (As if in jest, he said he wanted to get married. But maybe he's serious?) According to linguists, как бы as a parasite originated in St. Petersburg, but it has swept through Moscow like a particularly virulent flu. It doesn't really mean anything and is used the way some people use "like" in English. Он как бы поехал купить хлеб. (He, like, went to buy bread.)
Another parasite is типа, which, like как бы, has a legitimate use: to express a comparison or similarity. Он купил новую машину -- она типа Джипа, только меньше размером. (He bought a new car -- something like a Jeep, only smaller.) As a parasite it means "kinda, sorta, like." Я, типа, хотел ей позвонить. (I kinda wanted to give her a call.) It can also be used to indicate a quote: Она, типа, не хочет пойти сегодня в клуб сегодня. (She's like: I don't wanna go to the club tonight.) This can be sometimes translated by the equally appalling "go," used in Valley Girl English to mean "say." Он, типа, хочет выпить. И ей, типа, всё равно. (He goes: I wanna drink. And she's like: Whatever.)
And then there's короче. Короче говоря is a handy phrase that means "to cut a long story short." Perhaps it first started to infiltrate speech in this sense, but now it's like a nervous tic: Я, короче, поговорил с ним, а он, короче, не будет подписывать контракт. (I, you know, had a talk with him, and he's, like, not gonna sign the contract.)
Конкретно, we all know, means "specifically" or "in detail." Мы очень конкретно обсуждали все условия договора. (We discussed all the terms of the contract in great detail.) In parasite-talk, it is used as an intensifier. Мы конкретно отдохнули. (We had one helluva vacation.)
Чисто is used in standard speech to mean "purely" or "impeccably." Музыканты исполнили программу совершенно чисто -- не было ни одной ошибки. (The musicians gave an absolutely impeccable performance: There wasn't a single mistake.) As a parasite, it can mean "only." Он чисто хотел сказать, что будет ждать тебя. (He just wanted to tell you that he'll wait for you.) Or it can mean "really": Он чисто конкретно пообещал. (He, like, totally promised big time.) Or it can mean nothing at all.
Another awful word is прикинь, which kinda sorta means "can you imagine," but appears so often, it seems to have no more meaning than "uh." Прикинь, я вчера, типа, иду с ним, а он, короче, пьяный в зюзю. (So, like, yesterday I'm walking with him and he's, ya know, drunk as a skunk.)
Понимаешь (you know) can be used whenever you want to make sure your audience truly hears you. Мне нелегко с ним, как ты понимаешь, но и у меня характер тоже не сахар. (As you well know, it's not easy for me with him, but then I don't have the sweetest personality either.) But there are some folks who use it the way U.S. teens use "ya know." Он, понимаешь, работает допоздна, а мне, понимаешь, скучно. (He, ya know, works late, and I'm, like, bored.)
With the exception of как бы, which has infected everyone, these words make you sound like a guy hanging out in the 'hood. Or worse: like a teenager. Should you find you're infected with any of these parasites, seek linguistic help immediately.
Recommended rest cure: a month reading Pushkin.