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Idiomatic Russian

February 28, 2014

I’ve been enjoying the Russian Language Blog for a while. It now has some new contributors, and I wanted to call your attention to a very useful recent post by Maria, a sort of meta–language study post about how to figure out how native speakers would actually say something, rather than put together some words that might be grammatically “correct” but sound unnatural. It works both as a practical guide and a theoretical caution, a reminder that even asking a native informant or searching ruscorpora.ru often can’t give you the final word on whether people would actually say X. It’s very useful to have this kind of advice from someone who’s both a linguist and a native speaker of Russian.

That’s not to take anything away from the other contributors to that blog – in particular I’m very grateful to yelena for her post about mnemonics and for answering my questions in the comments. Did you know Цирк Огромный, Купол Пестрый, Словно Радугу Вознес ты? It’s to remember царство, отдел, класс, порядок, семейство, род, вид (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2014 8:51 am

    All the Russian unvoiced consonants in one sentence: – Стёпка, хочешь щец? – Фу!

    There was something about irregular first-conjugation verbs (терпеть-вертеть-обидеть-зависеть-ненавидеть etc.) but I don’t remember it anymore.

    And this from Communist Party history (an obligatory freshman course before 1989): the first Marxist grouping in Russia, “Освобождение труда”, consisted of five members. Read the first letters of their names: Плеханов, Игнатов, Засулич, Дейч, Аксельрод.

    • February 28, 2014 10:53 am

      There’s a similar mnemonic from English history where five names/titles spell out CABAL, but my goodness, the Russian example you give is much more vivid.

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