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"Директор чем-нибудь отличается от обычного учителя?"

Translation:Is a principal any different from an ordinary teacher?

March 7, 2016



What is English translation?


Директор чем-нибудь отличается от обычного учителя?//Is a principal any different from an ordinary teacher?


Let me guess: you have the app, right?


The app not always gives us the translation... plus it should have the grammar too


It's curious that I don't understand this question in English, but I do understand it in Russian. I have to look after my English.


I dont understand it in English either. It just isnt something that is asked quite like that meaning in English


The English is perfectly natural. I agree there is a semantic nuance in the Russian (that, as for me, I am trying to grasp) that isn't reflected in English. My Oxford New Russian Dictionary has отличаться + inst meaning "be notable for".


One thing that is confusing is that most English speakers probably wouldn't use the word "ordinary," here, which to me implies something like "not having super powers". We would use the word "typical" instead, which implies something closer to "on average".


Hmm, to me "ordinary" here easily fits with the meaning of "not being a principal" i.e. not having the "special or distinctive feature" of being a teacher who is also principal, while "typical" would be a slightly less natural fit.

Granted "ordinary" doesn't have terribly positive connotations (the implicit meaning "dull" probably isn't making things easier to understand here). Maybe a native speaker will comment on attendant connotations of обычный.


Wouldn't this be rather translated into "what makes a director different from an ordinary teacher?"


Well, in your sentence it's an open question, but with an assumption that there is a difference. The given English sentence (and, as far as I can understand, the Russian sentence, too) is asking whether there is a difference at all.


I believe the translation of that sentence would be, "Чем директор отличается от обычного учителя?"


English translation doesn't appear in the tablet forum page. Only apoears if and when you get the answer correct...


This translation looks like a rhetorical question. The speaker implies, because of "any," that a principal and an ordinary teacher are basically the same. If that is the sense of чем-нибудь here, then this would have to be the translation.

If the Russian sentence is actually a real question, asking for an answer specifying the ways the two positions differ, then it would be translated differently. I put Piguy3's version, "Does a director differ in some way from an ordinary teacher," and it was not accepted, but because it did not recognize "differ." Pretty ridiculous, as they have used that verb in other examples.

Now can a Russian speaker explain which reading fits this sentence, and how it would be said differently for the other meaning?


It's something in between. You can simply reply "yes" or you can give a detailed answer.

If you are in doubt you can use "точно" or "правда": "Директор точно чем-нибудь отличается от обычного учителя?", but this is colloquial.

If you used to think that there was no difference you can use "разве": "Директор разве чем-нибудь отличается от обычного учителя?"

Again, you can hear only "yes" in response, even if you are expecting a detailed answer.


So I gather it's not rhetorical, but requires a "yes" answer. As this translation reads, I could take it as a real question and answer "yes" or "no," and elaborate or not. Or if I take it as a rhetorical question, the implicit answer is "no." What makes the Russian a "yes"-only question?


Oh, I should have been more clear. Of course you can answer both "Yes" and "No": "Да, отличается", "Нет, не отличается". Or you can clarify: "Да, отличается. Более высокой зарплатой и отдельным кабинетом." "He has a higher salary and personal office" :)


I notice you phrased the further clarified explanation in instrumental. Do you think that's more likely than actually stating the full sentence: i.e. the "He has" part?


I didn't know how to translate it into English literally :)
The question itself ("чем?") assumes that the answer will use instrumental. But you're right that in this context "У него ..." would sound more natural. Maybe because we are talking about a human, maybe not. I don't really know. The context matters.

If the one who is asking is expecting a detailed answer, he should ask this way: "Чем директор отличается от обычного учителя?" Then the one who gets asked won't be able to give a simple "yes/no" answer.


Why is чем-нибудь in instrumental? I've read the comments and see that flootzavut describes it as "by means of" but then the answer won't get a yes/no answer as the original translation?


Because the verb Отличаться takes instrumental case. Фильм ужасов отличается своим сюжетом от комедии. This should not preclude the use of a yes/no response.


