|Translating humor, part II »|
The Russian word for brick is кирпич. It is an end-stressed noun, so it declines like this:
Generally speaking, if you are discussing the substance out of which something is made, then you usually use кирпич in the singular.
|Музей построен из красного кирпича.||The museum is made of red brick.|
|Вокруг дома стояла прочная стена из кирпича производства компании Аккрингтон.||Around the house there was a sturdy wall of Accrington brick.|
Of course, if you are counting the bricks the word can occur in the singular and the plural.
|После торнадо все было разрушено. От нашего дома остался только один жалкий кирпич.||After the tornado every was destroyed. Only one pitiful brick was left of our house.|
|Чтобы достроить стену, нужно еще только два кирпича.||We only need two more bricks to finish the wall.|
|Я построил книжный шкаф из двадцати шести кирпичей и шести досок.||I built a bookshelf from twenty-six bricks and six boards.|
There is more to be said about this word, but that will have to wait till the next couple of entries.
“??????” etc => “???????”
Don responds: Thanks! Typo fixed!
Among the April 1st offerings on Facebook this morning is a picture from Баба і кіт that made me laugh out. Let's have a little translation contest.
- Read over Natasha's entry on крыса my entry on Translating humor, part I. (They are the two entries before this one.
- Come up with an English translation for the the two sentences above the picture that captures the humor of the picture.
- At the end of April I will make a completely subjective decision about which one I like best and send the author ten bucks as a reward.
Here's the picture.
Hm, this was tougher than I thought it would be.
“After the welcoming home of Crimea by Russia a new state arose - Ratropolis.
The citizens will be known as ’squealers’…”
Any critiques more than welcome!
After the integration of Dombass in the Russian federation a new state was created: Dombassia.
The citizens are now called “dumbasses”
It’s the next step after all :p
One of the most popular second-year Russian textbooks is “Russian Stage Two: Welcome Back!” One of the things that is nice about the book is that it is accompanied by a well-produced and engaging video that gives a plot arc to the text. In class my students and I came across a couple lines in the video that lacked the same punch in English that they had in Russian. A student asked how we should go about that type of translation. What a great question! Here's the context.
Lena and Tanya are talking on the phone. Lena asks Tanya how her thesis is coming along. Tanya, distracted by her wedding plans, at first does not recognize what Lena is talking about, which reinforces the video's presentation of Tanya's character as somewhat flakey. The lines go like this:
|Лена: Как твои дела? Как твоя дипломная работа?||Lena: How are you? How is your thesis coming?|
|Таня: Какая работа? Ах, дипломная? Всё нормально.||Tanya: What kind of work? Ah, my thesis. Everything's okay.|
The performance of the dialog is slightly humorous in Russian. The Russian phrase for thesis is «дипломная работа», which literally means “diploma work.” Thus when Tanya doesn't quite make out the word «дипломная» but does make out the word «работа», she can ask «Какая работа?» “What kind of work”, then figure it out in her head and say “Ah, diploma work.”
Why does the translation not capture the humor of the original? It fails because in English ‘thesis’ has no obvious connection to “what kind of work?” Ideally a translation intended for a general audience will capture the emotional content (in this case the humor) as well as the informational content. So how do you go about the process of figuring it out? Here is how our discussion went.
Step 1: identify the sources of the humor. In this case the humor stems from a variety of things, including the inherent relationship between «какая работа» and «дипломная работа». «Какая» is one of the things you can say in Russian when you didn't quite catch what the other person has said. Tanya didn't at first figure out what Lena said because she was distracted by wedding invitations, or, alternatively, she didn't understand Lena because Lena's headcold made it tougher.
Step 2: identify the things you can't change in the translation. «Дипломная работа» has a standard equivalent in English, which is ‘thesis.’ Not much you can do about that.¹
Step 3: identify the things you can change and brainstorm on them. In English there are a lot of ways you can ask for additional information when you didn't quite hear what someone said. Let's brainstorm those phrases:
- Could you repeat that, please?
- Excuse me?
- Come again?
- Speak more clearly!
- What did you say?
- What's that?
- What was that?
- Say what?
- My what?
Somehow we have to find a variation on one of those phrases that has some obvious connection to ‘thesis.’ In a previous blog entry we discussed the word whatchamacallit. Among the variations there were whoziwhatsis and whatsis, the last three letters of which match the word thesis. Ah, there we have it!
|Lena: How are you? How is your thesis coming?|
|Tanya: My whatsis? Oh, my thesis! Everything's okay.|
When we reached this point in our class discussion, the whole class laughed, which meant we had a successful connection. Of course, this version is funny for an additional reason: whatsis is a very informal word, one that doesn't quite match the neutral tone of the rest of the conversation.
One last thought. Humor is best when it is spontaneous and not overanalyzed. If nothing here seemed particularly humorous, chalk it up to the academic discussion. It really was funny at the time... but you probably had to be there.
¹ Okay, I'm fudging here. You could also say ‘senior project.’
I wonder if you could use “How is your (thesis) proposal?” here? Will anyone make the connection and even understand what the ambiguity is?
Don responds: Ah, now that is clever! But it might take a subtle reader to riddle it out.
An interesting post!
Of course humour relies on more than just linguistics. It also relies on culture. People who have a shared cultural history and cultural values are able to create humour using this cultural subtext. The comedian and his audience share an implicit understanding of what is funny and what the boundaries of humour are.
Some cultures joke about sex, some about religion, some about drinking, some about none of the above.
Human beings are united by our love of humour but are divided by our cultural definitions of humour.
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
~ W.C. Fields
The Russian word крыса means 'rat,' as in the animal. It declines as such:
Photo Credit: vadim.tk (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Here are a few sample sentences:
|Крыса грызла туфли.||The rat gnawed the shoes.|
|В доме есть крысы!||There are rats in the house!|
|Я был вчера на мусорной свалке и увидел много больших крыс!||I was at the dump yesterday, and I saw a lot of big rats!|
|Меня укусила крыса, пришлось сделать укол от бешенства.||A rat bit me, and I had to get a rabies shot.|
|Мой лучший друг — телепатическая крыса, которая защищает меня от забияк.||My best friend is a telepathic rat who protects me from bullies.|
That last sentence is the plot to the movie Ben. The movie had a famous theme song which was sung by Michael Jackson... Michael himself had a very odd life with friends few and far between, more comfortable with animals than people. Somehow his singing this song seems oddly fitting.
Since Russian has different words for male and female cats, is this also the case for rats?
What an intriguing question! I did some research and talked to a few native speakers, and it appears as though this is not the case for rats in Russian. The word крыса is used for both male and female rats. A small or baby rat would be called крысёнок. Hope this helps! Thanks so much for the comment!
The verb pair уходить/уйти is usually translated as “to leave, depart” or in some contexts just “to go.” Notice that there is an й in the perfective infinitive:
|No such thing as
Here are a couple of examples:
|Папа, не уходи!.||Daddy, don’t go away!|
|Во сколько ты уйдёшь?||What time will you leave?|
|Она всегда уходит так рано!||She always leaves so early!|
|Нина ушла от Миши в 2003-ем году.||Nina left Misha in 2003.|
In English the verbs leave and depart mean roughly the same thing, but they have a grammatical difference. We don't use the preposition from with leave, but we usually use from with depart. Thus we have:
She departed from the university at 8.
In Russian if you mention the place you are leaving, you must *always* use the ‘from’ word with its noun. For this verb you use the typical ‘from’ equivalents. For example:
|Таня ушла из университета в пять часов.||Tanya left the university at 5. or
Tanya departed from the university at 5.
|Мы обычно уходим с работы в 5.||We usually leave work at 5. or
We usually depart from work at 5.
|Я уйду от бабушки в 5.||I will leave Grandma’s at 5.
I will depart from Grandma’s at 5.
When you depart a place, you are usually heading somewhere specific; that is, you are going *to* a place. For that reason the typical Russian prepositions of motion will work, e.g. в/на + accusative or with к + dative:
|— Где папа?
— Он ушёл в лабораторию.
“Where is dad?”
“He has gone to the laboratory”. or
|— Где мама?
— Она уже ушла на работу.
“Where is Mom?”
“She has already gone to work.” or
|— Где Таня?
— Она ушла к Ире.
“Where is Tanya”
“She has gone to Ira’s place.” or
>In Russian if you mention the place you are leaving, you must *always* use the ‘from’ word with its noun. For this verb you use the typical ‘from’ equivalents. For example:
But if you use “покинула” instead of “ушла", you never use “from".
Таня ушла из университета
Таня покинула университет
The latter is close to “left forever” though, but not always.
The Russian word гадюка means 'viper' or 'adder'. It declines like so:
There are a few species of vipers that live in Russia, not very many though. When it's starts to get really cold in Russia, the snakes start migrating indoors, especially in rural towns. Waking up to find a snake in your living room doesn't sound very fun. Warnings are usually issued during the colder parts of the year regarding snake home invasions. That's not the kind of viper I'd like to be surprised with in my driveway.
Photo Credit: Piet Spaans, CC-BY-SA-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
Here are some example sentences:
|Не ходите туда! В унитазе гадюка!||Don't go in there! There's a viper in the toilet!|
|Меня укусила гадюка! Высоси яд!||The viper bit me! Suck out the venom!|
|Идиот! Нет гадюки в гостиной! Ты выпил, что ли?||You idiot! There's no viper in the living room! Have you been drinking or what?|
|Не волнуйтесь, это была не гадюка, a шланг просто.||Don't worry, it wasn't a viper, it was just a hose.|
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Russian distinguishes two words for ‘now,’ one of which means ‘nowadays,’ and the other means ‘at this moment.’ The one that means ‘now, at this moment’ is сейчас. Beginning Russian students in the US often have а disgustingly limited knowledge of grammar, so for them I have this piece of advice: if your instructor asks you to what part of speech a particular word belongs and if you have absolutely no idea, then guess ‘adverb.’ Consider this dialog:
|Glorious instructor:||“What part of speech is сейчас?”|
|Vapid student:||“It's an adverb.”|
You see? By taking RWOTD's sage advice the vapid student now has curried the instructor's favor and will doubtless eventually enter grad school.
Here are a few example sentences:
|Мама сейчас на работе.||Mom is at work now.|
|— Хочешь пойти со мной в кино?
— Извини, но я сейчас занята.
|“Do you want to go to the movies with me?”
“Sorry, but I'm busy now.”
|— Почему ты сейчас здесь?
— Потому что не хочу идти домой.
|“Why are you here now?”
“Because I don't want to go home.”
Interestingly enough, сейчас can also mean “right away”:
|— Ваня, где ты? Приди домой поскорей, а то тебя накажут.
— Я сейчас буду!
|“Vanya, where are you? Come home right away or you'll be in trouble.”
“I will be right there!”
|Я сейчас приготовлю ужин, а потом мы пойдём в кино.||I'll make dinner right away, then we will go to the movie.|
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«Я покажу тебе Кузькину мать!» is a Russian idiom that is very hard to translate. It is often used as a threat. In essence it means: "I'll show you what's what!" It can also mean "to give somebody a hard time." It literally translates to: "I'll show you Kuzka's mother!", but that doesn't really make sense in English. Who the heck is Kuzka? And why are we bringing his mother into this? There have been many theories about the origin of the phrase. Some are more farfetched than others. One idea is that Kuzka was a ghost mother that lived behind stoves, and would scare away anyone that saw her. Another theory is that Kuzka was a kind of crop eating beetle that would destroy farmers' harvests, so the sight of the beetles' eggs, or "mother" would indicate that the crop was in jeopardy. There is also a theory that the phrase refers to a riding whip, called a kuzka, that a groom would keep in his boot during the wedding, signifying his dominance over his fiancee.
Whatever the origin, the phrase was popularized by former Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev. He liked using the phrase because of it's ambiguity. He enjoyed stumping his interpreters, who would often times try to translate the phrase literally, which would lead to very puzzled looks on the faces of his American counterparts. For a time in the Cold War the phrase was used as a metaphor for the Atomic Bomb. Nowadays, though, it is used more humorously, and is used to do comical impersonations of Khruschev. It is not as common anymore, but it can still be used in a threatening manner.
Photo Credit: NARA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Here are some examples:
|— Я не уверен, что вы выиграете завтра.
— Мы покажем тебе Кузькину мать!
|“I don't think you'll win the game tomorrow.”
“We’ll show you!”
— Ты всегда будешь неудачником!
— Я покажу тебе Кузькину мать!
|“You'll never be a success.”
“I'll prove you wrong!”
It’s always good to learn some idiomatic phrases. Also, as a political junkie I really enjoyed this post!
Никсон: “И это типичная капиталистическая кухня!”
Хрущёв: “Но где же серебро??”
Никсон: “Я не мошенник!”
Хрущёв: “Я покажу тебе Кузькину мать!!!”
Sorry, couldn’t resist, I love political humour! :-D
Anyway, I have a question re the sentence “Ты всегда будешь неучадчником!” Literally, this would translate as “You’ll always be an ignoramus!”
I found “неуч” in my dictionary with the English translation “ignoramus", however I wasn’t able to find “неучадник". Is it safe to assume that the meaning is the same as “неуч” or is there a slightly different connotation due to the ending “-адник"?
Don responds: Typo corrected. Неудачник is the intended word.
неучадчником should be неудачником!
Don responds: Thanks! Typo corrected.
The verb вести means to guide someone somewhere. It's a unidirectional verb that conjugates like this:
Unidirectional verbs have multiple interpretations. The first one is applicable when you spot someone going somewhere with someone else.
|— Куда ты идёшь?
— Я веду дочку в школу.
|“Where are you going?”
“I'm taking my daughter to school.”
Unidirectional verbs in the present tense also have the meaning of ‘intent in the immediate future’:
|— Какие у Ивана планы на вечер?
— Он ведёт гостей из Астрахани на дискотеку.
|“What are Ivan's plans for the evenging?”
“He's taking his guests from Astrakhan to a club.”
In the past tense they focus on action in progress at a particular point of time:
|— Куда ты шла, когда я тебя увидел возле почты?
— Я вела бабушку к врачу.
|“What were you doing yesterday when I saw you near the post office?”
“I was taking my grandmother to the doctor.”
I know this verb is an oddball, but они “ведвелут"?
Don responds: Oops, thanks! Typo corrected.
The Russian word храпеть means 'to snore'. It conjugates like this:
|No such thing
as perfective present
Here are some examples:
|Он храпел всю ночь.||He snored all night long.|
— Ты выглядишь ужасно.
— Hу, я не мог уснуть вчера ночью. Моя жена храпелa, как порося.
|"You look terrible."
"Well, I couldn't fall asleep last night. My wife was snoring like a piglet."
|Он храпел каждую ночь, поэтому она навалилась на его и задушила подушкой.||He snored every night, so she stuffed a pillow in his face and smothered him.|
|Она громко храпит, но мне всё равно.||She snores loudly, but I don't mind.|
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Last summer in Kazan I was at a little restaurant with a friend, and after dinner we ordered tea, and to complement it we ordered a little plate containing «сухофрукты в ассортиментe» ‘assorted dried fruits.’
They also offered a plate containing «конфеты в ассортименте» ‘assorted candy.’
Ah, what a joy! Eat a full meal, and then rest a bit, have a bit of tea, and see what space opens up for a bit of dried apricot or an almond or a bit of chocolate. «Ах, какая благодать!» “Oh, what bliss!”
Thus we see that the word for ‘assortment’ in Russian is ассортимент, which declines like this:
It can be used as a noun in the meaning of ‘assortment’ or ‘range’ or ‘number’:
|В этом ресторане большой ассортимент мясных блюд.||This restaurant has a large assortment of meat dishes.|
|В этом году наша фирма расширяет ассортимент высококачественных товаров на пятьдесят процентов.||This year our company is expanding our range of high-quality goods by fifty percent.|
In English we might buy a box of ‘assorted chocolates,’ or an organic farm might offer weekly boxes of ‘assorted vegetables.’ The Russian equivalent of ‘assorted’ is the prepositional phrase «в ассортименте», literally ‘in an assortment.’ Thus we have:
|мороженое в ассортименте||assorted flavors of ice cream|
|вино в ассортименте||assorted wines|
|цветы в ассортименте||assorted flowers|
Let's assume that you are in a Russian restaurant, and their menu offers assorted flavors of ice cream, and let's assume they are trying to make their menu tourist-friendly. They could put it like this:
But you know, ассортимент is kind of a long word, and a menu only has so much space, and sometimes translators are not entirely aware of the cultural equivalents of what they want to say, so sometimes we get odd results. Consider this menu that someone found during the recent Sochi Winter Olympics:
Alas, I wish I could say that this was the only occurence, but there was also
I imagine that after these menus hit the net, the translator must have felt like an ... Oh, never mind.
I had to pop by and leave another comment! Great article about the word ассортимент! I think you have a small typo: “сухофркуты в ассортименте".
Don responds: Thanks! Typo corrected.
The Russian word 'колокол' means 'bell'. It is a noun that is first syllable stressed in the singular. In the plural form of the word the grammatical ending is stressed:
Here are a few sample sentences:
|Колокол Свободы находится в Филадельфии.||The Liberty Bell is in Philadelphia.|
|Ты видел, как он звонил в церковный колокол в воскресенье?||Did you see him ring the church bell on Sunday?|
|Иногда, когда вы слушаете внимательно, вы можете услышать колокол старой башни с часами из соседнего города.||Sometimes, when you listen closely, you can hear the bell in the old clock tower in the nearby town.|
|Митя любил слушать звон колоколов.||Mitya loved to hear the chime of the bells.|
The Tsar Bell in Russia is the largest bell in the world. It weighs 201,924 kilograms (445,170 lb), and it is 6.14 meters (20.1 ft), tall. In comparison, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania weighs only 900 kilograms (2,080 lb), and is only 1.5 meters (5 ft) tall. The Tsar bell could make any bell seem small in comparison though. It is made completely out of bronze, although it's hard to tell being that it's completely oxidized due to age. It has never been rung because it was broken during the metal casting. If it had been rung, it would have been extremely loud, and probably would have given anyone standing near it severe hearing loss. Unfortunately, it never got to be put in the clock tower, but it can be seen at the Kremlin in Moscow. It is decorated with beautiful relief images of angels, saints, Empress Anna, and Tsar Alexey.
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There is a subset of verbs in Russian that in the US are sometimes taught as verb triplets instead of pairs. You can find a list of those verbs here, and a rough summary of how those verbs are used here. Among them is the multidirectional verb водить, which conjugates like this:
We can say that the verb means ‘to lead [someone somewhere by your own power].’ But to be honest we normally translate it as ‘to take’ in English. For instance...
|Я вожу дочку в школу каждое утро.||I take my daughter to school every day.|
|Каждый вечер папа водит соседа в кафе. Там играют в шахматы.||Every evening dad takes the our neighbor to a cafe where they play chess.|
Generally speaking the verb means that you are taking someone somewhere but not using a vehicle to get there. It can also be used if a vehicle is involved but the vehicle is not germane to the discussion. For instance, in the following sentence, the person speaking may live near the Kremlin Armory (so they can walk there with their guests), or they may just live somewhere within the city limits, but the fact that they will take the subway to get to the armory is simply not relevant to the story.
|Мы часто водим гостей в Оружейную палату.||We often take guests to the Kremlin Armory.|
Водить can also mean to lead people around a place (random motion inside a prescribed area). In this meaning the preposition по + the dative case is used. For instance:
|Моя сестра — доцент. Она водит посетителей на эксурсии по Третьяковской галерее.||My sister is a docent. She takes visitors on excursions around the Tretyakovsky Galery.|
|Мой брат был эксурсоводом. Он водил туристов по городу.||My brother was a tour guide. He used to show people around the city.|
In the past tense the verb can also mean to take someone somewhere, and the implication is that they are no longer located at the location you mentioned.
|Я вчера водил бабшуку на почту.||Yesterday I took grandma to the post office|
|Я вчера водил своих девушек на престижную дискотеку. Вау, как им там понравилось! Я произвёл на них неизгладимое впечатление.||Yesterday I took my ladies to a classy club. Wow, they really liked it! I made a huge impression on them.|
“Я вчера водил своих девушек на престижную дискотеку. Ахти, как им там понравилось!” → “Ахти” should not be used here. First, it has a negative connotation “alas". Second, it is downright archaic and used only in “не ахти как"(~"not really good").
“И как им там понравилось!” would work just fine.
Don responds: Sahyd, thanks for your comment. I’ve decided to change the ахти to вау, which I’ve heard from the lips of a 22-year old kid who always seems to have beautiful girls around him. He originally inspired the sentence. Like many twenty-somethings (and thousands of Muscovites) he occasionally throws in anglicisms. BTW, I enjoyed the discusion of вау and other interjections here.
The Russian word мусор is a noun that means ‘trash.’ It is a first declension noun. It is never used in the plural.
Here are some examples:
|Вынеси мусор, пожалуйста.||Take out the trash please.|
|В мусорном ящике нет мусора.||There's no trash in the trash can.|
|Брось скорлупу в мусор.||Throw the eggshells in the trash.|
Russia, like many countries, disposes of their nation's trash by means of landfills. Being that Russia makes up 1/8 of the Earth's landmass they should have no problem finding places to dispose of trash, at least that's what many people in the government and waste management industry believed. That notion came to a screeching halt once a lot of the landfills started filling up. The fact that most of these full landfills are located on the outskirts of cities and towns raised the stakes even higher. It has posed a lot of problems to both the infrastructure and the nearby residents. As the amount of trash increases, the air and soil quality surrounding the landfill decreases. This makes for very unhealthy and stinky conditions. Nobody wants to step outside their house on their way to work just to be greeted by a big whiff of last year's dinner. I'll pass on those leftovers, thank you very much. The waste management industry is working with the government to find an reasonable solution. It's a work in progress, but until it gets resolved, plug your nose.
Interestingly enough, the word «мусор» is also used as a derogatory name for policemen in Russia. It's equivalent to calling a police officer 'pig' in the United States. I do not recommend using this slang within earshot of any law enforcement officer, because it'll probably get you into a pretty nasty situation. When used in this manner the word does have a plural form: «мусора».
Here are some examples:
|Не едь по Калинина, там мусора.¹||Don't take Kalinin Street: the pigs are there.|
|Не превышай скорость по Вишневского, а то мусора оштрафуют.||Don't speed on Vishnevsky Street, otherwise the pigs will ticket you.|
¹ The word едь is substandard Russian speech, not something that a foreigner should emulate. But if a Russian is going to be rude enough to call the police мусор, then he'll probably allow himself this kind of grammatical irregularity as well, so I think we'll keep the example as it stands.
An interesting post, Natasha!
A couple of questions come to mind:
1.) Could “мусор” be used in a broader figurative sense, i.e., apart from referring to the local constabulary?
In Canada we often say that something we don’t like is “garbage". For example: “There’s nothing but garbage on TV!”
На русском языке, может быт: “Есть только мусор по телевидению!” Is that a correct usage of “мусор"?
2.) You mentioned that “едь” is substandard Russian. Is “едь” simply incorrect grammatically or is it slang? If it is slang is it considered profane in any way? Is it used by a certain age group or social group? Sorry for all the questions, I’m just curious.
Don responds: Hi, Richard. This is Don, responding for Natasha.
- Although it would be perfectly grammatical in Russian to say that someone is watching garbage on TV, it is not a common thing to say. If you google the phrase “мусор по телевидению” (with quotes), you will find very few hits. Compare that with the results for the corresponding English phrase.
- «Едь» is non-literary, uneducated Russian, not slang and not profane. Absolutely everyone understands it immediately when they hear it. If you know your imperative formation rules very well, then in fact you would predict that едь is the imperative form. But sometimes the expected form in a language is replaced entirely by an unexpected form; then we say that form is suppletive. Thus in English we would expect the past tense of “go” to be be “goed,” but instead we get the suppletive form “went.” In the Russian literary language the verb ехать and all its prefixed derivatives use suppletive variations of езжай for the imperative. Occasionally one will also hear «ехай». The Russians themselves sometimes have questions on this issue. See the discussions on mail.ru and lik-bez.com for a bit of amusement.
Thanks for your response.
Re the use of мусор, I was just curious about how the word is used in the purely figurative sense. I chose TV as an example because it’s so annoying; I can only hope that Russian TV shows are of better quality than what we have here! LOL
Thanks for the links about едь. From what I read, it seems that the consensus of opinion is that it’s a vulgarism which should be avoided by educated people. I guess Natasha stated it best when she called it substandard Russian.
“мусорный ящик” is not a common expression in Russian, just like “trash box"/ “garbage crate". Letterbox for trash comes to mind :).
A real term is “мусорное ведро” (at home) or “урна” (on the streets: often next to benches or building entrances).
As for garbage on TV, I would use “бред", “шлак", “чушь", “всякую гадость” and so on, depending on the meaning implied.
Those are some great words to apply to TV programs! Они - слова, которые я не знал! Спасибо!
Может быть слово хлам могло использоваться в этом контексте?
It’s amazing how many different ways human beings can talk trash! ;-)
In Moscow I heard the word «мильтон» used for ‘cop’ or ‘fuz’ and they could fine you on the spot for using it. Is this still the case?
Don responds: Oof, I have no idea. Perhaps one of our readers from Russia could respond?
One of the Russian words that can be translated as ‘to travel’ is путешествовать. It conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
In some senses this verb is exactly like the English verb ‘to travel’:
|Моя бабушка не любит путешествовать.||My grandmother doesn't like to travel.|
|Ты часто путешествуешь?||Do you travel often?
