https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

Finished the Russian tree . . . and I feel as if I knew less than when I started

Okay, okay, I know that's not true, but it still sometimes feels true. Though I've completed everything (it took me over 215 days, and my rule was to not start a new lesson till all the tree was gold), I'm still convinced that every noun has a different paradigm, every verb a different conjugation, etc.

I started the French tree with the goal of being able to read French literature, and when I was done I immediately started translating Émile Zola's "J'accuse... !" With immersion, I was able to. But I don't feel I'm at that point yet with Russian (not to disrespect the course, the course is great, but to be fair to myself, I had six years of elementary school French prior to my French course, and French and English are really similar languages). You need somewhat of a vocabulary to even begin reading, and then you have to start the painful process of looking up all the words you don't know in a dictionary. When I read French immediately after I was done the tree, I had to look up every fifth word; when I read a Russian website, I have to look up everything other word (and that's on good days).

But I do want to start reading some real Russian. Is there a Russian equivalent of Hemingway? Even him I probably wouldn't be able to read. Children's books?—no those are probably too hard. Special education books? Yeah, I think I may be able to get through those if I really put in the effort.

Random Russian questions for anyone who can answer:

  1. Does Russian distinguish between OR and XOR, the way Latin does? E.g., in Latin there are two words which roughly translate to "or" but you use them differently: you use "vel" to mean "one or the other or both" (i.e., OR), and "aut" to mean "either one or the other but not both" (i.e., XOR). Does Russian do the same?

  2. When I'm speaking Russian, are there any filler words I can say in conversation to signal to the other person that I'm trying to collect my thoughts? E.g., in French I can say "alors" and stretch it really long (alooooooooooooooooooorssssssss . . .)—a really great way to stop the other person from just switching into English, a problem particularly insidious when speaking with French Canadians. Anything I can say in Russian? "uhhh" is not terribly elegant.

  3. How forgiving/understanding are Russian speakers when people have foreign, non-Russian accents? If I don't pronounce words exactly the way Vladimir Putin does, will they still understand? As English speakers, children of the largest empire man has ever known, we're pretty tolerant to a bevy of accents and pronunciations from a bevy of anglophone nations, and an ever bigger bevy of accents from non-anglophone nations thanks to the heterogeneity of America. (I can tell you Francophones, especially Parisians, are very quick to correct you on your pronunciation, or not understand you at all—or, especially if they're Canadian, just switch into English; although, in my experience, saying a word or two of my incredibly broken Russian to a Russian when he doesn't expect it will usually result in a smile and a response in rapid-fire speech, as if I were his long lost брат)

  4. Are there many Russian accents? Which accent/dialect of Russian did we learn in this course?

  5. Will you find different spellings/grammatical rules across different dialects?

  6. How different is the Russian of Dostoyevsky, or that of Pushkin, to modern day Russian? I read that there used to be a lot more letters in the Russian language that were eliminated at the beginning of the 20th century. To read Dostoyevsky, would I have to learn new letters?

2 years ago

48 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/masongf
masongf
  • 21
  • 20
  • 19
  • 18
  • 13
  • 6
  1. In Russian, the "either/or" construction is done by "либо ... либо ..." For example, "Либо ты либо я." ("Either you or me.") Another example: "Все зависит либо от тебя либо меня." - ("It all depends on either you or me.) But that's just for that particular construction. In most cases just stick with "или."

  2. Personally I'd go with "но" or "ну" depending on the context. Those you can draw out like "alors."

  3. If your accent is REALLY thick, like where you aren't even trying, it might hinder understanding. But they are nowhere near like French Parisians.

  4. Surprisingly no. Because of highly centralized education the Soviets stamped out most of the dialects. In Russia today pronunciation is mostly uniform across the whole country with only subtle differences. There are "dialects" OUTSIDE of Russia like in Ukraine, but those are more of a Russia/Ukrainian creole and aren't considered proper Russian anymore.