Except for the fact that отлича́ться + от + [Genitive] means "to differ from [Genitive] - which is the structure here. The instrumental чем-нибудь has to function in some other way.


It's the instrumental case that can have the meaning of "by means of." Here, the part specifically in instrumental is the "чем": "by what means" in this schema. "Чем-нибудь" changes it into the yes/no question: "Are there means by which..."


I'm also confused by the translation. It seems that чем-нибудь isn't asking if the principal is different but how the principal is different. Can someone explain what I'm missing here?


I now suppose a literal rendering of the Russian would be "Does a principal differ in some way from an ordinary teacher?"

I would have no idea if it the Russian shares the more neutral quality of this literal version or the stronger rhetorical connotation as to what the asker thinks the answer is that is reflected in the English translation provided.


With the usual non-native disclaimer, the instrumental on its own (in its most basic form??) means something like "by means of", which one could argue applies. "By means of what/in what way does a principal differ from an ordinary teacher?"

By means of/in what fashion? (The latter is rather old-fashioned, I know, but in terms of linking the Russian case with the English translation, I think it works rather well...)


A year and many encounters of отличается +instrumental "in the wild" later, I'm pretty sure the question you have here would just have "чем" as the question word.


A year-plus later, I remain uncertain about rhetorical connotations. "Is [thing 1] any different from [thing 2]?" strikes me as indicating the speaker's notion that the answer to the question is "no." I'm not inclined to think that the mere use of "чем-нибудь" as clearly indicates the speaker's notions, but would be happy for my position to be verified, or to be disabused of it, by a native speaker.


In English I would guess it means "what's the difference between a principal and an ordinary teacher?"


Except the sentence appears to ask if there is any difference. If there is no difference, you can't ask what that nothing is, because it doesn't exist. So, I doubt if your translation is correct.


I wrote "Is a principal different to an ordinary teacher" but was marked incorrect because I didn't say "...any different..."


Hmm, did you also try it with "different from"? Ngrams has it beating "different to" by a factor of something like 70 - and barely registering in American usage, which de facto plays a role in which "my answers should be accepted" have been submitted in large enough quantity to attract attention.

Of course, on more substantive matters, your translation doesn't represent the чем-нибудь at all (when the sentence, as far as I can tell, would have been perfectly comprehensible, and directly equivalent to yours, without it), which isn't the sort of thing Duo tends to like.


"different to" is incorrect English. If it appears in a usage table in any amount, that only reflects incorrect usage.

And "different from" is preferred over "different than", although both are used in standard American English. https://www.dictionary.com/e/different-from-or-different-than/


From your linked article:

Different than is common in American English, but might sound strange to British ears, and in the UK, different to is a common alternative that is seldom used in the US.

I.e. "different to" is not incorrect English.


I put "Does a principal differ in any way from an ordinary teacher?" I think that is a good translation but it was counted as wrong.


It's hard to render this well without a fairly free translation, so it's especially important that reasonable literal translations be accepted. Could I ask that "does the principal differ somehow from an ordinary teacher" be accepted? (an attempt to render чем-нибудь, which is instrumental). Also, "does the principal differ in any way from an ordinary teacher"?


we wouldn't express ordinary here. "How is a principal different from a teacher?" The question is stupid in English. Nobody would ask that. Maybe обичный has the meaning of "typical" in English.


It's been months and I still have no ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ idea what "чем/кто/где/кого - нибудь/то means. Not even a spark of a realization.


Watch the language, please.

Rule of thumb version:

  • что/кто/где-нибудь (and their declined forms чем/кого/all the others) = something/someone/somewhere/anything/anyone/anywhere in questions and indefinite statements (indefinite, a la something and you don't know what it is yet)

  • что/кто/где-то (etc) = something/someone/somewhere in definite statements (like something and you do know what it is but aren't saying)

more detail here


Sorry about the cussing. Thank you.


In case it can be of any use I tried to come up with an explanation in this thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/18320381


Does the word отлично come from отличаться? Standing out from the rest maybe...


Yes, it does.


Интересно. Спасибо!