How often do you travel?
|В прошлом году я всё лето путешествовал.||Last year I traveled the whole summer.|
|— Какие планы у тебя на лето?
— Я всё лето буду путешествовать.
|“What are your plans for the summer?”
“I'm going to travel all summer long.”
One difference between this verb and the English verb ‘to travel’ is that in English we talk about traveling to a place. In Russian you can't use в + accusative or на + accusative with путешествовать. Instead you talk about traveling ‘around’ a place. In that sense we use по + dative:
|В прошлом году я путешествовал по Европе.||Last year I traveled around Europe.|
|— Какие у тебя планы на лето?
— Я буду путешествовать по Норвегии.
|“What are your plans for the summer?”
“I will be traveling around Norway.”
|— Ты любишь путешествовать за границей?
— Нет, больше всего я путешествую по местам, которые я уже знаю.
|“Do you like to travel abroad?”
“No, I mostly like to travel around places I already know.”
1.) How does the perfective prefix “по-” change the meaning of this verb? Knowing Russian verbs of motion I have a feeling the answer won’t be a simple one! :-)
2.) Just an observation. It looks like “путешествовать” comes from the noun “путь” meaning “path” or “way".
Don responds: Richard, the по- here simply adds the idea of ‘for a while.’ On this occasion there is no complex directional meeting.
BTW, good observation. Пут- does indeed mean path/way, and the root of the second part is шед- ‘go’, which we see in the past tense of идти, which is шёл. (The connection between ид-/шед-/ход- is actually quite interesting, but would take too much time to go into here.)
Суеревие is the Russian word for superstition. This word declines as such:
|У него нет суеверий.||He does not have superstitions.|
|Мне не нравятся суеверия.||I don’t like superstitions.|
|Как ты справляешься с абсурдными суевериями своей мамы?||How do you deal with your mother's ridiculous superstitions?|
|Я слушала лекцию о русских суевериях.||I attended a lecture on Russian superstitions.|
A superstition is the belief in the supernatural beings or events. Most all countries have them and they are rooted into their cultures. Some of the American ones are don’t break a mirror unless you want seven years of bad luck. If a black cats crosses your path you are also going to have bad luck. We have some rhymes to help people remember them as well, such as step on a crack will break your mother’s back. Some of Russia’s superstitions are: On exam day you shouldn’t wear anything new, make your bed or cut your fingernails, a funeral procession is good luck unless you cross its path. Both the US and Russia believe that breaking a mirror is bad luck. For Russians looking into a broken mirror is also is bad luck. Nowadays superstitions are not as highly regarded but certain ones are still believed by older generations. Growing up as Christian I was taught that superstitions are fun to think about but not something to live by because the supernatural of that sort is not real or worth worry about it.
“Мне ни нравятся суеверия” is incorrect.
In this sentence “не” should be used instead of “ни".
Please note that though it would be absolutely gramatically correct to say “Мне не нравятся суеверия", this phrase ia a little awkward. A more natural-sounding variant is “Я не люблю суеверия".
Don responds: Typo corrected!
Although I agree with you that the sentence is awkward, I’m still proud of Janell for producing it, even with a typo. Homonyms sometimes trip us up. We English speakers often confuse there, their and they’re, even though we know perfectly well which one to write.
Hm… I think Janell is currently abroad… I’ll have to see if she is in Russia.
The word for head in Russian is голова. But the word for the major bone structure that makes up head, or the skull, is the череп. This word declines this way:
|У него маленький череп.||He has a small skull.|
|Она родилась без черепа.||She was born without a skull.|
|Она сломала себе череп.||She broke her skull.|
|Это моя любимая чашка из черепа прадедушки.||This is my favorite cup [made from] the skull of my great-grandfather.|
The skull, like all the other bones, is there to protect the organs behind it and in this case the brain. The skull is made up of minor bones connected by sutures and joints. The two major parts of the skull are the mandible (the jaw) which is part of the facial bones and the cranium. In English we have a lot of terms that incorporate the word skull. The word numbskull is an example which translates into Russian as тупица. We all know someone who has acted like a numbskull once in a while. Usually a numbskull is someone who did not quite think something through and did something or said something that was stupid or mean. I know when I have to work on a school project with a group there might be someone that isn’t quite competent and we have to talk to that person to help them pick up the slack.
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бездельник is the word for slacker in Russian. It declines as such:
|Он бездельник.||He is a slacker.|
|Мне не нравятся бездельники.||I do not like slackers.|
|В группе у нас нет бездельников.||In the group we do not have slackers.|
|Я был бездельником, но уже нет.||I was a slacker, but no more.|
We all know a slacker or two and usually are not bothered by them unless we have to work on a project with them or are in a serious relationship with them. You can usually find them in school because jobs usually fire the slackers a lot faster than they are expelled from school. I am also sure we have all been a slacker about something at one point in our life. But for the most part we usually try to be on time about turning in an assignment and being efficient in the work as well. We are taught to do our best but sometimes things get in the way such as stress from a fight at home, a break up or just having a bad day that can cause us to delay in doing an assignment or doing it well. The etymology of the word is broken down as such без (without) + дело (work) + ник =suffix to make it into a pronoun. I remember having to work with one for a group project, and they were barely there, our group could not get a hold of him and he could not do the work. We were able to talk to the teacher and she talked with him and removed him from the group so we did not have to lose grade points on his behalf. For those that know that they tend to slack they need to try extra hard to not especially when working in a group because it makes it harder on everyone else. If they are not normally slacking but something came up they need to keep in touch with the group to let them know if they can help or not and if not ask to be removed from the group.
So these entries are nice, but I don’t get why you have to go to such lengths to explain what a “slacker” is for instance. Is it not a blog for English-speakers? Instead would appreciate some background on the Russian word if possible or just more examples if there’s actually interesting ones. Sometimes you also leave obvious secondary meanings out which means you’re probably going to get comments pointing them out. Should you make a mention of there being more meanings that you haven’t covered yet? Like with кисть or глухой.
Anyway I’ve learned some interesting words from the blog… Maybe you should focus on typically or idiomatically Russian words and concepts to keep it interesting. Like I didn’t realize шоколадная картошка was a thing.
Don responds: Hi, Simo. Although my original target audience for the blog was first- and second-year American students of Russian, it turns out quite a few Russians read it, too, so when a guest blogger offers a detailed explanation of an English word, I have no objection, knowing that the Russians may enjoy it. Plus we may find instances where our English readers differ over the meaning of words, which should also provoke interesting discussion.
The blog is mostly written in the spare moments that I and a few acquaintances have; some day we do hope to get to things like кисть and глухой. All the best, Don.
The suffix -ник creates a masculine noun, not a pronoun.
Привет, Дон! Я очень рада, что блог снова работает!
Однако соглашусь с Simo Vihinen- новые посты про бездельника и глухих мне тоже читать совершенно неинтересно, хотя я русскоговорящий читатель. У меня возникло ощущение, что я просматриваю какие-то куцие пересказы статей из википедии на специально упрощенном английском. Как в плохих учебниках.
И не понимаю, как это соотносится с russian word of the day.
Не сочтите за грубость, Дон! Это просто мое субъективное мнение.
In a perfect world everybody would be healthy and fully functional without disease ailments or mutations that cause deformities or impediments. But because we do not live in a such a world here are those that have disabilities such as blindness, deafness, the inability to speak and so forth. The word to describe a person who is deaf in Russian is Глухой. This word declines this way:
|prepositional||о глухо́м||о глухо́й||о глухо́м||о глухи́х|
(The declension chart I found was on Wikipedia.)
|Она глухая девушка.||She is a deaf girl.|
|Мы играли с глухими детьми.||We played with the deaf children.|
|Я не понимаю, как глухие люди учатся говорить.||I don't understand how deaf people learn to talk.|
|Ты не видел клип на Ютубе, где танцуют глухие корейки? Просто офигеть!||Have you seen that YouTube video where the deaf Korean women are dancing? It's frickin’ amazing.|
By the way, here is a link to the video. It really is amazing.
There are many reasons for one to be deaf or become deaf. If the person is born deaf it is usually genetic. A fetus is usually able to hear by four months around the time of bone development. Some people become deaf later in life due to noise, illness, accident, or certain medications that damage a person’s ability to hear. There are three main types of hearing impairments, conductive hearing impairment and sensorineural hearing impairment and a combination of the two called mixed hearing loss according to Abdelaziz Elzouki, the author of Textbook of clinical pediatrics 2 ed. a source from the Wikipedia page. Parents tell their children to control the volume of their mp3’s and other sound producing products to try to prolong the onset of hearing loss as long as possible. There are also many forms of technologies created and being created to help restore or give hearing to those who have lost it or never had it. For those that are deaf, there is a deaf culture where deaf people can share commonalities in how they live with lack of hearing. There is a site www.deafnet.ru that expands on the deaf culture in Russia.
They are Chinese girls.
Humans are both logical and emotional creatures. This is how this word declines:
|У неё нет чувств.||She has no emotions.|
|Не скрывайте ваши чувства.||Do not hide your emotions.|
|Она покраснела. Она не привыкла к таким чувствам.||She blushed. She wasn't used to such emotions.|
|У него было всего лишь одно чувство.||He only felt one emotion.|
For some these attributes are exclusive of each other but others argue they intertwine. Logic is rationalizing something without a bias based on facts and evidence. Emotions or Чувство in Russian is how we feel about something which can be affected by our environment, events in our lives, or simply our personality. For some feelings are strongly felt and expressed, while others do not relate them as well, or relate to some better than others. Most people like to moderate their emotions because if someone becomes too emotional about something they find it hard to function which explains why some believe that logic and emotions are exclusive of each other; that one cannot be rationally thinking if they are emotionally unstable. On the other hand there are many examples of why emotions such as passion have driven people to do great things, such as the mothers who have lost their children to drunk go out and speak to schools about drunk driving to try to reduce its frequency. Emotions are powerful and can be positive if utilized and controlled correctly.
Two negative comments (which you don’t have to publish!). I find this bloggers entries disapointing because they do not deal with the language but in general are simply observations that almost anyone could make.
Second, I think credit should be given for artwork such as appears in this post. I don’t object to using someone else’s Creation as long as it is properly acknowledged.
That said, always enjoy reading your entries. A great resource for a stifling student like myself!
Don responds: Hi, Liz. Negative comments are also welcome.
Occasionally I have guest bloggers, some of whom are just learning how to write about language. Sometimes the fledgling efforts are more successful than others. I’m just proud when a foreigner has the courage to make any comment about the Russian at all. Over the Spring 2014 semester I expect we will have more entries in the old vein. Those ones might be more to your taste.
Peace, joy and light to you, Don.
The word емоция is used also.
whoops… that’s эмоция
The Russian word помощь is a noun that means ‘help.’ It is a third declension noun. One doesn't encounter the plural forms all that often, but they do theoretically exist.
The word is often used with нужна:
|Мне нужна помощь.||I need help.|
|Мне не нужна ваша помощь.||I don't need your help.|
|Борисy нужна будет твоя помощь.||Boris will need your help.|
|Тане нужна была помощь брата, чтобы заменить дверь.||Tanya needed her brother’s help to replace the door.|
When you do something without help, the preposition без is used; it requires the genitive case.
|Я бы не смог путешествовать по Сомалии без помощи переводчика.||I wouldn't have been able to travel through Somalia without the help of an interpreter.|
|— Помоги мне заменить лампочку.
— Ты сможешь это сделать без моей помощи.
|“Help me replace the light bulb.”
“You’ll be able to do that without my help.”
When you do something with the help of something, you can use either the preposition при + prepositional or the preposition с + instrumental.
|Я перевёл статью с помощью словаря.||I translated the article with the help of a dictionary.|
|Я нашёл тот адрес при помощи смартфона.||I found that address with the help of my smart phone.|
The phrases при помощи and с помощью are part of higher style Russian. So although one could theoretically say,
|Я заменил унитаз с помощью брата.
Я заменил унитаз при помощи брата.
|I replaced the toilet with my brother’s help.|
in common conversation one is more likely to say,
|Брат помог мне заменить унитаз.||My brother helped me replace the toilet.|
Please note: “при помощи” is used on inanimate objects only. So “починил унитаз при помощи молотка” is ok, but “при помощи брата” is not entirely correct. I guess it’s somewhat equal to English “make smth with smth", like “I fixed the toilet with a hammer", “I fixed the toilet with my brother” (correct me if I’m wrong with that analogy)
Don responds: Андрей, thanks so much for your thought. Here’s the scoop. Although I agree with you that the phrase при помощи is used with an inanimate complement for best style in Russian, I found when writing the blog entry that in fact in conversational Russian people do use the phrase with people sometimes. At the moment I consider the use of «при помощи брата» to be one of those things that is an exceedingly minor error, so minor in fact as to now be part of the standard conversational language. If I were to make a comparison, I suppose it is about equivalent to saying “Did you eat lunch?” instead of “Have you eaten lunch?” The former nowadays is extremely common in American English, so common as to not sound wrong to most people in casual conversation, although some of us still try to maintain the distinction. (I believe the distinction may still have more force in Britain, though I am not sure.)
To my ear “I fixed the toilet with a plunger” and “I fixed the toilet with my brother” are both perfectly fine sentences, so I think I didn’t quite follow your point on that one.
Peace, joy and light to you, Don.
1.) I noticed that you used the feminine form “нужна” in all of your examples. Does this mean that “нужен” must always agree in gender and number with the noun to which it is referring?
2.) I found a couple of handy phrases related to “помощь” in my dictionary:
-"машина скорой помощи” –> “ambulance” (literally “car of quick aid” which is kinda cool, I like the literal definition better! :)
-"первая помощь” –> “first aid”
Don responds: Richard, yes, indeed, it is the thing needed that determines the ending of нужен, not the person who needs it.
Don, I guess I was just happy about I’ve got something to say and haven’t noticed being a nuisance :) Anyway, your Russian is a way better than my English!
Is there any difference in saying “Мне надо помощь” and “Мне нужна помощь"? I know the topical word is помощь, but the above sentences got me thinking about надо/нужно.
Don responds: What an excellent question. Although in terms of meaning they are basically the same, grammatically they are different. In «Мне надо помощь» the word помощь is in the accusative case, and there is some implied infinitive (although I’m not at the moment sure which verb, perhaps получить?). It is an impersonal sentence with надо as the predicative. In «Мне нужна помощь» we have a personal sentence with помощь as the nominative subject and the short form adjective agreeing with it. Interesting, eh?
You can say “Мне нужно/надо получить помощь” or “Мне нужно/надо помочь". But the last example also can be used when help is needed for someone else, like “Мне нужно помочь ему".
Кисть in Russian is brush. It declines as such:
Fix this for end stress in the last four plurals.
|У меня кисти из Японии.||I have paintbrushes from Japan.|
|Мы говорили о кистях.||We talked about paintbrushes.|
|У неё нет кистей, потому что она бедная.||She does not have any paintbrushes, because she is poor.|
|Она красила кистью.||She painted with a paintbrush.|
It can refer to a cosmetic brush, a brush to paint a room or in this instance I am referring to it as an artist brush. Brushes come in all shapes and sizes. Brushes with smaller or less bristles are usually used for detail and small areas such as details on a car or eye while the larger ones are for larger areas such as backgrounds. A round brush allows you to paint fine points while a flat one is more versatile and can be used for broad strokes and thin ones. A fan brush is usually used for blending colors. Other forms of paint brushes include mop brush and sword/striper brush. There are different brushes for different mediums; watercolor brushes are different than acrylic brushes. Thicker brushes hold more paint and are better for wet painting such as water coloring, while the thinner brushes are better for dry painting because they hold less paint. The article which I found useful on paintbrushes is: http://painting.about.com/od/artsupplies/ig/Intro-to-Art-Paint-Brushes/. It also gives advice on cleaning, the ways to preserve your brushes, etc.
“Кисть” also means “hand".
The verb ‘to help’ in Russian is помогать/помочь:
|No such thing as
The person you help goes in the dative case:
|— Мама, не поможешь мне с домашней работой?
— Хорошо, душенька, помогу.
|“Mama, can you help me with my homework?”
“Okay, sweetie, I will.”
|— Витя, помоги брату перетащить шкаф в другую спальню.
— Ладно, папа, помогу.
|“Vitya, help your brother move the wardrobe into the other bedroom.”
“Okay, Dad, I will.”
|Бабшука раньше помогала Елене деньгами.||Grandma used to help Elena out with money.|
|Не помогай Игорю. Он должен сделать уроки сам.||Don't help Igor. He is supposed to do his homework himself.|
|— Кто помог тебе собрать шкаф?
— Никто. Я собрала сама.
|“Who helped you put together the wardrobe?”
“No one. I assembled it all by myself.”
This is a brilliant blog, thank you for helping me with my Russian studies- such a beautiful language!
Душа is the Russian word for soul. This is how it declines:
|У меня есть душа.||I have a soul.|
Very often Russians will use the word душа where Americans would use the word ‘heart.’
|Он красил с душой.||He painted with heart.|
|Я благодарю вас от всей души.||I thank you with all my heart.|
The phrase «по душе» means ‘pleasant’ or ‘pleasing.’
|Эта книга была мне не по душе.||I didn't care for the book.|
What is a soul exactly? A soul is the non-physical essence of a person. Across the globe the meaning and existence of the soul varies. For the Christians the soul is the spiritual side of a person that must be saved by Christ in order to go to heaven. The Egyptians believed that a person had three souls, each of which went separate ways after the person died. Many believe that the soul can be contacted through the help of mediums or other spiritual forms of contact. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusalka and the book Russian Folk Belief By Linda J. Ivanits there is a creature called the Rusalka it is the Russian version of a mermaid. It is believed that when a young woman dies of violent circumstances or commits suicide their soul turns into one of these creatures. Around the soul are terms and phrases: soul mate, window to the soul, lover of the soul, soul music, to sell one’s soul to the devil, etc., that show the soul affects many aspects of life even if the major folklore around the soul has become irrelevant. One must be careful that they do not confuse the word душа the word for soul with the word душ the word for shower!
There is a curious thing. One of the ways to say, for example, “There is nobody in the room” in Russian is “В комнате ни души". “No soul” instead of “no body” :-)
Don responds: Indeed. In these contexts душа merely means ‘person.’
Surely “душа” in Russian has much more resonance culturally than “soul” does in English. I want a dissertation on “the Russian душа", please.
Don responds: Alas, time does not permit me to write a dissertation on душа this semester… nor probably next. However I welcome guest writers on occasion, so if anyone would like to do a little writing…
Another very interesting post. Thanks!
In English we say “a cat has nine lives". Would the Russians say “у котá есть дéвять душ?
Don responds: Richard, alas, no, not as far as I know. I’ve been told that «живуч как кошка» is a near equivalent, but so far I don’t think I believe it.
Thank you so much for these posts! These posts are extremely helpful and I love the multiple examples to show how the word can be used in a variety of different ways. I do have a quick question, in the last example (эта книга была мне не по душе) why is по used? Thanks!
Don responds: «По» has a thousand uses, and one of them is a kind of measuring meaning. Thus «Машина мне не по карману» means “The car is too expensive for me” (~The car is not according to my pocket) or «Сухое вино мне не по вкусу» mean “I don’t care for dry wine” (~White wine is not according to my taste). If you want a bit of amusement, look up the phrase «не по зубам».
In English we say “a cat has nine lives". Would the Russians say “у котá есть дéвять душ?
No, cats have nine lives in Russian too. “У кошек девять жизней".
Russian has a word кот which means a male cat, in other words what we in English would call a tomcat. It's an end-stressed word, which means it always has the stress on the first syllable of the grammatical ending, if there is one, and on the last syllable of the word if there is not a grammatical ending:
Here are a few sample sentences:
|Под окном дрались два кота.||Two tomcats were fighting under the window.|
|Ты видишь того кота? Я вчера видел, как он прогнал двух немецких овчарок.||Do you see that tomcat? Yesterday I saw him chase off two German Shepherds.|
|Господи, наш кот опять нассал на кухне. Надо его кастрировать.*||Good Lord, our cat has pissed in the kitchen again. We should neuter him.|
|Кот подкрался к мыши и прыгнул на неё.||The cat snuck up on the mouse and pounced on him.|
The Russians have a phrase that means “very little” which is related to cats, and that is «кот наплакал», literally “the tomcat cried.” For instance,
|— Сколько у тебя денег?
— Кот наплакал.
|“How much money do you have left?”
“Next to none.”
|— Сколько осталось водки?
— Кот наплакал.
|“How much vodka is left?”
“Scarcely a drop.”
* Warning: don't use the word нассать in polite company. It's pretty crude.
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The generic Russian word for cat is кошка. It declines like this.
In the US we summon cats with "here, kitty-kitty-kitty." In Russia you summon a cat by saying «кис-кис». In the summer I was at Raifa Monastery and experimented. Sure enough, the cats did *not* respond to the American version, but they immediately responded to the Russian version.
|— Ты любишь кошек?
|“Do you like cats?”
|Кис-кис! Ах, какая ты ласковая! Хочу привезти тебя домой, но мама просто не разрешает.||Here, kitty-kityy! Oh, you are so sweet! I want to take you home, but Mama won't let me.|
|Нашу кошку всегда мучит соседская собака.||The neighbors’ dog is always tormenting our cat.|
|— Где Даша?
— Она во дворе играет с кошками.
|“Where is Dasha?”
“She's in the courtyard playing with the cats”
Last summer one of my students was recovering from a laparoscopic procedure in Kazan's Hospital #18. He was horrified to see a cat wandering through the ward. I mentioned that to my friend Flyura, and she just laughed and said,
|В каждой русской больницe есть кошки. Они вообще такие ласковые, что прямо подходят и залазят тебе в сумку.||Every Russian hospital has cats, and they are usually so friendly that they'll just come right up and crawl into your purse.|
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Cartoon or Мультфильм in Russian is an animated show or movie. It declines as such:
|У меня есть мультфильмы из Японии.||I have cartoons from Japan.|
|Мы рассказали о мультфильмах.||We talked about cartoons.|
|Я узнала об этом предмете из мультфильма.||I learned about the subject from the cartoon|
|Она умерла в мультфильме.||She dies in the cartoon.(Translated as a historical present)|
In America there are a lot of animated shows that are for younger audiences such as Winnie the Pooh, Alice in wonderland and many other works by Disney. But there are also cartoon shows for adults that are usually comedy based such as Archer or Venture bros. Every country has its own form of drawing styles and techniques that are represented in the animations that they have or do. Japan has coined the term anime for their productions, many of which have become international. Japanese artist studios collaborated with Russian studios to create the animated film First Squad or Первый Отряд. Cartoons have various elements that real life motion pictures may not be able to express. “The magic of Disney” relies on the animation most of the time to present the wonders it wants to convey. In Japanese culture people are very reserved and most of the time conceal their emotions, however when one watches their anime many of the characters are given various facial expression and exaggerated body language to represent the emotions in a way that cannot be conveyed in real life.
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Outside my apartment here in Kazan every morning and evening a flock of swallows flies around catching the twilight bugs. They are swift flying, split-tailed avians. Every once in a while one flies into my balcony through an open window and, confused by all the glass, can't figure how to get back out. I walk up from behind, gently wrap it in my hands and release it through the one open window. The Russian word for swallow is ласточка.
A swallow looks like this.
|Вот летит ласточка!||There goes a swallow!|
|— В чём живут ласточки?
— В гнёздах, сделанных из грязи.
|“What do swallows live in?”
“In nests made of mud.”
|Питаются деревенские ласточки насекомыми: мухи, кузнечики, сверчки, стрекозы, жуки и другие летающие насекомые составляют 99 % их рациона. (source)||Barn swallows feed on insects: flies, grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, beetles and other flying insects make up 99% of their diet.|
|— Ты любишь ласточек?
— Люблю смотреть, как они летают по двору, но их чириканье напоминает звук плотоядных птиц из фильма «Чёрная дыра».
|“Do you like swallows?”
“I like to watch them fly around the courtyard, but their chirping reminds me of the sound of the carnivorous birds from the movie ‘Pitch Black’.”
Just as important as the birds themselves in Russia is the chocolate candy named after them, which looks like this.
So what is a ласточка?
|Ласточка - это конфета с помадным корпусом, глазированная шоколадной глазурью.||A ‘Lastochka’ is a fondant candy with a chocolate glaze.|
|В «Ласточке» — помада «Крем-брюле» с добавлением какао-порошка, цитрусовой подварки и сливочного масла.||A ‘Lastochka’ has a crème brûlée fondant with cocoa powder, citrus extract and butter added.|
This is a wonderful candy. There is another one on the market called серенада ласточки “serenade of the swallow” that looks like this.
This is almost the same in flavor to the ordinary ласточка, although the label specifies orange extract instead of citrus extract.
The Russians make wonderful candy. The only thing about Russian sweets that makes me scratch my head is their affection for meringue cookies. And those nasty waffle cookies. Hate them.
Thanks for the post, Don. It’s great to learn not just Russian grammar and vocabulary but also about the little cultural things that make up everyday life for the Russians.
Кажется, что ласточки вкусно! Конфеты, не птицы!!! :))
I have two questions:
1.) In the chart above showing the Acc/Gen plural, is the “e” inserted simply to make pronunciation easier? (i.e., drop the “a” from the nominative singular and insert an “e"?)
2.) Are all plural accusative nouns governed by the “animate accusative” rule regardless of gender?
One typo: “Ты любишль ласточек?” I don’t think you need the “л” in “любишль".
