by Don  

The Russian word for city is город. It has one of the many nominative plurals that end in a stressed -а, which means all the rest of the plural forms will also be end-stressed:


The writer Толстой had an axe to grind against cities. I believe he thought that when people lived in cities, relationships decayed and moral issues became compromised. When they lived outside of the city, relationships had the potential to be healthy. Let's continue that thought with our example sentences:

Когда я жила в Москве, я слишком много пила. Когда я жила в деревне, я не пила вообще. When I lived in Moscow, I drank too much. When I lived in the village, I didn't drink at all.
Когда мы жили в Питере, мой муж постоянно загуливал. Теперь мы живём в сплошной глуши, и он стал очень внимательным. When we lived in St. Petersburg, my husband constantly fooled around. Nowadays we live in the sticks, and he has become very attentive.
Во Владивостоке у меня каждый день была астма. Теперь я живу в Хельсинки и мне легко дышится. In Vladivostok I had asthma every day. Now I live in Helsinki, and I can breathe freely.
Когда мы жили в Финиксе, мы ели отвратительно жирную еду. Теперь мы живём в городе Строберри и едим только овощи из своего огорода. When we lived in Phoenix, we ate disgustingly fatty food. Now we live in Strawberry, and we only eat vegetables from our own garden.


Comment from: Yegor [Visitor]

“Городок” for “town” is _almost_ ok. It’s a perfect translation for spoken language, publicistics, fiction and alike. The problem is that this word sounds diminutive in Russian, while “town” does not, does it? And this prevents it from being used in some fields. For example, you can’t describe a town as “городок” in an encyclopedic text.

Don responds: Good point. Agreed.

09/16/10 @ 08:22
Comment from: Yegor [Visitor]

The no-drink-in-the-village example can’t be true It’s usually vice versa.

By the way, town is “город” too, isn’t it?

Don responds: What an interesting question. In my dialect of English a town is smaller than a city, so I would never call New York City or Los Angeles a town; to me ‘town’ is like городок. Then there are standard adverbial phrases like “in town” or “to town” or “out of town” which can be used in my dialect irrespective of the size of the city.

I have the feeling other English speakers might use ‘town’ differently. If any other readers would like to put in their two cents, that would be wonderful.

09/15/10 @ 10:15

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