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 Message 497 of 541
21 February 2015 at 9:03pm | IP Logged 
a) From "Oxford Take Off in Russian" (numbers refer to book's chapters)

“family doctor, physician” (1)
BCMS/SC: ljekar / liječnik
Cz: lékař
Pl: lekarz
Sk: lékar
Sl: zdravnik
Uk: лікар

Ru: врач

For all of the other Slavonic languages that I'm familiar with, the term for "physician" is related to the Proto-Slavonic *lěkъ “medicine” or *sъdorvъ “healthy”. The Russian term is related to врать “to lie; make a mistake; tell stories” and I can see a semantic clue in the BCMS/SC vrač which is an obsolete term for a doctor and now refers to a witch-doctor (i.e. someone who chanted and/or invoked magic words as part of his rituals)

“to wait” (2)
BCMS/SC: čekati
Cz: čekat
Pl: czekać
Sk: čakať
Sl: čakati
Uk: чекати / ждати

Ru: ждать

Russian really stands out for me here since it no longer uses anything that resembles what's in the other Slavonic languages which use the root čak-/ček-. I'm left to guess that чекать “to wait” is obsolete since I can find it only in an etymological dictionary.

“red” (2)
BCMS/SC: crven
Cz: červený
Pl: czerwony
Sk: červený
Sl: rdeč
Uk: червоний

Ru: красный

In the other Slavonic languages, the term is related to Proto-Slavonic *čьrviti “to dye red” or *ruda “(reddish) ore”. The Russian adjective's strangeness for me is reinforced by nowadays meaning “red” only since the more recognizable (for me) червоный is an old-fashioned alternative to красный and instead often refers nowadays to “hearts” in card games (e.g. Червоный король “red king” i.e. “king of hearts”). If anything, красный could have confused me a lot if I had guessed its meaning by extrapolating from the following cognates.

BCMS/SC: krasan “beautiful; excellent, wonderful”
Cz: krásný “beautiful”
Pl: krasny “beautiful, lovely; bright red” (poetic)
Sk: krásny “beautiful”
Sl: krasan / krasen “magnificent”
Uk: красний “beautiful; fine, handsome, lovely”

Ru: красивый (!) “beautiful; handsome” (NOT красный)

“good” (3)
BCMS/SC: dobar
Cz: dobrý
Pl: dobry
Sk: dobrý
Sl: dober
Uk: добрий

Ru: хороший

It took me a little bit of time to get used to how Russians do not typically use добрый as frequently as other Slavs. Moreover, there seems to be shall I say an “Eastern Slavonic” quirk with Ukrainian добрий and especially Russian добрый tending to mean “good-natured”, “kind” or “pleasant” rather than “good” in a general sense. On a related note, I’ve got used to saying dobra, dobre, dobře, dobro, dobrze or добре (depending on the language) whenever I need to say “OK” in a Slavonic language. Seeing хорошо instead registers as weird for me.

“hotel” (3)
BCMS/SC: hotel
Cz: hotel
Pl: hotel
Sk: hotel
Sl: hotel
Uk: готел

Ru: гостиница

On one hand, the Russian term isn’t that outlandish to me since I can already see that it's a derivative of гость “guest” which in turn I can easily retain because of the cognates that I know (e.g. BCMS/SC, Sl: gost, Uk: гість). On the other hand, гостиница is the only term that I’ve seen so far in my textbooks leaving me to conclude that the internationalism отель is an uncommon synonym.

“second” (4)
BCMS/SC: drugi
Cz: druhý
Pl: drugi
Sk: druhý
Sl: drugi
Uk: другий

Ru: второй

Like the words for “hotel”, the Russian term isn’t that outlandish to me because of my background. Here it reminds me of the Slavonic words for “Tuesday” (i.e. the second day of the week - cf. Cz: úterý, Sl: torek) and the Polish verb powtarz “to repeat”. On the other hand, другой which is the Russian cognate of drugi etc. usually means “another, different” rather than “second, the second one”.

“to buy” (8)

BCMS/SC: kupovati > kupiti
Cz: kupovat > koupit
Pl: kupować > kupić
Sk: kupovať > kúpiť
Sl: kupovati > kupiti
Uk: купувати > купити

Ru: покупать > купить

Even though all of the preceding terms are recognizable to me, Russian stands out by not using an imperfective form ending in -ovati etc. as in the other Slavonic languages that I'm familiar with.

“to come back, return” (8)

BCMS/SC: vraćati se > vratiti se
Cz: vracet se > vrátit se
Pl: wracać > wrócić
Sk: vracať sa > vrátiť sa
Sl: vračati se > vrniti se
Uk: повертатися > повернутися

Ru: возвращаться > вернуться

In a similar way to the reflexes of “to buy”, all of the preceding terms are recognizable to me (in this case they're all derivations or reflexes of a Proto-Indo-European *wert- “to rotate, turn”). However Russian stands out for me (again) by having a divergent pair of verbs compared to those used by the other Slavonic languages that I’m familiar with. The prefix in the Russian imperfective form adds to the weirdness for me.

After some digging, I found out that the close Russian cognate of the terms in the Western and Southern Slavonic languages is воротиться. However it doesn't seem to be used often in modern Russian.

“to understand” (8)

BCMS/SC: razum(j)eti
Cz: rozumět > porozumět
Pl: rozumieć > zrozumieć
Sk: rozumieť
Sl: razumeti (also: doumevati > doumeti)
Uk: розуміти

Ru: понимать > понять

Here's another example of Russian weirdness. For whatever reason, the pair of разуметь > уразуметь has been replaced by понимать > понять with the former pair now viewed as poetic or dated. However the inner language geek in me can see the semantic link of the modern Russian terms since they’re related to Proto-Slavonic *ęti which is familiar to me in a few derived terms in Western Slavonic languages (e.g. Czech: pojímat > pojmout “to grip, seize; include; conceive mentally, conceptualize”; Polish: zajmować > zająć “to occupy; seize, take”; Slovak: prijímať > prijať “to accept, receive”).