Don responds: Richard, thanks for your comment. Regarding them…
1. You asked whether the insert vowel was to make pronunciation easier. It’s a bit more complex than that. For the most part those insert vowels appear in places where historically there used to be ‘reduced vowels’ that in certain contexts vanished and in others did not. The general concept is described as “the fall of the yers” in Slavic languages, where the yers were vowels that might have been short or relaxed. While sometimes some people say those vowels are “to make pronunciation easier,” it’s really part of a much more complex historical process.
2. Yes, all plural accusative nouns are governed by the ‘animate accusative’ rule.
3. Thanks! Typo corrected.
Thanks for the explanation. I was aware that Russian orthography had changed in 1918, but I guess I still have a lot to learn about the evolution of the language. The evolution of any language is fascinating and I’ll definitely look into this aspect of the Slavic languages.
“Кажется, что ласточки вкусно! Конфеты, не птицы!!! :))”
You can’t say such phrase. Maybe “Оказывается, ласточки вкусные!".
Watercolor is Акварель in Russian.The word both means the watercolor paints and an actual watercolor painting. The word theoretically has a plural, but really it's mostly used in the singular.
|У меня есть акварель.||I have watercolors.|
|Он рисует акварелью.||He paints with watercolors.|
|Научи меня писать акварелью.||Teach me how to paint with watercolors.|
|У неё нет акварели.||She doesn’t have watercolors.|
Акваарель may come from the French word ‘aquarelle.’ Watercolor is a medium of art in the form of painting such as oil painting, charcoal, markers or colored pencils. One of the traits of watercolor is that it appears more transparent than marker or regular paint because it is “relatively pure with less fillers obscuring the color”. There are many different techniques for water-coloring from how you use the paints to how you lay them on the paper and what you do with the paper. Wet on Wet refers to the act of wetting the paper itself and then laying down the watercolor instead of working on a dry surface. Usually the surface used for water color has to be thicker to stand some of the rougher techniques used in watercolor.
As with many forms of art, watercolor can be used in therapy for patients as a way to express their selves if they feel they cannot with words alone, or a way to relieve stress in a positive way. For more information on watercolor such as its history or usage here is where I found most of my information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watercolor_painting.
The text shows Он рисует акварелью,
Научи меня писать акварелью as examples but the table shows акварель as the accusative. Is the table correct?
Don responds: Bill, here’s the trick. In Russian you paint by means of water colors, so the noun must go in the instrumental case. Sneaky, that, eh?
IS IT A MISTAKE?? SING INS CASE IS WITH -YU OR -I AT THE END??
Don responds: Thanks! Typo fixed. (Alas, sometimes we get carried away with cut and paste…)
The Russian word for ‘street’ is улица, which has got to be related somehow to улитка ‘snail,’ but I haven't figured out a way to connect them in an engaging fashion. It is declined like this.
Both Russian streets and American streets can be named after people. So in the US you can have Washington Street or Lincoln Street Street. In Russian when you name a street after someone, the name goes in the genitive case and comes after the word улица. You don't normally capitalize улица, except of course at the beginning of the sentence.
|Где улица Баумана?||Where is Bauman street?|
|Поверните налево на улице Пушкина.||Turn left on Pushkin Street.|
|Как доехать до улицы Михаила Миля?||How do you get to Mikahil Mil street?|
Note that when you translate the street into English, the name must be transliterated from the nominative form, not the genitive form.
Many Russian last names resemble adjectives in form, like Достоевский or Толстой. They must decline like adjectives.
|Как пройти к улице Достоевского?||How do you get to Dostoevski Street?|
|Улица Толстого сегодня закрыта.||Tolstoy Street is closed today.|
Now, what if the name of the street isn't a person's name, say, something like Trade Union Street or Kremlin Street? Then there are a couple of ways to go about it. The first way is to turn the noun into an adjective and put it in front of the noun; of course, the adjective agrees with the noun in gender, number and case.
|Где Профсоюзная улица?||Where is Trade Union Street?|
|Геологический музей находится на Кремлёвской улице.||The geology museum is located on Kremlin Street.|
Sometimes the adjective will come after the noun, and it will still agree with the noun.
|— Где улица Москвовская?
— Что за дурацкий вопрос. Вы на улице Московской и стоите!
|“Where is Moscow Street?”
“What a stupid question. You’re standing on Moscow Street!”
I seem to notice a tendency on internet maps to put the «ул.» in front of the adjective; Google maps seems to have made that editorial decision. However in speech the Russians seem to accept the adjective either before or after the noun... at least I haven't been corrected so far.
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The word искусство means art. It declines like this:
|Мне нравится искусство.||I like art.|
|В искусстве нет больше ничего оригиналього.||There is no original art anymore.|
|Полюбуйся искусством.||Enjoy the art.|
|Он рассказал о своем искусстве.||He talked about his artwork.|
Art can be the representation of the imagination, expression of the emotion, or recording or a memory, that is usually tangible visual or audial. There are many styles of art from drawings, sculptures, photography to dancing and music. All of these are expressions of the artists that they want to share in their own way. Art has a plethora of genres, from realism and surrealism to geographical art or abstract. Art has many different eras: Renaissance, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary and Modern. Art varies in style from country to region down to the individual. Art can help distress a person or simply let them positively express their creativity.
In 1757 Ivan Shuvalov created the Russian Academy of Arts then known as the Academy of the three noble arts. The focus was on neoclassical styles and prepared its students for furthering their education in European schools. As of 1947 the head office is in Moscow. One of the most recognized art traditions that come from Russia are the Matryoshka dolls. Those are also referred to as Russian nested dolls. They are the small wooden dolls that open from the middle horizontally which have inside of most of them are a smaller doll until they get to the smallest one. Vasily Zvyozdochkin carved the first Russian Matryoshka set in 1890 from a design by Sergey Malyutin.
> В искусстве нет больше ничего оригального. There is no original art anymore.
Don responds: Thanks! Typo corrected.
The painting that is posted above is by the painter Ilya Yefimovich Repin (Илья Ефимович Репин) and is entitled “Barge haulers on the Volga". Repin also did a truly terrifying painting of Ivan IV and his dying son. Ivan had struck his son with a large, heavy staff in an argument. The look in Ivan’s eyes defines insanity!
Another great painting of Ivan IV was done by Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov (Виктор Михайлович Васнецов). Another great late-19th century Russian painter that I love.
This is the sort of information that you can include on your résumé if you want to remain unemployed. ;-)
The verb ставить/поставить means ‘to put,’ and specifically it means to put something somewhere in a vertical position. It conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
The item you move is the direct object of the verb. But what about the place where you put the item? That is actually a bit complicated. If you are putting an item on a flat surface, then use на + accusative.
|Игорь поставил бутылку на стол.||Igor put the bottle on the table.|
|Вера поставила будильник на полку.||Vera put the alarm clock on the shelf.|
If you are putting something into another relatively small item, then use в + accusative.
|Мы поставили джем в холодильник.||We put the jam in the refrigerator.|
|Я рассеянно поставил чашку чая в шкаф.||I absent-mindedly put a cup of tea in the cupboard.|
However, if you are putting something in a room of your apartment, though, use в + prepositional. (Кухня is a на word, so for it you can use на + prepositional as well.)
|Мы поставили новый диван в гостиной.||We put the new couch in the living room.|
|Я поставлю новую кровать в спальне сына.||I’ll put the new bed in my son’s room.|
|Мы поставим новую стиральную машину в ванной.||We will put the new washing machine in the bathroom.|
|Поставь холодильник на кухне.||Put the refrigerator in the kitchen.|
What a nice surprise to see a new entry here! I had resigned myself to seeing chocolate potatoes whenever I checked back. I spent the last year in Astana, and шоколадная картошка was often available in our cafeteria.
Great to see you posting again! This is easily one of the best online resources for learning Russian!
it’s great this blogsite works again….one of my favourites to practise my russian)))
Дон, какая радость снова читать Ваш блог! С возвращением.
You probably know that chocolate is шоколад in Russian and that potato is картошка. So what if you wanted to say ‘chocolate potato’? In English you simply put the two nouns together in a row. In Russian you can't normally put two nouns together like that and have the first one modify the second. Instead you have to put the first one into adjective form. The adjective from шоколад is шоколадный, so chocolate potato comes out шоколадная картошка.
Now if you are an American, you are probably asking yourself, “Why the heck would I want to say ‘chocolate potato’ in English, much less in Russian?” Oh, my poor ignorant American friend. You need to go to Russia and try the pastry they call шоколадная картошка. You will think you have died and gone to heaven. I encountered my first ones the other day. It was in a little convenience store.
“Are those chocolate?” I asked.
“They are mumble mumble potato mumble,” she replied.
Potato, huh? They kind of look like yeti testicles covered in brown bread crumbs, but what the hell, I'll give 'em a try.
Home. I chomp. OMG! These are a chocolate potato candy! I swoon, I can't stop salivating.
|Я съел десять штук шоколадных картошек.||I ate ten chocolate potatoes.|
|Дайте, пожалуйста, шоколадную картошку, три штуки.||Chocolate potatoes, please, three of them.|
|— Не ешь шоколадную картошку, а то у тебя будут прыщики.
— Это полнейший бред. Шоколад лечит прыщики.
|“Don't eat any chocolate potatoes or you'll get pimples.”
“That's complete bunk. Chocolate cures pimples.”
|— Из чего делают шоколадную картошку?
— Из яиц, сахара, шоколадного печенья, масла, молока и какао.
|“How do you make chocolate potatoes?”
“With eggs, sugar, chocolate cookies, butter, milk and cocoa powder.”
It turns out that they have no potato in them at all, so in fact they are not chocolate potato candy. They are just deliriously delicious pastries.
I think you forgot the word ‘eat’ in the translation of the third sentence.
Don responds: Fixed!
They are often decorated with tiny pieces of buttercream, which is supposed to make them look like sprouting potatoes. Try googling images for “шоколадная картошка".
In English you don’t “simply put the two nouns together in a row". The ‘chocolate’ in ‘chocolate potato’ is still an adjective, it just doesn’t need to agree with the noun as in Russian.
Don responds: I will allow myself to disagree with you here. There are some teachers in the US who inform their students that when a first noun modifies a second noun, that first noun is an adjective. Although the difference between nouns and adjectives is pretty thin in English, I would argue that the first noun remains a noun. Among the reasons that cross my mind off the top of my head are:
- Nouns cannot add the suffix -er for comparison as easily as qualitative adjectives, whereas adjectives can. Thus one can take an adj-noun sequence like “a tall man” and modify it to “a taller man,” whereas noun-noun sequences sound funny that way, thus “a chocolate bar” doesn’t sound good if changed to “a chocolater bar.”
- Adjectives do not add the plural suffix -(e)s as easily as nouns do. Thus one can say “the tall students,” but it sounds odd to say “the talls students” or just “I like the talls.”
Such reasons, among others, have lead grammarians to conclude that there are in fact noun-noun modification patterns in English. Among the most prestigious of those grammarians are Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartik in “A Grammar of Contemporary English.” I link a very bad copy of a couple of pages of their monumental work here.
Unfortunately шоколадная картошка is very often used to recycle old pastry. Probably 99% of all картошка you can buy in supermarkets and confectioner’s shops are made from expired cakes and old cookies..
More common name is
It’s never called “chocolate potato", it’s just “potato". And you figure out it’s a pastry because you buy it in the pastry shop
Don responds: Well, if you look at recipe websites, they label the item as шоколадная картошка, so I chose that for the title. I didn’t actually buy it at a pastry shop. It was a little convenience store down the street that sold a little of everything.
we have the same in Italy and it is really a way to recicle old pastry even if not expired ones.
My grandpa (who was a confectioner) made the same ones, only they were round and not potato-like.
Anyway they are fab as far as I remember. :)
I escpecially love the yeti testicles!
“Картошка” is a type of cake. Thats why картошка and Картошка - is not correctly. Сorrect spelling is “Картошка” (in quotes).
В жизни бы не догадалась, что статья о пирожном, а не о какой-то странной породе картофеля.
Here's a picture of my stove here in Казань.
It's a gаs stove. A gas stove is a good stove. An electric stove is a bad stove. You can NOT properly warm a tortilla on an electric stove. Oh sure, you can sort of warm it up, but it just isn't the same. I'm an Arizona boy, and I can tell you this for sure. Of course, I'm in Russia and there aren't any tortillas here. But a gas stove is still a good stove. But before today I didn't know the word for a stove's burner, which is конфорка. It's fairly regular and has the fill vowel you would expect in a word ending in -ка.
Very often people pronounce the word комфорка, though it's considered a mistake. Myself, I don't consider it a mistake since the word was borrowed from Dutch komfoor. Still, you mustn't spell it that way.
|Я включил переднюю левую конфорку и поставил на неё кастрюлю.||I turned on the front left burner and set a pot there.|
|На задней левой конфорке стояла сковородка с котлетами.||A frying pan with meat patties was on the back left burner.|
|Включи конфорку и поставь чайник.||Turn on the burner and put the tea kettle on.|
|Когда я зажёг конфорку, из неё пошло такое пламя, что у меня обгорели брови.||When I turned on the stove, a flame shot out of the burner and I burned my eyebrows.|
|Выключи конфорку.||Turn the burner off.
Turn off the burner.
You’re really going about this the wrong way, Don. Eyebrows should be sauteed in bacon fat with garlic and onions and served with parsley. Sheesh! LOL
Как сказать по-русски “pilot light"?
Don responds: My dictionary says запальник, but I don’t think I’ve seen one here. I’ve seen stoves with electrical ignition devices. My own stove has to be light with a match.
Of course singular accusative of конфорка is коннфорку. Edit pls.
Don responds: Fixed!
The word you gave me for pilot light, “запальник", wasn’t in my dictionary, so thank you for that. I did find “запал” which can be defined as “fuse” or “primer” which makes sense.
I also consulted a larger dictionary I have which is Russian-English only and found a colloquial phrase “под запал” which translates as “in the heat of the moment".
Pilot light - малая горелка.
By the way, i wanted to recommend a great free online russian-english dictionary
I use it for several years already ind find it to be the most informative resource online.
Включи, not Вклочи
Thank you for the site, Don. It’s fun. I’m enjoying :)
Don responds: Thanks, Natalya! I’m always grateful when people point out errors.
I actually think there is a difference here between Russian and American cultures. Americans get pissed off, generally, when you point out errors. Russians take it plainly. I like the Russian way better.
One of the verbs that means ‘to follow’ in Russian is
|No such thing as
In English the verb takes a direct object. In Russian it requires a prepositional phrase of за + instrumental.
|За зимой следует весна.||Spring follows winter.|
|В комнату вошла Ира, и за ней сразу последовал её пятилетний сын.||Ira walked into the room, and she was immediately followed by her five-year old son.|
|Мой младший брат всюду следует за мной.||My little brother follows me around everywhere.|
|Первыми в космосе побывали русские, а за ними последовали и американцы.||The Russians were the first in space, and they were followed by the Americans.|
How about a post comparing this with следить or other verbs that mean something similar?
Don responds: That’s a good idea. I’m currently putting in 70 hours a week, so it may take a while, but giving a thorough accounting of the ‘follow’ ideas is on my list of things to do.
как следует means “as it should (be)", “in the proper way".
Hello there! :) You can use also the dative in some constructions with “следовать".
Я последую вашему совету.
The word огород means a chunk of land near your house where you grow vegetables, in other words a vegetable garden, although in English we usually just say garden. It might also have berries and apples, but it's essential to have either vegetables or greens. It's a perfectly regular 1st declension noun.
Omigosh, but the Russians love their gardens. If they have a дача, then in the summer months they get out of town and raise as much food as they possibly can. If you'd like to see some pictures of a real Russian garden, take a look here.
|— Где Даня?
— Он поливает огород.
|“Where is Danny?”
“He is watering the garden.”
|Флюра привезла мне огурцы и кабачки из своего огорода.||Flura brought me cucumbers and squash from her garden.|
|За нашим огородом есть речка, на которую мы ходим ловить рыбу.||Behind our garden is a stream where we go fishing.|
|— Что ты делал сегодня утром?
— Я полол сорняки в огороде.
|“What did you do this morning?”
“I pulled weeds in the garden.”
In fact “огород", “город” and “garden", all has the same root which means something surrounded by a fence.
My language partner, Alan, and I went to an exhibition of exotic fish at one of the museums on ул. Кремлёвская. That set me thinking about aquariums. The word is fairly straight forward in Russian.
Of course the first thing I wanted to do was discuss the difference between fresh-water aquariums and salt-water aquariums, and I translated those phrases word for word into Russian. Wrong. You can't literally say ‘fresh-water aquarium’ in Russian; instead you have to say ‘an aquarium with fresh-water fish’ or ‘an aquarium with salt-water fish.’
|— Я хочу завести аквариум с пресноводными рыбами.
— Начни с золотых рыбок. Их тяжело убивать.
|“I want to set up a fresh-water aquarium.”
“Start with goldfish. They are hard to kill.”
|— Я хочу завести аквариум с морскими рыбами.
— Это очень сложно, требует много времени и заботы.
|“I want to set up a saltwater aquarium.”
“That's very complicated and takes a lot of time and effort.”
|В моём аквариуме живут тетры и меченосцы.||My aquarium has tetras and swordtails.|
|У нас золотая рыбка выпрыгнула из аквариума и умерла на полу, из-за этого наша дочка весь день ходит в слезах.||Our goldfish jumped out of the aquarium and died on the floor, so our daughter has been walking around crying all day.|
This article would not be complete without mentioning the legendary rock band «Аквариум». Of their music I especially love the song “Rock and roll's dead, but I'm not... yet.” You can listen to it and read the words and translation here.
I would rather say “их трудно убить” instead of “их тяжело убивать". Because when I hear “их тяжело убивать” I imagine a strong and crafty creature, which you kind of you kill every day and find it hard to do.
Don responds: Hm. How interesting. I actually originally wrote их трудно убивать, and my local native speaker suggested I change it to их тяжело убивать. Apparently I’m going to have to ask for some more input. Thanks for the feedback!
I’m native speaker, and… за “тяжело убивать” моментально зацепился глаз. Во-первыx, точно “убить", а не “убивать", т.к. речь о разовой ошибке, а не регулярном действии.
Но если “They are hard to kill", возможно, за недостаточным знанием языка, читается мной в полу-шуточном значении, то “иx тяжело убить” всё равно воспринимается слишком буквально. Надо как-то дополнительно смягчить, вроде “иx трудноватo убить".
Но всё равно глагол, в таком контексте подразумевающий преднамеренное лишение жизни, всерьёз так использоваться не будет. О более пододящиx по смыслу. Есть “погубить” (однокоренной с “губительно") он изредка используется, но вообще устаревший. Его модификация “загубить” - например, “Ты загубил все мои цветы! Я же просила поливать иx!”
С тем же значением современное сленговое “угробить” (от “гроб").
И всё же скорее скажут просто “иx легко содержать", “они очень живучие". И только если обращаются к приятелю, известному своей рассеянностью и безответственностью, и уверены, что он не обидится, могут выдать нечто вроде “эти твари чертовски живучие, иx даже тебе трудновато будет загубить".
Excuse me for my English but I would like to say that there is no right choise between “их трудно убить” and “их тяжело убивать". Of cource the second one better fits. It is because adjective “трудно” take place from “труд” which means “work” and better world would be “тяжело” wich better fits with hard in that example, also there is one more better adjective - “сложно” which translate not only as “complicated” but “hard” too.
But there is an only ‘mechanical’ translation, nthere is no such people who would say that. I would say “Они достаточно живучие.” - “Theay are pretty viable”
And excuse me for my English again
Strangely, I think “тяжело убивать” doesn’t fit at all. Sounds as if it is morally diffucult for you to get yourself kill such creatures. Must be due to imperfective focusing on the process.
As for тяжело/трудно - they are the same in this context. There are many ways to say “difficult” in English as well: heavy, hard, tough. I feel that “тяжелый” is the same as “hard” in English, a metaphorical extension of a physical quality ("hard” to crack, “heavy” to lift) to how difficult it is to achieve some result.
“Их тяжело убивать.”
Лучше сказать, что этих рыбок сложно заморить.
“Их тяжело убивать.”
Лучше сказать, что этих рыбок сложно заморить.
My language partner and I went to see «Президент Линкольн: охотник на вампиров» together, and when we sat down I thought he said to me, «Спусти этот хрен», which literally means “Lower that horseradish.” I was confused. I had misheard him. He actually said, «Спусти эту хрень» “Lower that thingamabob,” by which he meant the armrest between the seats. Here's how the word declines.
The word is what we might call substandard speech. It's very conversational, not suitable for academic reading. It's probably also a euphemism for the vulgar meaning of хрен. But the version with the soft sign you can use in front of your mom and grandma without them getting too upset. Take a look at the entry on the phrase «вот это самое» for a synonym. Here are some examples.
|Передай мне эту хрень.||Pass me that thingamabob.|
|Возьми эту хрень, что оставил папа на столе.||Get the thing that dad left on the table.|
The word is also used to mean a useless thing or junk or worthless comment.
|— Что продают в этом магазине?
— Всякую хрень для туристов. Не стоит входить.
|“What do they sell in that store?”
“All sorts of junk for tourists. It's not worth going in.”
|— Паша сказал, что у него девушка-супермодель.
— Что за хрень он несёт?! Паша даже не расчёсывается, как у него может быть девушка-супермодель?
|“Pasha said that he had a supermodel for a girlfriend.”
“What nonsense. Pasha doesn't even comb his hair. How could he have a supermodel for a girlfriend?”
If you do not mind, I will correct your examples. Not “расчёсывается” but “причёсывается". Phrases “передай мне” and “не стоит входить” sounds formal and does not fit well with the word “хрень". Word “хрень” is very frequent in modern colloquial speech. The closest synonyms to this word are: “фигня” (informal) or “штука” (more formal).
Don responds: расчёсываться is used in conversational Russia. Причёсываться is the more literary version.
I'm back in Russia and I have a new language partner, Alan.¹ The first day we got together, we ended up walking 13 km around Kazan; call it 8 miles. Now mind you, I've hardly gotten any exercise at all this last year. So what happens when you have hardly walked at all and suddenly you walk mucho? You get blisters. The Russian word for blister is мозоль.
Of course you often find this word in contexts about walking.
|Я вчера ходил столько, что стёр ноги до мозолей.||I walked so much yesterday that I got blisters on my feet.|
|Я вчера ходил столько, что натёр ноги до мозолей.|
|В Париже моя сестра находила мозоли на ногах.||My sister walked until she got blisters in Paris.|
So why do these things pop up?
|Мозоли образуются от сильного трения кожи.||Blisters are caused by excessive friction on the skin.|
I was actually embarrassed to get blisters, but it looks like I'm in good company.
|После пятидневных полевых учений, в программу которых входил десятимильный забег через лес с рюкзаком и винтовкой, Принц Гарри обратился в медпункт академии для лечения мозолей на ногах. Увидев, насколько сильно натер себе ноги молодой принц, врачи решили выдать ему специальное разрешение не носить армейские ботинки до тех пор, пока не заживут мозоли. (adapted from this source)||After a five days of field training that included a ten-mile run through the forest with backpack and and rifle, Prince Harry went to the academy's first-aid station to get treatment for blisters on his feet. Having seen the extent to which the prince had abraded his feet, the doctors decided to give him special permission not to wear army boots until the blisters heal.|
Nowadays what is the standard advice if you get a blister?
|Если мозоль созрела, не протыкайте ее (за исключением случая острой боли). Вскрыв мозоль, вы рискуете занести инфекцию. (adapted from this source)||If the blister has already formed, don't lance it (except in cases of sharp pain). When you slit open a blister, you risk introducting an infection.|
That's sort of the standard advice from both Russian and American sources. I consider it hogwash. Let's say you take a needle and sterilize it and the surface of your skin decently with alcohol. If you lance dead skin, your skin is not likely to be infected. When the liquid squeezes out, most likely infection isn't going to be sucked in. In any case, that's what I've done, and I promise to post here if I get infected.
One last comment. If you look up the word blister in the dictionary, you are likely to find it translated as волдырь. Dictionaries really need to give better guidance on this issue. If a blister forms from exposure to intense heat or cold or caustic chemicals or insect bites, then the Russians usually call that a волдырь. One that forms on your foot from friction is a мозоль. But a мозоль can also just be a plain old callus on your foot as well. If you need to distinguish the two in Russian, you can call a callus «кожная мозоль» and a blister «мокрая мозоль».
¹ No, that is not a Russian name, but if the singer Prince (not Prince Harry) can change his name to an unpronounceable symbol, then why can't a Russian/Tatar kid go by Alan?
Funny thing - in your last example you didn’t change masculine forms (созрел, его). In most slavic languages mozol has masculine gender indeed, in Russian use of masculine gender with it is considered dialect form and is used for comic effect (first thing to come to mind - scene from the 60’s movie “Wedding in Malinovka")
Don responds: Sloppy of me. I had cut and pasted and adpated it from a source that discussed волдырь (masculine), and did do a proper edit. Thanks! The text is corrected.
You missed л in dative and instrumental: мозоЛям, мозоЛью, мозоЛями
Don responds: Спасибо! Текст поправлен.
When I was at field training, they would carefully inspect out feet for blisters every night. Troublesome, painful little things! This is very useful, thank you.
A word from English that has invaded Russian over the last umpteen years is фреш. It seems to have a couple of meanings. McDonald's in Russia seems to think they can call something фреш if the just throw a leaf of lettuce on it. Thus we have the Двойной Фреш Макмаффин™ Double Fresh McMuffin™
and the Фреш Ролл™ Fresh Roll™
That's a pretty cheesy use of the word fresh in my view.
