Лист (часть вторая)

by Tatiana  

One of the greatest Russian writers, Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, once said that Russian language is «великий и могучий», “great and mighty”. I believe that one of the reasons it is true is that some words in Russian encompass a few completely different meanings.

Previously I talked about the word «лист», meaning “leaf”, but «лист» can also mean a piece of paper or two pages in a book.

Запишите всю нужную информацию на листе бумаги. "Write down all the necessary information on a piece of paper."
— Ты уже прочёл Преступление и наказание?
— Нет, мне ещё двадцать листов осталось.
“Did you read Crime and Punishment yet?”
“No, I still have forty pages left.”
У тебя нет листа бумаги? Я забыла свою тетрадь. Do you have a piece of paper? I forgot my notebook.
— Что ты сделала с тем листом бумаги, который я тебе дал минуту назад?
— Я сделала самолётик и пустила его в Сашу.
“What did you do to that piece of paper I gave you a minute ago?”
“I made a paper airplane and threw it at Sasha.”

The diminutive for лист is «листик» or «листок». Both of them can be used interchangeably.

Дай мне, пожалуйста, этот листок бумаги, я перепишу как туда добраться. "Give me, please, that little piece of paper; I will copy the directions how to get there."
— Ты не видел здесь листик сиреневый был? У меня на нём расписание записано было.
— Вон он, там, на столе.
“Did you see a little purple piece of paper here? I had my class schedule written on it.”
“There it is, on the table.”

The plural form of the word «лист» in its current meaning is «листы».


The verb «листать», "to turn" or to "flip through" pages is also formed from the root «лист» as well as the word «листовка», which means “flyer”.

Я быстро пролистала эту книгу и она показалась мне давольно интересной. "I quickly flipped though the pages of this book and it seemed rather interesting."
На улице активисты борьбы за права человека раздавали листовки. “Human rights activists were giving out flyers in the street.”

In English the word list sounds like «лист» but means «список», in Russian. Having lived in the United States for a few years now I sometimes add some altered English words to my Russian speech without even noticing. For example, I caught myself a few times using «лист» when I mean to say «список» partially because the pronunciation is so similar. While I work on improving my English, I also try to avoid little mistakes like that; thus, maintaining a very good level of Russian.


Comment from: Mark Sowul [Visitor]

Neat; there are parallels in English: cf. looseleaf, leaflet, to leaf through…

03/30/10 @ 18:11
Comment from: carlton [Visitor]

In French they also have leaf (une feuille) and leaf of paper (une feuille de papier). The etymology for all of these must be the same, right?

Don responds: I suspect all these uses either descended from, or are modelled on, the Latin phrase in folio meaning “in a leaf, in a sheet” (folium = a leaf.

03/17/10 @ 17:04
Comment from: Tatiana [Member]

Thank you, Carlson, it really is interesting how this works in different languages!

03/15/10 @ 09:14
Comment from: carlson [Visitor]

Not so related to the topic but it’s interesting that in Portuguese we have the same thing with the word for leaf… the word “folha” means both leaf and a set of 2 pages in a book and a piece of paper. Coincidence? Well, I just found this interesting .. By the way, I loved your blog, will subscribe to your feed

03/15/10 @ 07:57

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