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  5. Стоит, сидит или лежит?


Стоит, сидит или лежит?

Here's a funny story about "standing", "sitting" and "lying" objects in Russian. I hope my translation is not too bad; corrections are welcome.

TL;DR: It is too hard to define a strict rule whether you should say "стоять", "сидеть" or "лежать" when you talk about inanimate objects. Feel free to ask about specific objects in the comments.

Disclaimer: I am not the author, and I have nothing against the French.

Тут говорят, русский язык логичнее. А попробуйте объяснить французу, почему стакан на столе стоит, вилка лежит, а птичка на дереве сидит.

Со стаканом и вилкой я тут же вывела теорию: то, что скорее вертикальное, чем горизонтальное – оно стоит; то, что скорее горизонтальное, чем вертикальное - оно лежит. Моя теория тут же разбилась о тарелку – она скорее горизонтальная, чем вертикальная, но стоит. Хотя, если её перевернуть, то будет лежать. Тут же на ходу выводится еще одна теория: тарелка стоит, потому что у неё есть основание, она стоит на основании. Теория немедленно разбивается в хлам о сковородку – у нее нет основания, но она всё равно стоит. Чудеса. Хотя если её засунуть в мойку, то там она будет лежать, приняв при этом положение более вертикальное, чем на столе. Отсюда напрашивается вывод, что всё, что готово к использованию, стоит. (На этом месте хочется сказать пошлость.)

Но вот возьмём еще один предмет – мяч обыкновенный детский. Он не горизонтальный и не вертикальный, при этом полностью готов к использованию. Кто же скажет, что там, в углу, мяч стоит? Если мяч не выполняет роль куклы и его не наказали, то он всё-таки лежит. И даже если его перенести на стол, то и на столе (о чудо!) он будет лежать. Усложним задачу – положим мяч в тарелку, а тарелку в сковородку. Теперь у нас мяч по-прежнему лежит (в тарелке), сковородка по-прежнему стоит (на столе), вопрос, что делает тарелка?

Если француз дослушал объяснение до конца, то всё, его мир уже никогда не будет прежним. В нём появились тарелки и сковородки, которые умеют стоять и лежать – мир ожил. Осталось добавить, что птички у нас сидят. На ветке, на подоконнике и даже на тротуаре. Француз нарисует в своем воображении синицу, сидящую на ветке на пятой точке и болтающую в воздухе лапками, или бомжующую ворону, сидящую, вытянув лапы и растопырив крылья, у станции метро. «Русские – вы сумасшедшие!» - скажет француз и закинет в вас учебником.

They say Russian is logical. Well, try to explain a French person why a glass is standing on the table, a fork is lying, and a bird is sitting in a tree.

With the glass and the fork, I instantly came up with a theory: The object that is vertical rather than horizontal is standing, while a horizontal thing is lying. My theory, however, was immediately broken apart by a plate: it is more horizontal than vertical, but it stands. If you turn it upside down, however, it will be lying. Well, here’s another theory for you: A plate is standing because it has a rim on the bottom, it is standing on it. This theory is smashed with a pan: it does not have any rim, but it is standing as well. Weird. And now, put it into the sink, and it will be lying there, although taking a more vertical position than it has on the table. Now I am tempted to conclude that anything ready to be used is standing. (Here, most Russian speakers chuckle because "стоит" is used for something else that is ready to be used.)

Okay, let us take another simple thing – a plain old ball. It is neither horizontal nor vertical, but is absolutely ready to be used. But who would say that the ball is standing in the corner over there? If it does not play a role of a doll who has been punished, it is lying. And even if you put it on the table, it will be (lo and behold!) lying. Let us make the question a tad more difficult: put the ball in a plate and the plate into a pan. Now, the ball is still lying (in the plate), the pan is still standing (on the table), but what is the plate doing?

If your French person has listened all this patiently, their world will never be the same. Now it has plates and pans that can stand and lie - the world came alive. We only have to add that birds sit. On a branch, on a windowsill and even on the ground. A French would imagine a tomtit sitting with its bottom on the branch and swinging its legs, or a beggar crow sitting with its legs stretched and its wings spread out, near a subway station. "Russians, you are crazy!" – they would say, throwing a textbook at you.

November 18, 2015



Великолепно! Красиво написано. Пост так и должен был называться: "Russians, you are crazy!" :)


Not too unsimilar with how Dutch does it. Come to think of it, quite identical actually for the most part.


Yeah, it reminded me of Dutch as well: zitten, liggen en staan


Swedish too!


Indeed, birds also sit in Dutch


Haha, it's so funny! xD


Most of Russians (including me) feel the same trying to understand using of English articles (should one use "a", "the" or "null" article in certain case?)


For me, this is a great example that you don't have to understand everything. Some things just come with practice without any formal rules.


Очень смешно и может быть даже полезно. Я сейчас всегда буду думать о синице, сидящем в дереве, как маленький мальчик... whistling mischievously! (I don't have the beginning of a clue what that is in Russian...)


It's the same in German, at least in (that's the wrong preposition, isn't it?) 95% of the cases you mentioned. And now I'm confused because I don't know what the plate in the pan is doing. I would go with god ol' to be or better: the German word sein. Der Teller ist in der Pfanne. (=The plate is in the pan.) Problem solved. Would this be В сковороде тарелка in Russian?


The text is funny, but after reading the comments it rather looks like a Russian, a Dutchman, a German and a Swede would throw their textbooks at a Frenchman :)

Russians are more or less like everyone else. It’s the world that is crazy :)


In English birds can also perch, or be perched, as well as sit; although they usually do not stand, I believe there are exceptions. English is not immune to its own peculiarities though.


I think in English, it would be more common to use standing when referring to when the bird was doing something.

The bird was standing there guarding its nest. The bird was just standing, ready to strike. In both of those cases, saying the bird was sitting when it was actually standing would create a misleading image.


Смешно и интересно! :)


You're all insane. Then again English is hardly better.


eh breh! alle dis ruski jit mak meh cunfuzed!

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