But the word is incredibly widely used to mean freshly squeezed juices, which technically in Russian is said свежевыжатые соки. Lots of Russian restaurants do this now. If you want apple juice, they'll just throw an apple in a juicer for you and Bob's your uncle. If you want lemon juice, they'll throw in a lemon. For instance:
|Я встретилась с подругой в кафе, по привычке заказала фреш яблочный. (adapted from this source)||I met a friend at a cafe and ordered a fresh apple juice out of habit.|
|Одна из посетительниц кафе-бара заказала фреш из томатов, болгарского перца, сельдерея и авокадо. (source)||One of the cafe-bar's customers ordered a fresh juice made of tomatoes, bell pepper, celery and avocado.|
|Начни День Правильно! Замени Кофе Фрешем! (adapted from this source)||Start The Day Right! Replace Your Coffee With Freshly Squeezed Juice!|
|Я решила себя побаловать фрешем. (adapted from this source)||I decided to treat myself to a fresh juice.|
|Она заказала морковный ,бл#, фреш! А я хочу холодной водочки! Романтики не будет. (adapted from this source)||She ordered a goddammed carrot juice! And I want cold vodka. No loving tonight.|
You'll find фреш used a lot of other ways too. For instance, you can find a restaurant called Фреш Суши. Pears with crème fraîche can be called груши с крем-фрешем. I've even seen fresh birch sap referred to as берёзовый фреш. If you readers come across other interesting uses. Do post a comment below.
I like this post, because it’s really amazing for me to read in cyrillic, so many English phonetic words. Usually, it takes me same time to realize that it’s an English word written in its phonetic form which may differ from place to place and time to time.
The more commun is ‘house’ (хоус) ….
At the sport club I’m using to go, they also use this фреш adjectif to qualify juice, not always squeezed …
Nota Bene: Just to mention that in French, “crème fraîche” is written with an “î” and “frais” (the masculin form) with a normal “i” … ;) It’s just a detail.
Don responds: Thanks for the correction!
I often find it bizarre that a word in Russian will trip me up because it is borrowed from English and I’m not expecting it. For instance, someone two years ago used the word пияр. I asked what it meant. She looked at me in surprise and said, “But I thought it was an English word.” “No,” I replied, “we don’t have any world like that in English.” Then two days later I realized it was “P.R.” public relations.
Which brings me to Dunkel’s law: “That which you don’t know, you already know.” One of my Russian profs used to jokingly say this in Russian… hm… how did he put it? «То, чего не знаешь, уже знаешь». Something like that.
Is the р in фреш hard or soft? (And for that matter, do you know a place where I can look up foreign loanwords with е to see how the preceeding consonant is pronounced? I know sometimes it’s hard, but I presume that with older or more assimilated loanwords things might be different.)
Don responds: My most recent informant tells me it is hard.
“Я встретилась с подругой в кафе, по привычке заказала фреш яблочный. “
немного коряво, скорее прилагательное будет перед существительным, “яблочный фреш”
мелочь, но глаз режет)
newtry, а разве в разговорной речи не происходит часто и так, там “яблочный” уточняет какой именно. да и это является на меню точно в этом порядке по той же причине. но я не знаю, я не русский.
if you want to know, there’s a typo in the last paragraph, “brich” instead of “birch". btw your blog is great!
Прилагательное вне официально-деловой или научной речи ставится перед существительным, так что следует говорить “яблочный фреш".
Let's discuss one last verb in the ‘read’ series. The prefix по- adds the idea of ‘for a while’ to a verb, thus почитать makes the perfective verb ‘to read for a while.’ The derived imperfective is почитывать.
|No such thing as
We often use the verb to describe the reading we do before bed.
|Мама любит почитывать стишки перед сном.||Mom loves to read some poetry before bed.|
|Мой младший брат каждую ночь почитывает «Некрономикон». К концу осени надеется вызвать Великих Древних и уничтожить своих врагов-одноклассников.||My little brother reads a bit of the Necronomicon every night. By the end of autumn he hopes to summon the Elder Gods and destroy his enemies at school.|
Nice to see you blogging again, Don.
haha where’s that Lovecraft thing from?
Are you sure about “Мама *любить почитывать стишки перед сном"?
Don responds: Typo corrected. Thanks!
В последнем примере слово “почитывать” звучит совсем не к месту. Если мальчик так серьёзно относится к указанному произведению, то он явно его не почитывает, а читает и даже вчитывается (данная тавтология даже к месту).
One of the most fascinating things about Russian is its ability to add prefixes to verbs and nouns to give new meanings. For instance, the suffix до- can add the idea of ‘all the way to the end.’ If you add it to читать ‘to read,’ it forms a new verb дочитать ‘to read all the way to the end.’ Normally when you add a prefix to a simple, unprefixed imperfective verb, the new verb is perfective. Then to get an imperfective from the new verb, you add a suffix. In this case the suffix is -ыв-, which gives us the imperfective verb дочитывать. We call this type of verb a derived imperfective. Here is how it is conjugated.
|No such thing as
This verb pair is used when you want to specify that you have completed reading something.
|Я целую неделю читаю «Мёртвых душ», а только сегодня утром дочитал.||I have been reading “Dead Souls” all week long and only finished it this morning.|
|Ко вторнику дочитаю «Братьев Карамазовых».||I'll finish “The Brothers Karamazov” by Tuesday.|
Sometimes the phrase «до конца» ‘to the end’ is added to the sentence. That may seem superfluous to the reader, but where is there a rule that says we can't say something more than one way or find another way to say it?
|Я наконец-то до конца дочитал «Войну и мир».||I finally finished reading ‘War and Peace’ all the way to the end.|
The verb doesn't have to mean that you get all the way to the end of the item, though. It can mean you get all the through to a certain point.
|Паша дочитал книгу до пятой главы.||Pasha read the book all the way to chapter five.|
Be careful on that last one. It means that Pasha read chapter four but hasn't yet read chapter five.
The careful reader will remember that прочитать means ‘to read through.’ So what's the difference between прочитать and дочитать? Sometimes not much.
|Я прочитал статью.||I read through the article.|
|Я дочитал статью.||I read the article to the end.|
Before we leave this topic, I just want to mention how amazingly common this use of the prefix is. Here are some other examples.
|дойти||to go all the way to|
|доехать||to go all the way to (by vehicle)|
|дослушать||to listen to the end|
|допеть||to sing to the end|
|докурить||to smoke to the end|
|допить||to drink to the end|
|донести||to carry to the end|
Pretty neat, huh?
Very neat and very helpful! The building blocks aspect of Russian is really cool!
Question: you used “наконец-то” rather than just “наконец", what purpose does the suffix “-то” serve in this context?
All in all, good summer reading! ;-)
Don responds: In this context the -то just makes the наконец slightly more emphatic.
Thanks for the answer Don. If we could pursue this a bit further, can you add “-то” to any word to give that word more emphasis? For example, I came across a sentence recently that used “денег-то". Are there any hard and fast rules for the use of “-то"? Rules regarding which part of speech it can be appended to, etc.?
Don responds: I’m afraid I have to claim ignorance here; I’ve never done a proper study of when -то is used and when not. I have heard it quite a bit in «Я-то?» when a speaker is clarifying whether the preceding statement applied to him/her. My general impression is that it is used for mild emphasis.
The use of the suffix “-то” seems to be ambiguous. I found this discussion which hopefully will prove helpful:
Today let's discuss читать/прочитать.
|No such thing as
The prefix про- adds the idea of ‘all the way through’ here.
|Витя прочитал инструкцию и собрал шкаф.||Vitya read through the instructions and assembled the shelves.|
|Я прочитаю статью и напишу доклад.||I will read the article and write the report.|
Now here is a subtle bit of grammar. If you want to find out if someone has read a particular book or author, you usually ask the question in the imperfective.
|— Вы читали «Войну и мир»?
|“Have you read ‘War and Peace’?”
|— Вы когда-нибудь читали Достоевского?
— К моему стыду, не читал.
|“Have you ever read Dostoevski?”
“Shamefully, I have not.”
This is called the general-factual meaning of the imperfective (общефактическое значение несовершенного вида). When you are interested in the fact itself, not focusing on the completion of the fact, then you ask in the imperfective.
It is possible to ask the question also in the perfective, but it means something different.
|— Вы до конца прочитали «Войну и мир»?
— Да, прочитал.
— Даже этот скучный эпилог о философии истории?
— Да, я прочитал всё.
|“Have you read all the way through ‘War and Peace’?”
“Even that boring epilogue on the philosophy of history?”
“Yes, I read it completely through.”
|— Вы прочитали все произведения Достоевского?
— Нет, ещё не прочитал.
|“Have you read through all of Dostoevski's works?”
“No, I haven't yet.”
Вы прочитали все…
asks whether on has read and finished reading the object already.
aks whether at some point the subject started reading but it does not care whether the subject finished.
The issue becomes more complicated when one says:
Я хотел бы, чтобы Вы читали «Войну и мир»
This refers to the future. “I would like that you will read …”
I think you oversimplifying things to the point that the language is distorted. Is that what you are looking for? :)
Don responds: The audience I have in mind for this blog is 1st- and 2nd-year students of the Russian language, so the simplifying of explanations is deliberate. When one gives too much information to a beginner, it simply confuses them or they become frustrated. That’s also why the entries are fairly short. As we advance in our skills, we eventually have to fine tune our earlier gross generalizations.
I’m always grateful for criticism. This blog is written in my spare time, so very often it takes me a while to read the feedback and respond. I do wish that weren’t the case, but sometimes it can’t be helped.
I’m also grateful to the many Russians who read the blog. It was something I never expected, and it pleases me no end.
P.S. I think it would be good you posting the responses of your readers. It shows willingness to accept criticism and engage in a dialog.
“Вы кодга-нибудь читали Достоевского?”
Don responds: Спасибо! Текст поправлен.
Often when you learn a verb in Russian, it's helpful to learn the verb as a verb pair. One such pair is читать/почитать.
|No such thing as
When по- is prefixed to many imperfective verbs, it adds the meaning of ‘for a while,’ as it does with читать. So the verb pair читать/почитать is good for indicating how long one reads.
|Моя мама раньше читала четыре часа каждый день.||My mother used to read for four hours every day.|
|— Что ты завтра будешь делать?
— Я буду читать весь день.
|“What are you going to do tomorrow?”
“I'm going to read all day long.”
|— Не хочешь пойти со мной на дискотеку?
— Нет, я устала. Я просто почитаю и лягу спать.
|“Do you want to go to the disco with me?”
“No, I'm tired. I'll just read for a while and go to bed.”
For the most part one can't use bare accusative duration phrases with perfective verbs, but one exception is perfective verbs when по- means ‘for a while.’ ¹
|Я час почитал и лёг спать.||I read for an hour and went to bed.|
|Я два часа почитаю и пойду на фильм.||I will read for two hours and then go to a movie.|
Читать/почитать can also take a direct object, usually the thing you are reading or the author you are reading.
|Я читаю Библию каждое утро.||I read the Bible every morning.|
|Я почитал журнал и потом пошёл на работу.||I read a magazine for a bit and then went to work.|
|Мама читала детям Корнея Чуковского.||Mother was reading Kornei Chukovski to the children.|
|В этом семестре будем читать Анну Ахматову.||We will be reading Anna Akhmatova this semester.|
¹ Another exception is verbs prefixed with про- when it means ‘through a specific period of time.’
If you mean “почитать” as a perfective verb form of “читать", because it also means “уважать", why can’t you use it as a perfective present?
Don responds: The verb почитать of course is perfective. When you add the suffix -ыв-, it makes почитывать, which is a derived imperfective verb. In Russian the perfective never forms present tense.
I have just realized that I have never blogged before about the word читать. Hm. Seems pretty basic, eh? Still, we can probably come up with something. Let's start with the basic imperfective verb.
The verb has several meanings, one of which is ‘to know how to read.’ In this sense it only has an imperfective, no perfective.
|Ксюша такая умница! В пять лет она уже читала.||Ksyusha is such a smart girl! At five years of age she could already read.|
|— Почему твой сын не читает?
— Потому что ему всего три года.
|“Why can't your son read?”
“Because he's only three years old.”
If you want to specify the ability to read a language, then add the language in the по- adverbial form.
|— Ты читаешь по-английски?
|“Can you read English?”
|Я читаю по-английски, по-русски и чуточку по-татарски.||I can read English, Russian, and a bit of Tatar.|
|— Ты читаешь по-китайски? Где ты научился?
— Нигде. Я маг третьего уровня. Читаю на всех языках.
|“You know how to read Chinese? Where did you learn that?”
“Nowhere. I'm a third-level magician. I can read every language.”
Ah, that last little dialog is a cultural puzzle for the reader. In what well known series of novels can supernaturally gifted beings understand foreign languages without training? You may show off your knowledge in the comments.
No feedback yet
The word for cow in Russian is корова. It declines like this:
Here are a few sentences...
|Корова больше собаки.||A cow is bigger than a dog.|
|—Сколько у вас коров на даче?
— У нас три коровы. Продаём их молоко.
|“How many cows do you have at your dacha?”
“We have three cows. We sell their milk.”
|Я не люблю коров. Они не слушаются, как собаки.||I don't like cows. They aren't as obedient as dogs.|
|В Европе коров едят, а в Индии их почитают.||In Europe they eat cows, and in India they revere them.*|
* Okay, I admit to some plagiarism here. I was having a flashback to Herodotus, who wrote, “How crocodiles are worshipped by some, killed and eaten by by others.”
коро́в should be also genitive plural, right? and not коровы as you wrote in the table?
Or do the verbs love and eat take a genitive object?
Don responds: Oops, got my “rowspan” attribute in the wrong place. Thanks! It’s been fixed.
In the Anthony Burgess novel ‘A Clockwork Orange’ the young punks use a lot of Russian language-based slang.
The story opens in the ‘Korova Milk Bar’, a kind of club which sells drug-laced milk drinks.
“It declines like this.” Once upon a time I lived in a country where this would never be said. At that time in that country I even learned Latin. This country is no more, but the expression would have been “It is declined like this.” Or even, “It is declined thusly.”
Yes, one can wax ad nauseam about the life of a language, but really, this rapid, thoughtless deterioration is why I would prefer to never speak English again.
Don responds: Ach, Oliphant, you make me smile!
I, too, have my linguistic pet peeves. Moi, I hate it when people use ‘disrespect’ as a verb or pronounce ‘realtor’ as ree-luh-ter. Or when people unnecessarily throw in French words.
The Russian word for night is ночь, but it doesn't mean quite the same thing as English night. In English, once the sky is dark, you can say that it is night. In Russian night usually doesn't start until midnight. The word crossed my mind today because of a wonderful poem by Александр Блок, which goes like this:
Бессмысленный и тусклый свет.
Живи ещё хоть четверть века -
Всё будет так. Исхода нет.
Умрёшь - начнёшь опять сначала,
И повторится всё, как встарь,
Ночь, ледяная рябь канала,
Аптека, улица, фонарь.
Heaven knows why, but I found myself wanting to do a new translation. Whenever I do such a thing, I start off with a fairly word-for-word equivalent. Here's that version:
Night, a street, a street lamp, a drugstore,
A dull and meaningless light.
And if you live another quarter century,
Everything will be exactly the same. There is no escape.
You will die; you will start over from the beginning.
And everything will be repeated as before:
The night, the icy ripples on the canal,
The drugstore, the street and the streetlight.
Here's my fast and dirty new translation. I've spent only 30 minutes on it, so any criticism is probably justified.
Night, a street, a drugstore... a street lamp’s
Depressing and meaningless light.
And even if you live much longer,
You won't escape your worthless plight.
You’ll die; you’ll start back from the beginning,
And everything will be repeated just like before:
The night, the icy ripples on the canal,
The streetlight and the dull drugstore.
I feel like word “dull” does not work here in a proper way (as well as “depressing"). Its complex of meanings is too common and too obvious. It cuts off some dimensions. “Pale” would work better IMHO.
Please check out another translation of this poem:
Night. Street. Lantern. Drugstore.
A meaningless and dim faint light.
Live on for twenty years or more
It will remain. There’s no way out.
You’ll die and start to live all over,
And things will be just as before:
A night, a channel’s icy pother,
A street. A lantern. A drugstore.
Taken from here: http://jenny-tarkus.livejournal.com/40307.html
It has some flaws, but whatever)
The word for difference in Russian is разница. It declines like this:
The first joke I ever heard in Russia was in 1986, and it involved the word разница. It went like this.
|Какая разница между коммунизмом и капитализмом?||What's the difference between communism and capitalism?|
|При капитализме человек эксплуатирует человека, а при коммунизме — наоборот.||Under capitalism man exploits man, and under communism it's the other way around.|
It's not the most sophisticated joke, but being in Russia at the end of the Soviet period, it amused me quite a bit.
During the Soviet period the government did not permit much humor or mockery on public television because they were simply afraid of it, like most dictatorial regimes that lack the wisdom and strength to endure public criticism. Generally, on the individual human-to-human level, I think that mockery is a sign of a weak self-image on the part of the mocker, and I don't have much respect for it. But when it comes to dealing with governments and public institutions, we should always allow both criticism and mockery. When a government forbids either one, it is trying to prevent its citizens from inducing change. A healthy democracy will survive both criticism and mockery as the free market of ideas slowly brings humanity to better things.
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I was in an office supply store last summer to buy some paper for my printer. I looked over the various types and told the salesclerk that I wanted a packet of paper. She responded by asking how much I wanted. It took me by surprise. A packet is a packet, right? It turns out that this office supply store was right next to the architectural university, and its most constant clients are students who generally can't afford to buy an entire package of paper, so they buy a hundred or two hundred grams of paper. Heck, the paper had to last me all summer, so I told the clerk I wanted an entire ream, and she shouted to the cashier:
|Танечка, выбей Снегурочку!||Tanya, beat the Snow Maiden!|
I was much amused. If you doubt the accuracy of my initial interpretation, take a look at what I got when I ran the same phrase through Google Translate:
Now this was summer time in Russia, so there was no snow on the ground, thus the thoughtful reader might expect that despite the omniscience of Google, the translation might somehow be lacking. The thoughtful reader would be correct. The brand of paper I was purchasing was named Снегурочка. The verb выбивать/выбить in addition to meaning ‘to beat’ also means ‘to print symbols on a cashier’s recipt.’ In other words, the clerk was saying, “Tanya, print out a receipt with one packet of Snegurochka paper on it.”
The cashier did so. I carried the receipt the two meters from the cashier to the clerk. The clerk took the receipt, made a small tear in it to show that it should not be used again, and then she gave me an entire ream of Snegurochka paper.
Hm, I am more used to “пробить” in that sense, though dictionary says “выбить” is also the word. “Пробить", probably is linked to the idea of “printing symbols from beginning to the end; letting it through".
10. *Разг. Отпечатать на ленте кассового аппарата стоимость покупки; оплатив, получить кассовый чек с указанием стоимости.===
Now that I think of it, it may be logical… after all, the stores let the goods “out", so using “вы + бить” makes some sense, too. “stamping symbols instantaneously, at once” also works (I think, it’s the primary meaning)
Still, where I live “выбить” is usually for stamping some solid materials (metal/coin etc.), smashing glass ("beating it out of its frame"). Even more often used for beating the dust out of carpets, furniture, pillows… Are you sure it’s the word you heard?
Don responds: To the best of my memory she said выбей. I noted it because it was so unexpected for me.
Of course she said “выбить". It is very common at old shops where still exist cashiers.
The Russian word for tooth is зуб. If you are talking about the teeth in your mouth, then it declines like this. Notice the stress shifts in the plural.
Here are some simple things to say about teeth.
|Я чищу зубы три раза в день.||I brush my teeth three times a day.|
|У меня болит зуб.||I have a toothache.|
|— Что это Игорь носит на шее?
— Зуб акулы.
|“What’s that Igor’s wearing on his neck?”
“A shark’s tooth.”
|— Сколько зубов у взрослых?
— Тридцать два.
|“How many teeth do adults have?”
If you are talking about teeth on a comb or a gear, then the plural differs:
I can't say teeth on gears or combs are all that interesting, but at least one can count them:
|Посчитай зубья на этой расчёске.||Count the teeth on this comb.|
|Звёздочка — это колесо с зубьями, которые входят в зацепление с цепью. (adapted from this source)||A sprocket is a wheel with teeth that mesh with a chain.|
|— Сколько зубьев на этой звёздочке?
|“How many teeth are on this sprocket?”
Звёздочка. A sprocket.
Source of picture
There are also зубцы and зубчики, you can also use this for gears and combs, but there is a subtle difference. You can use зубцы for crowns (зубцы короны) and зубчики for garlic (зубчики чеснока)
Зуб in case of comb sounds too odd for me. Only зубик. Proofjoke:
- Мам, дай денег на новую расческу!
- Зачем тебе новая расческа?
- На старой сломался зубик.
- И ты собрался покупать новую расческу из-за одного зубика?
- Это был последний зубик.
Every beginning Russian student knows the word вопрос means ‘question.’ It's a perfectly regular hard first declension noun:
Sentences with this word are fairly straight-forward:
|Это очень интересный вопрос.||That's a very interesting question.|
|Ой, не мучай меня твоими постоянными вопросами!*||Oof, stop tormenting me with your ceaseless questions!|
|Наташа всегда задаёт самые продуманные вопросы.||Natasha always poses the most clearly reasoned questions.|
The word also has a secondary meaning of ‘issue’:
|Учёные теперь серьёзно занимаются вопросами изменения климата.||Nowadays scientists are seriously studying climate change issues.|
|Мой брат стал членом комиссии по военно-промышленным вопросам.||My brother has become a member of a committee on military-industrial issues.|
* мучать is a slightly more conversational version of мучить.
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The Russian words студент and студентка are false cognates... sort of. A false cognate is a word in one language that sounds similar to a word in another language but does not share the same meaning. For instance, the English word ‘embarrassed’ is a false cognate with the Spanish word ‘embarazada’, which actually means pregnant. (The latter brings up all sorts of amusing errors when a gringa says “Estoy embarazada” meaning to say “I am embarrassed” but ends up stating “I am pregnant.” Alas, cross-cultural communication is full of such errors, and most of them are much more subtle than that one.)
Anyhoo, the word for “male college student” declines like this:
and the word for “female college student” declines like this:
A college student is not the same as a high school student, so you can't use these words to talk about kids in grade school or high school. Here are some sample sentences.
|— Ты студент?
— Нет, я ещё хожу в школу.
|“Are you a college student?”
“No, I'm still in high school.”
|— Ты студентка?
— Да, студентка. Учусь в Московском государственном университете.
|“Are you a college student?”
“Yes, I am. I attend Moscow State University.”
|— Сколько студентов учится в Университете штата Аризона?¹
— Там учится почти семьдесят тысяч студентов.
|“How many students attend Arizona State University?”
“Almost seventy thousand students go there.”
|Как летит время! Через год моя дочка будет студенткой.||How time flies! A year from now my daughter will be a college student.|
¹ For many years Arizona State University has been called in Russian Аризонский государственный университет “Arizona Federal University.” This is an old error in translation. The “state” in ASU does not mean the nation state of the USA (государство), but rather the State (штат) of Arizona.
So is there a specific word for a student who is not yet in university? Also, is there a Russian equivalent to “high school” in the Canadian/American sense? “Gymnasium” maybe?
Don responds: There is a word for someone who has applied but not yet been admitted to to a university, which is абитуриент and абитуриентка. There is no straight-forward equivalent to high school.
Старшеклассник/старшеклассница- this word you can use for a hidh scool student.
Russian makes more distinctions here than English in normal American usage does…
Ученик/ученица: primary/secondary school students, appx ages 6-17. “Pupil” is a close translation, however awkward it sounds in American English.
Студент/студентка: college students.
Аспирант/аспирантка: grad students.
I wouldn’t call “student” and студент cognates, though–that word is usually reserved for words that come from the same reconstructed word in a proto-language, which does not apply here, since both English and Russian borrowed the words from Latin… Possibly a better term would be “false friends".
Don responds: The word ‘cognate’ is used two different ways in the States. The first way is the way you mention, and professional linguists use it that way. The other way is in foreign language classrooms, where it is often used more loosely to mean ‘words which sound the same in two languages and have similar meanings.’ The phrase ‘false cognates’ is very common in foreign language classrooms and is based on the second meaning.
The last example, presented on a yellow background, is missing a word at the end.
Don responds: Thanks! I’ve corrected the error.
Russian has a whole series of verbs that mean ‘to enter.’ One means to enter by one's one power, another by vehicle, another by water, another by crawling, another by running... Frankly, I expect that if we ever achieve interstellar space travel, it will develop verbs that mean ‘to enter by space’ and ‘to enter by hyperspace.’ For today we will focus on ‘to enter (by one's own power)’ or ‘to walk in to.’ That verb is:
|No such thing as
Note that the place you enter appears in the accusative case after the preposition в.
|Она вошла в комнату.||She entered the room.
She walked into the room.
|Как только войдёшь в собор, ты увидишь пятиярусный иконостас.||As soon as you enter the cathedral, you will see a five-row iconostasis.|
|Когда я вошёл в Пещеру Семи Ветров, на меня напали вампиры и зомби, и я защищал себя крестом Святого Георгия.||When I entered the Cave of the Seven Winds, vampires and zombies attacked me, and I defended myself with the cross of Saint George.|
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One of the most flexible verbs in the Russian language is заниматься/заняться. In it's most generic sense, one can translate it as “to be occupied [with something].” Today we will discuss it in the sense of “to study.” It conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
In the sense of “to study” the verb is used for advanced studies:
|— Ты работаешь или учишься?
