Some Good Bad Russian

By Ivanov, Mikhail | Russian Life, May 2001 | Go to article overview

Some Good Bad Russian


Ivanov, Mikhail, Russian Life


Any beginner knows how to make mistakes in Russian. But to make mistakes on purpose--that takes a true connoisseur. In effect, you are saying, "Don't get me wrong, I know how to speak correctly. But that is just too boring and fastidious for me."

Back in Soviet days, standing in line was everyone's second profession. And, after a few hours in a line, even professionals can get a bit testy, especially if someone seems to be cutting in front of you. One side might argue that he was standing "right behind that devushka," while the other warring party, most typically a robust babushka, would retort, [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (literally, "there was nothing of you standing here").

Needless to say, [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is a supremely incorrect construction--[RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is an intransitive verb and cannot tale an object, like [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The correct impersonal phrase would actually be: [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (You were not here.) or [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (You were not standing here.).

This may sound like higher math. But we did warn you that this sort of thing was a "premium" linguistic product, despite the fact that the product's brand name is misspelled, so to speak. So, if you are able to find a line in Russia these days (pretty difficult, except perhaps at Sheremetevo airport), then you are ready to overwhelm a queue interloper with [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Another Soviet era idiom employing wrong Russian" is still alive: [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (to get accepted in an institute after passing entry exams). Grammatically, you can [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] yourself. But this cannot be a transitive verb: you can't [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. And yet, you can hear parents of both the old and new nomenklatura say, prior to entry exam periods for institutes and universities: [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] The correct translation of this usage is: "I need to make sure, using all the blat and connections at my disposal, that my son/daughter gets accepted at the institute of his/her choice, regardless of the entry exam results." Likewise, when you hear: [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] you could ask for clarification: [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("Did he get accepted on his own, or did he get a push?")

The next mistake-laden idiom is from Odessa: [RUSSIAN LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (literally: he who wines and dines a woman, gets to dance [with] her). The colloquialism's deeper meaning suggests that the man is to expect more favors than the last dance from his dinner partner.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Some Good Bad Russian
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.