Categories: "Conjunctions"

Что (часть вторая)

by Don  

The second meaning of что is “that” in the sense of “Mama said that she's going to whup your ass.” In other words, it is a conjunction that joins an introductory sentence to a bit of indirect speech:

Мой брат сказал, что дважды два — четыре, но он так часто врёт, что я даже в этом сомневаюсь. My brother said that two times two is four, but he lies so often that I even doubt that [simple fact].
Мама сказала, что ужин на плите. Mom said that dinner is on the stove.
Кто тебе сказал, что билеты на Леди Гагу уже распроданы? Who told you that tickets to Lady Gaga are already sold out?
Раш Лимбо заявил, что жертвовать на помощь Гаити не надо, потому что тем самым благотворитель будет участвовать в политических спекуляциях Барака Обамы. (source) Rush Limbaugh opined that we shouldn't offer [financial] assistance to Haiti because by doing so a philanthropist will be participating in Barak Obama's political risk-taking.

И (часть вторая)

by Don  

As students advance in their study of Russian, they eventually encounter the words тоже and также, both of which can be translated as “also.” The difference between the two is complex.¹ But if you are a really sneaky Russian student, then you can sometimes avoid both words by using и. For instance:

Мама любит говорить по-русски. И папа любит говорить по-русски. Mom loves to speak Russian. Papa also loves to speak Russian.
Мама ест рыбу. Она ест и курицу. Mom eats fish. She also eats chicken.

¹ The best description of the difference between the two words I've seen for beginners is in Richard Robins's first-year textbook Голоса, pp. 123-124. For a more complete description look at Nakhimovsky and Leed's “Advanced Russian,” which gets to the essence of the topic in terms of theme-rheme.

И (часть первая)

by Don  

After their first week of class all Russian students know that и means “and”:

Мама и папа собирали картошку в колхозе. Mom and Dad harvested potatoes at the collective farm.
Ксюша создала веб-сайт для русских невест и американских женихов. Kseniya created a web-site for Russian brides and American grooms.

It's so simple, why the heck would anyone bother to blog about it? Listen carefully, my children: the word и will save you grief in learning Russian. For instance, once you have learned the word и, you never have to learn a separate word for both! For instance…

И мама, и папа говорят по-русски. Both Mom and Dad speak Russian.

See how easy that is! And what's wonderful is that it's not only nouns that can be coordinated that way, but also verbs, adverbs, and prepositional phrases:

Папа и говорит, и пишет по-русски. Dad both speaks and writes Russian.
Я говорю и по-русски, и по-испански. I speak both Russian and Spanish.
Мой брат был и в Египте, и на Аляске. My brother has been in both Egypt and Alaska.

Actually the и can connect more than two words. In English, theoretically, we should only use “both” when coordinating two items, but sometimes when we are not thinking too carefully about what we are saying, we use it in constructions where more than two items are coordinated:

Я говорю и по-русски, и по-испански, и по-английски. I speak both Russian and Spanish and English.

In Russian it's perfectly fine to coordinate more than two items with и, whereas in English if you use “both” in the context, rude pedants will correct you. I say “rude” because Mama taught us that we shouldn't correct the speech of other people unless they specifically ask us to.

Пока (наречие)

by Don  

The word пока can also be used as an adverb that means “in the meantime, for the moment, for now.”

— Значит, ты вёл себя совсем по-идиотски, правда?
— Пока не буду говорить об этом, ладно?
“So, you acted like a complete idiot, right?”
“I'm not going to talk about that for now, okay?”
Превью музыки на майспейсе впечатлило, но скачивать пока не буду, лучше закажу диск и подожду дней эдак 10!!!! The preview of the music on My Space made an impression, but in the meantime I'm not going to download it. I'd rather order the disk and wait the roughly ten days!!!!
Дима Билан сказал: «Ребёнка хочу, а жениться пока не буду.» (source | mirror) Dima Bilan said, “I want a child, but I'm not going to get married for the moment.”

Пока (прощание)

by Don  

Another meaning of пока is "see you later":

Ой, уже поздно. Я пойду. Пока! Oh, no, it's getting late. I'm out of here. See you later!

If you count the syllables of that dialog, you see that Russian only takes 10 syllables to say what English says in 15 syllables. See how much more efficient Russian is than the decaying languages of the West? Aren't you glad you are studying Russian? Other examples:

Спасибо за бабки, братан! Я сейчас пойду в казино. Пока!¹ Тhanks for the dough, dude! I'm heading to the casino. See you later!
Господи, больше спиртного не могу пить. Я поеду к Пете. У него всегда есть пиво. Пока! Lord, I can't drink any more hard liquor. I'll head to Pete's place. He's always got beer. Later!

¹ Бабки and братан are slang. Don't use them in front of your Russian teachers unless you want them to think you are a complete hoodlum.

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