— Учусь в университете.
— А чем ты занимаешься?
— Занимаюсь химией.
|“Are you working or do you go to school?”
“I'm going to the university.”
“And what are you studying?”
“I'm studying chemistry.”
|— Чем ты занимался в университетe?
— Я занимался татарским языком.
— Правда? Это язык с достоинством. А русский и английский языки — это яызки мирового угнетения.
— А Французский?
— Французский — язык бывших угнетателей.
— А китайский?
— Китайский - язык будущих угнетателей.
— А эскимоский?
— Знаешь, через пять тысяч лет я думаю, что даже эскимосы будут нас угнетать.
— У тебя... уникальный взгляд.
|“What was your major?”
“I studied Tatar.”
“Really? Now that's a noble language. Whereas Russian and English are the languages of worldwide oppression.”
“What about French?”
“French is the language of people who used to be oppressors.”
“Chinese is the language of future oppressors.”
“And what about Eskimo?”
“You know, five thousand years from now I think that even the Eskimos will be oppressing us.”
“You have really... unique opinions.”
The perfective of the verb can mean “to start studying”:
|Когда моя мама вышла на пенсию, она занялась испанским языком.||My mother started studying Spanish when she retired.|
|— Через два года я займусь уйгурским языком.
— Правда? Почему?
— Я хочу предотвратить их превращение в следующую расу мирового угнетения.
— Тебе нужна девушка, чтобы отвлечь тебя от этих идиотских идей.
|“Two years from now I'm going to start studying Uighur.”
“I want to prevent them from becoming the next race of world oppression.”
“You need a girlfriend to distract you from these idiotic ideas.”
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A majorly important verb in Russian is договариваться/договориться. It means ‘to come to an agreement about doing something.’ It conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
The verb is first of all used to say you agree with the plans that have been discussed. In that context one uses it almost exclusively in the plural:
|— Давай встретимся завтра в три часа перед «Кольцом».
|“Let's meet tomorrow at three o’clock in front of Koltso Mall.”
|— Давайте созвонимся завтра. Потом решим, на какой фильм пойти.
|“Let’s make phone contact tomorrow. Then we’ll decide what film to go to.”
Almost every conversation about making plans includes the word that way. The verb can also be used in the sense of “to make plans”:
|— Таня, как нам завтра добраться до аэропорта?
— Я уже договорилась с соседом. Он нас довезёт.
|“Tanya, how will we get to the airport tomorrow?”
“I’ve already made plans with our neighbor. He’ll take us there.”
|Давай точно договоримся, где встретиться завтра.||Let’s make firm plans about where to meet tomorrow.|
|Клингоны и Ромуланцы договорились напасть на Объединённую федерацию планет.||The Klingons and the Romulans have made plans to attack the United Federation of Planets.|
And ‘можно договориться’ can be a useful phrase when you are stopped in customs at a Russian airport, because you have some product samples in your suitcase.
Давай точно договоримся, где ВСТРЕТИМСЯ завтра.
The Russian word for lecture is:
Лекция is a на word; that is, you must use the preposition на with it if you are attending a lecture or going to a lecture:
|Я вчера была на очень интересной лекции.||Yesterday I was at a very interesting lecture.|
|Я вчера ходила на очень интересную лекцию.||Yesterday I went to a very interesting lecture.|
If you go to a place using на, you come back from it using с + genitive:
|— Откуда ты идёшь?
— С очень интересной лекции.
|“Where are you coming from?”
“From a really interesting lecture.”
There is a BIG difference between Russian and American lectures. If you attend a lecture in Russia, the lecturer often just sits there in front of the listeners and reads his notes. In the US that would be a recipe or failure. In the US a good lecturer must stand up, and either lecture entirely without notes or with just occasional references to his notes. In the US the lecturer must be emotionally engaging, or else he won't be given an honorarium again to speak. In Russia, no.
Now to American readers those comments immediately condemn the Russian system. That's because they are lazy-ass Americans. Generally the Russian system has produced better educated people than the American system over the last sixty years (though I think the Russian system is now decaying). The truth is this: if you are addicted to entertainment, you will probably be less productive in terms of scientific production than the people from less ‘friendly’ systems. So get off your tush and go do your homework!
As one of those studied in Moscow State University, I actively object your impression of Russian lectures. It is just that there is a lot of bad lecturers who, well, do what they can for the laughable increase in payment they get (I heard, no more than $1000 for a semester of weekly/twice a week course of lectures). A failure is still a failure, US or Russia, though in my 6 years I have never seen a sitting lecturer, not even once. Russian students, even the most promising ones, don't think twice before skipping a class or two (or half of them). Bad lecturers just make things easier for you: you simply sleep at home instead of sleeping at his lecture. And hope the lecturer isn't too pround of himself to get even with you on exam. Good students know very well that they WILL get away with skipping most of the classes they find bad: a rare professor will treat a student badly for missing classes if that student is obviously above the level of 90% of the others and knows the subject.
The tests and exams are (were?) usually held twice a year, at the end of the semester, so for decades the students had become used to living a joyful life from September through December and from February till May. This is changing now, as institutes and professors try to introduce more often, smaller tests over the course of the semester, and also control attendance. However, 5 years ago when I was in late years, still many did not attend regularly. I'd say... of all ~180 people that were in our stream (half of the students of our year: they share rougly the same lectures on common disciplines) about 40-80 were found on good lectures. For bad lectures it may fall to as low as 10-25 - basically, just a senior student (more often girl than not ) of each group.
There are always several good lecturers who make even quantum theory quite engaging and understandable. Also, there were many professional, though a bit boring lecturers. Still, they covered their subject, so you didn't even need the textbook much if you had carefully noted their, er, performance. Worst of all, there were indeed lecturers who are in this, probably, just for an increase to their salary. Students don't choose their teachers, so it is a matter of luck.
Personally, I did encounter a lecturer who knew what he did, yet made his subject pretty confusing. I did encounter a lecturer who was the authour of the book we used in out studies, and his lectures were so much more boring and primitive than his textbook: he even used slides instead of writing on the blackboard on his own. I attended classes of a teacher who, given the opinions I heard, was pretty good in the past; but, hell, by the time being he was so old he could barely speak intelligibly. That was the only time I was really ashamed for my university.
Note also, that in Russia (don't know how it is in US) the important general courses come in two parts, lectures by lecturers (~180 students in a large auditorium... theoretically) and classes (seminars) for small groups covering more practical skills, like discussing philosophy in more detail or soving some matrix equations. A group is 15-25 students. As a rule, these two types of classes are taught by different people, unless you are lucky/unlucky enough to be in the group whose classes are conducted by the same person who gives lectures. This also gives a different perspective, as, well... think of mathematics: solving equations is different from proving why they are solved this way, but still, the material for theoretical lectures and classes partially intersects. You may get bad lectures but good classes or vice versa. And when you prepare for the exam, you'll most probably need textbooks, anyway.
Don responds: Shady, thanks for your most excellent response to my blog entry. I'm adding your commentary to the main entry of the blog article instead of to the comment section so that others can see it promptly.
I have to agree with you, partially at least. My only study time in Russia proper was in 1986 at МГУ, and indeed the lecturers there were both competent and interesting. Of them I have no complaint.
On the other hand, the first class I had in Russian literature that was actually taught in Russian (as opposed to English language lectures on Russian literature) was taught by a Russian in the US, and he used precisely that methodology I have described. He sat in class, read his notes, and had us copy them down in our notebooks. I'm sure that the other students despised that approach. Myself, I took the lecture for what it was and in fact memorized the notes word for word, which made the instructor quite happy with my final exam of the first semester. By current US standards the class was an abomination in terms of methodology. In terms of my personal learning, I still remember his definition of литературный язык, still appreciate Krylov's fables and Lomonosov's poem on the use of glass.
Shouldn’t the acc be лекцию? This form is in the second sample sentence, but not in the scheme.
And is the case difference between the first and the second sentence because of ‘location’ vs ‘direction’?
Don responds: Thanks! Typo and formatting corrected. And yes, the location/motion distinction is precisely the issue.
Since this is a feminine noun, shouldn’t the singular accusative end in -ю?
Don responds: Thanks! Typo and formatting corrected.
One of the verbs that means ‘to fall in love’ is:
|No such thing as
Note that the verb is complemented by a prepositional phrase with в followed by the accusative case.
|Антон влюбился в Анну.||Anton fell in love with Anna.|
|Анна влюбилась в Антона.||Anna fell in love with Anton|
Although the verb is mostly used in the past tense, it can be used in other tenses as well.
|— Не поверишь, но я вчера влюбилась!
— Верю. Ты ведь влюбляешься каждые два дня.
|“You're not going to believe this, but I've fallen in love!”
“I believe it. You fall in love every other day.”
|— Я существо чистого разума. Я и разумом подберу себе подходящую жену.
— Помяни моё слово. Как только ты в девушку влюбишься, и ты потеряешь голову, как каждый мужчина.
|“I am a creature of pure intellect, and it's by means of my intellect that I shall choose an appropriate wife for myself.”
“Mark my words: as soon as you fall in love with a girl, you'll be head over heels just like any other man.”
You may recall that we previously said that полюбить can also mean ‘to fall in love.’ That leaves us with the question of when to use which verb. Actually, you can start some pretty interesting arguments among Russians about which is the more serious emotion, полюбить or влюбиться. Nonetheless, I can give you one guideline, if you suddenly fall head over heels in love with a person, then влюбиться is the verb you use to describe it, not полюбить.
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One of the verbs that means to love is:
|No such thing as
When you use the imperfective, it means the subject has an established liking for the direct object, and it can be translated as like or love:
|Моя бабушка любила шоколад.||My grandmother loved chocolate.|
|— Ты любишь кофе?
— Да, люблю.
|“Do you like coffee?”
“Yes, I do.”
The verb can also be complemented by the infinitive:
|Мой брат любит кататься на лыжах.||My brother loves downhill skiing.|
|Я люблю играть на гитаре.||I love to play the guitar.|
The prefix по- often adds the idea of ‘start to,’ and that applies to this verb. In English the equivalent of ‘start to love’ is ‘fall in love with’:
|В прошлом году я так полюбил Казань.||Last year I simply fell in love with Kazan.|
|По-моему, ты полюбишь Париж. Город такой замечательный.||I think you will fall in love with Paris. The city is so amazing.|
With no present perfective, is there no simple way to say “I am falling in love with you"?
Don responds: None that I know of. Tomorrow we will discuss the verb влюбляться/влюбиться, which means ‘to fall in love’ as well, but even with that verb I think a Russian would more likely use a simple past perfective, i.e., ‘I have fallen in love with you.’ The perfective in Russian indicates a result already achieved. A switch in emotion is such a result. Now that I think about it, your question may inspire a part two to the discussion of that verb.
Well,if you are really going for present, you may use “Похоже, я начинаю влюбляться” for “I guess, I’m falling in love with you", emphasizing the start of the process. Still, not the way a Russian is likely to word his/her ideas.
Though, it would be much easier if you undestoodd “полюбить” as “to come to love". “I’m coming to love you” doesn’t sound that good in English, does it?
You can say “Я в тебя влюбляюсь".
Love... it comes in so many forms... specifically nouns and verbs, and today we are going to talk about the Russian noun любовь, which is a third declension noun, complicated by a fleeting vowel:
You don't encounter the plural forms very often, but theoretically they exist.
Любовь has several meanings. First off, it's love, the positive feeling that binds people to other people in the best sense:
|Наша любовь длится уже тридцать лет.||Our love has lasted for thirty years now.|
|Я раньше не верил в любовь, но как только я познакомился с Клавой, я понял, что всё было не так, как я раньше думал.||I used to not believe in love at all, but as soon as I met Klava, I knew that everything was different than I had previously thought.|
|Молодые люди вообще женятся по любви, но совместная жизнь складывается удачно по другим причинам, точнее по дружбе и взаимоуважению.||Young people usually get married for love, but life together thrives for different reasons, specifically due to friendship and mutual respect.|
|Наша бабушка относилась ко всем своим восемнадцати внукам с любовью.||Our grandmother related to all eighteen of her grandchildren with love.|
Любовь can also mean the person that instills love in you:
|Мы с Таней поженились сорок лет назад, и она ещё моя любовь.||Tanya and I got married forty years ago, and she is still my true love.|
|Мы с Антоном скоро поженимся. Жду не дождусь. Он ведь был моей любовью с детского сада.||Anton and I will be married soon. I can't wait. After all, he has been the love of my life since kindergarten.|
Now here's an interesting cross-cultural parallelism. In the Christian tradition there are three theological virtues, which are usually called faith, hope and love. But if you read a King James Bible, you will find that one of the older words for love is charity. Faith, Hope and Charity can all be women's names in English. And in Russian those words can also be women's names:
|Russian woman's name
|English woman's name
I Cor 13:13 still makes me tremble:
|А теперь пребывают сии три: вера, надежда, любовь; но любовь из них больше.||And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.|
There is a common mistake in the example “… Жду, не дождусь …". If it is used in the meaning of being eager for something to happen, then the comma is not needed. Sure, punctuation rules say otherwise, but it is an idiom.
P.S. I hope you don’t mind me messing with your old posts, posting comments and correcting mistakes.
Don responds: Kaz, thanks! I appreciate all constructive feedback. This blog is something I put together in a rush in spare moments. Anytime someone corrects a typo or punctuation I am very grateful. I don’t mind people pointing out mistakes at all.
Hi Don! Your blog is very interesting and I appreciate your talent for explanation!
Hoewever here you did a mistake with the plural forms. There are: любови, любовей, любовям, любовями, о любовях.
I wish you good luck!
Don responds: Kira, thanks much for the comment. Oddly enough, all the standard references I can find so far leave the о out of the plural forms, so I’m sticking with that for now, but a quick Google search finds many examples as you have them, although of course the search also includes the plural of the woman’s proper name Любовь, which makes the numbers difficult to interpret. This may be one of the places where dictionaries have fallen behind modern useage.
Привет! я очень извиняюсь,что пишу не по-английски,но надеюсь,что автор блога меня поймет;)
В примере: “Мы с Таней поженились сорок лет назад, и она ещё моя любовь",- я бы написала, что “она всё еще моя любовь". “Всё еще” и “еще” несколько различаются по смыслу.
I find my relationship with Luludya goes much more smoothly if I give her grandmother a certain sum of money every Friday. Last week I was a bit late with her gift. Honestly, I wasn't skipping it on purpose — I know better than to try anything like that — but I was in fact a few hours late with the payment, an honest mistake, and as I entered the harridan's room, she gave me a certain look. When I returned home, I sensed a certain rumbling in my bowels, and then I spent the next ten hours in the smallest room of the house, and I knew:
|Старуха меня сглазила.||The old woman had hexed me.|
The phrase for ‘the evil eye’ in Russian is ‘дурной глаз’ or sometimes ‘лихой глаз’ or ‘худой глаз.’ When someone is affected by the evil eye, the Russians often use the word сглазить ‘to hex, jinx, curse’ to describe it. This verb only occurs in the perfective:
|Present||No such thing as
You can find the verb in phrases such as:
|Не обижай её, а то она сглазит.||Don't offend her or she'll put the evil eye on you.|
|Ребёнку плохо спится. Должно быть, кто-то его сглазил.||My child is sleeping poorly. Someone must have hexed him.|
|— У меня сегодня ничего не получается.
— Кто-то тебя сглазил.
|“Nothing is working out right for me today.”
“Someone jinxed you.”
Some years ago I came across a book called “Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong” by Arthur Bloch which contained a definition that went something like this:
The Unspeakable Law: The moment you mention something, if it's bad, it happens; if it's good, it goes away.
Many Russians have an inner feeling that the second bit is true. You musn't praise or compliment someone or express good expectations, otherwise you'll jinx yourself. So if you say something good, you need some magical little phrase to counteract the potential jinx. In AmE we say "knock on wood" in that context, and Russians may ceremonially spit over their left shoulder, which is represented in written form as «тьфу, тьфу», and then they add something like «чтобы не сглазить» “so that we don't jinx overselves”:
|Наш новый клиент завтра подпишет контракт, который принесёт в нашу фирму огромные деньги, тьфу, тьфу, чтобы не сглазить.||Our new client is signing a contract tomorrow that will bring our company a huge amount of money, knock on wood.|
Certain recent events have brought me to the conclusion that I may sometime need stronger counteragents to the evil eye. Fortunately a quick web search has revealed a most amazing website in Russia where for a mere $500 one can obtain such help. Here's a description of their remarkable wares:
|В центре «Линия жизни» можно будет приобрести ТАЛИСМАНЫ и АМУЛЕТЫ, «заряженные» нашими ведущими специалистами, победителями и финалистами телепередачи «Битва экстрасенсов». Это изделия из серебра с инкрустацией, каждое – прекрасное украшение, обладающее магической силой. (source)||At “Life Line” you can obtain TALISMANS and AMULETS ‘charged’ by our leading specialists, winners and finalists of the “Battle of the Psychics” TV show. These items are inlaid silver, each one a beautiful decoration with magical power.|
Yes, indeed. Three or four of those and I think I won't be having problems with the evil eye anymore. I'll place my order today.
At least they are nice! LOL They kinda remind me of Faberge eggs a bit.
Knocking on wood works in Russia, too. (Постучи по деревяшке).
One could use one’s head as a symbol of said wood, actually; it’s both funny and effective, you know)))
The eyes are the mirrors of the soul, but sometimes something robs them of that ethereal connection. For instance, we can get something in our eye. In Russian this often includes the word соринка, which means ‘a little bit of junk’:
|У меня соринка в глазу. Не поможешь достать?||I've got something in my eye. Can you help me get it out?|
After someone has had too much to drink, the eyes may become bloodshot:
|— Почему твои глаза покраснели?||“Why are your eyes bloodshot?”|
|— Ну, как тебе сказать? У меня аллергия.||“Well, how can I say this? I have an allergy.”|
|— Понял. У тебя аллергия на трезвость.||“I understand perfectly. You're allergic to sobriety.”|
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Yesterday we mentioned that the word глаз declines like this:
Note the alternative forms of the genitive case. The forms in -у are ‘second genitive’ forms which appear nowadays in certain stock phrases like «с глазу на глаз» ‘privately, confidentially’:
|Мы должны поговорить, но не по сотовому. Давай поговорим с глазу на глаз.||We need to have a talk, but not on the cell phone. Let's speak privately.|
‘To believe one's eyes’ is a stock phrase expressed with the dative plural:
|Она ведь была таким уродливым ребёнком, но вот она вернулась в деревню такой красавицей! Я не мог поверить своим глазам.||Y'know, she had been such an ugly child, but here she returned to our village such a beauty! I couldn't believe my eyes.|
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Yesterday we mentioned that the word глаз declines like this:
Note the alternative forms of the prepositional case. The prepositional form in -у is a ‘locative’ form, which appears after the prepositions в and на when they indicate location. Thus I might say:
|У меня соринка в глазу.||I have a speck in my eye.|
But if I'm talking about an eye, then the form in -е appears:
|У моего брата разноцветные глаза. Я хочу сказать тебе о его левом глазе.||My brother's eyes are different colors. I want to tell you about his left eye.|
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Luludya withdrew her lips from mine, gazed up at me soulfully and whispered:
|У тебя такие красивые глаза, как у верблюда!||Your eyes are as pretty as a camel’s!|
Several hours later, in the exhausted aftermath, it struck me that perhaps some Americans might have taken those words the wrong way, had they been in my oh-so-fortunate place. Camels have the most beautiful eyelashes of any animal. It is no surprise that a Gypsy woman in the throes of passion would say such a thing. And upon reflection it strikes me that all the best things in life are born in love, so it is only suitable that Luludya's love for me should elicit a blog entry on eyes.
The Russian word for eye is глаз, which declines like this:
Old Russian in addition to singular forms and plural forms had ‘dual’ forms, which were used to indicate things that came in pairs. For masculine nouns like глаз, that ending was -а, producing Old Russian глаза ‘two eyes, a pair of eyes.’ Nowadays that form has generalized to the plural form. We'll deal with the alternative forms of the genitive and the prepositional soon.
When you describe someone's eyes, the most common common colors are these:
|У моего брата голубые глаза.||My brother has blue eyes.|
|У её сестры зелёные глаза.||Her sister has green eyes.|
|У моего племянника карие глаза.||My nephew has brown eyes.|
|У вашего соседа серые глаза.||Your neighbor has gray eyes.|
When one is with one's beloved, it is absolutely essential to compliment the eyes, and since Russian intonation is different from English intonation, one must practice the phrases over and over again so that they sound sincere. Intonation construct (IC) 2 is often used for emphatic statements, so one could make the following compliment:
IC 5 is used for oohing and aahing, so one could pose the compliment thus:
Now we should probably address the issue of... damn... Luludya is calling my cell phone. Half a mo... Ohmigoodness, she just said:
|У тебя лапы, как у медведя!||You have paws like a bear’s!|
Gods! Is it any wonder that I love this woman? I must go to her immediately! Grammar must wait until tomorrow!
If Luludya leaves you alone for a moment, maybe you can correct the little typo in the word neighbor. ;)
Don responds: Done!
It is so nice to hear the spoken word. It makes a big difference.
more audio please! and a photo of Luludya
Russian has two words for blue, and the one that is the equivalent of light blue is голубой, which declines like this:
In its primary meaning the word means the same as its English equivalent:
|Она любит носить голубые свитера.||She likes to wear light-blue sweaters.|
|Она сегодня в голубом свитере.||Today she is wearing a light-blue sweater.|
|Банк находится около пятиэтажного голубого здания.||The bank is located near a five-story, light-blue building.|
|Сегодня небо без облаков, ясное и голубое. В такие дни у меня такое хорошее настроение.||Today the sky has no clouds; it's clear and blue. On days like this I feel so good.|
The word also has an alternative slang meaning, which is ‘gay, pertaining to homosexuals’:
|— Я так люблю Гришу. Он будет моим парнем!
— Даже не надейся. Разве ты не знала, что он голубой?
— Правда? Чёрт подери. Я должна была знать. Он ведь так хорошо одевается.
|“I really like Grisha. He's going to be my boyfriend!”
“Don't even think it. Did you seriously not know that he's gay?”
“Really? Goddammit. I should have known. He dresses so well.”
Interesting enough, голубой in this sense can only be applied to men, not to women.
So is there a slang term for lesbians?
Keep throwing in slang terms on your posts, slang adds colour to a language! No pun intended! LOL
Don responds: I’m behind on my lesbian vocabulary, I’m afraid. Hopefully some reader will give us some insight.
Lesbians in colloquial Russian are “розовые” - pink.
голубой in this sense can only be applied to men, not to women.
Sometimes you may hear “розовая” in this case (women).
Лесбиянки, лесби. Нужно быть одной из них, чтобы знать другие слова.
The Russian word for tea is чай. It declines like this:
You don't usually find the plural forms, but occasionally they are used to mean ‘types of tea.’ Mostly you just use the singular.
|Фу, чай уже остыл.||Yuck, the tea has already grown cold.|
|— С чем ты любишь чай?
— Я люблю чай с лимоном.
|“What do you like with your tea?”
“I like tea with lemon.”
|— Ты любишь зелёный чай?
— Мне всё равно, но мне больше нравится чёрный чай.
|“Do you like green tea?”
“I have nothing against it, but I like black tea better.”
|— Я очень интересуюсь чаем.
— В смысле, ты любишь чай пить?
— Да нет, у меня аллергия на чай. Я интересуюсь историей чая и тем, как чай стал таким популярным в России и Средней Азии.
|“I'm really interested in tea.”
“You mean you like to drink tea?”
“Oh, no, I’m allergic to tea. I'm interested in the history of tea and how it became so popular in Russia and Central Asia.”
Tea always reminds me of a classic English joke. Supposedly between Lady Astor and Winston Churchill there was constant verbal sparring:
|ЛА: Винстон, если бы я была вашей женой, я бы подсыпала яд в ваш чай.
ВЧ: Мадам, если бы Вы были моей женой, я бы сразу же его выпил.
|LA: Winston, if I were your wife, I would poison your tea.
WC: Madam, if you were my wife, I would promptly drink it.
“I have nothing against smth” has a nice literal translation: “Ничего не имею против чего-либо". Anyway, at first I thought these “Ничего не имею против” and “Мне все равно” have slightly different meaning but after some consideration I think they are the same.
If you want to ask how often something happens in Russian, you can use the phrase «как часто»:
|Как часто вы ходите в ресторан?||How often do you go to restaurants?|
|Как часто ты звонишь бабушке?||How often do you call your grandmother?|
Now here's one of those subtle differences that occur between languages. Although the «как часто» phrase is perfectly grammatical in both Russian and English, the frequency of the use of the phrase is not the same. The English phrase is much more common in usage. In Russian it is more common to ask the question slightly differently, phrasing it simply "Do you often?":
|Вы часто ходите в ресторан?||Do you go to restaurants very often?|
|Ты часто звонишь бабушке?||Do you call your grandmother very often?|
When you ask the question, it is usually used with intonation construction three, jumping up on the stressed syllable of часто:
Ooh, more on intonation, if you please! I often barrel right through Russian phrases with no thought for it whatsoever… and shouldn’t. The way you display it is quite easy to follow, too.
