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Thread: Simple Superlative vs Compound Superlative...Example

  1. #1
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    Simple Superlative vs Compound Superlative...Example

    The following sentence utilizing the Compound Superlative structure would be translated as -

    St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

    Санкт-Петербуг - один из самых красивых городов мира.


    How would this sentence which utilizes the Simple Superlative be translated? Would it be translated as - St. Petersburg is one of the highly beautiful cities of the world?

    Санкт-Петербуг - один из красивейших городов мира.


    My grammar book lists these examples

    Билл Гейтс - самый богатый человек в мире.
    Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.


    Он богатейший человек.
    He is an extremely rich man.


    Also is simple superlative often used in speech or is its use more literary?

  2. #2
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    All the examples are correct.
    Also, I am inclined to say we prefer compound forms with "самый" in colloquial speech. Yes, I think the synthetic forms with "-ейший/-айший" seem to be more bookish.

    Quote Originally Posted by M.Vonok View Post
    St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

    Санкт-Петербург - один из самых красивых городов мира.


    How would this sentence which utilizes the Simple Superlative be translated? Would it be translated as - St. Petersburg is one of the highly beautiful cities of the world?


    Санкт-Петербург - один из красивейших городов мира.
    Sorry, did not notice this question for the first time.

    No, it would not be translated that way. Both sentences mean the same:
    Санкт-Петербург - один из самых красивых городов мира. = Санкт-Петербург - один из красивейших городов мира. (St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities of the world.)

    To be more precise,

    the compound form is good for both colloquial and literary styles. And it always has the same meaning: the highest degree of quality.

    самый красивый город = the most beautiful city, самый богатый человек - the richest man, самое высокое здание - the tallest building etc.

    the synthetic form (formed with "-ейший/-айший" where "-айший" is used after hushes - ш ж ч щ) can have two similar, but slightly different meanings:

    1) the same as the compound form with "самый": красивейший город = the most beautiful city, богатейший человек - the richest man, высочайшее здание - the tallest building etc.
    This usage, as I told above, is mainly typical for the literary texts. And it is usually supplied with some explicit limitations:
    красивейший город в мире, богатейший человек на земле, высочайшее здание в Европе etc. This kind of limitation is not mandatory, but it is usually present. So, you can undoubtfully tell this usage (1) apart the next one (2).

    2) a slightly different meaning of this form is figurative: a very high degree of quality (but not necessarily the highest). It is typical for colloquial speech:
    красивейший город = a very beautiful city, богатейший человек - a very rich man, высочайшее здание - a very tall building etc.
    We often use this kind of metaphora to make the speech colorful. However, in this case limitations are never expressed.

    Finally, the compounds with "самый" are not used with meaning (2), they are always understood as meaning (1).

    Hope this answers your question now.
    Antonio1986 and M.Vonok like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Боб Уайтман View Post

    Finally, the compounds with "самый" are not used with meaning (2), they are always understood as meaning (1).
    Я не совсем понимаю, что вы написали здесь. Пожалуйста объясните.

    Это очень помогает мне! Огромное Спасибо!

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    If you want to say a very beautiful city (but not most beautiful), you can use "красивейший" город in 2nd meaning, and cannot use "самый красивый".
    M.Vonok likes this.
    "Невозможно передать смысл иностранной фразы, не разрушив при этом её первоначальную структуру."

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxmixiv View Post
    If you want to say a very beautiful city (but not most beautiful), you can use "красивейший" город in 2nd meaning, and cannot use "самый красивый".
    Yes, that's what I meant! Thanks!

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    Some more examples so I hope it will be perfectly clear for you.

    If someone says:
    Я решил сложнейшую задачу.
    - It does not necessarily mean "I have solved the most complicated problem". Depending on the situational context, it can be understood as "I have solved a very/extremely complicated problem". And most likely, it will be understood this way (as a very high degree of complexity).

    However, if the same person specifies boundaries by saying:
    Я решил сложнейшую в мире задачу.
    - It becomes clear that he means "the most complicated problem in the world".

    He can also say:
    Я решил самую сложную задачу.
    - This would always be understood as "the most complicated problem" (for example, he was given several math problems, and he has solved the most complicated of them) - the boundaries are understood from the situational context.

    If he wants to specify boundaries, he can:
    Я решил самую сложную задачу в мире (самую сложную задачу в учебнике, самую сложную задачу 20 века) etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Vonok View Post
    Это очень помогает мне!
    I am glad my explanations help you. However, I want to discuss this very phrase. Althought it is off-topic, I hope you will find it useful.