“horse” (11)

BCMS/SC: konj
Cz: kůň
Pl: koń
Sk: kôň
Sl: konj
Uk: кінь

Ru: конь / лошадь

So far in my studies, лошадь is the only word for “horse” that I’ve encountered. Even the article on Russian Wikipedia for horses uses mainly лошадь. It was only in Wiktionary that I saw that конь is a valid synonym although it also seems to have other meanings that лошадь doesn’t. I get the impression in Russian that лошадь is the usual term for “horse” while конь acts as an uncommon synonym or is used more often to translate “steed”, “knight” (in chess) or “(gymnastics) horse”.

“eye” (14)

BCMS/SC: oko
Cz: oko
Pl: oko
Sk: oko
Sl: oko
Uk: око

Ru: глаз

For whatever reason, око has been practically squeezed out of use by гллаз. The former lives on as a relic in poetry, proverbs and song (e.g. Очи черные - “Dark Eyes”).
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 Message 498 of 541
21 February 2015 at 9:06pm | IP Logged 
b) From "New Penguin Russian Course" (sorted alphabetically)

1) бумага “paper”

BCMS/SC: papir (Serbian also hartija) | Cz: papír | Pl: papier | Ru: бумага | Sk: papier | Sl: papir | Uk: папір

2) ветшина “ham”

BCMS/SC: šunka | Cz: šunka | Pl: szynka | Ru: ветшина | Sk: šunka | Sl: šunka | Uk: шинка

A source of amusement is that Russian ветшина sounds similar to Czech většina and Slovak väčšina both of which mean “majority”.

3) варенье “jam, preserves”

BCMS/SC: varenje “digestion; welding” | Cz: vaření “cooking” | Pl: warzenie “brewing” | Ru: варенье “jam, preserves” | Sk: varenie “cooking” | Sl: varjenje “brewing; welding” | Uk: варення “cooking, food” / варення “jam, preserves”

These are all derived from Proto-Indo-European *wer “to burn” (cf. BCMS/SC: variti “to brew; cook; digest; weld”, Polish warzyć “to brew”, Russian варить “to boil, cook; weld”)

4) возможность “possibility”

BCMS/SC: mogućnost | Cz: možnost | Pl: możliwość | Ru: возможность | Sk: možnosť | Sl: možnost | Uk: можливість

The strange thing for me is that the Russian cognate has a couple of prefixes (i.e. в(o) + з) whereas the others don’t.

5) вместе “together” etc.

BCMS/SC: v m(j)estu “in the place/space/settlement” | Cz: v městu “in the city” | Pl: w mieście “in the city”; w miejscu “in the place” | Ru: вместе “together”; вместo “instead of”; в месте “in the place; in the luggage/suitcase” | Sk: v meste “in the city”| Sl: v mestu “in the city” | Uk: в місті / в місту “in the city”; в місці “in the place”

The meaning of “together” seems odd to me in comparison to the similar sounding phrases of the other languages

6) воскресенье “Sunday”

BCMS/SC: ned(j)elja | Cz: neděle | Pl: niedziela | Ru: воскресенье | Sk: nedeľa | Sl: nedelja | Uk: неділя

For whatever reason, воскресенье (cf. воскресение “resurrection”) supplanted неделя when referring to “Sunday”. Nowadays, неделя is an archaic way to translate “Sunday” but the standard word for “week”

7) вредно “(it’s) harmful”

BCMS/SC: vr(ij)edno “diligent; precious; worthy” (neuter singular - adjective) | Ru: вредно “(it’s) harmful”

Ekavian Cyrillic (basically Serbian Cyrillic) вредно would be visually identical to the Russian adverb despite the difference in pronunciation in addition to the difference in meaning.

8) дворец “palace”

Pl: dworzec “station” (e.g. dworzec autobusowy “bus station/terminal”) | Ru: дворец “palace”

There might be some inadvertent humour here given how spartan if not run-down some train and bus stations are in villages and smaller towns in Poland taking those of Linkowo and Kościan as examples.



9) должен etc. “must, [it is] necessary”

Ru: должен etc. “must, [it is> necessary” | Sl: dolžen “obligated”

(cf. BCMS/SC: dužan “indebted” | Cz: dlužen etc. “indebted” | Pl: dłużny “indebted; morally obligated” | Sk: dlžen etc. “indebted; morally obligated” | Uk: довжний “indebted, owing”)

10a) жаловать “to bestow, confer, grant; favour, like”

BCMS/SC: žalovati “to mourn” | Cz: žalovat “to sue; tell on somebody; complain (rare)” | Pl: żałować “to regret; pity; begrudge” | Ru: жаловать “to bestow, confer, grant; favour, like” | Sk: žalovať “to sue; tell on somebody” | Sl: žalovati “to grieve, mourn” | Uk: жал(к)увати “to feel sorry, pity, regret”

10b) жаловаться “to complain”

Cz: žalovat se “to litigate, plead” | Ru: жаловаться “to complain” | Sk: žalovať sa “to complain” | Uk: жал(к)уватися “to complain”

11) заказ “order (for goods or services)”

Cz: zákaz “prohibition” | Pl: zakaz “ban, prohibition” | Ru: заказ “order (for goods or services)” | Sk: zákaz “prohibition” | Uk: заказ “command; forbidding, prohibition”

(cf. BCMS/SC: zakazivati > zakazati “to arrange, schedule; fail; malfunction”)

12) заниматься “to study”

Cz: zajímat se “to be interested (in sg)” | Pl: zająć się “to occupy oneself; take care of sb/sg” etc. | Ru: заниматься “to study” | Sk: zaujímať sa “to be interested (in sg)” | Uk: займатися / заніматися “to occupy oneself; be employed”

13) заход “recess, setting, sundown; stopping; attempt, trial”

BCMS/SC: zahod “sunset; toilet”* | Cz: záchod “toilet” | Pl: zachód “setting (of a celestial body); west” | Ru: заход “recess, setting, sundown; stopping; attempt, trial” | Sk: záchod “toilet” | Sl: zahod “sunset; west”

(Cf. Uk: заходи “bustle, preparations”)

* The difference here lies in vowel length. The -a- of the first syllable of zahod “sunset” is short with a rising tone while that of the first syllable of zahod “toilet” is long with a rising tone.

