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Thread: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

  1. #1
    Hanna
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    "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Although I understand all the words I am not sure exactly what the sentence means...!

    "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"
    Does it mean:

    "He spent a long time selecting a suit (for himself?)" [in the department store...]

    "He took a long time deciding what suit to wear" [in the morning]


    or something else??

    It's "долго" and "себе" that confuse me...

    How precisely would you translate this sentence into English to convey the exact meaning?

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna
    Although I understand all the words I am not sure exactly what the sentence means...!


    It's "долго" and "себе" that confuse me...

    How precisely would you translate this sentence into English to convey the exact meaning?
    Yes, Hanna, you're right, you got it. He could do it either at home or at a department store.
    долго = for a long time, for some time
    себе = for himself (= для себя)

    = He was selecting a suit that would suit him (well). He was selecting the suit for some time.

    To make it shorter: "He was long selecting a suit for himself ". (I'm not sure if I can use "long" there, though).
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    "He was long selecting a suit for himself " (I'm not sure if I can use "long" there, though).

    Nah, you'd have to say, "He took a long time selecting a suit for himself."
    or "It took him a while to select a suit"

  4. #4
    Hanna
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Yes, these problem happens because of the different word order in Russian, and because some words do not have an exact equivalent in Western European languages..

    That's why we can see a sentence in Russian where we know all the actual words.. But we still do not understand the sentence, because of the complex nature of Russian.

    I think that this is one of the things that make Russian such a nice language, but it also makes it very hard!
    Sometimes I think that Russians love literature and poetry so much, just because the Russian language is almost like art in itself.

    Some of the things you could do with Russian simply aren't possible in my own language (Swedish) which is nice of course, but simply not as complex and nuanced...

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Hanna, what so unusual to you in that sentence?
    The word "долго" is an adverb from the adjective "долгий" which is equivalent to "long".

  6. #6
    Hanna
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    I don't know... My guess was right though, so maybe I should have just gone with my first impression.

    But there is something about Russian that means that I can see a sentence where I KNOW all the words and I am still not sure exactly what the sentence means.

    I think it just happens because there is a big difference between Slavic languages and Germanic/Romance languages.Some things about English were very easy for me to learn (I am Swedish) but for you, the same thing might be hard to understand... The Russian grammar and word order is very hard. And finally: I have a bit bad self-confidence about Russian.

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Just like you said, "he spent a long time choosing a suit" or w/e

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Douglas
    Just like you said, "he spent a long time choosing a suit" or w/e
    Just keep in mind a "himself" part, because in Russian it does make a difference.

    Он выбирал себе костюм - a suit for himself
    Он выбирал костюм - a suit (we don't know why or for whom)

  9. #9
    Hanna
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Thanks: Yeah it's exactly those bits are totally different from Western European languages that are hard.

    In for example German or French, I'd never have a problem understanding what a sentence meant, if I knew all the words. But in Russian, this happens sometimes...
    Not sure if you had the same problem when you were learning English?

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Hanna, if we start thinking about it and get into details they may seem confusing in English too.
    How do you understand the meaning of the following phrases in English?:
    I bought myself a car. I made myself a snowball.

    Did i buy a car myself (it's me who paid the cash) or for myself (maybe someone bought it for me)?
    Did I make that snowball myself (with my own hands, it's not my friend who made it) or for myself? Or it's me a snowball? ))


    I made myself a snowball Я сделал себе снежок OR Я сам сделал снежок???
    I made myself a car Я купил себе машину OR Я сам купил машину??

    Anyone to explain this?
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by Russian
    Hanna, if we start thinking about it and get into details they may seem confusing in English too.
    How do you understand the meaning of the following phrases in English?:
    I bought myself a car. I made myself a snowball.

    Did i buy a car myself (it's me who paid the cash) or for myself (maybe someone bought it for me)?
    Did I make that snowball myself (with my own hands, it's not my friend who made it) or for myself? Or it's me a snowball? ))


    I made myself a snowball Я сделал себе снежок OR Я сам сделал снежок???
    I made myself a car Я купил себе машину OR Я сам купил машину??

    Anyone to explain this?
    You are not genuine here.
    Себе - to myself
    Сам - myself

    Really Russian grammar far more difficult then English. As a Russian, when I speake it that's easy but when I try to explain it sometimes it is impossible.

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by deker
    You are not genuine here.
    Себе - to myself
    Сам - myself

    Really, Russian grammar IS far more difficult THAN THAT OF English. As a Russian, when I SPEAK it, that's easy but when I try to explain it, sometimes it is impossible.
    Кхм.
    Что Вы имели ввиду, написав "genuine" ?

    А теперь-таки берём подлинный стишок, а вопрос остаётся.

    I made myself a snowball
    as perfect as could be,
    I thought i'd keep it as a pet
    and let it sleep with me.
    I made it some pajamas
    and a pillow for its head,
    but one night it ran away
    but first it wet the BED!

    Я думаю, себе здесь подойдет лучше, нежели сам.
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    To Russian
    Спасибо за исправления, но я все-таки думаю THAT OF там лишнее.
    Что Вы имели ввиду, написав "genuine" ?
    Ничего плохого
    Я вас не совсем понял.
    I made myself a snowball
    as perfect as could be,
    I thought i'd keep it as a pet
    and let it sleep with me.
    I made it some pajamas
    and a pillow for its head,
    but one night it ran away
    but first it wet the BED!