Don responds: more to come shortly!
The adverb часто means frequently. Since it tells how often something happens, we can more specifically call it an adverb of frequency. It's often used much the same way as its English equivalent:
|Я часто спрашиваю себя, почему девушки так любят моего брата, а на меня вообще не обращают внимания.||I often ask myself why girls like my brother so much but don't pay any attention to me.|
|Мы часто водим собаку в парк гулять.||We often take the dog for walks in the park.|
|Раньше я довольно часто ходил в кино, но теперь я фильмы скачиваю на компьютер с Интернета.||I used to go to the movies pretty often, but nowadays I download films onto my computer from the Internet.|
|Нина слишком часто жалуется на своего парня.||Nina complains about her boyfriend too often.|
Часто is what we call the the "positive form" of the adverb; adverbs often have a "comparative form" as well, and in this case that form is чаще.
|Вера ходит в кино чаще, чем брат.||Vera goes to the movies more often than her brother.|
|Вера ходит в кино чаще брата.|
|Я пью водку чаще, чем молоко. Молоко ведь бесполезно для мужчин.||I drink vodka more often than milk. After all, milk isn't healthy for men.|
To download something from Internet is Скачивать ИЗ Интернета, not с Интернета.
Don responds: I do agree that «из Интернета» is better than «с Интернета», but my Russian acquaintances tell me that people actually say both. All the best, Don.
Люди часто говорят “самый лучший", но я не думаю, что этому нужно учить. Стоит уделять больше внимания правильным вариантам.
You may remember from yesterday that the case forms of год are:
|Gen||года, году||годов, лет|
Today we need to discuss the genitive singular forms. The modern version of the genitive singular is года, but there is an older form that arose as a consequence of the u-stem genitives which nowadays only appears in stock phrases. So you will occasionally find phrases like:
|год от году||gradually, from year to year|
|без году неделя||hardly any time at all|
|Год от году я прогрессирую довольно значительно. (adapted from this source)||I am making serious progress from year to year.|
|На бирже работаю — без году неделя. (adapted from this source)||I have been working at the stock exchange for hardly any time at all.|
There is a tendency in language to make the things that are irregular more regular. Thus the older plural ‘brethren’ in English has been mostly replaced by ‘brothers.’ Similarly nowadays it is much more common in Russian to say «год от года» than «год от году». It is still more common to find «без году неделя» than «без года неделя», but that ratio will most likely eventually change in favor of года.
Language changes. For instance, as I was growing up, I never heard anyone say “You want to come with?” for “Do you want to come with us?” I remember the first time I heard it. I thought “No native speaker of English could possibly ever say that!” I was wrong. All sorts of US native speakers say it nowadays, and nowadays it almost doesn't sound strange to me. This should teach us a lesson. No native speaker ever knows the entirety of his language. And if we find that Russian speakers occasionally give us contradictory language about their native language, this is also normal. In such situations, you need to ask multiple native speakers about your language issue, and then draw a rule of thumb from their responses.
Правильно будет — год от года.
Don responds: Among older Russian speakers you will occasionally find the version with году. It’s old fashioned, of course.
The case forms of год are:
|Gen||года, году||годов, лет|
Note the two nominative plural forms. Dictionaries list both, but truth to tell you almost never see the года version for the plural.
Note the two forms for the genitive plural. The form лет is used after numbers and а few other words like много, мало, сколько and несколько. Годов is used everywhere else:
|Я прожил несколько лет в Таганроге.||I spent a few years in Taganrog.|
|Американские машины тех годов считаются эталоном красоты и роскоши. (adapted from this source)||American cars of those years are considered the gold standard of beauty and luxury.|
Note the two forms of the prepositional case. The form in -у is used to say "in such and such a year", and the -е form is used as the prepositional case form in other contexts:
|В том году мы жили в Баку.||That year we lived in Baku.|
|Мы говорили о годе дракона.||We talked about the year of the dragon.|
We will address the alternative genitive forms tomorrow.
Говорят “тех лет", а не “тех годов".
We previously mentioned that if a Russian number phrase is the subject of a verb, except when the number ends in one, it induces neuter singular verb agreement in the past:
|Прошло два года.||Two years went by.|
|Прошло пять лет.||Five years went by.|
|Прошло десять лет.||Ten years went by.|
There is another exception. If the number is preceded by an adjective in the nominative plural, then the verb shows plural agreement in the past:
|Эти два года были очень насыщенными. (adapted from this source)||Those two years were very rich.|
|Все эти пять лет были удачными в финансовом отношении.||All five years were profitable.|
|Те десять лет прошли прекрасно. (adapted from source)||Those ten years went by marvelously.|
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Curses. On Saturday I again proposed to Luludya. She insists, despite our five sons, that she can never marry a man who is not Roma. This insistence nonetheless leads me to a certain point of view in this posting. What if Luludya had agreed to marry me? I could have produced many of following sentences.
Let's assume that Luludya and I have been married for more than a year. The first anniversary has passed. In that case, I may freely say:
|Мы женаты уже один год.||We have been married for a year now.|
Interestingly enough, if we use an ordinal number instead of a cardinal number, then we get a different meaning:
|Мы женаты только первый год.||We are in our first year of marriage.|
The use of the ordinal number indicates that the first year has not yet ended. The same thing happens with other years. If our second anniversary has already passed, I can say:
|Мы женаты уже два года.||We have been married for two years now.|
But if our second anniversary hasn't passed yet, we will say:
|Мы женаты уже второй год.||We are in our second year of marriage.|
Let's say you are working at a company. The fifth anniversary of your employment has already passed. You can say either «Я здесь работаю уже пять лет» or «Я здесь работаю уже шестой год». Both sentences say essentially the same thing, but one uses the word пять, and the other uses the word шестой.
And now to return to reality...
|Лулудя отказывается выходить за меня замуж пять лет.||Luludya has refused to marry me for five years. (In other words this is now the sixth year, and she still refuses.)|
|Лулудя отказывается выходить за меня замуж уже шестой год.|
“Мы женаты уже один год.”
Как в английском “one” заменяют на “а", так и в русском принято опускать слово “один” и говорить просто: “Мы женаты уже год".
As Luludya and I were smoking clove cigarettes early this morning, she expressed her hope that I would continue to write this blog for many years. It warms my heart to think that a Gypsy woman, born in a wagon and raised among tambourines, should have such hopes for the continued study of the Russian language. Truly, academia enricheth the world, and I, humble slave to Luludya's every request, set to work immediately upon this posting.
As we mentioned yesterday, when subject of the verb, the Russian number one agrees with its noun in gender, number and case. The numbers two, three and four induce the genitive singular of the noun, and most other numbers require the genitive plural. I have not been blessed with daughters, but I desire them mightily, so let us choose some example sentences from the fairer sex:
|Моей дочке один год.||My daughter is one year old.|
|Моей дочке два года.||My daughter is two years old.|
|Моей дочке пять лет.||My daughter is five years old.|
But how shall we say these things in the past tense? Generally speaking, when a number phrase is the grammatical subject of the verb, it induces neuter past tense verb forms. The exceptions are numbers that end in the number one. Those numbers induce singular gender agreement in the verb:
|Моей дочке был один год.||My daughter was one year old.|
|Моей дочке был двадцать один год.||My daughter was twenty-one years old.|
|Моей дочке было два года.||My daughter was two years old.|
|Моей дочке было двадцать два года.||My daughter was twenty-two years old.|
|Моей дочке было пять лет.||My daughter was five years old.|
|Моей дочке было двадцать пять лет.||My daughter was twenty-five years old.|
We need more complex examples. I consider child-rearing the most vital of human functions, so let us choose our examples with such a thing in mind:
|Когда моей дочке был один год, я её поил тигровой кровью.||When my daughter was one year old, I fed her with tiger's blood.|
|Когда моей дочке было два года, я научил её бегать босиком на снегу.||When my daughter was two years old, I taught her to run barefoot on the snow.|
|Когда моей дочке было пять лет, я научил её ловить рыбу голыми руками.||When my daughter was five years old, I taught her to catch fish with her bare hands.|
If number phrases are used as subjects in the future tense, the generally induce 3rd person singular agreement in the verb:
|Моей дочке будет один год.||My daughter will be one year old.|
|Моей дочке будет два года.||My daughter will be two years old.|
|Моей дочке будет пять лет.||My daughter will be five years old.|
Damn, I see by my caller ID that Luludya is calling me again. No doubt she wants me to gather sage for tonight's coming-of-age ritual for her cousin Diana. I must cut this post short and attend to these needs. Until Monday, dearest my readers!
You know, if I had had a prof like you when I was in university, I’d be speaking flawless Russian right now! LOL Keep ‘em coming! Um…I don’t suppose Luludya has a sister, does she? I’ve always preferred a woman who knows what she wants…
I think that Russian numerals are the jagged rocks on which many a poor, hapless learner of the great Russian language comes to grief!
Well, the “speaking” part anyway…. at least when you’re reading the blasted things you’ve got time to have a think.
Thanks so much for all the warm expressions of sympathy yesterday from people about yesterday's misadventure. It is good to know that so many other people have been in similar situations. Falling in love with a Gypsy woman is an overwhelming experience, but after certain conversations today with Luludya's mother, father, grandmother and grandfather, I think it is an experience I can survive, with a judicious application of Bandaids and Neosporin. Even Luludya herself thinks so, which leaves me free to return to my topic of yesterday.
The Russian word for year is год, and, unsurprisingly, it is used to express age. But the age construction in Russian is rather different than the English construction. In English we say, “I am fifty years old”, whereas the Russian equivalent is “to me fifty years”.
The difficulty with the construction for us Yanks and Brits is that Russian numbers are more complex than English numbers. The number один is an adjective and agrees with its noun, so one year is один год. Numbers whose spoken form ends in два, две, три and четыре require the genitive singular of the noun they quantify, which gives us два/три/четыре года. Most nominative case numbers whose spoken form ends in something other than those just mentioned require the genitive plural of the noun they quantify, thus пять лет, шесть лет, etc. That's right: the genitive plural form of год after numbers is лет. Don't ask questions. Just believe. This brings us to the following grammatical analyses:
Of course, we can use years to express many other things than age. For instance, duration phrases use numbers. Most time/duration phrases are in the accusative case, which copies the nominative for inanimate phrases:
|I have loved a Gypsy woman for six years.||Я шесть лет люблю цыганку.|
|Four years ago a Gypsy woman gave me a second son.||Четыре года назад цыганка мне родила второго сына.|
|Уже один год как какой-то тип пристаёт к моей девушке.||For one year now a certain jerk has been hitting on my girl.|
There is a bit more to say on this subject, but I see Luludya's number on my caller ID and I must attend to her immediately lest she become testy. More tomorrow!
What would the genitive plural form of “год” be if it does NOT follow a number? For example, if I wanted to refer to an indeterminate number of years.
Don responds: Keep an eye on upcoming entries for more of an answer to this. In the meantime just note that even indefinite quantity words like много, несколько, сколько and мало use лет.
Let me to disagree. Genitive plural from год is not only лет but also годов - it’s completely regular form. So you can use it as I do. E.g. сколько годов? Пять годов - it sounds like redneck’s speech but I have never met anyone who says that’s wrong.
They were just polite, “сколько годов? пять годов” is absolutely incorrect. You should say “сколько лет? пять лет", but “один год, два-три-четыре года". Please take as it is, ‘cuz Russian is my native language.
Говорят и “года” и “годы", но использование этих слов является ситуативным. Например, “летят года” или “все эти годы мы…".
I awoke this morning with the newly-risen sun shining mercilessly in my eyes, my back propped against a mesquite tree. The cacti on either side of me and a couple of jack rabbits munching on scrub grass indicated that I had slept the night in the desert. Hmph. No tent. No sleeping bag. Apparently Luludya and her compatriots had abandoned me here last night. “I must refrain from carousing with Albanian Gypsies,” methought. “It leads to complications in the morning.” Slowly I worked an arm free and unknotted the twine binding my legs, coiling the rope neatly out of old Arizona habit. (One should never leave rope uncoiled.) I slowly stood, magnificently maintaining my balance and frantically searching my mind for some details of the preceding evening. “Lord,” I thought groggily to myself in Russian, “I can't even remember what year it is. What year is it, Lord?” And then to my profound embarrassment I realized that if my students were to find themselves in a similar situation, they might not know how to pose that very question in the language of Lermontov. Thus this posting was composed as I wended my shoeless way to the nearest paved road.
The Russian word for year is год. “What year” is «какой год», but the Russians usually throw a «сейчас» or an «у нас» in the middle to show they have the current year in mind.
Now, let's get to the year itself. When Americans see a year like 1994, we divide the number into two sets of two digits and read it aloud as “nineteen ninety-four.” The Russians never do that. Instead they literally say the one “thousand nine hundred ninety-fourth year,” which comes out:
Americans read a year like 2012 as “two thousand twelve” or “twenty twelve,” whereas the Russians say literally the “two thousands twelfth year,” which comes out:
Thus one could have conversations like this:
|“What year is it?”
“It's two thousand twelve.”
|— Какой сейчас год?
— Две тысячи двенадцатый год.
|“What year is it?”
“It's two thousand thirteen.”
|— Какой у нас год?
— Две тысячи тринадцатый год.
Notice that the year is expressed as an ordinal number, and that ordinal numbers are ordinal only in their last unit. In other words, in Russian and English one says “thirty-seventh”, not “thirtieth seventh.” That's not necessarily true in all languages, by the way. The Poles use the “thirtieth seventh” option in their language, putting the last two digits in the ordinal form. Here's the Russian version:
Now here's where it gets interesting. If you want to say the year in which something does/did/will happen, then the phrase must come after the preposition в in the prepositional case:
Do you see that году bit? You might be tempted to consider it a dative form, but it is actually a specialized prepositional case form (sometimes called the locative case). Thus the ordinal number, which is an adjective in terms of its endings, must agree with году, becoming masculine prepositional singular, resulting in dialogues like these:
|“When did you meet Luludya?”
“She and I met in 1997.”
|— Когда ты познакомился с Лулудей?
— Мы с ней познакомились в тысяча девятьсот девяносто седьмом году.
|“When was your fifth son born?”
“My fifth son was born in two thousand two.”
|— Когда родился твой пятый сын?
— Мой пятый сын родился в две тысячи втором году.
It's not all that complicated when someone explains it in a straight forward fashion, eh? Which is not to say that life never has complications. For instance, later today I must track down Luludya to retrieve my wallet and credit cards.
You have a mistake in transcription of year 2012: две тысячи девятьсот девяносто четвёртый год
Don responds: Thanks! Cut and paste error corrected.
Great to see you back, Don, and thanks for this clear and entertaining discussion of ordinals. Isn’t your tied-up-and-robbed scenario Polish rather than Russian - didn’t I read about it in Potocki’s ‘The Manuscript Found in Saragossa’? Does this mean we can look forward to PWOTD in future?
Hangovers are a bitch, aren’t they? LOL Especially when you have a really powerful hangover that actually distorts time itself!
-Какой сейчас год???
-Две тысячи девятьсот девяносто четвёртый год…
-2994??? Боже мой!!
I suppose the plus side is that Luludya can’t use your credit card since it expired almost a thousand years ago. The downside is that Earth is now a radioactive wasteland populated by giant hyper-intelligent scorpions wearing multi-coloured tutus who want to get you drunk again so that they can use your hangovers to learn about time travel!
Love your posts, keep ‘em coming from the future! :^D
Every once in a while you just want to know an obscure word in a foreign language just to show off to your friends, so today's word is вымя, which means udder. It is one of only ten nouns in modern Russian that end in -мя but are neuter. It declines like this:
The udder is the part of the a cow (or goat or sheep) that houses the mammary glands and teats with which they feed their young:
|— Сколько сосков на вымени у коровы?
|“How many teats are on a cow's udder?”
|Позови ветеринара. У козы заразилось вымя.||Call the vet. The goat's udder is infected.|
|Вымя имеет хорошие вкусовые качества, хотя и не обладает высокой пищевой ценностью. (adapted from this source)||The udder has good flavor qualities, although it doesn't have high nutritive value.|
|Есть ли вымя у быков? (source)||Do bulls have an udder?|
My life is complete! :^D
“заразилось вымя” - для меня странно звучит. “Вымя заражено” будет лучше.
I have never heard the plural form for the word “вымя". I’m not sure it can be used in plural form.
Don responds: I must agree that the plural is quite uncommon. The standard references all include plural forms, so I have included them here for completeness.
Заражается коза, а не её вымя.
One of the great things about Russian is the way prefixes and roots combine to make new words. For instance, the prefix в- means ‘into,’ and the root ход- means ‘go.’ Put them together and you get the word вход which means ‘entrance’:
If you want to specify the place to which the entrance gives you access, it is placed after the preposition в in the accusative case:
|Где вход в аптеку?||Where is the entrance to the pharmacy?|
|Я встречу тебя около главного входа в музей.||I will meet you near the main entrance to the museum.|
|Перед входом стояли два полицейских, которые проверяли документы всех входящих.||In front of the entrance there were two policemen checking the ID of everyone coming in.|
The word can also be used to mean ‘price of admission’:
|В первую среду каждого месяца вход в музей бесплатный.||Admission to the museum is free on the first Wednesday of every month.|
|— Сколько стоит вход?
— Тридцать рублей.
|“How much does it cost to get in?”
No feedback yet
The Russian word возможность has multiple meanings, including chance, opportunity and possibility. It is a perfectly regular third declension noun:
Very often the word is best translated into English as chance:
|По-моему, завтра у нас будет возможность сходить в Третьяковскую галерею.||I think that tomorrow we will have a chance to go to the Tretyakov Gallery.|
|Я утром намеревался зайти в книжный магазин, но не было возможности.||I had intended to go to the book store this morning, but I did not have the chance.|
Sometimes the better translation is opportunity:
|Если представится возможность, обязятельно сходи на почту за марками.||If the opportunity presents itself, be sure to go to the post office for stamps.|
|Не поверишь, но завтра я встречусь с Леди Гагой. Не каждый день получаешь такую возможность.||You won't believe this, but tomorrow I'm going to meet Lady Gaga. You don't have an opportunity like that every day.|
|При первой возможности перезвони Смирновым и узнай, когда они приедут в Москву.||Call the Smirnovs back at your first opportunity and find out when they are coming to Moscow.|
A good example from Russian classic -
Из фильма “Кавказская пленница":
- Мой прадед говорит: имею желание купить дом, но не имею возможности. Имею возможность купить козу, но не имею желания. Так выпьем за то, чтобы наши желания совпадали с нашими возможностями.
“По-моему, завтра у нас будет возможность сходить в Третьяковску галерею.”
Don responds: Спасибо! Текст поправлен.
The Russian word for problem is проблема. It is a perfectly regular second declension noun:
Very often this word is used with a location phrase:
|У меня проблемы на работе.||I have problems at work.|
|У Тани проблемы в университете.||Tanya has problems at the university.|
It is also used with с + instrumental:
|У нас проблемы с сыном. Он очень плохо учится.||We are having problems with our son. He's a terrible student.|
|— Жанна, почему ты такая грустная?
— У меня проблемы с моим парнем.
|“Zhanna, why are you so sad?”
“I'm having problems with my boyfriend.”
|Боря не смог войти в систему. У него была проблема с клавиатурой.||Boris couldn't log in to the system. He had a problem with his keyboard.|
|— У меня ужасный геморрой. Есть ли у тебя такая же проблема?
— Ради Бога, джентельмены не разглашают свои недостатки.
|“I have terrible hemorrhoids. Do you have that problem as well?”
“Oh, for God's sake. Gentlemen don't advertise their ailments.”¹
¹Okay, this really isn't a common phrase in Russian. I stole it from one of the Batman movies. And недостатки is more like 'physical defects' than 'ailments'. But the original sentence is so genteel in English that I really wanted to produce something similar in Russian.
Thanks to Andrey and Olimo who pointed out that геморрой is always singular in Russian. In English the condition is generically discussed in the plural. And thanks to Mike for pointing out a formatting issue that previously hid some of the plural endings.
What? Проблема is FIRST declension noun and has auxiliary form of plural instrumental case - проблемою.
Don responds: Thanks! Error corrected.
Surely the accusative singular is проблему, not проблема?
Don responds: Thanks! Error corrected.
Today we will talk about the verb учиться:
I like to translate this verb as “to go to school,” and in that sense it is only used in the imperfective. You can use it to contrast going to school (university/college/junior college/etc.) versus having a job:
|— Ты учишься или работаешь?
— Я ещё учусь.
|“Are you going to school or do you have a job?”
“I'm still going to school.”
|— А где ты теперь работаешь?
— Нигде. Я учусь на последнем курсе ветеринарного института.
|“So where are you working nowadays?”
“Nowhere. I'm in my last year of vet school.”
The verb is used for asking what school you attend as well:
|— Где ты учишься?
— В Московском государственном университете.
— А я учусь в Университете штата Аризона.
|“Where do you go to school?”
“At Moscow State University.”
“And I attend Arizona State University.”
|Клава училась в Профессиональном техническом училище.||Claudia studied at a votech school.|
— Где ты учишься?
|“Where do you go to school?”
“At [Public] School No. 8.”
Actually I did attend a school №8.
The verb pair кормить/накормить means to feed or to nourish. It is a shifting stress verb with a perfectly predictable л that appears in the я form:
|No such thing as
First off, you can use this verb to discuss feeding farm animals:
|Я кормлю скот два раза в день.||I feed the cattle twice a day|
|Накорми кур и потом принеси воду из реки.||Feed the chickens and then bring water from the river.|
|— Я целое лето кормил и скот и кур и свиней.
— Ой, какая скука!
— Да нет, я просто люблю животных. Такая работа мне в радость.
|“All summer long I feed the cows and the chickens and the pigs.”
“Oh, that is so boring!”
“Oh, no, I just love animals. That kind of work is just a joy for me.”
You can also use it for feeding people:
|Местные жители кормили новых поселенцев всю зиму.||The local inhabitants fed the newcomers all winter.|
|Родить детей — это большая ответственность. Их ведь надо кормить и одевать, а деньги на улице не валяются.||Having children is a great responsibility. After all, you have to feed and clothe them, and money doesn't grow on trees.|
|— Анна ещё кормит ребёнка грудью. Говорит, что это очень полезно для здоровья ребёнка.
— В этом, конечно, она совершенно права.
|“Anna is still breast-feeding her child. She says that it is really good for the child's health.”
“She's absolutely right about that, of course.”
|Он вообще хороший отец. Он сам кормит ребёнка с ложки и даже готовит чаще, чем жена.||He's a pretty good dad. He feeds the child with a spoon and even cooks more than his wife.|
In the US in the past there have been various food scandals, including that ridiculous time under Reagan when ketchup was defined as a vegetable for school lunch purposes. Russia, alas, is also not without its school food scandals. Right now there is company called Конкорд in Russia that has roused the ire of Moscow's parents by providing miserly food portions for public schools. They are even accused of providing the kids with fewer calories than prisoners used to get in the gulags. If you'd like to see some pictures of the food and look over a blog that deals with the issue, just click here.
Я целое лето кормил и скот и кур и свиней. –> In Russian when you use “и” repeatedly to add more and more stuff, you typically add a comma before each new thing (after the first, of course). It works both for long lists ("и думал, и спал, и ел, и сидел") and for structures that would be “both .. and …” in English ("Ел там и суп, и кашу.” = “I ate both soup and porridge there").
Note that “скот” is, actually “cattle” or, more precisely, four-legged animals used in farming - like sheep, cow, goat, pig, donkey, horse… Yak and buffalo in other places (though, poultry, cats and dogs ARE NOT “скот")
Такая работа в радость мне. –> Words put in this specific order seem way too lofty, unless it is quotation from some book. “Такая работа мне в радость.” sounds more natural. “Такая работа мне нравится” is even more natural. ^_^
Анна ребёнка ещё кормит грудью.–> I would say “Анна ещё кормит ребёнка грудью".
Don responds: Thanks! Changes made.
In the example sentence: “Я кормлю скот два раза в день", I’m curious about the usage of the word “скот". Shouldn’t it be in the genitive case (an animate noun) I would expect it to be either “скота” (genitive singular) or “скотов” (genitive plural). I don’t see how the nominative singular works.
Don responds: Скот is a singular collective noun that means “cattle.” Such nouns, oddly enough, are treated as inanimate in the accusative. Another such word is народ ‘people’ or ‘ethnic group.’ You can see it sometimes in phrases like this quote from Putin: «Я люблю Украину. Люблю ее народ.» “I love the Ukraine. I love its people.” (source).
“Я целое лето кормил и скот и кур и свиней.”
Вы забыли про запятые.
The word for flu in Russian is грипп. It is a perfectly regularly first declension noun:
The flu is a pretty miserable experience, so let's document how to talk about our misery.
|У меня грипп.||I have the flu.|
|Мне нужно лекарство от гриппа.||I need flu medicine.|
|— Я всегда лечу грипп водкой.
— А это помогает?
— Не знаю, но по крайней мере я чувствую себя лучше.
|“I always treat the flu with vodka.”
“And does that help?”
“I don't know, but at least I feel better.”
|По Москве ходит ужасный грипп.||There is a terrible strain of flu going around Moscow.*|
* For some dialects of English you could translate this as “There is a terrible flu going around Moscow.” In my dialect of American English it is ungrammatical to use the indefinite article with the word flu.
Здравствуй! Это правильно говорить: “я чувствую себя лучше переживаю"? здесь не лишний “себя” и ли что-то такое?