In BCMS/SC Cyrillic, заход would be visually identical to the Russian word despite the slight difference in pronunciation in addition to the difference in meaning.

14) здание “building”

Pl: zdanie “opinion; proposition; sentence” | Ru: здание “building” | Uk: здання “judgment, mind, opinion”

15) мешать “to hinder”

BCMS/SC: m(ij)ešati “to blend, mix” | Pl: mieszać “to blend, mix” | Ru: мешать “to hinder” | | Sk: miešať “to mix; confuse; shuffle (cards)” | Sl: mešati “to mix” | Uk: мішати “to blend, mix, stir; shuffle (cards)”

(Cf. Cz: míchat “to mix” | Ru: смешивать “to mix”)

16) наказать “to punish”

Cz: nakazát “to enjoin; prescribe (e.g. a diet, an exercise regimen)” | Pl: nakazać “to order, recommend, prescribe (e.g. a diet, an exercise regimen)” | Ru: наказать “to punish” | | Sk: nakázať “to instruct, order” | Sl: nakazati “to indicate, signal; transfer funds” | Uk: наказати “to bid, command, order; exhort”

17) негде “(there is) nowhere” etc.

BCMS/SC: negd(j)e “somewhere” | Cz: někde “somewhere” | Ru: негде “(there is) nowhere” etc. | Sk: niekde “somewhere” | Sl: nekje “somewhere”

Ekavian Cyrillic негде would be visually identical to Russian негде although it would differ in pronunciation in addition to meaning.

18) некогда etc. “(there is) no time; once, in the old days”

BCMS/SC: nekad “once; sometimes” | Cz: někdy “sometimes” | Ru: некогда etc. “(there is) no time; once, in the old days” | Pl: niekiedy “sometimes” | Sk: niekedy “sometimes”

19) некого etc. “(there is) nobody” etc.

nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative, instrumental

- BCMS/SC: ne(t)ko, nekog(a), nekog(a), nekom(e/u), nekom(e/u), nekim “somebody”
- Cz: někdo, někoho, někoho, někomu, někom, někým “somebody”
- Ru: N/A, некого, некого, некому, не с кем (*некем), некем “there is nobody” (N.B. некто is a rarely-used variant in nominative of кто-то “somebody”)
- Sk: niekto, niekoho, niekoho, niekomu, niekom, niekým “somebody”
- Sl: nekdo, nekoga, nekoga, nekomu, nekom, nekom “somebody” (masculine, feminine)

20) некyда “(there is) nowhere (to go)”

BCMS/SC: nekuda “(to) somewhere” | Ru: некyда “(there is) nowhere (to go)”

(Cf. Cz: někudy “(in) some direction, some way”) | Sk: niekade “(in) some direction, some way”)

Ekavian Cyrillic некуда would be visually identical to Russian некуда although it would differ in pronunciation in addition to meaning.

21) нечего etc. “(there is) nothing” etc.

nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative, instrumental

- BCMS/SC: nešto, nešto, nečeg(a), nečem(u), nečem(u), nečim “something”
- Cz: něco, něco, něčeho, něčemu, něčem, něčím “something”
- Ru: N/A, нечто, нечего, нечему, не o чем (*нечем), нечем “there is nothing” (N.B. нечто “something” exists only in nominative and accusative and is usually replaced by что-то or что-нибудь which are declinable in all cases.)
- Sk: niečo, niečo, niečoho, niečomu, niečom, niečím “something”
- Sl: nekaj, niekaj, nečesa, nečemu, nečem, nečim “something”

(Cf. Pl: nieco “somewhat”)

22) оказать “to provide, render; exert; offer, put up; show”

Pl: okazać “to show” (dated, literary, legalese) | Ru: оказать “to provide, render; exert; offer, put up; show” | Uk: оказати “to exhibit, manifest, show; pretend”

23) потребовать “to demand; call for” (perfective)

BCMS/SC: potrebovati “to need” (literary) | Cz: potřebovat “to need” | Pl: potrzebować “to need” | Ru: потребовать “to demand; call for” (perfective) | Sk: potrebovať “to need” | Sl: potrebovati “to need” | Uk: потребувати “to need, require”

(Cf. Ru: требоваться > потребоваться “to need; take (of time)”)

What stands out here for me is that all of the verbs except for the Russian one are imperfective and lack the insistence or emphasis inherent in “to demand”. It’s interesting to me that a closer semantic match for those non-Russian verbs is found in Russian as a reflexive verb.

24) походить “to walk about for a while” (perfective)

BCMS/SC: pohoditi “to visit” (biaspectual) | Cz: pochodit “to pass, walk towards swhere” (perfective) | Pl: pochodzić “to hail from; result from, stem from; walk frequently”* | Ru: походить “to walk about for a while” (perfective) | Sk: pochodiť “to hail from swhere; tour, travel; walk through sg; step on trample on; come off, fare”** | Sl: pohoditi “to step on, trample on” (perfective) | Uk: походити “to go for a walk, walk for a while; resemble; be derived from, orignate from”***

* When pochodzić means “to walk habitually / frequently”, it’s perfective and is the aspectual counterpart of imperfective chadzać. When pochodzić means “to hail from; result from, stem from” it’s imperfective and lacks a perfective counterpart,

** In the meaning “to hail from swhere”, pochodiť is an alternative to pochádzať and is imperfective. Otherwise, pochodiť is a perfective verb with the remaining meanings.

*** The difference is that походити with stress on the second syllable is an imperfective verb that is semantically closer to the other non-Russian cognates. When the stress is on the third syllable, походити is a perfective verb which is similar to the Russian verb by meaning “to go for a walk, walk for a while”.