Я не понимаю почему "отличного" и нет "отличная"...


от takes genitive; note that the noun it's modifying is the masculine "учитель" and the adjective is "обычный"


By the way, отличный (the adjective, I mean) is primarily used as "excellent, outstanding". In more bookish styles it may indeed get used as "other, different (from), differing (from)":

  • Крен ― положение самолёта, при котором вертикальная плоскость его симметрии находится под углом к поверхности Земли, отличным от 90°. ~ lit. Roll is the orientation of an airplane with its vertical plane of symmetry at an angle different from 90 degrees to the Earth surface .
  • А ближний ― он «другой», это иной, отличный от нас человек.
  • В каждом периоде времени ты создаешь отличную от прежней модель мира.

I cannot think of a way to use отличный in the sentence that started the discussion, though.


Could the russian be understood (if there wasn't a question mark) as a statement?


Could the Russian be understand as just a statement? (if there wasn't a question mark)


Hardly. I have difficulty imagining a context where чем-нибудь would make sense in a statement like that ("A principal differs from a teacher in any way.")


For a statement it should be "чем-то" instead of "чем-нибудь"?


I think that the instrumental case for чем-нибудь turns that compound word more into an adverb (even if technically is an adjective, it is linked to the verb), because instrumental suggests the usage "by means of" and -нибудь is defined as "any", so that чем-нибудь becomes an adverbial phrase meaning "in any way".

Also, отлича́ться + от + [Genitive] means "to differ from [Genitive]" or "to be different from [Genitive]". I think that some suggestions that the structure here is отлича́ться + [Instrumental] are wrong.

That would make the sentence translate as:
"[Does] a principal in any way differ from an ordinary teacher?"
"[Is] a principal in any way different from an ordinary teacher?"

If I were being really literal, I think I'd translate чем-нибудь as "by means of any that" where "that" = "[unknown, hypothetical quality]"


How do I translate this sentence without the hideously American "any different"? I tried "at all different", but to no avail...


How it possible guys? English translation is wrong. There is nothing about director of school In the sentence “is a principal any different from an ordynary teacher”.


@YevhenBobrov - For a grade school (elementary, middle, high school), the head of the school is a "principal", not a director. So in this case, the word "direktor" is a false cognate.


Yes, now I understand. Thanks! =)


Чем нибудь non lo prende


So, am I getting this right: отличаться means “to be different [from someone]” and отличать means “to differ (with someone)”?

With thanks.


I believe 'somehow different from' is a correct translation while 'any different from' sounds rather weird to me.


my answer should be acceptet


So "Директор отличается от обычного учителя?" would translate to "Is a principal different from an ordinary teacher?" ?


Yes. Or, literally, "Does a principal differ from an ordinary teacher?"

(the word отличаться is a verb "to differ, to be different")


Every time I review this lesson- months after doing it- this is the phrase I still ALWAYS get wrong.


"Обычного" pronunciation can someine help me out. With the sound.


@MariaVilma305124 - "Oh-beach-nuh-vuh" (well, the "ы" is somewhere between the "ea" in "each" and the "i" in "itch"). The "г" in the "-ого" at the end of adjectival words makes a "v" sound not a hard "g" sound.


This is wrong. I am tired of this. Not letting you select the correct word. It wants чем-нибудь yet it is not available as a choice. On чем нибудь is the choice given. So you are marked wrong for dulingo's error. You cannot answer the question correctly.


Do you mean that instead of "чем-нибудь" there are two apart words "чем" and "нибудь"?


Yes that is exactly what I mean. The hyphen one is what must be in the answer but the choices to built the sentence are TWO separate words so you can not answer the question as Dulingo wants.


I see. I think it's something on the part of this website's engine and eventually on the part of programmers/coders working on it. No moderator can help with it, I'm afraid.

They should stop giving a hint about the first word in a sentence too.

I don't think they read these comments though. If you feel like complaining, try to contact them by other means as well - email or whatever.


I would ask : is that Wright that the director is different from the ordinary teachers? - instead of that weard literally translted question .

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