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Thread: A complicated sentence; spoken vs literary Russian

  1. #1
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    A complicated sentence; spoken vs literary Russian

    - Ну, мы не нашли никто походя такое описание, живой ли, смерть ли... - сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, глядя вверх от множества документов перед собой. - кажется, мой главный желал бы разговаривать с вами, хоть он мне приказал вам предупредить, чтобы вам может не хочется слышать что, который он должен сказать. - и он выравнил документи перед собой прежде чем подняться, чтобы уйти, ещё положив на меня выражение, будто проверять моя реакция.

    "Well, we have found no-one fitting that description, alive or dead..." Said the young police clerk, as he looked up from the pile of papers in front of him. "I believe my superior would like a word with you though, although he has told me to warn you, that you may not want to hear what he has to say." He said, evening up the papers before him and rising to leave, looking at me as if testing my reaction.

    1) In the first clause, would 'никого' be better than никто? Or would никто be normal in spoken Russian?
    2) Similarly, would ', которые походит' be normal to say than 'походя' ?
    3) Is imperfective 'проверять' correct here?
    4) It's a complicated sentence, have I translated it at all correctly?! (English to Russian)

  2. #2
    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    Russian speech tends towards using genitive of никто and ничто. In this case, regardless, that should be in the accusative[or genitive] никого.

    The object of a negative verb can be in the genitive as opposed to accusative... Sparingly I hope.

    English often uses "what" as multiple objects at the same time. "I don't know what youre talking about" In Russian they absolutely avoid this and say "I do not know that, about what you are talking"

    "Думаешь о том же, о чём и я?" ------ Are you thinking WHAT I'm thinking. Basically "Are you thinking about what I'm thinking about?"

    Что, который is wrong because it's two relative pronouns on either side of a comma which doesn't really make sense. Also technically что is neuter.
    то, что - what .... Rarely, English will say "that, which", which is a more fleshed out construction like Russian's.
    который - which. As used to add info to a noun previously brought up. The book, which

    Other constructions tend to involve an answer-word+comma+question-word: answer-words, as they are sometimes called, involve a т; question-words involve a к

    ...так, как... - how ~~~~~~ Сделай так, как я тебе показал Do it how I showed you
    ...тогда, когда... - when ~~~~~~ Приду тогда, когда ты ... I'll come when you... bla bla bla
    English doesn't use the old words wither, thither, whence, thence etc. We just use "where" in all cases
    ...туда, где... - where ~~~~~~ Иду туда, где счастье ждёт. I go where happiness awaits
    ...там, где... - where ~~~~~~~~ Телефон - там, где и всегда The phone is where it always is
    ...там, куда... - where ~~~~~~~ Телефон - там, туда ты его поставил. The phone is there you placed it.
    ...То, кто... ~~~~~~ This one, just like "...то, что..." is very versatile, because both ends will be declined to whatever end the sentence demands:
    ...того, кому...
    ...тех, кем
    and so on...

    Technically the clause order could be flipped too:
    Кто слышит родителей, то получит успех.
    То, кто слышит родителей, получит успех.
    Кто слышит родителей, то получит успех.
    I feel like we English speakers definitely tend to overuse participles once we know about them, since they cover so much ground, and one may not know alternative terms used to link clauses.

    Participles are the most formal, then который, then just the words что and кто. ..., который подходит (которые подходят) ---> ...,что подходит (что подходят)
    As you can see что offers much less matching capability than который, because it doesn't designate a gender, but it's shorter and quicker to say.
    Alex80 likes this.

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    4) There are lot of different mistakes here. Let me correct them all:
    { option1 | option2 ... }

    - Ну, мы не нашли никого {,кто подходил бы | подходящего} под такое описание, живого ли, мёртвого ли... - сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, глядя поверх множества документов перед собой. - кажется, мой начальник желал бы {разговаривать|поговорить} с вами, хоть он мне приказал {вас предупредить | вам сказать }, что вам может не захочется {слышать|услышать} то, что он {должен сказать|скажет|расскажет}. - и он выровнял документы перед собой прежде чем подняться, чтобы уйти, ещё {кинув на меня взгляд}, будто проверяя мою реакцию.

    Note, that if option1 is not bold, it's yours initial variant, but I found it worse than others options. Applicable, but worse.

  4. #4
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    Thanks xXHoax, very comprehensive answer. I think I've never paid enough attention to these conjunctions, a symptom of having prioritised reading over writing and speaking, I guess. I'm still a bit unclear about when to use them, vs который; is it mostly a matter of 'register'?