25) пригласить “to invite”

Ru: пригласить “to invite” | Sk: prihlásiť “to register, sign up, subscribe” | Sl: priglasiti “to declare”

(Cf. Cz: přihlásit se “to log in, sign in” | Sk: prihlásiť sa “to log in, sign in”)

26) родина “homeland”

Cz: rodina “family” | Pl: rodzina “family” | Ru: родина “homeland” | Sk: rodina “family” | Uk: родина “(extended) family”

27) тушить “to stew”

Cz: tušít “to suspect” | Pl: tuszyć “to expect, hope” (archaic) | Ru: тушить “to stew” | Sk: tušíť “to suspect” | Uk: тушити “to blow out, extinguish”

28) ужин “supper”

BCMS/SC: večera | Cz: večeře | Pl: kolacja (wieczerza is archaic)| Ru: ужин | Sk: večera | Sl: večerja | Uk: вечеря

I have no idea how ужин came about. Polish looks a little less weird even though it still differs from what wieczerza, večera etc. since it reminds me of collation.

29) уставать > устать “to become tired”

BCMS/SC: ustajati > ustati “to rise, stand up; rebel, revolt”* | Pl: ustawać > ustać “to keep one’s balance; cease, stop” | Ru: уставать > устать “to become tired” | Sk: ustávať > ustáť “to stop; become tired” | Sl: ustavljati > ustaviti “to hold up, stop” | Uk: уставати > устати “to originate; rise, stand up; rebel, revolt; to become tired or weak; end, stop”*

(Cf. Cz: ustávat se > ustát se “to clarify, settle (of a liquid); become tired” | Pl: ustawać się > ustać się “to clarify, settle (of a liquid)”)

* I suspect that we're dealing with one root that is prefixed by u- and another by v-. In BCMS/SC, the preposition and prefix v- became u- (cf. BCMS/SC: u subotu versus Sk: v sobotu “on Saturday”). Hence what was once *vstaljati > *vstati is now ustajati > ustati. In Ukrainian, в- (v) can be expressed as y- (u) under certain conditions (e.g. У Києві є метро “There’s a subway in Kyiv” versus Я живу в Києві “I live in Kyiv”). As a result, вставати > встати can mean “to originate; rise, stand up; rebel, revolt” (i.e. the meanings that have nothing to do with stopping or becoming tired) because of the alternation of в (v-) and y (u-). Czech, Polish, Russian, Slovak and Slovene do not show this merger of u and v.
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 Message 499 of 541
21 February 2015 at 9:08pm | IP Logged 
c) Slavonic prefixed verbs related to PIE *méntis “thought”

i) BCMS/SC: napominjati > napomenuti “to mention, remark” | Cz: napomínat > napomenout “to rebuke, reprove” | Pl: napominać > napomnieć “to admonish, rebuke, reprove” | Ru: напоминать > напомнить “to call to mind” | Sk: napomínať > napomenúť “to chastise, scold; remind; urge” | Sl: napominjati > napomniti “to mention, remark” (dated) | Uk: напоминати > напімнути “to admonish, exhort; remind”

ii) Ru: опоминаться > опомниться “regain consciousness; calm down; come to one’s senses”

(Cf. BCMS/SC: opominjati > opomenuti “to remind, warn; reprimand” | Cz: opomíjet > opomenout / opominout “to forget, neglect, overlook; disregard” | Sk: opomínať > opomenúť “to forget, omit, overlook; commit negligence” | Sl: opominjati > opomniti “to remind”)

iii) BCMS/SC: pripominjati > pripomenuti “to mention, remark” | Cz: připomínat > připomenout “to remind; resemble” | Pl: przypominać > przypomnieć “to remind” | Ru: припоминать > припомнить “to recall; remember” | Sk: pripomínať > pripomenúť “to recollect, remember; remind” | Sl: pripominjati > pripomniti “to remark” | Uk: припоминати > припом’янути / припімнути “to remind”

iv) Cz: vzpomínat > vzpomenout “to reminisce” | Pl: wspominać > wspomnieć “to mention; recollect, remember” | Ru: взпоминать > взпомнить “to recall, recollect, remember”

v) Cz: upomínat > upomenout “to remind in writing of an outstanding debt” | Pl: upominać > upomnieć “to admonish, rebuke” | Ru: упоминать > упомянуть “to mention, refer to” | Sk: upomínať > upomenúť “to remind in writing of an outstanding debt” | Uk: упоминати > упімнути “to remind, warn; persuade”

(Cf. Pl: upominać się o > upomnieć się o “to claim sg; speak up for sb”)

vi) Cz: zapomínat > zapomenout “to forget” | Pl: zapominać > zapomnieć “to forget” | Ru: запоминать > запомнить “to remember; memorize” | Sk: zapomínať > zapomenúť / zapomnieť “to forget” (literary, dated) | Uk: запоминати > запомнити “to forget”

(Cf. Sl: zapomniti si [perfective] “to memorize; remember”)


This semantic field is always fun with false friends
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 Message 500 of 541
21 February 2015 at 9:11pm | IP Logged 
2) Grammatical weirdness (unit numbers refer to those in "New Penguin Russian Course")

1) Syntax with numerals (Unit 9)

“Two hours”

BCMS/SC: dva sata
Cz: dvě hodiny
Pl: dwie godziny
Sk: dve hodiny
Sl: dve uri
Uk: дві години

Ru: два часа

“Approximately two hours”

BCMS/SC: oko dva sata
Cz: okolo dvou hodin
Pl: około dwóch godzin
Sk: okolo dvoch hodín
Sl: približno dve uri
Uk: приблизно дві години

Ru: около двух часов / часа два

With my background, I’m accustomed to using a preposition or adverb in this type of phrase but Russian allows one to translate it by letting the numeral follow the adjective or noun.

2) Agreement of adjectives and numerals when modified by a numeral that is part of the subject (Unit 10)

“One old book.”

