How would you say "Are you speaking German?"?
I was marked incorrect, and I don't know whether to report it or not.
No, "Are you speaking German?" is still "Вы говорите по-немецки?". Поговорите is either the imperative (Speak German!) or indication of a one time action in the future (You will be speaking a little bit in German?).
What is the etymology of немец- ? It seems like every language has it's own word for German/Germany.
Не́-мец ‧ Не-мо́й ‧ cognate with [ Mime, Pantomime, Mimic ]
немец" shares its origin with "немой". Originally, it was a common name for all foreigners who couldn't speak Slavic languages. Later on, it came to mean just German ‧ masterrussian.net/f15/where-do-words-немец-немецкий-come-13843/ ‧
Не-мо́й ‧ dumb, mute ‧ From Proto-Slavic *němъ. Compare Old Church Slavonic нѣмъ (němŭ) ‧ en.wiktionary.org/wiki/немой ‧
Compare Latvian mēms (“dumb, mute, silent”), Old Polish omienieć (“to become dumb”), Latin mūtus (“mute, dumb, silent”), Ancient Greek μῖμος (mîmos, “mime, actor”), German mummeln, English mumble, Swedish mimra. ‧ en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Slavic/němъ ‧
Mime ‧ From Old English mīma ("a mime") from Latin mimus, from Ancient Greek μῖμος (mîmos, “imitator, actor” ‧ en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mime ‧
According to Wiktionary, this word is related to English mumble and mute, meaning speaking incomprehensibly.
How would you say "Are you speaking German?"
Possible context: I overhear two people talking, but do not recognise the language that they are speaking.
If I interrupted (politely, I hope!) with "Do you speak German?" that would imply that I did, and WANTED them to speak German, in order to understand them better.
I’d say "Вы по-немецки говорите?" – with an emphasis on "по-немецки". This word order would be more fitting in this context, although "Вы говорите по-немецки?" is still possible, too – the important thing is the intonational stress on "по-немецки".
Yeah; absent of the distinction of two present tenses, Russian resorts to its favourite devices – changing word order and/or intonation. Another possibility that came to mind is adding "это": Это вы по-немецки говорите? (kind of "Is it German you’re speaking?") Here the intonational emphasis on "по-немецки" is also important, because if you put it on "вы", that would mean "Is it you who speaks German?"…
Thanks again. I have found the fact that Russian has only a single present tense to be its most confusing feature, in terms of how to convey distinctions of meaning that are clear in English.
It took me a long while to realise the differences in meaning conveyed by altering the sentence order in Latin; I must pay equivalent attention to their effect in Russian, it seems.
Why is немецкий incorrect? I saw the description about it being like an adverb, but I've never seen it like this in the wild :)
по-немецки is the adverb, немецкий is the adjective. "Он знает немецкий язык" vs. "Он говорит по-немецки"
Can you write the whole sentence? You can use «немецкий» here if you apply it correclty.
Wrong verb conjugation. "Ты" uses "говоришь". "Говорите" is used with "Вы".
Why German and Japan are called by different names in Russian language. Could anyone (possibly a native Russian speaker) please explain it in English?
Germany is still Германия, as in English (Germany). That country has a wide variety of names (some version of Alemania in the Romance languages, Deutschland in the native German, which becomes Tyskland in other Germanic languages, Germany/Germania in English and other languages from the Latin Germania, etc.). A lot of it has to do with the historic ties and who interacted with whom - remember, Germany wasn't even truly unified into a single nation as we might understand it until the 19th century. Historically there were many different Germanic tribes, and from there, and from certain geographic splits, you get the different names of the country. I only explain that since you said "German and Japan" (so I wasn't sure if you were talking about the country or the language/people).
The word немец (German man), немка (German woman), and adjective немецкий ("german") come from the Old Church Slavonic word for "foreigner" and the root is basically нем- (like in the adjective, немой - dumb [as in mute], though historically also just "incapable of speaking in an understandable language"). In olden times the word was used to describe many Germanic peoples such as Swedes, Norwegians and Danes, and for a time even included Scots, Brits, etc.
Япония is a little more straightforward - it comes from the West's "Japan" (presumably from the German "Japan" which sounds like "Yahpahn"). Where we got it from... well, there are some debates about that... Some say it comes from the native Japanese "Nippon/Nihon", or from Marco Polo's interpretation of certain Chinese words (though he never visited Japan himself), or from the Malaysian word...
I think "Can you speak German?" as in "Are you able to speak German?" would require the verb уметь (which basically means, "to know how to").