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Thread: How do you say Little Raven in Russian

  1. #1
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    How do you say Little Raven in Russian

    If a man wants to called his girlfriend the pet name "little raven" would he say voronochka?

    I don't know Cyrillic, so kindly use English phonetics. Thanks for any input!

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    To my mind, a Russian man would hardly choose this bird to compare his girlfriend to . He'd rather say 'воробушек' (little sparrow) - that's /vo'RObushek/.
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    The word voronka means "a funnel" (and has no relation to vorona, "a crow"). So "voronochka" could possibly be interpreted as "little funnel," which is probably not a good nickname for a girlfriend. But as nsdfrv says, crows/ravens don't have highly positive associations in Russian, even though scientists say they're among the most intelligent of birds.

    If your girlfriend's real name starts with "V" and you want something phonetically similar, I agree that "vorobushek" seems better. (The Roman poet Catullus wrote a rather famous poem about the death of his girlfriend's pet sparrow, and wished that she would hold him -- I mean Catullus -- against her breasts, as she had once held the sparrow. So sparrows have had lovey-dovey symbolism since classical times.)
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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    P.S. I can't help adding:

    That thing he wrote, the time the sparrow died --
    Oh most unpleasant, gloomy, tedious words! --
    I called it sweet, and made believe I cried.
    The stupid fool, I've always hated birds!


    (Parody of Catullus by American humorist Dorothy Parker)
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    Thanks much for the fast input. I agree, my character can't call his girlfriend 'little funnel.' Funny, and probably not in a good way

    In theory, 'little sparrow' is better, it's just a bird that I hate. English sparrows are not attractive, can't sing, make a mess, are aggressive, crowd out other birds. No redeeming qualities that I am aware of, at least for modern times. If someone called me his little sparrow, I might have to dump him for not knowing me very well

    Whereas ravens are sleek, black, smart, mysterious, maybe a little dark inside. Much more interesting to me. Just sayin'.

    If there isn't a another good diminutive for raven besides vorobushek, I'll have to think of another pet name that fits her.

    Haven't read Catullus. Happily, Ms. Parker did it for me. Thanks for that verse.
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    If there isn't a another good diminutive for raven besides vorobushek,
    Воробушек is not diminutive for a raven, it is diminutive for a sparrow. Little Raven - воронёнок (I have never heard this word as an endearment).
    Птичка - a little bird - can be used as an endearment.
    Контекст - (от лат. contextus - соединение - связь), относительно законченный отрывок письменной или устной речи (текста), в пределах которого наиболее точно выявляется значение отдельных входящих в него слов, выражений и т. п.

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    if what's needed is not the color of the hair, but really a bird name, one doesn't have to use the exact translation.

    Raven is probably a generic term, but usually the Russian equivalent is ворон (masculine). The literary association in Russia would be a bird found somewhere near dead bodies.

    Ворона (also generic term for some similar species) is usually perceived in Russia as a stupid bird, making stupid sounds.

    Воробей is a small bird, not really elegant. May make one think of assymetrical eyes.

    The one I was thinking about is "галка" (jackdaw). The problem with it in Russian is that it can be understood as shortened form of Russian female name Galina (but also галка may be perceived as bird making lots of noise). At the same time, the diminutive галчонок (baby jackdaw) or галочка (little female jackdaw) may suit this situation (slightly theatrical intonation may suppess the unnecessary connotations).

    PS Воронёнок (baby raven) sounds really better than ворон or ворона.
    Last edited by alexsms; May 6th, 2015 at 10:28 PM. Reason: adding
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    Thanks, alexsms, for the thought on the jackdaw. It's in the crow/raven family and is known for its interesting eyes. Perfect for my female character, as she is a filmmaker, to whom eyes are all-important. Galochka sounds little clunky in English, but I can live with that.

    The story is set in the USA and the woman does not speak Russian, so connotation will be important only for the Russian boyfriend, who gives her the nickname. So if it's a nickname he could reasonably use, it will work. Thanks again for this thought. I shudder that he could have called her "little funnel."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pluto View Post
    In theory, 'little sparrow' is better, it's just a bird that I hate. English sparrows are not attractive, can't sing, make a mess, are aggressive, crowd out other birds. No redeeming qualities that I am aware of, at least for modern times. If someone called me his little sparrow, I might have to dump him for not knowing me very well
    Also, sparrows helped kill Jesus! (At least, according to the folklore in some areas of Russia. Google it!)

