Translation:We speak both German and Russian.
«И... и» is translated «both... and». It's a complex conjunction.
The sentence would certainly make sense without it:
- Мы говори́м и по-неме́цки, и по-ру́сски. 'We speak both German and Russian.'
- Мы говори́м по-неме́цки и по-ру́сски. 'We speak German and Russian.'
Would it also be correct to say "we speak both in German and in Russian", referring to a present conversation rather than just general ability "we speak both German and Russian" - the given answer. I wondered if my sentence might have needed сказать rather than говорить.
Yes, this sentence can refer to a present conversation too, not just to ability (although the latter is a more common meaning, I believe). Сказать doesn't have a present tense, so it doesn’t belong here.
Roughly half of Russian verbs doesn't have present tense. Such verbs are called perfective verbs. If you need to tell that something is happening 'now', you just find another verb, an imperfective verb.
Perfective verbs describe an action occuring at a single moment of time. E.g. the action of «сказать» happens when you successfully finish saying something. The moment when you've successfully conveyed your message is the point of time when «сказать» happens. If you started saying something and didn't finish, then the action described by «сказать» simply didn't happen happen. Some examples (taken from Sofia Rotaru's songs, because why not? :D):
- Мне нужно тебе сказать: // «Небо — это я». 'I need to tell you: // 'The sky is me'." (Sofia Rotaru, Небо — это я: lyrics, youtube)
- Я уйду в непогоду, под дождь проливной, // И не стану, ей-богу, спорить с тобой, // Не скажу даже слова, слова тебе. 'I will walk out into the bad weather, under the heavy rain, // And I won't, really, argue with you, // I won't say even a word, a word to you.' (Sofia Rotaru, Другая)
- Ты мне сказал что любишь раз и навсегда. 'You told me [you] love [me] once and forever.' (Sofia Rotaru, Я решила сама)
- Сердце золотое, иначе как сказать? 'The heart is golden, how to say it in a different way (=can I put it in different words)?' (Sofia Rotaru, Золотое сердце)
- Скажи, куда от этих снов мне деться 'Tell [me], where I can escape these dreams' (Sofia Rotaru, Золотое сердце)
Imperfective verbs describe an action that happens for some period of time, it has a beginning time and end time. Being an interval, it describes either an continuous action (e.g. говорить might describe an action of speaking for some time), or repeating action (e.g. говорить might describe a habitual action). Some examples:
- Чайные розы в купе // Мне говорят о тебе 'Tea roses in the train compartment // Are telling me about you' (Sofia Rotaru, Чайные розы в купе)
- Всё равно мне, что там люди говорят. 'I don't care (=[it's] all the-same to-me), what the people are saying' (Sofia Rotaru, Один на свете: lyrics, youtube)
- Мы порой в любовь играем, // А когда ее теряем, // «Не судьба», — говорим. 'We sometimes play in love [as if it's a game], // And when we lose it, // We say: "It was not meant to be so".' (Sofia Rotaru, Лаванда)
Since act of speaking is not momentary (the time passes between you begin the utterance and end it), you can't use perfective verbs in the present tense. They only have past tense and future tense.
Yes, often the English verb corresponds to both perfective and imperfective verb in Russian. E.g. 'to read' can correspond to both «читать» (imperfective, 'to be reading') and «прочитать» (perfective, 'to successfully finish reading'). This is true. English has more tenses, Russian has more verbs. :D But there are some patterns for forming perfectives and imperfectives, so you'll learn them eventually.
Very few words are like говорить and сказать (i.e. when imperfective and perfective look completely different), most verbs have a perfective/imperfective pair like читать and прочитать.
I was taught to translate 'по' as 'in' russian or 'in' some other language. This helped me understand the need for 'по' rather than the explanation about russianly that was used at the beginning of this lesson. So. говарю по русский, I speak in russian. And of course говарю русский язык. I speak the russian language.
With a lot of words you add по- to turn it into an adverb, and it's not just about language. Example: детское поведение would be childish behavior, but ты поступаешь по-детски would be "you're acting childish". In this case, you can use the adjective of Russian, but then you must say Говорить НА русском. You can also use that to describe something in another language (Я читаю эту статью, хотя и не понимаю ее так как она на китайском - I'm reading the article although I don't understand it since it's in Chinese).
Short answer: no.
Long answer: This depends on whay you mean by "could it be translated". There are no cut-in-stone correspondences between words, each time the translator looks at the sentence and finds the most appropriate translation. Which is not neccessarily something given in the dictionary (a dictionary just contains the most common variants, which are not always applicable).
In a real-world translations, lots of things can happen. To take the most noticeable examples, Bagheera can became a female, and Voldemort can become Volan-de-Mort. These are only a tip of the iceberg, a translator can choose to use a different word just because she feels it sounds better. So can «и ... и» be translated 'as well as'? It definitely can.
In Duolingo, only a small subset of most common translations is accepted. Because Duolingo is not about translation, really. It's about language learning. It only uses translation as a means. It won't allow translating 'him' as 'her', even if you were talking about Bagheera. It has some didactic ideas and it follows it, which makes its translation process pretty different from the translator's work. So can it be translated this way in Duolingo? I doubt it, but you could try and check.
Thank you for your reply :) I understand translation is not really a word for word thing ... I guess I should have asked my question differently. What I was trying to ask is whether in a random, informal conversation the difference between the two sentences was small enough.
I don't think the difference is important — but neither is the difference between "both... and" and just "and", I think. (?)
The two languages look at the subject differently.
English sees using a language as something that you do to a language:
How to you treat a language? I speak it.
Russian sees using a langage as the language affecting your speech:
How to do you speak? I speak using the Russian language.
There is no reason that we should look at these things the same way (I actually find the Russian version more logical!) So we can't force one language to say something in the way another language does.
We don't say: "we speak Russianly" (!)
Equally we can't say: мы говорим русский
Note it's not the dash but a hyphen. Dashes are longer (—) than hyphens (-), and are usually surrounded by spaces.
@someone336891 - No, говорит is the third person singular (he/she/it - он/она/оно) conjugation of the verb говорить.
Additionally, if you drop the по- the words would become full length adjectives (немецкий (язык), русский (язык), немецкий и русский (языки)). They would have masculine endings because the word they modify (which can be omitted since it would be obvious from context that you're talking about language) is masculine (язык). While you would be understood saying "Мы говорим русский", it is definitely not a proper sentence. When it comes to talking about speaking, understanding, reading and writing it is better to use the adjective (по-русски).
You would use the adjective (and noun) when talking about the language in general... Русский язык - сложный язык (Russian language is a complex language); when talking about translating / interpreting from one language to another (Переводи этот текст с английского на русский - Translate this text from English to Russian); when talking about knowing a language (Мы знаем русский язык - We know the Russian language), etc.
@Elliot176025 - "We both speak" is not accurate here for a couple reasons. "Both" means "two", but we don't know from the Russian sentence how big the group is, so we are adding information that isn't there. And the "both" is meant to illustrate specifically the two languages spoken.
Edit: DaughterofAlbion actually explains the second part in greater detail in the response below.
@LuigiNeri2 - Not quite. The pronoun Мы is specifically "We".
I would otherwise agree with your translation, especially if it were spoken at a business or something like that. But it can also literally mean that they are having a conversation in both languages (not... super likely but not impossible either).
No, "we speak both German and Russian" and "we both speak German and Russian" mean completely different things. The former emphasises that there are TWO languages covered, the latter that there are TWO people with that set of skills. The и...и... construction surrounds the languages, so the former is what was meant.