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Thread: Few questions about Russian

  1. #1
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    Few questions about Russian

    Hi, I had a few questions about Russian, and some of them may sound a little stupid, but I still need to ask.

    1)
    "из России"- I understand this means "From Russia", but why does Россия change into России?

    2)
    Also, the phrase "Мой друг из России зовут Катя", is this grammatically correct? I'm trying to say "My friend from Russia is called Katya"
    Because I saw somewhere that this type of sentence should be written as "Моего друга из россии зовут Катя"

    If the second sentence is correct, why do I used "Моего друга" instead of "Мой друг"

    3) Last question is that I heard the word "My" (мой) changes depending on the gender of the noun, and I understand that and can use the word properly, but I heard that actual gender takes precedence over the gender written, such as "Мой папа" even though "папа" should be considered feminine due to the ending. I was just curious whether this is true and if it would be correct to say "моя друг" when referring to a female friend?

    Thanks for any help anyone gives, and have a nice day

  2. #2
    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    1) Short answer - because grammar. Long answer - in Russian, unlike English, words change according to their specific roles in a sentence, the whole issue is too complex for me to just write it all down for you and you'd have to go through some grammar books or countless hours of experience to figure it out on your own. English also has this or a remnant of this with pronouns such as she, he, they turn into her, him, them respectively. As for this particular example you can read up on "genetive case" in Russian.

    2) No, it's not grammatically correct. Again, because you don't seem to have the faintest idea of actual Russian grammar. I didn't say that to offend or patronize you or whatnot. I'm sure you'll quickly learn all about that if you put your mind to it. So good luck and yes, what "you saw somewhere" is how you say it properly.

    3) Yes and no. Моя друг is not possible, because we have a specific feminine version of this word, which is подруга. You have to use that with моя - моя подруга. It's actually hard to think of an example where actual gender wins out and папа is not a proper example of that as it is obviously a word that exclusively describes a male person and therefore the word is of masculine gender by difinition, even if it looks like a femenine form with that -а at the end. This precedence can only take place if a word that's grammatically masculine can be used to describe both males and females and there is no proper femenine version of that word. Job descriptions is where you should look here as they kind of default to masculine gender but women can also occupy those positions now if not back when the job was invented. In fact I think I might have come up with something suitable here. Директор is masculine but both men and women can be that and there's hardly a good feminine variant of that word, well there's директорша but it's very colloquial and some, if not most, women can even find it offensive. In any case you can say something like:

    Хорошая директор у вас - You have a good (female) principle

    That would be acceptable although many would still prefer to stick with masculine there, even if they talk about a woman.
    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.

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    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    As far as *why* Russian has this is incredibly interesting to me.

    The roles you see labeled by the Russian endings are roles that make up the fabric of how a series of words is to be understood.

    The dog bit the cat.

    In English, you know that the dog is not hurt, because it did the biting. You know this because you can tell it is the subject (that, which does the verb) of the sentence. You can tell it is the subject of the sentence because of the order in which the words came -- flip the words, and the meaning becomes the opposite.

    So for English - Word order determines sentence roles.

    However for Russian, the endings give all the necessary information about grammatical roles, meaning that the word order is no longer restricted. This is a fundamental aspect of human language that has fallen deep into the background in English.

    Word order was out of a job, and in language, nothing is ever useless, so the word order then gains magical uses that even further add to the possible information a person can relay with a set of words. Thus, what in English might be a change in voice tone, a gesture, a glance, or a choice of word - can sometimes be dealt with by just changing the Russian word order.

    Because of all this you will see word orders in Russian that can be anything from the opposite of what the English uses (though with the same fundamental meaning), or even word orders that are altogether foreign to English.
    Я тебя люблю
    Я люблю тебя
    Тебя люблю я
    Can each have a theoretical reason and added meaning based on the order, though they all mean at heart "I love you"

    "Спит стальной твой дракон" - Forgive the odd example, it's from a metal song.
    Sleeps steel your dragon - word for word translation, in the same order
    Your steel dragon sleeps.
    What's cool here is that Russian can even move around possessive pronouns [my, your, his, its], but in English, these words must *always* come in the beginning of the noun's trail of ducklings. (For this analogy: last in line = first word you hear)
    "In this our hour of need..." is really the only way it is any different

    One of my favorites is that if an adjective follows a preposition, the adjective's and preposition's noun can be elsewhere in the sentence.
    Я на твоей останусь стороне
    I on your stay side
    Here, because the word "your" matches (audibly and visibly) in case with "side", the word "side" no longer has to remain attached proximally to its governing preposition. It's like a preposition demands a noun of a particular case to follow directly after, but it will settle for the noun's adjective.
    (Also, conjugation tells you that the subject of "stay" really is the "I" you read a second ago)

    Russian essentially wraps up groups of words with beautiful little bows.
    A prepositional phrase includes the preposition (on, at, for, in, with), its object (a noun), and any adjective or adverbs modifying that noun or its modifiers. This phrase is inherently a whole unit, that can be moved around sentences. In English, you know that a prepositional phrase has come to an end through the means of a messy process of discerning when that preposition's noun has arrived. In Russian, the case system neatly labels everything that belongs to whichever preposition that it does, and labels everything as to how it relates to the verb of the sentence. The verb is the king.


    The free word order is also conducive to a writer being able to intentionally design which ideas come first in order to smoothly get across complex ideas (or just complex sentences).



