by Don  

Since I'll be spending the summer in Tatarstan, it seems sensible to blog about the Tatars. They are a Turkic people who speak a Turkic language. A Tatar woman is called a татарка in Russian (gen. pl. татарок). A Tatar man is a татарин. In Russian there are quite a few words for ethnic groups that end in the suffix -ин. Those words have a grammatical peculiarity. The -ин suffix occurs only in the singular forms. The genitive plural has a zero ending:


Some sample sentences:

— Где живут татары?
— Ты серьёзно? Они живут в Татарстане.
“Where do the Tatars live?”
“Are you serious? They live in Tatarstan.”
— Сколько татар живёт в Казани?
— Ну, скажем, семьсот тысяч.
“How many Tatars live in Kazan?”
“Well, let's say seven hundred thousand.”
— Твоя девушка испанка?
— Нет, она татарка.
— Но ведь я слышал, как она говорит по-испански!
— Ну, и что? Разве татарам нельзя говорить по-испански?
“Is your girlfriend a Spaniard?”
“No, she is a Tatar.”
“But I heard her speaking Spanish!”
“Well, so what? Aren't Tatars allowed to speak Spanish?”
— Нам нужен двуязычный служащий в Казани.
— Значит, нам нужен татарин.
— Гениально.
“We need a bilingual employee in Kazan.”
“So, we need a Tatar.”
“You are a regular genius.”

If you speak Tatar, the Russian word to describe that is по-татарски:

— Почему вы хотите говорить по-татарски?
— Я занимаюсь промышленным шпионажем, и наша фирма хочет приобрести секрет приготовления кумыса. А кто лучше всех готовит кумыс? Это конечно татары. Поэтому я занимаюсь татарским.
“Why do you want to speak Tatar?”
“I do industrial espionage, and our company wants to obtain the secret of making kumis. And who makes the best kumis? The Tatars, of course. That's why I'm studying Tatar.”

1 comment

Comment from: Yegorka [Visitor]

There is also figurative meaning of “делать по-татарски” in some contexts: to botch. And the same case with “по-китайски”.

06/04/10 @ 10:54

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