What Does Pektopah Mean?

14 Nov


This song is based on a true story. It’s probably not very funny unless you’ve been to Russia, or Ukraine, or other former Soviet countries.

If you want to do a quick language activity, listen to the “Brief -LY Clip” from the song. The singer sings seven consecutive words ending in “ly.” Play the clip from the song several times and see if students can write down all seven words.


Teachers interested in using this in class can easily make a gap-fill listening activity. Just copy the text and paste it into a Word document. Then remove 15 words or so, and play the audio for the class

Here are the words to the song:

I met an American in Yakutsk
In Russian she didn’t know much anything
But apparently she thought she heard a word
Because she asked, “Kevin, what does pektopah mean?”

What does pektopah mean?
What does pektopah mean?
“I’ve got no idea.” I said, “Maybe it’s slang
But it sounds about as Russian as the word orangutan
I really don’t know what pektopah means.”

She said, “I saw it bunch of times yesterday.
On signs when I was walking around.”
“Well then,”  I said, “One thing we can say:
Pektopahs must be popular in this town.”

What does pektopah mean?
What does pektopah mean?
I had to admit that I’d never seen
A word like that on any sign on any street.
I really don’t know what pektopah means.

Then she nearly jumped out of her feet
’cause we saw a pektopah sign on the street
It became clear what was going on
Her pektopah was just a
ресторан [Russian word for “restaurant”]. 

Now we know what pektopah means
We know what pektopah means
It’s easy to laugh but what travel often brings
Is a brand new meaning to the things you think you’ve already seen.

And that’s precisely, indubitably, unquestionably, undeniably, incontrovertibly, incontestably, indisputably… what pektopah means.