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Thread: Accusative Usage Question

  1. #1
    Увлечённый спикер
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    Post Accusative Usage Question

    I want to ask about the curious phenomenon that is a part of the accusative case. Following the idea that animate items in the plural should look to the genitive, i made my sentence as follows:


    Она идёт в гостей.

    But then i learned that the correct form of this sentence makes it look like "гости" isnt animate all.

    Она идёт в гости (she goes on a visit- correct usage)

    Could anyone shed some light on this?

    And could anyone give some other examples and explain when to use the inanimate accusative plural ending, even when to follow the standard rules is should look like the genitive plural?

  2. #2
    Старший оракул
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    You have asked a very good question indeed.
    Here we see one of examples of the "old accusative" which is formed as the inanimate accusative despite the noun being animate. To my knowledge, in old Russian, it was a normal thing: "Сел на конь и поехал в огонь". In modern language it would be impossible: "на коня" should be used instead, but this is from archaic poetry.

    However, there are traces of that "old accusative" in the modern language. One of the examples is "пойти/идти/ходить в гости".
    Other usages are limited by the construction "идти/пойти в + Accusative Plural" where the noun is a group of people by their profession or occupation, and the meaning is "to become one of them". This usage is somewhat old, but you can find it in the literature quite often:

    пойти в солдаты - to become a soldier, to join the army;
    пойти в лётчики - to train to become a pilot;
    пойти в космонавты, пойти в повара и т.д.

    Actually, "пойти/идти/ходить в гости" is probably the only set expression of this sort where the verb is used in its direct meaning (physical motion). In all other expressions of the similar structure the verb is used figuratively (more like "to join the group").

    There was a famous Soviet poem by Mayakovsky "Кем быть?" which extensively uses this form:
    Владимир Маяковский — Кем быть?

  3. #3
    Старший оракул
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    After some thinking I came across some more examples in a bit different context.

    There are also expressions like "взять/брать в жёны/мужья".
    A взяла в мужья Б. - A is a woman, and she married B (she's "taken him in husbands").
    C взял в жёны D. - C is a man, and he married D (he's "taken her in wives").

    Another expression is "напрашиваться в друзья" - to force one's friendship upon somebody: Он напросился ко мне в друзья. - He forced my friendship upon himself. (Literally: He forced himself to my friends).

    But the base meaning is still the same: "to join a specific group, to become one of them".
    Soft sign and impulse like this.

  4. #4
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Thanks for the explanation, Bob! I've heard some Russians explain constructions such as пойти в солдаты as being a rare example of using a preposition with the "nominative case," but it makes more sense that it would be an "old accusative." (I've seen this question come up in discussions about "How many noun cases does Russian REALLY have?" -- with some people claiming that there are something like 5-10 "rarely used cases" in addition to the six that are taught in standard grammar textbooks.)

    PS. For Gottimhimmel, here's a link to an old MR post about the so-called extra cases in Russian. Keep in mind that this is "just for fun" linguistics trivia and you shouldn't waste time trying to learn these -- for all practical purposes, Russian has six cases and that's that!

    But for what it's worth, the в + acc. pl. construction is sometimes described by scholars as the Включительный ("inclusive") or Превратительный ("transformative") case. It's better, however, to think of it as simply as a "special accusative," like Bob said.
    Yulia65 likes this.

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    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    А ещё есть "пришёл из гостей".

    Я сегодня пришёл
    В гости к вам виртуально.
    Угощала меня
    Ты бананом. Банально!
    А потом пили чай,
    Чай с бананом, прикольно!
    Я пришёл из гостей
    Ублажённый, довольный.
    Завтра ты приходи:
    Стол приличный накрою
    Виртуальной тебя
    Угощу, блин, икрою,
    А еще балычок
    И шампанское есть…
    Что-то слюни текут…
    Тёща, дай-ка поесть!
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    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



  6. #6
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    Thanks everyone for your answers. Yet again you Russians find ways to baffle me! However, it is interesting to me to find these old "vestiges" of the past in the modern lexicon. I'm sure I will be posting again soon!

    Большое спасибо

  7. #7
    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    "Из варяг в греки"
    Yulia65 likes this.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  8. #8
    Старший оракул
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    After analyzing some more examples which came to my mind I think this usage is pretty well alive.
    Он стремится в директора. (Stress on "а": в директорА) -> Lit. "He aspires to directors." It means he aims to become a director.
    Он метит в президенты. -> Lit. "He aims to presidents." It means he aims to be elected for the presidency.

    The latter is interesting. If you replace the "old accusative" with the normal one, you'll get a totally different meaning:
    Он метит в президентов. It sounds a bit archaic (because of "метит" verb), but it means the same as "Он целится в президентов" -> He aims at presidents. (I.e. he wants to assassinate a group of presidents). Imagine, there is an international summit where leaders of many countries meet. And a killer with a gun is waiting on the roof of a neighbouring building, он метит в президентов.

    Similar contrasts:

    Он хочет попасть в министры. -> He wants to "hit into" ministers, he wants to become one of them.
    Он хочет попасть в министров. -> He wants to hit the ministers, he wants to kill them with a gun.
    Yulia65 likes this.

  9. #9
    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    As for me this thing really depends on how you look at the words. Let me explain.

    Гость yes, it's animate when it means a person, BUT

    when you say приехать в гости you don't mean a person but a place, location and they're definitely inanimate. There's an English construction kind of similar to that. Mike - a person, Mike's - Mike's place. I beleive it's possible to say - We were at Mike's.

    Also, метить в президенты
    Президент is indeed animate when it means a person, but in that example it doesn't mean a person but a job and it's inanimate.
    метить в президентов - here президент really means a person and you aim at them

    Well, that's of course just my subjective opinion but I think it's something
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

  10. #10
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    Yes you can say "We were at Mike's".

    Scott

    Quote Originally Posted by iCake View Post
    As for me this thing really depends on how you look at the words. Let me explain.

    Гость yes, it's animate when it means a person, BUT

    when you say приехать в гости you don't mean a person but a place, location and they're definitely inanimate. There's an English construction kind of similar to that. Mike - a person, Mike's - Mike's place. I beleive it's possible to say - We were at Mike's.

    Also, метить в президенты
    Президент is indeed animate when it means a person, but in that example it doesn't mean a person but a job and it's inanimate.
    метить в президентов - here президент really means a person and you aim at them

    Well, that's of course just my subjective opinion but I think it's something

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