    Whereas ravens are sleek, black, smart, mysterious, maybe a little dark inside.
    Hmmm.... the magpie (Russian сорока, so-RO-ka) is also sleek, partly black, and definitely smart -- they're known for their ability to imitate natural and man-made sounds (such as barking dogs, train-whistles, and doorbells), and are also known to use twigs as improvised tools. Because they can make sounds that resemble human speech, magpies are sometimes considered "gossipy" -- and the Russian equivalent for "a little bird told me" is "a magpie brought it on her tail." But you should ask a native Russian as to whether "soroka" would be a good nickname for a girlfriend, and what the correct diminutive would be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    But you should ask a native Russian as to whether "soroka" would be a good nickname for a girlfriend, and what the correct diminutive would be.
    I think it would be offensive, because it is similar to a babbler/chatterbox

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    сорока sounded good...too bad it means babbler. My character is not a babbler, quite the opposite. I love all the birds in the corvid family...crow, raven, magpie, jackdaw. All good from my point of view. So jackdaw is the current winner, unless something else comes up.

    I had no idea about the sparrow/Jesus connection.

    Thanks again for all the great input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pluto View Post
    Galochka sounds little clunky in English, but I can live with that.
    Galochka/галочка also means a check mark, so better be avoided

    I think there are only two bird-ish endearments in Russian that are more or less common:
    птичка - means a birdy
    ласточка - means a swallow
    Both are pretty intimate and not every girl would like it

    if you wanna go with baby raven then use воронёнок
    if you wanna go with baby jackdow then use галчёнок
    if you wanna go with baby sparrow then use воробушек

    I'm not sure it's gonna pass as endearment but it's original for sure If you wanna be hell lot more original go with феникс/phoenix (just joking)

    Avoid сорока/magpie and ворона/crow and any diminutives of these
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    Quote Originally Posted by hddscan View Post
    Galochka/галочка also means a check mark, so better be avoided
    I think there are only two bird-ish endearments in Russian that are more or less common:
    птичка - means a birdy
    ласточка - means a swallow
    Both are pretty intimate and not every girl would like it
    I wonder why this would be? Intimate is bad? Or the names are bad? Just curious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pluto View Post
    I wonder why this would be? Intimate is bad? Or the names are bad? Just curious.
    I think those endearments should not be used if people do not have deep relationships.
    I also think not every girl would want to be compared to a bird in general.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pluto View Post
    сорока sounded good...too bad it means babbler. My character is not a babbler, quite the opposite. I love all the birds in the corvid family...crow, raven, magpie, jackdaw.
    Hmmm... хрошечка (KHRO-shetch-ka, with the KH sounding something like the Hebrew CH in l'chayim or the Spanish J in jalapeño) is a traditional Russian term of endearment -- there's even a fairytale about a Cinderella-like heroine who's nicknamed "Khroshechka". Literally, it means "Wee little crumb," and has nothing to do with birds. So if the girl's Russian boyfriend knew English pretty well, he might possibly invent the Anglo-Russian portmanteau "Crow-shechka" -- signifying "a cute little thing who is also dark, mysterious, and intelligent."

    Another possibility: Maybe the boyfriend could use a "typical and natural sounding" Russian term of endearment when he's in a cuddly mood (maybe "Lapushka," pronounced LA-poosh-ka, which literally signifies something like "My little puppy-paw"). But if he wants to tease her, he could use something slightly unflattering, like "Voronyonok" (vo-ro-ÑO-nok, with the Ñ as in Spanish "señor"), meaning "Baby raven."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Hmmm... хрошечка (KHRO-shetch-ka, with the KH sounding something like the Hebrew CH in l'chayim or the Spanish J in jalapeño) is a traditional Russian term of endearment -- there's even a fairytale about a Cinderella-like heroine who's nicknamed "Khroshechka". Literally, it means "Wee little crumb," and has nothing to do with birds.
    it's крошечка
    It is indeed in a fairytale Крошечка-Хаврошечка which is probably several centuries old but I think nobody uses it as an endearment anymore. Partially because of Russian translation of American B-movies where "baby"(when addressing a female adult) is translated as "крошка" or "детка" (I think it is very informal and might even be rude) better not to go to that slippery road
    крошка literally means crumb but also could mean something or someone small

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    "Crow-shechka" is fun. I love making language mutants. Lapushka is good also, but I think my US readers will be able to handle only one diminutive.

    Here is her response when he "names" her (she speaks no Russian):

    "He might be calling me his bald-headed baby buzzard, and I would still be charmed."

    As long as it works for him, it's all good. They'll wind up marrying at some point, so intimate is fine.

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