BCMS/SC: jedna stara knjiga (adjective and noun in nominative singular)
Cz: jedna stará kniha (adjective and noun in nominative singular)
Pl: jedna stara ksiązka (adjective and noun in nominative singular)
Sk: jedna stará kniha (adjective and noun in nominative singular)
Sl: ena stara knjiga (adjective and noun in nominative singular)
Uk: одна стара книжка (adjective and noun in nominative singular)

Ru: одна старая книга (adjective and noun in nominative singular)

“Two old books”

BCMS/SC: dv(ij)e stare knjige (adjective and noun in paucal / “counting form”)*
Cz: dvě staré knihy (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Pl: dwie stare ksiązki (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Sk: dve staré knihy (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Sl: dve stari knjigi (adjective and noun in nominative dual)
Uk: дві старі книжки (adjective and noun in nominative plural)

Ru: две старых книги (adjective in genitive plural, noun in genitive singular / две старые книги (adjective in nominative plural, noun in genitive singular)**

“Three old books”

BCMS/SC: tri stare knjige (adjective and noun in paucal / “counting form”)*
Cz: tři staré knihy (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Pl: trzy stare ksiązki (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Sk: tri staré knihy (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Sl: tri stare knjige (adjective and noun in nominative plural)
Uk: три старі книжки (adjective and noun in nominative plural)

Ru: три старых книги (adjective in genitive plural, noun in genitive singular / три старые книги (adjective in genitive plural, noun in genitive singular)**

* BCMS/SC's paucal endings for masculine and neuter adjectives and nouns are the same as those for nouns of those genders in genitive singular, while for feminine adjectives and nouns, the paucal endings are visually identical to those of that gender in genitive singular. The difference here being that the feminine paucal endings can be thought of as feminine genitive singular endings without vowel length.

** Russian masculine and neuter adjectives modified by a numeral ending in 2, 3 or 4 are declined in genitive plural. Feminine adjectives modified by the same such numerals can be declined in nominative plural or genitive plural.

“Five old books”

BCMS/SC: pet starih knjiga (adjective and noun in genitive plural)
Cz: pět starých knih (adjective and noun in genitive plural)
Pl: pięć starych ksiązek (adjective and noun in genitive plural)
Sk: päť starých kníh (adjective and noun in genitive plural)
Sl: pet starih knjig (adjective and noun in genitive plural)
Uk: п’ять старих книжок (adjective and noun in genitive plural)

Ru: пять старых книг (adjective and noun in genitive plural)

Russian is weird for me in that for the numbers 2 to 4, the relevant adjective takes a plural ending whereas the noun takes a singular one. In all of the other Slavonic languages with which I'm familiar, there’s no such mixing of the agreement.

The agreement after 1 and numerals 5 and greater presents no surprise.

3) Conjugation of “to want” in present tense (Unit 12)

“to want; I want, you want, he/she/it wants, we want, you want, they want”

BCMS/SC: ht(j)eti; ja hoću, ti hoćeš, on/ona/ono hoće, mi hoćemo, vi hoćete, oni/one/ona hoće
Cz: chtít; já chci, ty chceš, on/ona/ono chce, my chceme, vy chcete, oni/ony/ona chtějí
Pl: chcieć; ja chcę, ty chcesz, on/ona/ono chce, my chcemy, wy chcecie, oni/one chcą
Sk: chcieť; ja chcem, ty chceš, on/ona/ono chce, my chceme, vy chcete, oni/ony chcú
Sl: hoteti; jaz hočem, ti hočeš, on/ona/ono hoče, mi/me hočemo, vi/ve hočete, oni/one/ona hočejo ((midva/medve/midve) hočeva, (vidva/vedve/vidve) hočeta, (onadva/onedve/onidve) hočeta are the dual forms for 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons respectively)
Uk: хотіти; я хочу, ти хочеш, він/вона/воно хоче, ми хочемо, ви хочете, вони хочуть

Ru: хотеть; я хочу, ты хочешь, он/она/оно хочет, мы хотим, вы хотите, они хотят

The Russian reflex of the original verb is oddest to me here because of the neat division of the stems in singular and plural. Czech shows this split in a limited way with the 3rd person plural stem differing from that of the other persons while the stem as used in the other languages is the same regardless of number.

4) 1st person imperative (Unit 15)

“Let’s write a letter!” (perfective)

BCMS/SC: Napišimo pismo!
Cz: Napišme dopis!
Pl: Napiszmy list!
Sk: Napíšme list!
Sl: Napišimo pismo! (dual Napišiva pismo!)
Uk: Напишімо лист!

Ru: Давай(те) напишем письмо!

“Let’s write correctly!” (imperfective)

BCMS/SC: Pišimo ispravno!
Cz: Pišme správně!
Pl: Piszmy poprawnie!
Sk: Píšme správne!
Sl: Pišimo pravilno! (dual Pišiva pravilno!)
Uk: Пишімо правильно!

Ru: Давай(те) писать правильно!

“Let’s not be impatient!” (imperfective)

BCMS/SC: Ne budimo nestrpljivi! (alternative: Nemojmo biti nestrplijivi!)
Cz: Nebuďme netrpěliví!
Pl: Nie bądźmy niecierpliwi!
Sk: Nebuďme netrpezliví!
Sl: Ne bodimo nepotrpežljivi! (dual Ne bodiva nepotrpežljiva!)
Uk: Не будьмо нетерплячі!

Ru: Давай(те) не будем нетерпеливые!

Unlike the other languages, Russian uses a construction with “to give” in imperative combined either with the infinitive of a second verb (if imperfective) or the present tense of the 1st person plural for that verb when translating “Let us...”. Odd.