    Thanks Alex80, a few questions:-

    1) Said the young police clerk, as he looked up from the pile of papers in front of him.
    сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, глядя вверх от множества документов перед собой. (mine)
    сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, глядя поверх множества документов перед собой. (yours)

    As far as I can tell, поверх (+gen) means 'over' in a locative sense. If I had wanted to say 'as he looked at me over a pile of papers in front of him', I think поверх would fit here. But I meant 'as he moved his gaze upwards (from the pile of papers in front of him) to me.' is which case would вверх be correct?

    2) "I believe my superior would like a word with you though, although he has told me to warn you, that you may not want to hear what he has to say."
    - кажется, мой главный желал бы разговаривать с вами, хоть он мне приказал вам предупредить, чтобы вам может не хочется слышать что, который он должен сказать. - (mine)

    главный:- Is there a context in which главный would be used instead of начальник, or is it just wrong?
    должен сказать:- I thought должен was always followed by an infinitive in this context. Is there not an equivalent construction in Russian for 'what he has to say' as opposed to 'what he says'?

    3) He said, evening up the papers before him and rising to leave, looking at me as if testing my reaction.
    и он выравнил документи перед собой прежде чем подняться, чтобы уйти, ещё положив на меня выражение, будто проверять моя реакция. (mine)

    проверять:- 'looking at me as if testing my reaction' could also be rendered as 'looking at me as if to test my reaction.' Can this also be the case in Russian?

    I think I got all the other points.

  5. #5
    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    Который is, itself, just like every other question word. Its adopted form as a relative pronoun has just become more prominent than its "original", vanilla use as an interrogative one.

    Кото́рую кни́гу вы хоти́те?

    It's pretty much entirely like English "which".

    I'd imagine the word какой used to be reserved for "Which KIND of" or "What KIND of", but over time melded into который's base meaning "Which one" as well. But nevermind all that, just my theories. What's important is that который holds a similar formal register to when English speakers choose "..., which..." over "..., that....". Keep in mind however that Russian has a pretty different scale for formality. Formality in English often comes off as a joke... Anyone who says "with whom" in English automatically seems fake, on some level. This is partly because so incredibly few people understand "whom". Our formality is almost... broken. Whereas in Russian, it's just a bigger, more precise word. When in doubt, sponge up more native Russian text and your brain will formulate these kind of abstract things for you.


    1) Верх! Now there's a fun topic.

    When it comes to these localized directional words, Russian is incredibly tidy. We start with верх, a noun meaning somewhere along the lines of "hight", "peak", or "top". Now, besides the verbs formed from верх, there are a whole list of adverbs formed from it, to describe all sorts of up-ness. Each word is built using various corresponding prepositions.

    Notice, that these are all basically just the noun верх, as an object of a preposition, with the space removed to make a new word. (similar lists exist for other directions, like "down", or "left")

    наверх - upward (describing motion in an upward direction, ONto something, hence на)
    вверх - upward (describing motion upward, into something, hence в. That something may just be the space above something else)
    вверху - above (describing position above, inside)
    наверху - above (describing position on top of, above)
    сверху - from above (motion down from, dow)
    кверху - towards above (I believe this treats the above as a destination/location- somewhere of conceptual significance like a floor of a building) (I've never seen кверху yet, not as common I think)
    поверх - Understanding по is important here. It's sort of like "across the above space", or "over". По doesn't have a REAL equivalent in English, the translation varies. Across generally works but sometimes it describes general dispersion along a surface.
    [the у ending on верх is an old ending for a marginal case called the locative. Used instead of prepositional, only when after на or в. The locative case ending is singular only, and adds a stressed у. You'll only see a few words here and there that even express the locative.]

    In his correction, the man looks across over the papers to the guy.

    Also keep in mind, some of these can act as prepositions as well, for when you need to say "...verb... above the water". Here we need to attribute the water to the aboveness, and we can't just have some nominative floating around so genitive is generally the way it goes. The mound of papers is the water in our case.

    We don't really distinguish between these concepts in English
    The position versus movement debate is one you've already seen with куда versus где, it's the same deal here. The other distinction is the one between наверх and вверх, among others. That's the harder difference of this list.