Don responds: Ой! Cut and paste error. Thanks! It has been corrected.
What „переживаю“ for? )
Don responds: Cut and paste error. Thanks! It has been corrected.
Russian has several verbs that can be translated as ‘study.’ Today let's start by looking at учить/выучить:
|No such thing as
You can use this verb to discuss what subjects you studied in grade school or high school. In this sense you usually use it in the imperfective.
|В школе я учил немецкий язык. Господи, какой он сложный!||In school I studied German. Lord, it is so complicated!|
|— Ты в школе учила физику?
— Конечно, учила.
|“Did you study physics in school?”
“Of course, I did.”
If you are studying/memorizing a set of facts, then you can use both the imperfective and perfective:
|— Что ты делаешь?
— Я учу испанские слова.
|“What are you doing?”
“I'm learning/memorizing my Spanish vocabulary.”
|Я вчера выучил список столиц республик бывшего Советского Союза.||Yesterday I memorized a list of the capitals of the republics of the former Soviet Union.|
|Я сегодня должна выучить наизусть квадратное уравнение.||Today I have to learn the quadratic equation by heart.|
|— Я вчера выучил перечень семнадцати ядов, которые нельзя обнаружить в человеческом организме.
— Что за глупость, не бывает необнаруживаемого яда.
— Правда? Чёрт побери, надо изменить свои планы.
|“Yesterday I memorized a list of seventeen poisons that can't be detected in the human body.”
“That's ridiculous. There is no such thing as an undetectable poison.”
“Really? Damn, I'll have to change my plans.”
Shouldn’t the past and future perfective use the prefix “вы"? Typo?
Don responds: Aargh! This is what I get for having rushed this week’s entries. Thanks! They have been corrected.
Are you sure the past perfective in the scheme is correct? It differs a lot from the forms used in the examples and it doesn’t look ‘perfectly regular’ to me.
Don responds: Thanks! They have been corrected.
Я сегодня должна выучить наизусть квадратное уравнение. –> I am not sure whether the sentence is supposed to make sense, even in English. Probably, you can say such a thing in English, but in Russian the statement is explicitly about memorizing the equation (and not about learning how to solve it or, maybe, learning the paragraph “Quadratic Equations” in textbook by heart).
It is grammatical, though. My only concern is the meaning, as in Russian school you rarely learn by heart something other than poems or citites/rivers/regions (for geography classes). Actually, “учить наизусть” is an expression primarily associated with memorizing poems at school.
Don responds: Interesting. When I first thought up the sentence, I was remembering junior high school. We had to memorize the quadratic equation to find the X-axis intersections of a parabola and then apply it during exams. The form we had to memorize was not the simple
ax2 + bx + c = 0
So that was what I had in mind.
It’s really valuable for us Americans to know, though, what contexts a phrase is used in in Russia, so the fact that it sounds odd in regards to the equation but fine in regard to lists of words or geographical locations is a marvelous thing for me learn. Thanks, Shady!
“Советского Союза.” First letters are capitals. Typo.
Don responds: Thanks! Error corrected.
Следует написать, что наизусть нужно выучить решение (ну или вид, смотря, что именно нужно учить) квадратного уравнения.
The most common Russian word for six is шесть, which declines like this:
When шесть occurs in oblique cases (oblique means a case other than nominative or accusative), it works pretty well like we would expect from a theoretical point of view; that is, it declines as we would expect and the noun it quantifies shows up in the same case in the plural:
|Gen||Мы в центре гуляли около шести часов.||We walked around downtown for about six hours.|
|Pre||Мы поговорили о шести новых книгах.||We talked about six new books.|
|Dat||Я звонил шести новым студентам.||I phoned six new students.|
|Ins||Над шестью американскими беглецами кружился вертолёт.||A helicopter circled over the six American fugitives.|
Now here's the weird part... If шесть is part of a nominative case number phrase or an accusative case number phrase, then the noun it quantifies shows up in the genitive plural:
|На сцене пели шесть красивых украинок.||Six beautiful Ukrainian women were singing on the stage.|
|Я купил шесть немецких машин.||I bought six German cars.|
That may seem quite complex. Just be glad your not studying Polish: its number system is even more freakish... and fascinating.
This system has its reasons in the history of the language. The words for numbers like 5,6.10,11..20,30 behave as feminine nouns (you may even compare their declension pattern to the one of “дверь” or “кровать"), and in fact were such in the past.
In nominative or accusative phrases the word for the number takes command. The word for the object being counted becomes its subordinate, similar to how it happens in “a lot of cars", “an owner of cars". Thus the genitive case.
There are 3 different ending depending on last digit of number. That’s drive software developers and translators really crazy.
Rule is pretty simple, look at last digit (10..19 are exceptions). There are tree groups:
0,5,6,7,8,9 (and 10 to 19)
2, 3, 4 машины
0, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 машин
The Russian word for new is новый. It's a perfectly regular adjective in its long forms, and it declines like this:
Hm... what kind of sample sentences should we come up with. Ah, of course. No one is more obsessed with newness than the people who love new cars. Let's work with that:
|— Это новая машина?
— Да, новая.
|“Is that a new car?”
“Yes, it's new.”
|— Он каждый год покупает новую машину. Какой он эгоист!
— По-моему, ты просто завидуешь.
|“He buys a new car every year. What an egotist!”
“I think you're just jealous.”
|— Я лучше чувствую себя, когда катаюсь на новой машине.
— Это потому, что у тебя комплекс неполноценности.
|“I feel better when I'm riding around in a new car.”
“That's because you have an inferiority complex.”
|— Где мои новые машины?
— У тебя больше одной???
|“Where are my new cars?”
“You have more than one?”
|Здесь ничего нового нет.||There isn't anything new here.|
Here are the short forms and the comparative:
And here are a couple ways you can use them:
|Всё здесь так ново!||Everything is so new here!|
|Моя машина новее твоей!||My car is newer than yours!|
For the short form masculine, the last letter is voiced, correct? In that regard, is it only voiceless when followed by a soft sign? So it would be voiced in all forms of this word.
Don responds: In Russian any time voiced obstruents (б, в, г, д, ж, з) occur at word end before a pause, they become devoiced; that is, they are pronounced as п, ф, к, т, ш, с. This applies to нов. The pedantic sentence «Университет нов» is pronounced [u’n'iv’irs’it’et nof].
The first word we Americans learn for friend in Russian is друг. The word has a consonant mutation in the plural:
This word is problematic when translating from Russian to English. Americans use the word ‘friend’ very loosely. It may be a close, personal friend, one with whom you share all your intimate secrets, or it may be someone you have known for five or ten years and never had a negative encounter with. That's not the case with Russians. Russians will only use друг to mean someone they know very well, someone who knows your likes and dislikes and knows better than to buy you white bread because you only like black bread. Anyone else you know is знакомый ‘acquaintance.’ I actually like the Russian distinction. It seems more meaningful than the American version.
|— Я вчера познакомился с твоим другом в театре.
— С каким другом?
— С Петей, тем, кто работает в университете.
— Ах, Петя, да. Но он не друг, а просто знакомый.
|“I met your friend yesterday at the theater.”
“Petya, the one that works at the university.”
“Ah, Petya, yes. But he isn't a friend, just an acquaintance.”
|— Сколько у тебя друзей?
— Да только один. Разве может быть у человека больше одного друга?
|“How many friends do you have?”
“Only one. Can a person really have more than one friend?”
|Все мои друзья говорят по-фински. Если ты не говоришь по-фински, ты не можешь быть моим другом.||All my friends speak Finnish. If you don't speak Finnish, you can't be my friend.|
|— Почему все твои друзья татары?
— Татары не пьянствуют. Они более надёжные.
— Я не татарин, и я не пьянствую. Почему я не твой друг?
— На тебя и на трезвого положиться нельзя.
|“Why are all your friends Tatars?”
“Tatars aren't drunkards. They are more dependable.”
“I'm not a Tatar, and I'm not a drinker. Why aren't I your friend?”
“Your not dependable even when you're sober. ”
Друг is not always mean friend.
Друг друга means each other, i.e.
Они убили друг друга - They killed each other
Of course, that doesn’t mean they were friends )
Also, sometimes друг means pal, buddy even when addressed to unfamiliar or little known person.
Эй, друг, закурить не найдётся? - Hey, pal, would you give a cigarette?
Don’t forget about the word “приятель". It is something between “друг” and “знакомый".
The Russian word for ring is кольцо. In the genitive plural the soft sign expends into a full-fledged vowel. Note also the stress shifts:
The word can indicate almost any ring, so even a basketball hoop can be called кольцо:
|В последнюю секунду он бросил мяч в кольцо и выграл матч.||In the last second he threw the ball through the hoop and won the game.|
But of course the most common ring of all is the wedding ring:
|Американцы носят обручальные кольца на левой руке.||Americans wear their wedding rings on the left hand.|
|Европейцы, в том числе и русские, носят обручальные кольца на правой руке.||Europeans, including Russians, wear their wedding rings on the right hand.|
Спасибо за этот интересный блог но я хотел заметить что православные носят обручальные кольца на правой руке. Не Европейцы.
Salutations de France!
Don responds: Thanks, Olivier! It turns out the wedding ring issue is more complex than I realized. A quick internet search suggests that Americans, the English, the French and the Swedes wear the rings on their left hands. (That was a great surprise to me. I had thought all Europeans who were not of English descent wore them on their left.) Germans, Norwegians and Spaniards (who are not typically Russian Orthodox) seem to wear them on the right. All the Russians I know wear them on the right. If I remember right, Tatars in Kazan (definitely not Orthodox) wear them on the right.
You’re right. I just had a discussion with my wife which is czech. Czech people wear their ring on the left hand while the Poles on the right hand.
She wears it on the left hand because it prevents the ring from wearing (typical czech explanation :-)
Anyway, keep up the good job.
The Russian word for park is парк. It is a perfectly regular first-declension noun, as long as you keep in mind the seven-letter spelling rule:
Today let's look at the word in contexts that distinguish location and motion. Remember that motion phrases with в/на use the accusative case, whereas location phrases use the prepositional:
|— Где ты был?
— Я ходил в парк.
|“Where were you?”
“I went to the park.”
|— Где ты был?
— Я был в парке.
|“Where were you?”
“I was at the park.”
|— Куда ты идёшь?
— Я иду в парк.
|“Where are you going?”
“I'm going to the park.”
|— Где Виктор?
— Он в парке.
|“Where is Victor?”
“He is at the park.”
|— Где ты живёшь?
— Я живу в парке, где беззубый парень по имени Витя защищает меня от гопников.
|“Where do you live?”
“I live in a park where a toothless guy named Vitya protects me from the gopniki.”
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The Russian word for 'to sleep' is спать/поспать. It conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
The perfective form of the verb has the prefix по-, which often adds the idea of ‘for a while,’ as it does in this verb.
|Я посплю и потом пойду в кино.||I'm going to sleep for a bit and then go to the movie.|
When you use duration phrases like два часа ‘for two hours,’ they normally require the use of an imperfective verb, but in the case of perfective verbs prefixed with по- in the ‘for a while’ meaning (and sometimes for verbs with the prefixed with про-), duration phrases are possible:
|Я два часа посплю и потом пойду в кино.||I'm going to nap for two hours and then go to the movie.|
But of course when you talk about sleeping somewhere regularly, you must use the imperfective:
|Я обычно сплю днём, потому что мне приходится работать ночью.||Usually I sleep in the daytime because I have to work at night.|
|— После пяти стопок водки я очень хорошо сплю.
— Какой ты алконавт!
|“After five shots of vodka I sleep very well.”
“You are such an alconaut!¹”
|Летучие мыши спят вверх ногами.||Bats sleep upside down.|
¹ ‘Alconaut’ is a Russian slang word for an alcoholic. Here is what lurkmore.ru has to say about the word:
|Видимо, восходит к началу 1960-х годов: алкаш+космонавт. Впрочем, алконавт имеет все признаки алкаша, и ни одного значительного признака космонавта, кроме, разве что, послеполётной гиперчувствительности к земному притяжению.||Apparently it originated in the early ’60s: alcoholic + cosmonaut. An alconaut, however, has all the traits of an alcoholic and not one significant feature of a cosmonaut, except maybe for a post-flight hypersensitivity to gravity.|
Do not forget that спать also means “to have (more or less continuous) sexual relations with someone, like – - Петя спит с Катей
– Petya is dating Katya and they have sex sometimes.
- А кто ещё с ней спит?
- Не знаю, я свечку не держал.
- Who also does have sex with her?
– No idea, I do not have full report of her sexual life.
The Russian word for taxi is такси. It is an indeclinable neuter noun, which means it never changes its endings:
Adjectives that modify indeclinable nouns must still occur in the case form required by the context:
|Nom||Вот жёлтое такси.||Here's the yellow taxi.|
|Acc||Я вижу жёлтое такси.||I see a yellow taxi.|
|Gen||Он стоял около жёлтого такси.||He stood near a yellow taxi.|
|Pre||Он приехал на жёлтом такси.||He arrived in a yellow taxi.|
|Dat||Она подошла к жёлтому такси.||She walked up to the yellow taxi.|
|Ins||Мы стояли перед жёлтым такси.||We were standing in front of a yellow taxi.|
Of course those are all possible in the plural as well:
|Nom||Вот жёлтые такси.||Here are the yellow taxis.|
|Acc||Я вижу жёлтые такси.||I see the yellow taxis.|
|Gen||Они стояли около жёлтых такси.||They were standing near the yellow taxis.|
|Pre||Они приехали на жёлтых такси.||They arrived in yellow taxis.|
|Dat||Она подошла к жёлтым такси.||She walked up to the yellow taxis.|
|Ins||Мы стояли перед жёлтыми такси.||We were standing in front of the yellow taxis.|
Since Russians usually don't own cars, they use taxis a lot more than most Americans. This last summer in Kazan I used them constantly. To my surprise, when I bought tickets at the movie theater at Кольцо, I was given a discount taxi card:
I'm Scottish by descent, and let me tell you that we Scots hate paying more than we have to. For us, receiving a discount card is like... gosh... what can I compare it to? It's like getting free and painless high-quality dental work. I mean, you just can't think of anything better. I used that discount card all the time. And what's even better is that when you order your cab using your cell phone, they automatically pick up your number and when your taxi arrives, you usually get a text message saying that it has arrived. For instance, here is a text message I received:
It reads, “Black Hyundai #348 is waiting for you. The driver's number is 524-XX-XX.” Most taxis don't have a taxi sign on them, so that information is really convenient. Why the heck haven't American taxis picked up such a common-sensical idea?
Taxi service is reasonably priced in Kazan, but I wouldn't be surprised if it triples over the next year. Some regulations are going into effect that will increase the fees taxi drivers have to pay, which will probably result in less competition. I'm not looking forward to the change.
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The word море means sea. It's one of the few nouns in Russian that ends in -е and has a soft consonant before it. Many two-syllable neuter nouns in Russian have a stress shift in the plural. In this case, the noun is stem-stressed in the singular, and end-stressed in the plural. It declines like this:
The seas closest to Russia are:
|Балтийское море||The Baltic Sea|
|Каспийское море||The Caspian Sea|
|Азовское море||The Azov Sea|
|Чёрное море||The Black Sea|
|Японское море||The Sea of Japan|
Notice that the «море» part in Russian is not capitalized.
Russians love to go to the sea of vacation, especially to a sea that is warm and has palm trees. Back in the Soviet period, one of their favorite places was Ялта, a city on the Black Sea that had, relative to Moscow, a warm climate. (By Arizona standards the place is refreshingly cool, but of course this blog is not entitled “Arizona Word of the Day,” so the Moscow viewpoint must predominate.) Море is a на word. In otherwords, when you talk about going to the sea or being at the seashore, you must use the preposition на, not в.
|Я люблю Чёрное море.||I love the Black Sea.|
|Ты когда-нибудь был на Каспийском море?||Have you ever been at/on the Caspian Sea?|
|В выходные мы съездили на Аральское море. Страшно видеть, как оно умирает.||Last weekend we went to the Aral Sea. It's scary to see it die like that.|
|Огромное нефтяное пятно движется к Балтийскому морю. (source)||A huge oil spill is moving toward the Baltic Sea.|
In Modern American English we mostly talk about going “to the beach” in these contexts, so “sea” will often not appear in such translations.
|— Что ты делал на выходных?
— Я ездил на море.
|“What did you do on the weekend?”
“I went to the beach.”
|— Что ты хочешь делать на выходные?
— Давай поедем на море.
|“What do you want to do for the weekend?”
“Let's go to the beach.”
It’s scary to “sea” it die like that.
You know, my progress in learning Russian is so slow, my only fun in life in spotting other people’s typos… ;)
Seriously, site is a joy to read, thank you.
Don responds: Hm. Wish I had done that on purpose. That would have almost been amusing. Typo fixed. Thanks!
The generic Russian word for doctor is врач. It is an end-stressed, first declension noun:
Russia has some great doctors. Although they often do not have access to the latest Western equipment, they have profound clinical experience, and I have never regretted sending my students to Russian doctors when they are ailing. Twice this last summer I had to take students to the doctor or hospital, and, to the best my eye can tell, they did exactly the things necessary for the students' conditions. Here are a few sample sentences:
|—Сколько врачей здесь работает?
— Здесь работает четыре врача.
|“How many doctors work here?”
“Four doctors work here.”
|Мы с Мариной только что обсудили нового врача. Он такой красивый!||Marina and I were just talking about the new doctor. He is so handsome.|
|Медсестра подошла к врачу и передала ему документы.||The nurse walked up to the doctor and handed him the documents.|
|— Я хочу быть врачом.
— Ты вообще не умеешь учиться. Лучше становись терапевтом-массажистом.
|“I want to be a doctor.”
“You don't have any idea how to study. It would be better for you to become a massage therapist.”
Actually, that last line is potentially misleading. The word терапевт, when used by itself, is often the equivalent of ‘general practitioner,’ so just because someone is called a терапевт does not mean he are not a physician.
One last comment... although the example sentences assumed a male doctor, most doctors in Russia are actually women.
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If you were to make a list of the most classically Russian dishes, щи would be at the top. Щи is a cabbage soup. It usually includes some beef, and the meat and cabbage are cooked separately. The word only occurs in the plural, which results in this curious declension pattern:
You can't mention щи without mentioning the saying «Щи да каша — пища наша» “Cabbage soup and boiled grain is our kind of food.” People say this when they are putting ordinary food on the table to indicate that they aren't fancy-shmancy gourmands with expensive tastes. They are just good ol’ down home folks with simple desires. The American equivalent would be something like “We’re meat and potatoes folks.” Here are some sample sentences.
|— Из чего делают щи?
— Надо ли спрашивать? Из капусты, говядины, лука и картошки.
|“What do they make cabbage soup from?”
“Do you really have to ask? Cabbage, beef, onion and potatoes.”
|Фу, в моих щах плавает муха!||Yuck, there is a fly floating in my cabbage soup!|
|— Я люблю щи заправлять майонезом.
— Правда? Лучше сметаной.
|“I like to top my cabbage soup with mayonaisse.”
“Really? Sour cream is better.”
|К щам лучше подавать чёрный хлеб, а не белый.||It's better to serve black bread with cabbage soup, not white [bread].|
Господь с Вами! К щам ТОЛЬКО БЕЛЫЙ!!!
There’s a slang phrase надавать по щам which means to kick someone’s ass (or punch the face several times). I don’t know how this phrase originated, but i think that in this case щи substitutes щёки (cheeks).
Don responds: Thanks! I didn’t know that one. I bet you’re right that щам is just an abbreviated form of щекам here.
Щи means “face” in colloquial speech; mostly used by young people, it’s not offensive but VERY informal, almost slang, I think.
Do you know that people in Ukraine do not eat schi or care for it. It’s a common knowledge that Russians cannot cook, Ukrainians can. To some degree it’s true. Ukraine always had bigger assoertment of fruits and vegetables and used an international cuisine even in 15 century. Turkish, Romanian, Bolgarian, etc.
I'm teaching from a new 1st semester Russian book this semester, so I decided to blog about the first word in the vocab list from chapter 1, which turned out to be аптека. Alas, I've already blogged about that word, so I decided to press on to the second word, which is банк. It is a perfectly regular first declension noun if you bear in mind the seven-letter spelling rule:
Back in the Soviet period, normal citizens never had anything to do with banks; if they wanted to save money in an account, they could use сберегательная касса (а savings bank), but such institutions didn't have checking accounts or home loans or car loans or any of those things normally associated with a western bank. Nowadays there are dozens of Russian banks in every Russian city, and probably the ATM machine банкомат is the major way that citizens interact with them. Russia still doesn't do direct deposit. Employees usually get cash on paydays from their accounting departments, and then they have to take them to their banks, if they bank their money at all.
Here are a few sentences with the word банк in them.
|Мой брат раньше работал в банке, но его уволили за воровство.||My brother used to work for a bank, but they fired him for theft.|
|Как дойти до ближайшего банка?||How can I get to the nearest bank?|
|Когда я подошёл к банку, меня окружили цыганские дети.||When I approached the bank, I was surrounded by Gypsy kids.|
|Перед банком приземлился вертолёт, из которого вышла Пэрис Хилтон. Она ко мне подошла и очень вежливо спросила, где ближайший МакДоналдс. К сожалению, я не смог помочь ей, так как я вегетарианец.||A helicopter landed in front of the bank, and out stepped Paris Hilton. She walked up to me and very politely asked where the nearest McDonald's was. Unfortunately I couldn't help here since I am a vegetarian.|
Your information about current state of Russian banking system is somewhat outdated. Transferring money to employees’ bank accounts from employers is pretty common nowadays; however, taxes to be paid from this money are enormous, so many employers choose to process only a small fraction of each payment through bank, illegally giving the rest in cash. This practice is called “деньги в конверте”.
I think this is a hard way to learn russian, I mean the Cyrillic writing and comparing. The chances of picking anything up from that would take a lot of focus. Otherwise I think the words and sentences you have chosen are unique and fun!
The Russian word for cabbage is капуста. It is a perfectly regular feminine noun that declines like this:
Russian families eat cabbage all the time, so you can often come across phrases like this:
|— Ты любишь капусту?
— Да, очень.
|“Do you like cabbage?”
“Yes, I like it a lot.”
|— Хочешь ещё капусты?
— Да, пожалуйста.
|“Do you want some more cabbage?”
|— С чем пирожки?
— С капустой.
|“What kind of pirozhki are these?”
|Древние римляне очень бережно относились к капусте. (source)||The ancient Romans had great respect for cabbage.|
|Купи два кочана капусты.||Buy two heads of cabbage.|
The Russians eat cabbage ten thousand ways. The Russian version of sauerkraut is called квашеная капуста, literally “fermented cabbage.” If you wrap the leaves around meat and rice and then steam them, then they are called голубцы. If you turn it into soup, it is called щи. If you add beets to the soup, you end up with борщ. If you put it on your head with mayonaisse, it is an aid to logical thinking.
Okay, I made that last bit up, but I really do love cabbage nowadays. If you have never developed the habit of eating it, take a quick trip to Russia where they know how to cook it right.
A Russian friend of mine told me that капуста is slang for cash, similar to how cabbage is slang for cash in the UK.
Yes, капуста is slang for cash. However, it is just one of the slang words for money. Russians use a lot of other names. The exact choice of a word depends on the social background of the speaker and on a situation too.
I found the following construction odd:
— С чем пирожки?
— С капустой.
Doesn’t this mean something closer to “What are you having with the pirozhki?”
Does this sentence make sense: “Какие это пирожки?” That’s how I would have said it, but then again - I’m a Russian speaking neophyte. :)
Don responds: «С чем пирожки?» normally means “What kind of filling do the pirozhki have?” It’s grammatically possible to say «Какие это пирожки?», but the other phrase is more common.
Kapusta didn’t mean just money, it meant dollars 10-15 years ago. Dollars is green, kapusta is green. For many years just $, now when the “iron curtain” is open, any kind of money.
Never did капуста mean dollars; only money in general.
Dollars were referred to as зелёные, баксы, and in cash smugglers spheres as “первый номер” – Number One, as the most widely spread and most important currency; also, German MArk was called Второй номер – Number Two.
Капуста, in Russia, nowadays, means money, in 90% of the situation cash. This term in it’s figurative sense - money, is used also, in a lot of post soviet countries such as Moldova.
I'm in Kazan with a group of students. Many of them are in host families. One of the host fathers sent a message to his soon-to-be guest-daughter in Russian. She left me a panicked voice mail saying:
Dr. Livingston, I received a note from my host father saying that I will have to withdraw from the university and sign some documents.
The student had made what I call a ‘dictionary error.’ She had looked up the word забрать in the dictionary and discovered that in certain [narrow] contexts it can be translated ‘to withdraw.’ But in this case the word bears the meaning ‘to pick up.’ And Russian sometimes leaves out the word ‘I’ in certain contexts, so what the note actually meant was, “[I] need to pick you up at the university and sign some documents. I'll clarify the situation and write you back about it.”
The verb забирать/забрать conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
This verb has quite a few meanings, the first of which is ‘to collect/gather/pick up things’ to take them somewhere else:
|Я забрал чемодан и поехал на вокзал.||I grabbed my suitcase and headed to the train station.|
|Таня забрала книги у Феди и принесла их домой.||Tanya retrieved the books from Fyodor and brought them home.|
Of course it also means to pick someone up from some place:
|Бабушка каждый день забирает внучку из школы.||Grandma picks up her granddaughter from school every day.|
|— Сейчас выхожу с работы. Буду дома через полтора часа.