    Я думаю, себе здесь подойдет лучше, нежели сам.
    Вообще стихи и песни это different matter Просто фразу I made myself я бы перевел "я сделал сам.
    Есть такой акроним DIY (Do It Yourself) - переводится "сделай сам", а не "сделай себе"

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by deker
    Вообще стихи и песни это different matter Просто фразу I made myself я бы перевел "я сделал сам.
    Есть такой акроним DIY (Do It Yourself) - переводится "сделай сам", а не "сделай себе"
    "Сделай сам" - здесь да, "сам", не спорю. Но, это не different matter, а Direct Object! (Вот оно что!)
    В стишке - "себе" - по-русски оно звучит лучше: я сделал себе, для того, чтобы заботиться ...
    Берем фразу, для сравнения: "He bought his wife a diamond ring, and he bought himself a car."
    Соответственно, получаем "своей жене" и "себе". Думаю, что так.

    С инета пример, где, следуя твоей логике, "Сам" ну никак не подходит:
    "Not long ago, a 43-year-old Wonder Bread deliveryman named John Dugger logged on to eBay and, as people sometimes do these days, bought himself a house. Not a shabby one, either. Nine rooms, three stories, rooftop patio, walls of solid stonework."
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    There's no straightforward way of translating the Russian "сам." How you translate it totally depends on the contex. And the meaning of the word itself depends on the context. For example the word "сам" in the sentence "я сам купил машину" could have different meanings depending on the situation.

    Interestingly enough, I once had a friend in Russia whose name was Sam, and that often led to interesting sentences, such as "Сам сам купил машину" and so on..

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Douglas
    There's no straightforward way of translating the Russian "сам." How you translate it totally depends on the contex. And the meaning of the word itself depends on the context. For example the word "сам" in the sentence "я сам купил машину" could have different meanings depending on the situation.

    Interestingly enough, I once had a friend in Russia whose name was Sam, and that often led to interesting sentences, such as "Сам сам купил машину" and so on..
    Ok, since no native speakers here to answer the question, I dare to conclude the issue myself:
    I guess the best way to distinguish them would be to place "himself" at the end of a phrase, if we mean to say "сам": "He bought the car himself." OR right after a personal pronoun: "He himself bought a car". Then it's doesn't look ambiguous. If we have "He bought himself a car" - I understand it as "себе".

    "Sam" is usually spelled as Сэм [sæm], even in Russian. Well, unless he's Самуил, then, yes, sounds funny.
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Douglas
    the sentence "я сам купил машину" could have different meanings depending on the situation.
    I believe the only possible meaning here is "he bought a car by himself, without any help of others".

  18. #18
    Hanna
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by Russian
    Hanna, if we start thinking about it and get into details they may seem confusing in English too.
    How do you understand the meaning of the following phrases in English?:
    I bought myself a car. I made myself a snowball.

    Did i buy a car myself (it's me who paid the cash) or for myself (maybe someone bought it for me)?
    Did I make that snowball myself (with my own hands, it's not my friend who made it) or for myself? Or it's me a snowball? ))


    I made myself a snowball Я сделал себе снежок OR Я сам сделал снежок???
    I made myself a car Я купил себе машину OR Я сам купил машину??

    Anyone to explain this?
    English is a very illogical language!
    (I am not a native English speaker actually; some things I have just learnt, without understanding exactly how they "work")

    When you say "I MADE MYSELF A CUP OF TEA", "I MADE MYSELF A BOOK SHELF"
    then MYSELF shows that it was FOR YOU specifically.
    You kept it yourself and you needed/wanted it.
    The focus is that it was YOU who did it.

    You could also say: "I made myself ill from working too hard". Compare with "I got ill because I was working too hard".

    The first sentence emphasises that it was YOU who made yourself sick and that you could have chosen to to push yourself so hard. The second sentence doesn't really say anything about whose fault it was that you got sick.


    "I bought myself a car" means that you bought a car, which you are going to use yourself.
    "I bought a car." doesn't say anything about who will use it.

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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna

    English is a very illogical language!
    (I am not a native English speaker actually; some things I have just learnt, without understanding exactly how they "work")

    When you say "I MADE MYSELF A CUP OF TEA", "I MADE MYSELF A BOOK SHELF"
    then MYSELF shows that it was FOR YOU specifically.
    You kept it yourself and you needed/wanted it.
    The focus is that it was YOU who did it.
    Thank you Hanna! Yes, exactly. However, in Russian we need to choose between сам or себе.
    So, being a Russian, I would translate these differently.
    If I were to say:
    Я сделал (заварил) себе чашку кофе = I made myself a cup of tea.
    Я сделал себе полку = I made myself a bookshelf.

    BUT
    Я сам заварил чашку кофе I would translate as "I made a cup of tea myself", emphasizing that it was me, indeed.
    Я сам сделал полку = "I made a bookshelf myself." "By myself", actually, which would mean it was kind of a WOW deal! It was me who made the shelf, unbelievabe!

    Do these sentences make any difference to you?
    And, perhaps, these examples are a perfect input to your question at the top, as well.
    Well, at least that's the way I understand the "oneself" issue and translate it to be understood.
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  20. #20
    Hanna
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    Re: "Он долго выбирал себе костюм"


    Great, yes I understand the difference now!
    That was super helpful!

    The reason I understand it is because Swedish (my language) has something that is a bit similar to how it works in Russian. I think German does too. (sich)

    But I have noticed that Russian is even more "precise" than these two languages. It's really amazing how much nuance you can get out of only a few words in Russian.

    Most of my Russian learning material is English, unfortunately, because I live in England.

    You are absolutely right that in the sentence about the bookshelf and the tea, it is the position of "myself" in the sentence that indicates which meaning the sentence takes on.

    I can imagine the importance of the word order is pretty confusing from the Russian perspective (although I have come to realise that word order in Russian is not quite as "open and free" as all Russian text books claim...)

    For us, the challenge is instead all the word-endings that make the word order un-necessary in Russian. It is completely overwhelming.

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