5) Comparative and superlative of adjectives (Unit 18)

“expensive beer, more expensive beer”

BCMS/SC: skupo pivo, skuplje pivo
Cz: drahé pivo, dražší pivo
Pl: drogie pivo, droższe piwo
Sk: drahé pivo, drahšie pivo
Sl: drago pivo, dražje pivo (somewhat deprecated alternative bolj drago pivo)
Uk: дороге пиво, дорожче пиво

Ru: дорогое пиво, дороже пиво (alternative более дорогое пиво)

“more expensive beer, most expensive beer”

BCMS/SC: skuplje pivo, najskuplje pivo
Cz: dražší pivo, nejdražší pivo
Pl: droższe piwo, najdroższe piwo
Sk: drahšie pivo, najdrahšie pivo
Sl: dražje pivo, najdražje pivo (somewhat deprecated alternative najbolj drago pivo)
Uk: дорожче пиво, найдорожче пиво

Ru: дороже пиво, самое дорогое пиво

“fast car, faster car”

BCMS/SC: brz auto, brži auto
Cz: rychlé auto, rychlejší auto
Pl: szybkie auto, szybsze auto
Sk: rýchle auto, rýchlejšie auto
Sl: hiter avto, hitrejši avto (somewhat deprecated alternative bolj hiter avto)
Uk: швидка машина, швидша машина

Ru: быстрая машина, быстрее машина (alternative более быстрая машина)

“faster car, fastest car”

BCMS/SC: brži auto, najbrži auto
Cz: rychlejší auto, nejrychlejší auto
Pl: szybsze auto, najszybsze auto
Sk: rýchlejšie auto, najrýchlejšie auto
Sl: hitrejši avto, najhitrejši avto (somewhat deprecated alternative najbolj hiter avto)
Uk: швидша машина, найшвидша машина

Ru: быстрее машина, самая быстрая машина (emotional or emphasized alternative быстрейшая машина)

“tough question, tougher question”

BCMS/SC: teško pitanje, teže pitanje
Cz: těžká otázka, těžší otázka
Pl: trudne pytanie, trudniejsze pytanie
Sk: ťažká otázka, ťažšia otázka
Sl: težko vprašanje, težje vprašanje (somewhat deprecated alternative bolj težko vprašanje)
Uk: важке питання, важче питання

Ru: трудный вопрос, труднее вопрос (alternative более трудный вопрос)

“tougher question, toughest question”

BCMS/SC: teže pitanje, najteže pitanje
Cz: těžší otázka, nejtěžší otázka
Pl: trudniejsze pytanie, najtrudniejsze pytanie
Sk: ťažšia otázka, najťažšia otázka
Sl: težje vprašanje, nejtežje vprašanje (somewhat deprecated alternative najbolj težko vprašanje)
Uk: важче питання, найважче питання

Ru: труднее вопрос, самый трудный вопрос (emotional or emphasized alternative труднейший вопрос

I found with little surprise that “good”, “bad”, “big” and “small” had irregular forms, although I shook my head figuratively as the irregularity and weirdness in Russian was more than I had expected.

“good, better, best; bad, worse, worst”

BCMS/SC: dobar, bolji, najbolji; loš/zao, lošiji/gori, najlošiji/najgori
Cz: dobrý, lepší, nejlepší; zlý/špatný, horší, nejhorší*
Pl: dobry, lepszy, najlepszy; zły, gorszy, najgorszy
Sk: dobrý, lepší, najlepší; zlý, horší, najhorší
Sl: dober, boljši, najboljši; slab, slabši, najslabši
Uk: добрый, кращий, найкраший; поганий, гірший, найгірший

Ru: хороший, лучше, наилучший / (самый) лучший; плохой, хуже, наихудший / (самый) худший**

* According to the Handbook of Czech, zlejší and špatnejší are possible but have specific nuances of “worse”.

** In bookish contexts, it’s possible to encounter наилучший and наихудший instead of (самый) лучший and (самый) худший respectively. Under some circumstances, злейший “worst” (cf. Czech zlejší “worse” (rare)) can also occur as an alternative to (самый) худший (cf. злейший враг “most evil enemy” ~ “worst enemy”).

“big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest”

BCMS/SC: velik, veći, najveći; mal, manji, najmanji
Cz: velký, větší, největší; malý, menší, nejmenší
Pl: duży/wielki, większy, największy; mały, mniejszy, najmniejszy
Sk: veľký, väčší, najväčší; malý, menší, najmenší
Sl: velik, večji, največji; majhen, manjši, najmanjši
Uk: великий, більший, найбільший; маленький, менший, найменший

Ru: большой, больший, наибольший / самый большой; маленький, меньше, наименьший / (самый) меньший / самый маленький

** The variety of superlative forms of “big” and “small” in Russian forms a contrast to counterparts in the other Slavonic languages. The variants with наи- are bookish.

The point of the preceding examples is to show that the set of Russian techniques for forming the comparative and superlative is more diverse than what’s used for the other languages. A rule of thumb that I’ve picked up so far for Russian comparatives is that the ending is -e or -ee with the choice of suffix dependent on the stem’s final consonant. An additional consideration is that -e often changes this final consonant (e.g. дорогой + > дороже (i.e. -г- > -ж-) “expensive > more expensive”).

With my background though, I was struck by the following points on the subject in addition to Russian’s aforementioned diversity of techniques:

i) The comparative forms in the other Slavonic languages always behave as regular declinable adjectives whereas in Russian they are only so when preceded by более. For completeness’ sake, I note that in Polish, a few adjectives can form comparative and superlatives somwhat similarly to the Russian technique of более + [adjective] (e.g. wybredny “choosy”, wybredniejszy / bardziej wybredny “choosier”, najwybredniejszy / najbardziej wybredny “choosiest”)

ii) What is a comparative marker in Czech, Polish or Slovak is actually a nuanced superlative one in Russian. In other words, the -ajší, -ejszy etc. suffixes of those Western Slavonic languages do not mean the same as the Russian -аиший, -ейший. As examples, Czech chladnějšícolder” and Polish trudniejszymore difficult” are false friends of the Russian холоднейший(very) coldest” and труднейший(ut)most difficult” respectively. According to Serpent these forms with -aйший or -ейший do not occur as often as the alternatives with самый + [adjective] which are less marked stylistically or emotionally.

iii) The generalization of naj- / nej- / най- as the superlative marker in other Slavonic languages is absent in Russian. If anything its cognate in Russian is occurs exceptionally.