  5. As different as Mark Twain is to today's English. Completely understandable but obviously an older way of speaking. Dostoyevsky has been republished since the spelling reforms, so that won't be a problem. Good luck!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
zirkul
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 6
  • 3
  • 1302

3. How forgiving/understanding are Russian speakers when people have foreign, non-Russian accents?

I think your example of an easily recognisable francophone reaction is actually characteristic of French (either the language or the people). If I were to assume a stereotypical American attitude, I would ascribe it to the French arrogance, but I suspect the real reason lies in the language itself. Of the languages I am somewhat familiar with, French is perhaps the closest any Indo-European language comes to a tonal language: you mess up the vowels slightly, and the person you are talking to is really, genuinely lost. An English speaker would try modifying a few sounds in his/her head to make sense of a mispronounced word; the French just give up. If there is any grain of truth in my hypothesis, you'd actually be on fairly firm ground in Russian: as you may have noticed, the vowel structure is quite simple in Russian (OK, unlike the Poles or Czechs, we still use them ;-) but there are no long or short vowels etc.) while the consonants are much harder to mess up completely.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
Shady_arc
Mod
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7

There is that problem about children's books, you know: many fairy tales, especially those you can easily find for free, date back to the 19th century. Their language is not quite like the one used today and they use rare words and expressions (e.g., жил-был)—sometimes because the things themselves became rare (e.g., витязь, лукошко or веретено). You might want to try something written in the 20th century. It is all for the best if the book was written for little kids. Maybe Чуковский and Драгунский will work for you.

1. Normally, we do not distinguish between exclusive and inclusive or. You can use либо ... либо ... to emphasize the opposition between the two options.

2. Yes, there are. «Хм» and a simpler «ммм» or «Эээ», nasalised or not, will work—as will ну (which has other functions, too). You can also insert «это», «короче», «так сказать» (which can be slurred all the way to такскть and скть). In the beginning of a sentence you can use «так». You can use «вот» in the beginning or in the end. By the way, while we are at it, note that «Ах», «Ох», «Ага» are totally not "Ah", "Oh" and "Aha".

  • look for examples in the corpus. It is rather large, and if you look in the spoken subcorpus you'll get a lot of examples for things like эээ or ну.

3. We are rather forgiving. Most stigmas are associated with people from regions where people speak Russian. So, whereas Odessa or Georgian accent do remind native speakers of something they heard in their life or in films, foreign accents are just accents. Maybe we can recognise a stereotypical English, French, German, Chinese or American accent—not much anything else.

4. By European standards Russian is amazingly uniform. Part of it comes from mass education (and people being relocated a lot) in the Soviet times and a relatively recent spread of Russian. As you might have known, it is European part of Russia (an not even all of its European part) where Russian has been spoken for a thousand years (it was Old East Slavic at some point). Naturally, it is this part of Russia that gets the attention of dialectologists.

To get something like this you have to make an effort to actually visit some remote village in the historical part of Russia (and no, I bet this girl does not speak like that in real life). Cities are more like each other, so the main difference is accents and small variation in vocabulary. You can see an attempt to gather enough data for a dictionary here. On Babadum I had a few laughs when presented with a word I had no idea existed (I think they have a few words unknown outside Ukraine and Belarus—maybe, also Latvia and Lithuania).

Ukrainian and Russian Far East accents are probably different enough that a non-native speaker can notice (if such speaker pays attention). Kazakhstan is another major player here, and to my ear it sounds almost identical to my pronunciation, with a slight hint of what you might hear in Ekaterinburg or Omsk. As for Ukranian accent, it does not reduce unstressed О and Е that much. Siberian speakers feature a stronger rhythm compared to a more uniform Moscow pronunciation (some dialects might keep unstressed О's as well). In general, the European northern dialects lack the reduction of O while the sounthern dialects have the reduction but change their G's to a fricative sound. You can see this in urban speakers as well.

That said, when I played Metro 2033 it took me a few hours to realise that the Moscow subway had way too many Ukrainians. At least, a lot more than it had the last time I checked

  • the game was made in Ukraine, so many secondary characters have got a noticeable Ukrainian accent. I guess the main cast did their best to put on a generic accent (not unlike something you can hear around Moscow).

This course teaches standard Russian—more precisely, a variant you can hear in Moscow or Saint Petersburg. Realistically, Ukraine could have established a standard of its own. . . but it does not seem to care enough. So, the standards published in Russia are the only standards there are. Which also means that I better keep teaching what I know. Having lived all my life in Moscow or rather close to it, I am not qualified to teach any other variety of Russian (it would be easier were the other varieties better documented).

