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November 10, 2014
  • Languagehat highlights a passage by Mark Altshuller that presents Zhukovskii and Batiushkov as (very distant) forerunners of Symbolism and Acmeism, respectively. I like the analogy and LH’s way of taking it: “one could pick holes in the comparison if one were so inclined, but I find this sort of thing very useful in getting me to see familiar names from new angles and think about them in different ways.” See the comments for multiple Mandel’shtam translations, too.
  • Here are some false cognates between Russian and other Slavic languages. In all five Ukrainian-Russian examples, the Ukrainian word seems to mean the same as its Polish cognate, rather than its Russian cognate. I’d love to see a list of Ukrainian false friends where the meaning is different from both Russian and Polish.
  • For those interested in contemporary Russian literature, here are lots of links from Lizok to book reviews and awards. The linked review makes the Kuznetsov book sound like torture porn in the very worst traditions of Hollywood, but the reviewer seemed to like it.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2014 2:14 am

    False friends but genuine cognates, and most of the examples should not surprise even a monolingual Russian familiar with more than everyday workplace Russian. Even that is not needed to figure out “другой” as used in Ukrainian. “Один, другой, третий” still sounds natural in Russian. “Прошел год, прошел другой, третий” is only vaguely old-fashioned. Also, every half-educated Russian knows the set expression “еврейское местечко”, a shtetl (also a diminutive in Yiddish) so getting мiсто right shouldn’t be hard. I think every Russian schoolkid is told that the saying “Делу время, потехе час” actually means “There is time for work and time for fun”, not “Devote plenty of time to business and leave an hour for fun” because час was used as “time” until perhaps two centuries ago.

    But uroda (Polish), pozor (Czech, Croat, Serb), and especially ponos (Slovene, Croat, Serb) are far less obvious. And then there’s “zapominać”, “to forget” in Polish.

    • November 11, 2014 10:24 am

      False friends but genuine cognates

      Yes, you’re right, of course. I didn’t mean to suggest the words weren’t etymologically related.

      “Прошел год, прошел другой, третий” is only vaguely old-fashioned.

      To me cases like this seem like a plausible explanation for how the root came to mean different things in the various languages. “A year passed, then a second, and a third” is semantically more or less identical to “a year passed, then another, and a third.” Or maybe all that shows is that English “(an)other” has undergone a similar extension so that it can mean both другой, не тот and второй, еще один.

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