6) Lack of a verb “must” (Unit 19)

“I must go back home.”

BCMS/SC: Moram se vratiti kući.*
Cz: Musím se vrátit domů.
Pl: Muszę wrócić do domu. (alternative Mam wrócić do domu.)
Sk: Musím sa vrátiť domov.
Sl: Moram se vrniti domov.
Uk: Я мушу повернутися додому. (alternatives Я повинен повернутися додому. / Я маю повернутися додому.)

Ru: Я должен вернуться домой. / Мне надо / нужно вернуться домой.

“I had to help them.”

BCMS/SC: Morao sam im pomoći.*
Cz: Musel jsem jim pomoct.
Pl: Musiałem im pomóc.
Sk: Musel som im pomôcť.
Sl: Moral sem jim pomagati. (dual jima)
Uk: Я мусив ïм допомогти. (alternatives Я повинен був їм допомогти. / Я мав їм допомогти.)

Ru: Я должен был им помочь. / Мне надо / нужно было им помочь.

*For simplicity, I overlooked alternatives with trebati “to need” / treba “it is necessary”.

The reliance on impersonal constructions with an adjective (i.e. должен) or adverb (i.e. надо / нужно) in Russian to express obligation is a little strange for me considering that in all of the other languages I could or would use a modal verb. The Polish and Ukrainian alternatives with mam and маю / мав respectively are conjugated forms of the verb “to have”. Ukrainian also has a construction with повинен which is of the same structure as the Russian one with должен.
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 Message 501 of 541
22 February 2015 at 12:51am | IP Logged 
An interesting read, as ever, Chung, and a compelling case for the 'weirdness' of Russian
compared to the other Slavic languages.

Just one point concerning the comparative in Russian. The long form is normally used for
the attributive form of the comparative, whereas the short form is used as the predicative.
I'm not sure whether дороже пиво would be considered incorrect, but it certainly looks very
odd. However 'Чешкое пиво дороже русского пива' would be an example of when the short form
is used.

To quote Wade, point 183, page 201

'In colloquial registers the short-form comparative is sometimes used attributively. This
is particularly common with short forms prefixed with по-

У тебя нет человека ближе. There is no person closer to you.
Покажите платье подешевле. Show me a slightly cheaper dress.

Notice the short form doesn't precede the noun even when used attributively.

Edited by stelingo on 22 February 2015 at 12:52am

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 Message 502 of 541
22 February 2015 at 1:23am | IP Logged 
A fascinating read. I've actually started dabbling in reading articles in various Slavic languages to see how far passive understanding can take me, but I haven't really read that deeply into grammatical differences yet, so this is very eye-opening.
Since I'm applying for a Russian as a second language teaching job, I should really read up more on Russian grammar to be able to discuss it in abstract terms.

A few comments on specific examples:

- While врач is the default word for "(medical) doctor", the word лекарь also exists. However, it usually has connotations of someone without formal medical qualifications of a modern standard - witch doctors, medicine men and alternative medicine practitioners come to mind.

- “King of hearts” wouldn't be червоный король, it's червовый, from the Russian name of the suit, червы, which might be a cognate of червоный. Two definite cognates of червоный that have survived in modern Russian are червонец, a somewhat old-fashioned word for a ten rouble coin or banknote, and червлёный, a heraldic term equivalent to the English "gules". And красный did originally mean the same thing as красивый, retaining this meaning in some stock phrases, like "красна девица". Красная Площадь also got its name before the semantic shift, which means that it's actually the Beautiful Square and not the Red Square.

- I wouldn't exactly call отель and конь uncommon synonyms of гостиница and лошадь, respectively, but yeah, the latter two words are pretty much the "default" with the exception of certain phases - "пятизвездочная гостиница" and "боевая лошадь" are both acceptable phrases, but I believe it's more common to say "пятизвездочный отель" and "боевой конь".

- The Russian word for ham is spelled ветчина.

- Тушить also has the meaning of "to extinguish, to put out", like in Ukrainian. In fact I'd call that meaning the default one, but maybe that's just my impression as someone who can't cook to save his life :)

- Вечеря also exists in Russian as an archaic alternative to ужин. Pretty much the only context it's ever used in is the Last Supper - Тайная Вечеря.

- About comparatives formed with -е(е): they can't modify the noun directly. To say "the faster car" or "the car that's faster" you need to use "более быстрая машина", "машина которая быстрее" or, a bit more colloquially, "машина побыстрее". "Быстрее машина" can only mean something to the effect of "the car is what's faster" (as opposed to the bike, the train, etc.).

By the way, do you by any chance have any experience with Pannonian Rusyn? I remember you having discussed Slovak as a possible candidate for the most "generic" Slavic language/the Slavic language with the highest mutual intelligibility with all the others. I suspect that Pannonian Rusyn might be an even better candidate, as a West Slavic language with an East Slavic substratum and apparently a South Slavic superstratum (both through Church Slavonic and modern Serbian). Since it's one of the official languages in Vojvodina it has a surprisingly decent amount of reading materials online (this site is a good starting place), although I've yet to find any learning materials, or even a phonological description (I've only been able to find them for Carpathian Rusyn).
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 Message 503 of 541
22 February 2015 at 3:31am | IP Logged 
Yeah, the synthetic comparative can't precede the noun.

Also, отель isn't uncommon at all. It would've been considered too cosmopolitan in the USSR but not anymore, obviously. People miiight use гостиница to emphasize a more simple service and a lower price. Or just for phonetic reasons, e.g. too many vowels/semi-vowels in a row. edit: interesting how my perception is so different from vonPeterhof's. For me отель is definitely the normal word when describing a modern hotel, and гостиница is uncommon or cheap or used for describing something from the past.

