Categories: Religion, Bible
The word for church in Russian is церковь. It is a third-declension feminine noun with a complication: the о drops out in every case except the nominative/accusative singular and the instrumental singular:
|Pre||церкви||церквях or церквах|
|Dat||церкви||церквям or церквам|
|Ins||церковью||церквями or церквами|
You will notice that there are alternative forms for the prepositional, dative and instrumental plurals: they can be soft or hard. The справка division at gramota.ru suggests both forms are acceptable, but I didn't really believe them because the soft versions should be much more natural by analogy with other feminine nouns in -ь, so I did a quick Google hit count (6 Feb 2010) and came up with these results:
So much for my theory. It seems like the hard forms are dominating.³ (Take that conclusion with a grain of salt. Such Google searches do not tell you how many times a particularly source is simply copied, so you can't tell how many unique instances there are of the word.) Despite the ambiguity, we can still produce some sample sentences:
|— Ты ходишь в церковь?
— Ни за что! Разве ты не знала, что я атеист? ¹
|“Do you go to church?”
“Hardly! Didn't you know I'm an atheist?”
|В Москве сорок сороков церквей.²||Moscow has forty times forty churches.|
|В церковь ходят самые разные люди. Среди них встречаются самые умные люди, которых я знаю.||Among people who attend church you will find an amazing variety. Among them are the smartest people I know.|
¹ «Ни за что» means “not for anything” in the sense of “I wouldn't do it for anything in the world.” The ни and за are unstressed, and the что is stressed. Notice that there is a slight spelling difference (and a major stress difference) between that phrase and the phrase «не за что». In the latter the не is stressed the за and что are unstressed; it literally means “there is nothing for which” in the sense of “There is nothing for which to thank me”; we usually translate it as “don't mention it”: «Спасибо». «Не за что». “Thanks.” “Don't mention it.”
² This is an old stock phrase I encountered in Даль. People used it even though there were fewer than 1,600 churches in Moscow, so in effect it really means “There are a great many churches in Moscow.” Human languages often use large numbers to mean a non-specific “great many.” It is a common literary trope which we call “numerical hyperbole.” This use of language seems quite unnatural to those of us who were taught arithmetic from an early age and who were penalized if a number was off by even one. We tend to think “A number is precisely what a number says, nothing more and nothing less.” Alas, that is a common error in thought produced by otherwise good education.
³ Ah, it looks like my original guess that the soft forms are dominating is correct. See the discussion in the comment section. Thanks to the readers who gave such great feedback!
|The word for jaw in Russian is челюсть, which is a feminine noun. Not too surprisingly, the movie “Jaws” was translated into Russian as «Челюсти».|
Doubtless the most famous historical incident involving a jaw is Samson's slaying of the Philistines:
|Нашёл он свежую ослиную челюсть и, протянув руку свою, взял её, и убил ею тысячу человек.||He found the fresh jaw of an ass and, having stretched forth his hand, he took it and killed a thousand people with it.|
|Книга Судей израилевых 15:15||Judges 15:15|
Sometimes your neck and head can hold a lot of tension, in which case you should take the following advice:
|Зевните один раз как можно шире, потом пошевелите челюсть чуточку налево и направо, и потом спокойно закройте рот.||Yawn once as wide as you can, then move your jaw a little left and a little right, and then calmly close your mouth.|
When you combine челюсть with the adjective вставная “insertable” or съёмная “removable,” it means denture:
|У Жанны Фриске вставная челюсть||Zhana Friske has dentures|
|В своём блоге Александр доложил о том, что в бизнес-классе одного из рейсов, который перевозил целую плеяду отечественных звёзд, через приоткрытую дверь туалета он стал очевидцем следующей картины: Жанна Фриске стоит у раковины, а в руках съёмная челюсть (!) и зубная щётка… Это шокирующее открытие имело подтверждение на днях. (source)||In his blog Alexander reported that in the business class section of a flight that carried the entire Pleiades of Russian stars, through a slightly open restroom door he became witness to the following picture: Zhanna Friske stood at the sink, and in her hands was a set of dentures (!) and a toothbrush… This shocking discovery was confirmed a few days later.|
Oh, the horror! Oh, the humanity! Actually, when I read things like this in Russian, I'm encouraged: it proves that not it's not just we Americans who can be shallow beyond words.
The Russian word for Christmas is Рождество, which comes from the verb родить “to give birth.” Here we have the text of the angels' announcement of Christ's birth to the shepherds. The text on the left is in pre-revolutionary spelling which is still used by the Russian Orthodox Church.
|Въ той странѣ были на полѣ пастухи, которые содержали ночную стражу у стада своего. Вдругъ предсталъ имъ Ангелъ Господень, и слава Господня осіяла ихъ; и убоялись страхомъ великимъ. И сказалъ имъ Ангелъ: не бойтесь; я возвѣщаю вамъ великую радость, которая будетъ всѣмъ людямъ: ибо нынѣ родился вамъ въ городѣ Давидовомъ Спаситель, который есть Христосъ Господь. И вотъ, вамъ знакъ: вы найдете младенца въ пеленахъ, лежащаго въ ялсяхъ. И внезапно явилось съ Ангеломъ многочисленное воинство небесное, славящее Бога и взывающее: Слава въ вышнихъ Богу, и на замлѣ миръ, въ человѣках благоволеніе.||And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.|
|Лука 2:8-14||Luke 2:8-14|
С Рождеством Христовым!
The Russian word пророчество means prophecy. Below you will find one of the most famous prophecies from the Old Testament. The text on the left is from a Russian Bible written in pre-revolutionary orthography.
|А ты, Виѳлеемъ Ефраѳовъ, мало тебѣ быть наряду съ воеводствами Іудиными: изъ тебя произойдетъ Мнѣ Тотъ, Который долженъ бытъ Владыкою во Израилѣ, и Котораго происхожденіе изъ начала, отъ дней вѣчныхъ.||But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.|
|Михей 5:1||Micah 5:2|
You'll notice the verse numbers in this particular Russian translation and the English King James version don't match. That's no error. Verse numbers were not part of the ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible. They are a reference convenience added years later, and from edition to edition they don't always match perfectly.