by Janell  

Душа is the Russian word for soul. This is how it declines:


У меня есть душа. I have a soul.

Very often Russians will use the word душа where Americans would use the word ‘heart.’

Он красил с душой. He painted with heart.
Я благодарю вас от всей души. I thank you with all my heart.

The phrase «по душе» means ‘pleasant’ or ‘pleasing.’

Эта книга была мне не по душе. I didn't care for the book.

What is a soul exactly? A soul is the non-physical essence of a person. Across the globe the meaning and existence of the soul varies. For the Christians the soul is the spiritual side of a person that must be saved by Christ in order to go to heaven. The Egyptians believed that a person had three souls, each of which went separate ways after the person died. Many believe that the soul can be contacted through the help of mediums or other spiritual forms of contact. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusalka and the book Russian Folk Belief By Linda J. Ivanits there is a creature called the Rusalka it is the Russian version of a mermaid. It is believed that when a young woman dies of violent circumstances or commits suicide their soul turns into one of these creatures. Around the soul are terms and phrases: soul mate, window to the soul, lover of the soul, soul music, to sell one’s soul to the devil, etc., that show the soul affects many aspects of life even if the major folklore around the soul has become irrelevant. One must be careful that they do not confuse the word душа the word for soul with the word душ the word for shower!


Comment from: MMM [Visitor]  

In English we say “a cat has nine lives". Would the Russians say “у котá есть дéвять душ?
No, cats have nine lives in Russian too. “У кошек девять жизней".

02/06/14 @ 10:16
Comment from: Brittany [Visitor]

Thank you so much for these posts! These posts are extremely helpful and I love the multiple examples to show how the word can be used in a variety of different ways. I do have a quick question, in the last example (эта книга была мне не по душе) why is по used? Thanks!

Don responds: «По» has a thousand uses, and one of them is a kind of measuring meaning. Thus «Машина мне не по карману» means “The car is too expensive for me” (~The car is not according to my pocket) or «Сухое вино мне не по вкусу» mean “I don’t care for dry wine” (~White wine is not according to my taste). If you want a bit of amusement, look up the phrase «не по зубам».

09/21/13 @ 14:57
Comment from: Richard [Visitor]

Another very interesting post. Thanks!

In English we say “a cat has nine lives". Would the Russians say “у котá есть дéвять душ?

Don responds: Richard, alas, no, not as far as I know. I’ve been told that «живуч как кошка» is a near equivalent, but so far I don’t think I believe it.

09/19/13 @ 12:55
Comment from: Roberta [Visitor]  

Surely “душа” in Russian has much more resonance culturally than “soul” does in English. I want a dissertation on “the Russian душа", please.

Don responds: Alas, time does not permit me to write a dissertation on душа this semester… nor probably next. However I welcome guest writers on occasion, so if anyone would like to do a little writing…

09/18/13 @ 17:41
Comment from: olimo [Visitor]

There is a curious thing. One of the ways to say, for example, “There is nobody in the room” in Russian is “В комнате ни души". “No soul” instead of “no body” :-)

Don responds: Indeed. In these contexts душа merely means ‘person.’

09/18/13 @ 17:05

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