5. Different spellings are hard to think of. After all, the spellings taught at schools follow the same standard everywhere. As for grammatical rules, it depends. Again, Russian is rather uniform by European standards. I can say that some words and expressions may get a slightly different use. If a verb's government changes, it does look suspiciously like a grammatical difference. But you won't find too much of this. Here are a few examples:

  • in Tatarstan the difference between «почему» and «зачем» is non-existent
  • Ukrainian speakers often render "to miss someone" as «скучать за кем-то», which is a mistake in standard Russian (only «скучать по кому-то», with the Dative, is used in Russian; there is an arhaic variant with Prepositional «скучать по ком-то»)
  • when saying things like "by car", "by bus", Ukrainian speakers seem to favour the Instrumental машиной, автобусом, электричкой. While you can use these in standard Russian (theoretically) it sounds quite old-fashioned: we tend to use на машине, на автобусе, на электричке instead.
  • in one region the expression «чуть не» ("all but", "almost") lost its не.
  • when saying at what place someone walks, Ukrainian speakers sometimes use the Instrumental: улицей, площадью. As a speaker of Russian Russian, I find it hard to parse them in real-time. We almost never use that. It is especially confusing if the place is not something usually associated with moving through (a street/alley/road).
  • quite a lot of regions call strawberry «виктория», which easily confuses a Moscow speaker (клубника is the standard word, though in scientific nomenclature it is a name of a different plant).
  • in some northern dialects past participles get used where the standard languages would use past tense (e.g., «Он ходивши» instead of «Он ходил»). Words like дедушка might follow the masculine declension. However, I think these are the features you would find in villages.

6. Russian of the 19th century is basically what Dickens's English is to you: different, with an old-fashioned sound but very understandable (especially if we talk late 19th century). It also makes children's books harder for a non-native because many famous fairy tales were written in that period.

‘I am deeply sensible, mother, that if this thought has never at any time flashed upon you, it must seem cruel and unnatural in me, even in this confidence, to breathe it.’

The books themselves are, of course, easily available in modern orthography.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

Wow, the dialect/accent answers were waaaaay more in-depth than I was expecting. Thanks so much! This course is really good. Have two lingots for your answer, and another for building the course.

That interesting about the Kazakhstan accent. I was told by a Ukranian buddy that the Kazakhstan accent is absolutely hilarious, but the way you describe it sounds pretty reasonable.

EDIT: Someone suggested to me Chekov's short stories. I'm interested in reading the Strugatsky brothers; I read Roadside Picnic in English, but that was super confusing. Also Metro 2033 is one of my favorite books, even though the English translation is absolute garbage. But I feel that all those titles would go waaaay over my head. Do you know of anything a bit more accessible, since I guess fairy tales would be too hard? Do you know of any Russian Hemingways?

EDIT 2: Also, I left out one question that I need to ask. I've yet to receive a satisfying answer to the question of when it's okay to drop pronouns in formal Russian (no use asking about informal Russian; you can drop pronouns in every language informally).

In English, it's never okay. Ditto for French. For Latin, it's always okay. But for Russian? Apparently, constructions like "Думаю, что . . ." are acceptable but I'm not allowed to ask "Хочешь говорить с моим?" When is it okay in Russian?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
zirkul
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 6
  • 3
  • 1302

That interesting about the Kazakhstan accent. I was told by a Ukranian buddy that the Kazakhstan accent is absolutely hilarious, but the way you describe it sounds pretty reasonable.