    There is absolutely no mistake in this phrase. I see you Russian is quite good!
    However, we do not say it like that. There is an interesting thing between languages: a sentence can be 100% grammatically correct, but its wording can be unnatural though. I wonder if there is any textbook which covers the wording issues. I've never seen it.

    All that I write here is only based on my own observations.
    I have noticed that sometimes English speakers use the present tense where we, Russians, would use past or future. I cannot see any specific rules for that to explain. I think one just has to get used to it.

    I noticed many explanations in English end with words "I hope that helps". And the answer often reads as "That helps me a lot". First time when I saw this it confused me a lot: why "helps" and not "helped"?! But later I just got used to this expression.
    Well, but how would we say it in Russian?
    Ending an explanation, I would write "Надеюсь, это поможет вам" (the future tense), assuming when you read it (in the future! not now, now I am just posting the message) it will help you.
    Another possible way: "Надеюсь, я ответил на ваш вопрос" (the past tense) - you did not read my answer yet, but from my own perspective, I have already finished writing the answer, so I would use the past tense: "I hope I answered your question". However, I know an English speaker would write "I hope it answers your question".

    When replying to an explanation, we would write: "Вы мне (очень) помогли". This is a one-time action: I read your explanation once, I understood it, it answered my questions, so it helped me. But we would stick to "вы мне помогли" rather that "это мне помогло".
    In some other situations (e.g. I gave you some advice, and you tried doing what I said) you can either say "это мне помогло" (the advice itself) or "вы мне помогли" (by giving me the advice).

    If someone says "это мне помогает", the only possible understanding is that is an on-going action, he is still trying to follow my advice, gradually improving his results, but did not fully succeed in it. Example (sorry, my example is quite silly, but it's the easiest example which comes to my mind):
    N asked me "How to lose weight"? He is 150 kg now, and he wants to be 80 kg. I said him: "do exercises every morning and try jogging as well". So, he started doing so everyday. And now he is already 120 kg. Then he says: "это очень помогает мне" (i.e. exercises and jogging). After he reaches the desired result of 80 kg, he will say: "Это очень помогло мне" (doing what you said helped me) or "Ты очень помог мне" (you helped me with your advice).

    There are some other cases as well, when English uses present and Russian uses a different tense.
    After having explained something to someone, we can ask:
    - Вы поняли?
    Although, we can do without a verb at all: Вам понятно?
    However, these questions are not quite polite. A more polite way to ask:
    - Я понятно объяснил(а)?
    And an expected answer is:
    - Да, я (вас) понял.
    or
    - Извините, я (вас) не понял.

    I noticed that in English they ask
    - Does it make sense? Do you understand me?
    And they answer
    - Yes, I understand. Yes, I see. I do not understand.

    But this situation with being understood is a bit more complicated. The present tense is also possible. An explainer can ask:
    - Вы меня понимаете?
    And a listener can say:
    - Извините, я вас не понимаю.
    However, the past tense is more typical. I think the question "Вы меня понимаете?" can imply the speaker did not finish his explanation yet, and he interrupts to make sure his logic is clear. Anyway, there is no strict rule for that (I think), and we can use both past and present.

    Previously, when I had a very little experience of communicating in English, I often used to say: "I understood you!" to confirm someone's words were clear. But later I noticed nearly no one speaks like that.

    PS That would be a nice idea to open a separate thread with a collection of all known wording issues (I mean the inter-language differences of how we phrase some things), which cannot be deducted from grammar rules or from vocabulary knowledge. But I understand (here I would keep present in Russian ) it is an extremely complicated task (сложнейшая задача).
    fortheether and M.Vonok like this.

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    Боб,
    A couple of disagreements:

    ***"I hope I answered your question". However, I know an English speaker would write "I hope it answers your question".

    I would use either sentence (I speak American English).

    ***Previously, when I had a very little experience of communicating in English, I often used to say: "I understood you!" to confirm someone's words were clear. But later I noticed nearly no one speaks like that.

    I use "I understood you".

    Scott

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    Thank you for the clarification! As I noted, that was only based on my own observations.

  10. #10
    Paul G.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether View Post
    I often used to say: "I understood you!"
    I use "I understood you".
    So, you use the same phrase, right?

  11. #11
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    I use the phase 'I understood you'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul G. View Post
    So, you use the same phrase, right?

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