    Now, you wanted to describe "up from the papers (which were in front of him) to the man". As for the exact way to say what you mean in Russian, I can't give you a vetted answer, but I believe you were close. "Up from the papers" in this case, is focusing on "up from below" rather than "into above". Perhaps снизу would be involved. Note:

    Russian Word Formation - The Verb of Motion , this page gives some fantastic information, for now, I want to draw your attention to the chart labeled Prepositions Expressing Basic Motions, as it will explain the main flaw with your first translation of the action. This chart also describes the верх prepositions from earlier. Explains why кверху is as significant as it is.

    http://www.alphadictionary.com/rusgrammar/adverb.html , here's a better version of everything I just explained

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    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    I propose a question for the native Russians:

    Could one elaborate when after a word like сверху, using c+genitive noun? In order to specify from what one is looking, for example.
    Are these viable, or and even plausible sounding phrases?

    Лететь вверх в небо

    глядеть снизу с множества документов

    Шёл он вниз в шахту.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nevermind, this is explained in the links

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    Почтенный гражданин Serge_spb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xXHoax View Post
    ICould one elaborate when after a word like сверху, using c+genitive noun? In order to specify from what one is looking, for example.
    Are these viable, or and even plausible sounding phrases?

    Лететь вверх в небо
    глядеть снизу с множества документов
    Шёл он вниз в шахту.

    1. Лететь вверх в небо - it`s passable. We normally say "лететь в небо", "лететь ввысь", - it gives more than enought information and no need to overload it with "вверх" (unlike english "up in the air"?).

    2. Глядеть снизу с множества документов - probably not, sounds like he (police clerk!) is sitting on on the pile of papers...
    Options:

    Молодой полицейский чиновник оторвал взгляд от вороха бумаг.
    Молодой полицейский чиновник перевел взгляд с вороха бумаг на посетителя.
    Молодой полицейский чиновник поднял взгляд и сказал: <...>

    Also, with participial turnover (дееприч. оборот):

    - сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, оторвав взгляд от вороха бумаг.
    - сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, переведя взгляд с вороха бумаг на посетителя.
    - сказал молодой полицейский чиновник, подняв взгляд.

    3. Шел он вниз в шахту - - same thing: it`s understood and may be fine.
    But "Он шел вниз в шахту" or just "Он спускался в шахту" sounds better.
    xXHoax likes this.

  8. #8
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    'When in doubt, sponge up more native Russian text and your brain will formulate these kind of abstract things for you.'
    Yes, thankfully that tends to happen, which is great, except that I then have a less clear idea about the reasons why, which my pedantic side finds frustrating! Can't win with a brain like mine...

    'Notice, that these are all basically just the noun верх, as an object of a preposition'

    Hadn't explicitly thought of them on those terms, which is odd seeing as I made quite some effort to learn how those same prefixes applied to verbs.

    наверх - upward (describing motion in an upward direction, ONto something, hence на)
    вверх - upward (describing motion upward, into something, hence в. That something may just be the space above something else)

    'In his correction, the man looks across over the papers to the guy.'
    I see what you mean; I have a tiny suspicion that 'по' in this instance may be less directionally specific; that's just a vague hunch though. I find 'по' the most baffling of the prepositions. I think, bearing in mind what I know of (verbal) prefixes, наверх would have been a better choice than вверх , but I see вверх used more frequently, so was probably influenced by that.

    "Up from the papers" in this case, is focusing on "up from below" rather than "into above". Perhaps снизу would be involved.'

    I also thought that sounded as if he was looking up from the pile of papers while sitting on them! Which made me laugh. Did you mean 'сниз' here?
    'подняв взгляд от вороха бумаг'
    I had wondered whether to flesh out my original sentence to say more precisely 'he moved his gaze upwards from x to y', which is a construction I came across in 'Master and Margerita'. Judging from Serge_spb's reply, it may have been a better option. Also, 'ворох' is a better choice than 'множество'. I'll remember that word now.

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    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grafrich View Post
    ... Also, 'ворох' is a better choice than 'множество'. I'll remember that word now.
    Часто говорят ворох, когда много предметов (бумаг, документов, предметов одежды и т. п.) набросаны в кучу.




    Про бумаги, книги, документы ещё можно сказать: стопка бумаг, документов, книг и т. п.


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    Почтенный гражданин Serge_spb's Avatar
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    Я почему-то представил такой стол:

    NDRmNGJkMTc4NiMvdzhERWM4VUQ0ckV6cWxQRDU1VWE5LVFzT21JPS8yNng5MzA6Mjk3NHgyNDEyLzE5MTB4MTAwMC9maWx0.jpg

    Хотя и на стопку (кипу, пачку и т.д.) молодой клерк тоже мог смотреть - просто так, размышляя.

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    Okay, thanks; стопка или ворох.

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