Is the meaning of this sentence like, "...as opposed to in the past, under a different calendar system, when the year DIDN'T start in January?"
I would interpret it this way (as opposed to the 1492—1699, when the year started in September, or to pre-1492, when the year started in March), otherwise «сейчас» wouldn't be used.
In early colonial America, New Years Day was 25 March. "There, until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, the first day of the new year was the Western Christian Feast of the Annunciation, on 25 March, also called 'Lady Day'." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year's_Day
In Russia, I celebrate New Years twice (Новый год и Старый новый год, или Новый год по старему).
I don't think Russia switched from Julian to Gregorian calendars until after the Revolution. When the UK and its American colonies switched, odd stuff happened, not just with days of the months for all dates but also with year numbers for dates between January 1 and Lady Day, e.g., George Washington was born on Feb 11, 1731 Julian, but Feb 22, 1732 Gregorian. The Lady Day year-start also explains why the names of months Sept thru Dec mean "seventh month", "eighth month", etc. I didn't know till I read the above post that Russia still has two new year celebrations. I guess that explains why this particular sentence exists as a Duolingo exercise.
if possible i would like to have some more information on those verbs ending in - sya. . where can I find it ? i just found out that, in the sentence " ya nie gavariu pa russky, tolko natchinayu", natchinayu belongs to the verb nachinaet-sya..also that HE LIKES CARS is translated using NRAVIT-SYA and not LYUBIT. thanks a lot for your help.
Verbs ending in -sya / -s' (-ся / -сь) are called 'reflexive verbs'. They have a number of uses, you could read about them here: http://www.russianlessons.net/grammar/verbs_reflexive.php
,many thanks indeed. just after posting my previous mail I reached the reflexive verbs level "! I was under the impression - but I was not sure - that these verbs are what we call PRONOMINAL in French. but i found out that they do not really correspond to that definition or at least not in 100% of the cases. I will print the information you just gave me. I also found it in french ' which makes it easier for me -
Why are they using сейчас (which I understand to mean "at this moment") instead of теперь (which means now, compared to some time before)? Is there some suggestion that the calendar will change again?
Lots of good comments. I put The year starts in January now It was marked wrong so I reported it.
No. "Now" implies that it was not so before. The year did not always start in January, but it does now. The two sentences "Год начинается в январе" and "Сейчас год начинается в январе" differ slightly in meaning. Similarly, "I know" and "now I know" are slightly different in meaning, with the "now" suggesting that I recently learned.
Is it possible to use 'теперь' here? I seem to have formed the impression that 'теперь' has a now-as-opposed-to-then shade of meaning.
Indeed, you’re right. Теперь is possible in this sentence if you’re constrasting the current state of things to what was there before.
I got this wrong actually. The sentence seems so nonsensical I didn't believe the literal translation could be taken for granted.. Oh well. :p
Before Peter the Great changed it they used to celebrate the new year on September 1st