Лекарь also exists in Russian, although it's not common anymore. On the other hand, I had no idea that чекать exists at all.

Also, as far as I understand, in many cases Ukrainian actually borrowed the Polish word. And Belarusian sometimes also did.

Here's a somewhat dodgy table that's used to artificially emphasize the differences between Russian and Ukrainian (and other Slavic languages):

As far as I can tell, nothing is actually incorrect, but of course loan words can prove nothing (especially the ones like onion, coffee or sugar). The slavist who busted this* also posted a link to this article by a Ukrainian classic writer, who was apparently against the excessive amount of Polish loan words.
*according to him, every single Ukrainian and Belarusian word on the list is a loan from Polish.

заниматься only means "to study" indirectly, as in, to occupy oneself with a topic. the meaning is pretty much the same as in Polish and Ukrainian, really. the less ambiguous words are simply учить [язык] and учиться [языку].

мешать also has all those meanings like to blend, mix, stir, shuffle, in addition to hinder/disturb.

ужин is apparently related to юг and used to be the midday meal, so it's shifted much like lunch and dinner have in modern English. interesting, I would've associated it with Belarusian жнiвень, which is related to the crops just like Polish sierpień.

I'd say конь and лошадь have developed some differences due to the gender of the words. Лошадь is associated with the more "feminine" things like working in the field or carrying things, whereas конь has more "masculine" associations like war, messengers, race sports. But it's more of a tendency than a rigid rule, and it doesn't have to correspond to the gender of the animal either. In short, конь is a perfectly normal word for horse, and the only context where it's totally out of place is something like a pink "my little pony" toy.
(I think one thing here is that пони is a less common word in Russian than in many languages, so often лошадь really means pony. We don't like being unable to attach an ending or a suffix. I think I had only heard the word pony a couple of times before I started reading LOTR where the difference between a horse and a pony actually matters. Now I even wondered briefly whether it was a bad translation, but I suppose it was the right choice)

In "let's not be impatient", I'd use нетерпеливыми instead. But this may be a matter of preference, especially as in Finnish you can't use the nom plural here ;) I'd also use the instrumental in Polish though, but I may totally be wrong.
And more importantly, давай(те) can be dropped (always, I think). And there are other indicators like "ну", "ну как", "ну что", which can be combined with давайте. I've always found the English "let us" so weird btw :PPP And really, an overuse of давай(те) can sound like a direct translation from English.

You can also use the past tense for initiating a physical movement, like пошли! поехали! побежали! although these can easily come across as commands, of course.

I wouldn't say в месте can be used to mean in the luggage. Although it can also mean in the space [for something].

IDK if you know that Красная площадь 'Red Square' originally meant beautiful too? By the way, Belarusian uses прыгожы here. And according to wiktionary, Bulgarian has красив and прекрасен. (Russian has прекрасный too - excellent, gorgeous)

wow, never realized that the Russian недоразумение 'incident' literally means misunderstanding. cool.

Belarusian also generally uses добры as good.

While варенье indeed means jam, варение means cooking/boiling. (the more common words for cooking are готовка, приготовление - preparation literally) There's a tendency to differentiate between the meanings by using "-ье" for the more common words, like also in воскресенье 'Sunday' vs воскресение 'resurrection'.

The older meaning of заказ still exists in the expression (ему/ей/им) путь туда заказан 'the way is closed' (usually metaphorically closed to a specific person or group of people). Similarly, наказ still means an instruction or a lesson someone taught you.

ustawać się has a direct equivalent in устояться. and устоять is to stand your ground, to resist, to stay upright. (see also встать > вставать, the equivalents of the Ukrainian words you mentioned)

должен also means indebted (долг is debt). And "сколько я вам должен/должна?" is a common way to ask about the price (if you've already agreed to purchase something and consider it yours), or about the change you owe a customer.

I've heard that the similarity between "у меня есть" and "minulla on" is not a coincidence, but rather Russian replacing the verb "to have" with this structure is a result of the contact with Finno-Ugric peoples and languages. I wonder whether the same applies to "я должен", "мне надо/нужно" and "minun pitää" vs "I must".

and kinkku comes from the same Germanic source as шинка/szynka btw. i suppose the Swedish skinka used to be pronounced the way it's written. in Estonian it's apparently sink (sorry if you already know).

вспомнить/вспоминать, ветчина, червонный*

*wow, it's like vermillion, vermelho etc! I've always found it weird that the word for hearts (in cards) is червы/черви, the latter being identical to "worms".
speaking of red, *ruda has a descendent in рыжий, which is usually translated as red but should be ginger really. edit: and zomg rauta may be related to that?

Great post, btw!

Edited by Serpent on 22 February 2015 at 5:09am

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 Message 504 of 541
22 February 2015 at 7:54pm | IP Logged 
Большое спасибо за отклик!

I reiterate that my comparisons are certainly affected/distorted by not knowing Bulgarian, Macedonian and Belorussian and relying heavily on whatever I could gather from my Russian textbooks. I certainly did not have the insights provided by stelingo, vonPeterhof and Serpent - especially from the latter two who can draw on a native's passive knowledge built from decades of exposure to archaic or rare usages not accessible or relevant for a foreign beginner to the language.

Regarding that table of words, it's kind of interesting although it would have been better if there were examples from at least one Southern Slavonic language to give a better perspective. Off the top of my head, Russian лук, пример, утро don't strike me as that strange considering that in BCMS/SC there's luk "onion" (this coincides with the etymologically distinct luk "arch, bow"); prim(j)er "example" and jutro "morning" (this one is also valid for Slovenian). In addition pабота isn't that strange to me since Slovak robota is a fairly unremarkable word translatable as "labour, work" (esp. physical) or "job, work" (e.g. Idem do roboty / práce "I'm going to work"). In this second meaning, it readily subs in for práca.

In case it's been forgotten and for anyone interested, I also have several links to lists of Slavonic false friends in this post on the previous page.

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