    Imagine tetris, but in Russian you get to choose which block you use next.
    iCake and Alex80 like this.
    "В тёмные времена хорошо видно светлых людей."
    - A quote, that only exists in Russian. Erich Maria Remarque

  4. #4
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    Ah I think I understand, and the word order, for me, seems to make Russian a little easier, and I agree, my Russian grammar is terrible at the moment xD

    With regards to the 2nd question, I was learning a bit more about it and realised that "Моего" is the genitive case?

    And the pronoun used has to agree with the noun, right? So, instead of "друг", if I used "подруга", would the sentenced change to:

    "Моей подруга из России зовут Катя"
    "My friend(female) from Russia is called Katya"

    Or is that still wrong.

    Thanks for the help also =)

  5. #5
    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    This part is especially hard because there's very specific overlap.

    If a noun is the direct object it will be in the accusative case.
    This means it is the primary conceptual receiver of the verb, as opposed to a secondary receiver, or an object of a preposition.

    Any adjectives affecting a noun, must match in gender-case-number.

    Now, it's important to note, that what exactly the accusative case looks like can vary.

    When talking about these sorts of things, the Nominative Singular is considered to be the default state of a noun.
    For Adjectives, the Nominative Singular Masculine is the default- dictionary form. Mostly: -ый, -ий

    The Accusative Singular and Plural of a Masculine Noun has one of two options:
    If the Noun is "animate", it will be formed with the same ending as the Genitive Singular.
    If the Noun is "inanimate", the Accusative looks just like the Nominative.

    There is a complex logical circuit explaining why this is okay, sensible, and works, but it's a lot to explain

    Feminine nouns are usually easier:
    For Feminine Nouns ending in -а, the Accusative ending is -у.
    Nom - Acc
    а - у
    я - ю

    Подруга
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B...83%D0%B3%D0%B0
    (Don't look at the PreReform declension, that's not important, mostly obsolete spelling)

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BC%D0%BE%D0%B9

    Мою подругу из России зовут "Катя".
    If you ask me, the quotes around Katya are grammatically important.
    "В тёмные времена хорошо видно светлых людей."
    - A quote, that only exists in Russian. Erich Maria Remarque

  6. #6
    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xXHoax View Post
    ...If you ask me, the quotes around Katya are grammatically important.
    Great job explaining the difficult stuff, xXHoax. I have to ask what it is you think to be grammatically important with those quotes?
    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.

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    Почтенный гражданин xXHoax's Avatar
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    First, speech is different, because of intonation; it is because we don't have intonation in writing, that we have punctuation to create the boundaries. I mean that intonation itself can act as the quotation marks, in regards to speech.

    At the core, the idea is that the quotes are what lift the word out of the case system, or at least, tell the reader that they are momentarily off the railroad track of the rest of the sentence.

    Without the quotes, I'd propose, the sentence ought/need/should be:

    "Её зовут Катей."

    Otherwise you just have another Nominative Animate Person floating around, and the sentence wouldn't be consistent with the systems holding up the rest of the language.
    It's essentially because it keeps an important consistency with the rest of the language.

    *"Они считают меня глупый."

    For instance, I believe, very few steps from the original phrase is the phrase:
    "Её зовёт Катя" or even "Её зовут Катя и Катюша"
    As far as I can tell, the use of this "Determinant Instrumental" in absolutely necessary here. Otherwise, Катя could be doing something or some person could be calling some person Катя. And the second sentence is even worse!

    I think the only reason it's not completely standard to introduce people this way is because you'd be introducing a name in its "non primary" form, so to speak; and for some reason that is naturally unsettling.
    It's almost as if the case could be made for Катя to be considered "vocative case" in these expressions.

    Now I don't fully expect every person to make sure to add quotation marks; the expression is practically a set phrase that only has this problem with introducing names; and all this grammar upkeep only really needs protection for the sake of the people who care enough to need to use it (academic writing). You can always just use poor grammar and then leave meaning to context (essentially: just hope real hard the reader can read your mind as well as they can your words) but coming from an English speaker's perspective it's not exactly a fun experience.

    Basically, all it takes for the "великий, могучий, правдивый и свободный русский язык" to become none of that is a single crack in the hull.
    And having a language so powerful, I think, specifically lessens the distance that the average person is from being able to speak in effective, productive speech; the less powerful - the bigger a hole one has to learn themselves out of.
    "В тёмные времена хорошо видно светлых людей."
    - A quote, that only exists in Russian. Erich Maria Remarque

  8. #8
    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    I see what you're talking about and honestly I suspected you'd bring up this seeming use of names as improper grammar relative to the sentence structure, the thing is if you think about it this way:

    What question do you ask when you want to know a person's name? That's right, it is:

    Как тебя зовут. That bit is very imprortant, you don't ask: Кем тебя зовут or чем тебя зовут, those two questions are a completely different matter, you don't ask one of those to ask for a name. The former is more about "what nickname you have?" or "what "other name" people call you to distinguish you from others because of your accomplishments, quirks or antics or whatnot", like in Александр Невский or Пётр Великий or Иван Грозный. The latter is like by what means or object people call for you, like a horn for example.

    Based on that you can even say that names creep into adverbial territory there and adverbs don't change in Russian as you well know. I'm sure all the grammar nazi out there are sharpening their swords and cleaning their guns right now but it is what it looks like and explains a heck of a lot of things You can even have a little pun out of it:

    - Как тебя зовут?
    - Громко и чётко!
    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.

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