— Нет, я быстренько заберу тебя на машине. Так мы сможем посмотреть «Зелёный фонарь» в семь часов.
— Отлично! Очень хочу посмотреть этот фильм.
|“I'm leaving work right now. I’ll be home in an hour and a half.”
“No, I'll pick you up right away in the car. That way we can watch ‘Green Lantern’ at seven o'clock.”
“Excellent! I really want to see that film.”
Hi , i’m i huge french fan ot “R.W.O.T.D”
i really appreciate when teach about verbs such as “zabrats” wich is very usfull” …
Could you do more of them please , cause i like milk but it might not be quite “paliezna” ;)
thnx for for doing such a great job and excuse my frogy arrogance :)
I am quite sure that you are native English speaker. Correct me if I am wrong.
So I have a question (not regarding the post).
Question is about construction “I am going to do smth".
My native is Russian and for me it is surprisingly intuitive to use this construction in lieu of “I plan to do smth” or “I will do smth", but not exactly with sense of these two. Something between them. “I plan, I will do, but plan MAY be broken and future is changing, so I am going to do.” Like “90% I will, but 10% if just luck (if I have bad luck I won’t).”
Quite long description, well…
Some long time ago I was in Berlin and was talking to German native speaker. And she wasn’t able to understand what “I am going to do” is for. Questions like “so, why not ‘I plan to do’ if I really plan” made me stuck.
So, the question.
How would you describe meaning of this construction to, say, German-speaking (or russian-speaking) guy?
Don responds: As far as I can tell, the phrase “I am going to” can mean most everything from “I am planning to do smth” and “I will definitely do smth”. It often carries a very generic future tense meaning.
Dear Don: please let people in Kazan know the prayers and good wishes of many, many Americans are with them this week at this time of loss and grief.
Thank you for this website.
Enjoy the ‘funny’ stories of mispronunciations and
to collect - СОбрать not ЗАбрать
Don responds:Alexander, thanks for your note. Here is picky detail about English: one of the minor uses of the verb ‘collect’ is ‘to pick up someone somewhere.’ For instance, it is possible to say, “John went to school to collect his son.” It means the same thing as “John went to school to pick up his son.” It’s not the most common use of that verb, but it is used occasionally. In that sense забирать/забрать is the equivalent of ‘collect.’ In the sense of “to collect stamps,” of course, one must use собирать.
It struck me that, perhaps, it would be good if you also could give us the reflexive derivations of verbs like “zabirat’". In this case, particularly, it would be interesting, since semantically the “plain” and reflexivbe form are quite apart from each other. “Zabiratsja” ‘enter’ or ‘climb up’. Or am I totally wrong?
Don responds: You are entirely correct. I’ll try to write such an entry some day… just have to wait for the appropriate inspiration. I usually write these entries when a word has proved problematic for my 1st or 2nd-year students… or when I suddenly become interested in a word. So we may have to wait a bit… All the best, Don.
My former student Ryan is living in Kazan and studying. Despite his studying, he manages to spend some time with his girlfriend, Lila. Now Ryan is an excellent guy. He is one of those men who cooks and cleans and is communicative. Lila considers herself lucky. (Frankly, Lila is worth it. If I were thirty years younger and smarter than I myself had been at that age... well, nevermind.) Anyhoo, Lila asked Ryan to go to the store to get some sweetened, condensed milk. He went. And he said to the store attendant, «Я хочу мошонку» “I want scrotum.” I leave it to you to imagine the attendant's reaction.
The word Ryan was looking for was сгущёнка, not мошонка. The word comes from the root густ-, which means ‘thick’, from which we derive the verb сгущать/сгустить ‘to make thick’, hence сгущёнка means ‘stuff which has been thickened’, in this case specifically milk with sugar added. Here's a picture:
It declines like this:
The Russians love сгущёнка. Not only can you make various desserts with it, often Russians like to drink tea and then simply stick a spoon in the сгущёнка and have a mouthful. It is so good. Here are a few sentences.
|— Я люблю чай со сгущёнкой. Ты сгущёнку любишь?
— Нет, я не большой любитель сладкого.
|“I love tea and sweetened, condensed milk. Do you like sweetened, condensed milk?”
“No, I'm not a big fan of sweets.”
|Хотя этот торт очень вкусный, он приготовлен без сгущёнки.||Although this cake is very tasty, it was made without sweetened, condensed milk.|
|Фу! В сгущёнке плавает муха!||Yuck! There's a fly floating in the sweetened, condensed milk!|
|А задумывались ли вы, что на самом деле, сгущёнка еще и гораздо полезней многих других сладостей – она содержит кальций и молочный белок, в ней нет красителей, дрожжей или усилителей вкуса. (source)||But have you ever thought that, really, sweetened, condensed milk is still much healthier than many sweets? It contains calcium and milk protein. It has no coloring agents, yeast or flavor additives.|
Now a comment on the power of branding. As I was growing up, the most popular brand of sweetened, condensed milk was Eagle Brand. It was so popular that no one ever said ‘sweetened, condensed milk.’ We just said ‘Eagle Brand.’ For instance, we could have a conversation like:
Nowadays there are generic versions of sweetened, condensed milk as well, but if I ever have a conversation with my mother, I'm sure we will not say ‘sweetened, condensed milk.’ We will say ‘Eagle Brand’ and know exactly what the other means.
Я люблю чай с сгущёнкой –> чай со сгущёнкой. That’s what “со” exists for. I cannot recall the exact rule, but you may be pretty sure that whenever a noun starts with a consonant cluster beginning with С/З, the preposition used is “со".
Don responds: a good point. The rule is actually more complicated than that, and one finds that not all Russians agree when to use со vs. с. In fact the one that I ran that sentence by didn’t bat at eyelash at «с сгущенкой». Still, «со сгущенкой» is vastly more common, and I have updated the entry to that effect. Thanks!
Please note the label design of the Russian “Eagle Brand". Although there are many different producers, the pattern is always the same. Try to google some images for the keyword “сгущёнка” ;)
BTW Russian “сгущёнка” has a pure American pedigree, having been turned into a mass-culture phenomenon during WWII by the US food assistance / lend-lease
(special thanks to languagehat.com for linking here)
“сгущёнка” This is probably one of the best milk in Russia, I have not, in my country like this name Indomilk
Вот вполне приемлемая формулировка правила употребления предлогов с/со: “Предлог “со” фонетически закономерен перед словами, начинающимися с сочетаний [с, з, ш, ж] + согласная или с согласной [щ]: со ста, со славой, со звездой, со шкафа, со жгутом, со щами, со зверем, но с зайцем. Перед словами, начинающимися сочетанием “сс", употребляется предлог “с".
Также предлог “со” употребляется перед формами с начальными сочетаниями [л, ль, р, м] + согласная: со лба, со мной, со льдом, со ртом; также перед сочетаниями [в] + согласная: со вторника, со всеми, со второго.”
Не советую вам так опираться на мнение носителей языка. Мы допускаем слишком много ошибок, о которых сами не знаем.
Don responds: Melodi, thanks for the comment! Your rule is generally good for foreigners.
Another of the Russians' favorite fermented milk products is кефир kefir. You take milk, mix it with bacterial and yeast cultures, let it ferment for one or two or three days, and then bottle it. Usually it is made from cow's milk, but it's possible to use sheep or goat's milk as well. Compared to ряженка it is rather more acidic and slightly carbonated. The alcohol content in commercial kefir in Russia is usually less than 1%. It actually has live cultures in it, so it colonizes your gut with friendly flora that may have beneficial effects in human beings.
Most Americans' only exposure to cultured dairy products is to yogurt, usually flavored with sugar or fruit in the US, or sour cream as part of dips or dressings. So when Americans are first are exposed to kefir, they usually have a negative reaction. I didn't care for it at first, but now I really like it; and the American version that they sell in places like Whole Foods that is flavored with sugar and fruit... well, it's edible in a long-term toxic sort of way, but it's nothing like Russian kefir. Let's see some sample sentences:
|— Ты любишь кефир?
|“Do you like kefir?”
|—Ты хочешь кефира?
|“Do you want some kefir.”
|Ни в одном из магазинов белорусской столицы кефира в продаже нет.||Not a single store in the Belarusian capital has kefir for sale.|
|Скажи кефиру «Нет»! (source)||Just say ‘no’ to kefir!|
|Похудеть на кефире: всю неделю нужно пить пол-литра кефира до четырёх часов дня. (adapted from this source)||Lose weight on a kefir: all week long you need to drink half a liter of kefir by four o'clock in the afternoon.|
|Я обожаю острую пищу с кефиром — варишь макароны, на сковородке жаришь лук и красный перец, потом добавляешь черный перец, в блюдо наливаешь кефир и макароны, и со сковородки всё выкладываешь и сверху трёшь чеснок! Так остренько и вкусненько получается! (adapted from this source)||I love to make spicy dishes garnished with kefir. You boil some pasta. In a frying pan saute onions plus red pepper, then add black pepper. Into a dish you pour the kefir and the pasta, and you pour out everything from the frying pan and mince some garlic. It turns out nicely spicy and yummy!|
Now what about the nutritional value of kefir? Here's the label.
Fat — 2.5 g; protein — 2.8 g; carbohydrate — 4.0 g.
Energy value (caloric value)
per 100 g of product — 50 calories
Now that's interesting. In terms of its fat content it's about the same as ряженка.
I love kefir and always had some in the refrigerator when I was in Russia.
In Novosibirsk, in May, 2011 one litre cost around 35 roubles; say, $1.20.
I bought some in Vancouver in June 2011 and had to pay $5.00 for one litre. Ouch!
The Russians drink a variety of fermented milk products and one of them is ряженка. You take milk, mix it with a bacterial culture, let it ferment for six to eight hours, then bring the process to a close. Essentially it is a type of yogurt without any flavor additives. Compared to кефир kefir, it's flavor is less acidic. We have no special word for this in English, so we usually just transliterate it as ryazhenka. It declines like this:
This last week I bought a packet of ряженка at the store. That's right: in Russia cold liquids are often sold in plastic packets. Here you can see it on the left. I drink about half a packet at a time, pouring it into a glass, which you can see on the left:
Now a thoughtful homemaker will wonder, “If it is in a floppy plastic bag, how the heck am I supposed to store an opened packet in the fridge?” Why, you stand the packet up in a mug, of course!
Let's see the word in some sentences:
|— Где тут можно купить ряженку?
— За углом, в «Пятёрочке».
|“Where can I buy ryazhenka?”
“Around the corner at the Pyatyorochka [store].”
|Ряженка — кисломолочный напиток, получаемый из коровьего топлёного молока молочнокислым брожением. (source)||Ryazhenka is a fermented milk product made from heated cow's milk by lactic (acid) fermentation.|
|Ненавижу Америку. Там нет ряженки. А что я должна пить на завтрак? ¹||I hate America. There's no ryazhenka there. So what am I supposed to drink for breakfast?|
|Я обожаю холодный ягодный суп с ряженкой. (recipe)||I adore cold berry soup with ryazhenka.|
Since I'm trying to limit my carb intake this summer, I of course am now wondering what the carb load is. Here's the ingredient lable. The words that appear first are in Tatar, since I am living in Kazan, and the words that follow are in Russian:
|Nutritional value||(per 100 g)|
Hm. Let's see. 100 mg of ryazhenka has 4.1 g of carbs. I'm limiting myself to 20 g of carbs a day. If a glass is 250 mg, then that's roughly 10 g of carbs for a glass of ryazhenka. Damn. That's half the day's carbs right there. Guess that means that leaves only meat and fat for the rest of the day. Actually, I can live with that.
¹ This was actually said by a Russian woman visiting the US. We had no kefir, no ryazhenka, no tvorog. It was like there was no human food there at all!
² Note to Russian readers: in the US when listing nutritional information, the word "calorie" means "kilocalorie". So for a nutritional discussion, "calorie" is a proper translation for ккал, even though in the metric system that is properly translated kilocalorie.
I think the little 2 should be behind Calories, not Carbohydrates.
Don responds: Thanks! Fixed.
On the calories note, I believe the US version is capitalized (Calories) to indicate kcal. It takes some adjusting when you go to almost any other country and initially marvel at the number of [what you think are] calories they pack into their groceries. That seems to only the case with food… in thermodynamics energy would be measured in kcal - at least, I don’t recall ever seeing capital Calories to indicate 1000 cal in that context.
(On a semi-related note, one of the words in my Captcha image is “Food.")
Just went down to the продукты near the apartment I’m staying at this summer and bought a packet of ряженка. Looking forward to trying it out at breakfast tomorrow.
I’m studying abroad in Russia for the summer and I have a question about tvorog. I’ve always seen it translated as ‘cottage cheese’, but I hate cottage cheese and love tvorog. Do you know how close it is to ‘farmer’s cheese’?
Don responds: I’ve actually never bought farmer’s cheese in the US, but Russians who have moved to the States tell me it the closest equivalent we have to творог.
Hey, hello and just one question, proly someone asked it before but I did not follow this blog back bafore - WHY do you provide, in declination, cases in this order: nom/acc/gen/pre/dat/ins? In slavic languages, it is mostly taught this way: nom/gen/dat/acc/ins/pre or loc(ativus). I am Polish and all Polish kids are taught this way, from what I know, other Slavic language speakers as well. Hmm. Just curious (maybe in Russia it is different, I ain’t no fluent Russian speaker or never was in any elementary Russian school, sorry). I am also alsking, becauses the order you provde is really strange (at least for all Poles), and I think the one I suggest - would make no difference to Westeners (since the very idea of cases is hard for them , anyway) :) best regards, H.
Don responds: for a comparison of the two systems for presenting case, see this page. The short version of my answer is this: the textbook/dictionary order used in most Slavic countries does not display the syncretism of case forms as well as the linguistic order does. I myself was trained under the old system and have taught both the old and new systems. The new system is superior for presenting case endings to foreigners. It is pedagogically better and more logical. It would be pedagogically superior in the Slavic countries as well, but it continues to be used there due to simple inertia.
Nice to see the Вамин production on your blog :-)
Btw, have you tried other ряженка brands, like Для всей семьи or Простоквашино? They have better taste in my opinion.
> You take milk, mix it with a bacterial culture, let it ferment for
> six to eight hours, then bring the process to a close.
This will get you good old yogurt, not ряженка. If you want to make
ряженка, you’ll need to use “baked milk” instead of regular milk. To
make baked milk, either simmer milk for 2-3 hours on low heat until it
turns light beige, or bake milk in an open jar/pot in the oven at
350F, again until it turns light beige (might be longer than 3 hours).
The milk can form a brownish crust on top, that’s normal, the crust is
When the baked milk is done, cool it to about 110F (that’s when it
feels very warm but not hot), add 2-3 Tbsp of yogurt or sour cream,
mix it all up well, place the jar/pot in a warm place and cover with a
towel. Ряженка will be ready in 6-8 hours.
Don adds: Thanks, Oleg! For American readers I should add that you want live culture yogurt and sour cream, not the typical stuff you find in an American store. Those yogurts and sour creams have a good chance of having very little active culture remaining in them.
> ‘m studying abroad in Russia for the summer and I have a question
> about tvorog. I’ve always seen it translated as ‘cottage cheese’,
> but I hate cottage cheese and love tvorog. Do you know how close it
> is to ‘farmer’s cheese’?
In Germany they call it “quark” and I’ve actually seen quark being
sold in the US (at New Seasons Market in Portland, OR) and in
Vancouver, Canada. However, it was nothing like real tvorog, it was a
thick liquid which tasted a bit bitter.
You can make tvorog yourself pretty easily. Just heat up some yogurt
to about 200F, until it curdles. You’ll see greenish-yellow whey
separate, with white curds floating in it. Don’t mix it up unless or
you want to end up with very fine-grained tvorog. Cool this mixture
down, put some cheese cloth in a strainer (several layers if the
cheese cloth is not fine-mesh), pour the mixture in and let the whey
drain out, for a couple hours or longer. That’s all.
You can discard whey, but it’s very good for you so just drink it. It
doesn’t taste that great but it has a ton of minerals. It’s really
good at restoring mineral balance after sweating at a workout. Also,
whey is fantastic when used for bread or pizza dough in place of
If you make your own yogurt, tvorog will turn out considerably cheaper
(2-3 times) than when using store-bought yogurt.
The Russian phrase for common sense is здравый смысл.
|Я делала всё просто наоборот здравому смыслу. (source)||I did everything contrary to common sense.|
|Женщины не пользуются здравым смыслом. (source)||Women don't make use of common sense.|
|Главное — руководствоваться здравым смыслом. (source)||The important thing is to be guided by common sense.|
|Чтобы держаться здравого смысла, надо его по крайней мере иметь. (source)||In order to adhere to common sense, you have to have it in the first place.|
“Наоборот здравому смыслу” sounds very odd. Googling shows that it is used by Dostoevsky, but you get ~1000 results on that phrase vs ~2 million on “Вопреки здравому смыслу".
Of course. “Наоборот” is an adverb with no government, as far as I know. It may be used as a translation for “contrary” in phrases like “quite the contrary” or as an introduction phrase “On the contrary, …". It is also used in “… и наоборот” ("… and vice versa.")
“Вопреки” (technically, a preposition) is the correct Russian counterpart for your sentence, which has a “contrary to” in it.
I just came upon this site. It is very interesting, but:
“Women don’t make use of common sense.” Really? Come on … This the XXI century and this kind of sexist statement has no place in a quality educational endeavor.
Christine, thanks for your comment. I will allow myself to disagree with you. If you look over the sample sentences on this site, you will find that some are sensible, some are silly, some are old fashioned, some reflect various subcultures of the former Soviet Union, and some are made to be grammatical but simultaneously to trigger one’s sense of the absurd; some are meant to trigger one’s sense of pity or one’s sense of humor or one’s sense of revulsion. This is due to my observation that good language teaching always engages the emotions. Those emotions do not always have to be rational. And when one deals with Russia in particular, many sentiments that are considered backwards by progressive Americans are still entirely common in Russia. That particular sentiment that you mentioned is very common among a certain subset of Russian males, and if it succeeded in arousing emotion in you when you read it, then it met my goal of engaging emotions. The sample sentences are never meant to be an expression of the attitudes of any of the blog’s authors.
Peace, joy and light to you, Don Livingston.
I'm in Kazan with a group of students. Many of them are in host families. Americans are very communicative, so before the program began, one of our students sent a message to her host father to say that she was excited and looking forward to meeting them. She wrote:
Я очень возбуждена и спешу встретиться с вами.
Now that's pretty damn amusing. The word she chose for ‘excited’ means excited when the appetite is excited by exercise or a solar cell is excited to stimulate the emission of electrons by photons. But when applied to humans it can mean ‘sexually excited.’ The word she chose to for ‘to look forward to’ also means ‘to be in a hurry.’ So in effect the good-hearted girl had written:
I am very aroused and rushing to meet you.
Our resident director clarified the situation to the host father...
The verb ‘to stimulate; excite; arouse’ in Russian is возбуждать/возбудить. It conjugates like this:
|No such thing as
This word can be used when one's appetite or thirst or curiosity or surprise are aroused:
|Спорт возбуждает аппетит.||Sports stimulate the appetite.|
|Жара возбуждает жажду.||Hot weather arouses thirst.|
|Это замечание возбудило моё удивление.||That comment surprised me.
(Lit., That comment stimulated my surprise.
|Этот вопрос возбудил моё любопытство.||The questions aroused my curiousity.|
I suppose I must give at least one sexual example:
|Клубника возбуждает сексуальные желания. Так и есть! Сама проверила! (source)||Strawberries stimulate sexual desires. It's true! I verified it myself!|
I’m also in Kazan this summer with the Critical Language Scholarship program. It’s interesting to know that there are other groups of Americans studying here this summer!
Isn’t this also the verb used when a criminal case is opened? Or maybe I’m not pronouncing things right!
Don responds: Yes, I think there is a usage of “to instigate proceedings against,” but I’m not sure whether it’s a current usage or not.
2 John33317> It is, indeed! “В Киеве возбуждено уголовное дело по факту приготовления яичницы на Вечном огне”
Though, this use is for written language, mostly in news. Come to think of it, people rarely discuss procedings instigated against somebody in colloquial terms :)
If you could do a post on how to properly say “I’m excited about/looking forward to… ” that would be very much appreciated. :) Thanks!
Don responds: Alas, I can’t seem to get such a post written, so here is a brief thought. I’d say the rough equivalent of “looking forward to” is «очень жду» or «с нетерпением жду», thus «Я очень жду нашу встречу» ~ “I’m really looking forward to seeing you”.
What is the correct word for to excite as opposed to arouse.
Don responds: It depends upon the context, of course, but if you are in someone’s presence at the moment of speaking and you want to say “I’m excited to see you”, then probably the best equivalent is something like «Я очень рад(а) тебя видеть».
The preposition от is often used with the word лекарство ‘medicine’ to indicate the condition which the medicine is used to treat. It is always used with the gentive case.
|— Ой, я уже восьмой день страдаю поносом.
— Тебе нужно лекарство от лямблиоза.
|“Oh, I have been suffering from diarrhea for eight days now.”
“You need giardia medicine.”
|— Где можно купить лекарство от аллергии?
— В любой аптеке.
|“Where can I buy allergy medication?”
“At any pharmacy.”
|— Что производит фирма «Новартис»?
— Она производит лекарства от разных болезней, например от паркинсонизма и болезни Альцгеймера.
|“What does the Novartis company produce?”
“It produces medicine to treat various diseases, for instance Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.”
|— Мне нужен... фу, как называется лекарство от головной боли?
— Что за глупость? Я имею в виду самое обыкновенное лекарство.
— Ты что. Водка головную боль причиняет, не лечит.
— Угу, ты наверно думаешь об аспирине.
— Точно. Мне нужен аспирин.
|“I need... Crud. What do you call the medicine that treats headaches?”
“Don't be an idiot. I have in mind the most common medicine.”
“Come on. Vodka causes headaches. It doesn't cure them.”
“Uh-huh, you probably are thinking about aspirin.”
“Exactly. I need aspirin.”
I should point the slight difference in Russian punctuation. When you mention a company name or something similar (band name, brand etc), you should enclose it in quotes. For example,
The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960.
“Битлз” - британская рок-группа, основанная в Ливерпуле в 1960 году.
When a brand name becomes popular, it loses these quotes (I guess the same happens with English capital letter): героин, аспирин, ксерокс, фломастер.
The preposition от often means ‘from’ in the sense of ‘due to a negative cause’, and it is always used with the genitive case.
|Он умер от инфаркта.||He died of a heart attack.|
|Франция страдает от штормов и наводнений. (source)||France is suffering from storms and floods.|
|Не могу спать от тревоги.||I can't sleep due to anxiety.|
|Дима Билан чуть не потерял зрение от яркого света софитов. (story)||Dima Bilan nearly lost his vision because of the bright floodlights.|
Another good example:
- От чего он умер?
- Читай на венках. “От любящей жены", “От друзей", “От детей", “От соседей", “От профкома"…
The preposition от often means from, and it is always used with the genitive case. Specifically if you are coming from seeing someone, then you can use от:
|— Откуда ты идёшь?
— От декана.
|“Where are you coming from?”
“From seeing the dean.”
|— Откуда ты идёшь?
— От Бори.
|“Where are you coming from?”
“From Boris's place.”
|Когда я вернулся от зубного врача, я сразу же выпил две таблетки кодеина.||When I got back from the dentist's office, I immediately took two codeine pills.|
|Когда вернёшься от бабушки, не забудь поставить кастрюлю в печь на малый огонь.||When you get back from Grandma's place, don't forget to put the casserole in the oven on low.|
It seems, whenever you use “к” to mean “to", you also use “от” to express the idea “from".
The Russian word этот is a demonstrative adjective that can be translated as this/that/these/those, depending on the context. (For a discussion of the this/that distinction, see the entry on тот.) It declines like this:
For first- and second-year Russian students, I call this word ‘changing это’ because it changes it's ending for case, number and gender. Beginners often confuse it with ‘unchanging это’; for discussion of the distinction, see this blog entry.
|— Что ты читаешь?
— Анну Каренину.
— Ох, как я люблю эту книгу!
|“What are you reading?”
“Oh, I love that book so much!”
|— Кто живёт в этом доме?
— Откуда мне знать?
|“Who lives in that house?”
“How should I know?”
|Эти упражнения очень трудные.||These exercises are really difficult.|
|Ты давно работаешь с этими людьми?||Have you been working with these people for a long time?|
Great stuff but always try to make the English as close to the russian as possible:
So “How I love that book!” rather than “I love that book so much”
Don responds: Robert, thanks much for your comment. Nowadays in translations for this blog I prefer to avoid word for word translations if the resulting English is rather more marked. In the case of that particular translation, I went back and forth on which to use. The word for word translation, of course, makes the Russian equivalent structurally clearer to a beginning student. On the other hand, my current impression—not yet confirmed by native speakers—is that the как version of such sentences is used significantly more often than the так version. In American English the ‘so’ version is much more common than the ‘how’ version, and seems to require a rather more marked environment. Since the Russian как version and the English ‘so’ version seemed to me more neutral in style, I ended up going with the ‘so’ version.
I note your e-mail address has a UK domain. I have no instinct for the niceties of British English, so perhaps in the UK the как version is more common?
In either case, your suggestion has merit. For now I’m keeping the ‘so’ translation until I can investigate the matter a bit more.
Warmest wishes, Don.