Рука, часть первая

by Don  

Why does it seem like all the simplest Russian words are complicated? The Russian word рука is usually used in the contexts when English speakers would use the word hand, but it doesn't really mean hand. It means both the hand and the lower and the upper arm. Some other languages do that as well, Ancient Greek, for instance. When Doubting Thomas said

Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

he used the word χείρ for hand which also means both hand and lower arm. Christ's nail wounds might well have been in the forearms or wrists, not the hands.

The stress shifts quite a bit in the forms of this word, depending on case:


Very often when рука combines with a short preposition, the stress shifts to the preposition itself: за руку , на руку, рука об руку, под руку.

Since the word means more than "hand," English equivalents of Russian sentences may have either "hand" or "arm" in their translations. Join me again over the next few days for more detail about рука in phrases.

Other entries about the word рука will be forthcoming. Click on the 'ruka' category to find them as they appear.

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