by Don  

One of the most beautiful words in the Russian language is ненаглядный. If you look it up in the dictionary, you'll probably find something like dear or beloved. That's probably adequate for a fast and dirty written translation, but it entirely misses the image of the word. Let's break it down by first considering how the verb it comes from is made up.

When you add the prefix на- to a verb and also make it reflexive, then it adds the idea of "to do to the point of satiation." Thus начитаться means “to read until you can't read any more,” and наесться means “to eat until you can't eat any more.” Very often these verbs are used in sentences with the negative particle не to catch the idea of “I couldn't get enough of” something. Examples:

Ты правильно посоветовала мне читать эту книгу. Я читал всю ночь и не мог начитаться. You were right to recommend that book to me. I read all night long and couldn't get enough of it.
Я так увлёкся новым диском, что не мог наслушаться. I enjoyed the new CD so much that I couldn't stop listening to it.
— Ещё мяса положить?
— Нет, уже наелась.
“Should I put more meat on your plate?”
“No, I can't eat anymore.”
— Ещё лимонада не хочешь?
— Нет, я уже напился.
“Do you want some more soda?”
“No, I've already had enough to drink.”

The verb глядеть means “to look at,” so наглядеться means “to look at someone to the point of satiation.” It's mostly used with the negative particle не:

Не могу наглядеться на ваших собачек! Такие они все хорошенькие! I can't stop looking at your doggies! They are all so cute!
Старик был безмерно счастлив и не мог наглядеться на Лорка и его жену. The old man was immeasurably happy and couldn't stop looking at Lork and his wife. (source)

Thus the adjective ненаглядный comes from the verb phrase «не наглядеться», i.e. it means “the one you can't stop looking at.” In translation, we have to find some other English phrase that captures the emotion of the comment to really get it right:

— Ты меня не любишь?
— Да что ты! Ты моя ненаглядная!
“Do you love me?”
“How can you ask! I adore you!”
Ненаглядный ты мой! Как я могла бы жить без тебя? Oh, my darling! How could I live without you?

Can you picture it? To be so wrapped up in one person, to have that beloved face constantly before you when you wake and sleep... ’tis a madness devoutly to be wished.


Comment from: Dan [Visitor]

Thank you for the detailed info!
I really enjoyed reading.
Listen to this song. If you understand the words, you will understand the word too :)


09/28/10 @ 04:15
Comment from: Hanna [Visitor]

Thanks for a very good and informative blog! I’ve learnt a lot from it.

04/04/09 @ 09:28

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