Translation riddle for hard learners
Let's try to translate this sentence into Russian.
"За песчаной косой лопоухий косой пал под острой косой косой бабы с косой"
Who get the meaning after the first reading?
I've got it easily but that's because I'm a native speaker.
Whoa! Not me!
This word can mean so many things: http://dictionary.reverso.net/russian-english/%D0%BA%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%B9
This one can be several different prepositions: http://dictionary.reverso.net/russian-english/%D0%97%D0%B0
This seems as though it is pretty ghastly.
The key is to find out what words are nouns and what words are adjectives. There are no commas and that is a good hint, because similar adjectives, which follows each other, have to be separated by a comma.
I can get you started
1) After the preposition "за" we expect either a noun, or an adjective. "Песчаной" can be only an adjective. It means "made of sand" or simply "sand" (adjective).
2) After the adjective we again expect a noun or an adjective. There is no comma, so "косой" is a noun here. Preposition "за" tells us that "косой" is in instrumental case, therefore the base noun is "коса". It has several meanings, e.g. "braid" (hair), "scythe" (tool), but in conjunction with "песчаная" it is naturally means "barrier beach".
3) "Лопоухий" can be a noun and an adjective. "Косой" can be both too. Do we have comma? No. Therefore it can only be a pair of adjective + noun or noun + adjective. But..."лопоухий" is not a valid noun, it can be used as a noun in colloquial speech, but you never combine it together with an adjective, because it sounds bad and ambiguous. Therefore, "лопоухий" is an adjective. "Лопоухий" is in nominative, so "косой" is in nominative too. It has two meanings: a hare and a cross-eyed man. But again, the same as with "лопоухий" as a noun, "a cross-eyed man" is a colloquial use of adjective "косой" (cross-eyed), and it cannot be combined with another adjective without some additions.
4) After some considerations we can understand that "пал" is a verb. Where do we get for now? "Behind (за) a barrier beach (песчаной косой) a lop-eared (лопоухий) hare (косой) fell a victim (пал)..."
Wow, I wondered how the "lop-eared" or "big eared" tied in with "косой". With all the meanings I found for that word, I didn't know it could also mean "hare". I did find a lot of other words that mean "hare": http://context.reverso.net/translation/english-russian/hare
The word order is still throwing me big time. For me since there is a preposition in front of the lop-eared hare, I didn't think it could be the subject, the barrier beach is right in front of the verb, but I don't think that it could be the subject so should there be a preposition for the barrier beach? So where did you get the word "behind" from? http://context.reverso.net/translation/english-russian/behind So if the first word is the preposition for the 4th and 5th words, no wonder we are having trouble to figure this out.
It's a traditional folk name for a hare. You can come across it in folk tales, cartoons, etc.
Well I had not understood the beginning well, but the ending - I had some gruesome ending for that. I will just insert what I learned from you. "The lop-eared hare behind the barrier beach was slain by the beveled edge of the Grim Reaper's scythe, an old woman with a scythe." It seemed too repetitive in the end, so I was sure that I again have this all wrong. I will tell you that I originally had "The lop-eared cross-eyed man on the sand bar was slain by the cutting edge of the Grim Reaper's scythe, an old woman with a scythe." Of course you had "fell victim" so I could change "was slain by" to "fell victim to".
I was wondering what other sharp thing the old woman might have had instead. = Rabbit stew!
Edit: I was shivering! I hesitated to put down what I had, because I didn't think that was what it was supposed to be. I kept trying to figure something else out, but then when you had "fell victim", I decided to show you where my dictionaries were taking me. Oops! I missed some, I'll just insert that back in - as if it wasn't creepy enough. I came across Grim Reaper in several places. http://context.reverso.net/translation/russian-english/%D0%BA%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%B9 There was also "lazy one", but it didn't seem to work with the other words. I mean I couldn't picture the hare falling victim to a lazy one.
Nice one! Where did you get this Grim Reaper thing? It makes me shiver.
Actually, the Death is sometimes really jokingly referred to as "баба с косой", but this is not the case.
I'll try to decipher the last part for you.
"...под острой косой косой бабы с косой".
5) First, let's take this part: "под острой косой". "Пал под острой косой". It's a tricky one, because "пал под" — is not standard way of saying. It's an old style. Now we usually say "пал от" (e.g. "пал от меча" = slain by sword). After "пал под" we have to name the thing, which caused the death. So "острой косой" is the thing that slain our hare, adjective + noun. It is declined according to the preposition "под", so it is in instrumental case. The nominative is "острая коса". "Острая" is sharp, so the natural choice for "коса" is scythe.
...was slain by a sharp scythe...
6) What we can expect after we say with what the hare was slain? Period. Or some additional clarification. Who slain the hare? After "под острой косой" we can only add the clarification for "косой". I can imagine only a noun or an adjective+noun thing here. Whose scythe it was? "косой бабы" It is possessive case. Nominative is "косая баба". We know what the adjective "косая" mean (cross-eyed). "Баба" is a folk name for a woman (use it carefully as it might be considered insulting in general speech).
...was slain by...a cross-eyed woman's...sharp scythe...
7) Finally "...с косой" adds information about "бабы" (nominative is "баба"). Literally, "a woman with a braid" (i.e hair-style)
I'm not sure how to properly add this bit to the final sentence. :)
I hesitated to put down what I had, because I didn't think that was what it was supposed to be.
Hey, no need to worry. You are doing exceptionally well! The phrase is really mind-bending. It takes a great exposure to language to understand it with a glance.
It is very good that you are showing what you dig up. It allows us to make discussion here, not just pass by shrugging at it.
After some consideration, I'm starting to think that "Grim Reaper" is also a possible meaning here, though it looks tautological in Russian. ...slain by a sharp scythe of --the woman with a scythe-- (Grim Reaper).
Behind = за = позади. Где моя сумка? Она за стулом. Where is my bag? It is behind the chair.
За песчаной косой = behind a barrier beach. It is about location. Where? Behind a barrier beach.
Лопоухий косой = a lop-eared hare. It is a subject. The verb "пал" goes immediately next to it.
James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher. :)
I don't get it. Can "had" be a noun?
James ... while John had had noun_had (that) had had noun_had (that) had had noun_had ... had had a better effect on teacher.
Interesting. We have something like that in Ukrainian: як як як як як як як як як. It is a part of a joke:
— Куме, ти був в зоопарку?
— А яка бачив?
— Як як?
— Як як, як як... Як як як!
UPD: Added two more "як". :)
Ouch. I would not be able to get that. Here's an (American) English one. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Yes, I'm a native speaker and that eluded me the first time I heard it.
what is For big-eared oblique strip of sand fell at a sharp braid women with a scythe supposed to mean?