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Thread: мало у кого

  1. #1
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    мало у кого

    «мало у кого хватает мужества признать, что был не прав».
    ... have enough courage to admit that he is not right.

    What does "мало у кого" mean and have to do with the rest of the sentence?

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    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    малый - little, small

    "Few have enough..."

    I suppose the way to explain this is that you don't say "few people know" as *малые знают, that doesn't work on multiple levels.
    You could interpret it as "it is few who...."... but that is still a little strange
    One way to think of it is as

    (число -) мало (тех,) кто...
    Small (is the number of those) who

    I don't know if natives conceptualize it this way at all, but it seems to fit. However in actual use: a) there's no comma breakage, and b) word order is going to vary around the construction a lot

    Есть часть бизнеса, которую мало кто понимает. - There's a part of business, which few understand. (There's a part of business, which the number of people who understand is little)
    Фиш, я мало кому доверяю. - Fisch, I trust few people. (The number of people that I trust is small)
    Да я вообще мало кого помню со свадьбы.
    Люди нашей профессии мало с кем могут поговорить.

    As far as хватать goes, the difference between "Bread is enough." and "... enough bread" is mainly drawn using word order in English. As usual, Russian deals with it structurally so as to maintain free word order:
    that, *of* which there is enough - is genitive
    that, which is enough (is sufficient)- is nominative (often can be impersonal/omitted)
    something can be enough *for* someone - dative
    and as usual, having enough uses у кого-либо constructions
    Soft sign and wonlon like this.
    "В тёмные времена хорошо видно светлых людей."
    - A quote, that only exists in Russian. Erich Maria Remarque

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    Quote Originally Posted by xXHoax View Post
    малый - little, small

    "Few have enough..."

    I suppose the way to explain this is that you don't say "few people know" as *малые знают, that doesn't work on multiple levels.
    You could interpret it as "it is few who...."... but that is still a little strange
    One way to think of it is as

    (число -) мало (тех,) кто...
    Small (is the number of those) who

    I don't know if natives conceptualize it this way at all, but it seems to fit. However in actual use: a) there's no comma breakage, and b) word order is going to vary around the construction a lot
    This is probably the origin of that construction:
    "Мало [есть] тех, кто знает..." - "[There is] small number of those who knows..."

    But now кто/что means just persons/things when used with мало or много. So no comma or anything else is required:
    "Мало кто знает..." — "Few people know...".

    Usage with Cases and prepositions is quite simple:
    много кого
    много кому
    много с кем
    etc
    (Compared to многих людей, многим людям, с многими людьми...)
    wonlon likes this.

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    Почтенный гражданин Soft sign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xXHoax View Post
    (число -) мало (тех,) кто...
    I’m not sure there is an omitted noun here. The stress position in the phrases «число мало́» and «ма́ло [тех,] кто…» is different. The history of Russian stress is complicated, maybe it used to be the same construction earlier, but in the contemporary language, the adverb ма́ло and the short adjective мало́ are different words.
    Also, you can say «мно́го [тех,] кто…», but *«число много» is impossible regardless of the stress.
    wonlon likes this.
    Please correct my English

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