Native of St. Petersburg, I can attest to what Shady_arc said about Kazakhstan's Russian speakers. I played on a soccer team with several of them in the US (none of them ethnic Russian, by the way!), and their accent was largely non-existent to my ear. I would not say the same about the Ukranian accent though, and if you want to talk about hilarious, that is where I would begin ;-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
  • 25
  • 22
  • 16
  • 15
  • 4
  • 2

I know two Kazakhs, one ethnic Russian, the other not. I don't hear an accent from either of them. Obviously my ear is not as good as a native speaker's, maybe you would hear some accent. But if my learner's ear can't hear an accent, it's safe to say that it probably isn't enough to make life difficult for non-native speakers :-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

I finally have come across a word that is much better defined in American English and much better represents the reality compared to British English. Because the way you use it looks like a contradiction in terms to me.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
  • 25
  • 22
  • 16
  • 15
  • 4
  • 2

It actually does to me too, but in English as far as I know there isn't really a way to specify the nationality as opposed to the ethnicity, other than the awkward "people from Kazakhstan".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 21
  • 21
  • 17
  • 17
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8

Kazakhstani - Not that I've ever heard anyone ever use this word (although discussions of all things Kazakhstan are thin on the ground in my neck of the woods)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
  • 25
  • 22
  • 16
  • 15
  • 4
  • 2

Well, now I know :-) But like you I've never heard that word, and if I had heard it in a conversation I'd have thought it was a mistake. I'd hesitate to use it myself.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 21
  • 21
  • 17
  • 17
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8

On 2nd thought, I have maybe heard one of those rather worldly NBC Sports cycling commentators use it in reference to Александр Винокуров.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
zirkul
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 6
  • 3
  • 1302

Given that Pakistani is a legitimate word, I don't see a problem with Kazakhstani. OK, this may not be a uniform pattern: after all someone from Afghanistan is called an Afghani, but I don't think this would work well with Kazakhstan (and it certainly does not with Pakistan!).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
  • 25
  • 22
  • 16
  • 15
  • 4
  • 2

I would say "Afghan" for someone from Afghanistan, and both the dictionaries linked by Zeitschleifer agree. Maybe this one works because there is no Afghan ethnicity.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
zirkul
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 6
  • 3
  • 1302

@Theron126
According to this disctionary http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Afghani Afghani=Afghan. Personally, I would use "afghan" as an adjective (afghan cuisine, afghan refugee) and "Afghani" as a noun: she is an Afghani.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
  • 25
  • 22
  • 16
  • 15
  • 4
  • 2

That usage sounds OK to me as well, but personally I would use "afghani" only for the currency.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
Shady_arc
Mod
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7

The accent is quite mild. I had thought it was just that particular girl's voice until I met a Russian girl from Kazakhstan and noticed her manner of speech was much the same..

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 21
  • 21
  • 17
  • 17
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8

Just speaking as another learner, I made my way through a Chekov short story someone had posted in immersion (I think I probably wound up translating most of it? can't remember). It was certainly doable: not noticeably easier or harder than anything else I've looked at.

The thing is, until your vocabulary is probably 3+ times bigger than what this course can provide, you're going to have to look up a lot of words, so at that point, it doesn't matter so much what words they are: you'll be looking up plenty of words every Russian three year old knows, so what's the worry if a few are ones some Russian thirty year olds might not know? Your online dictionary still does. The words that are hard to deal with are the colloquial ones.

Maybe this observation is obvious to you (if so, you have a more knowledgeable vantage point than me: I only realized this helping with some Immersion translations into Russian when I was having some trouble with some of the old-fashioned Irish vocab choices, but the Russians seemed to just be plowing through like nobody's business; then I realized the magic key: Multitran), but, if not, point is: reading in Russian is just going to be tough any which way. Just start getting accustomed to the effort, and enjoy the journey!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
Shady_arc
Mod
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7

Dropping pronouns is done both in formal and in informal Russian in certain contexts. Then again, which kind of formal are we talking about? Academic language, the language of a report and the bureaucratic language of a state official are different.

It appears that for some verbs the difference in style between keeping and omitting a subject pronoun depends purely on usage: "Думаю, нужно подождать" sounds natural and a bit colloquial while "Считаю, нужно подождать" sounds telegraphic serious (like something your boss might say). "Считаем, необходимо подождать" is close to something you might see in quite formal speech.

From this point forward I shall primarily discuss third person pronouns. Dropping first and second person pronouns (especially, я, ты, вы) is different from dropping third person pronouns, which happens far less often. Nevertheless, in a conversation even they can be omitted in your answer (just like most of the sentence) if present in the question.

  • «А чем Лиза занималась, когда вы уезжали?»—«Точно не помню — мне говорили, переделывала код редактора». ( "Я точно не помню. Мне говорили, что она переделывала код редактора" is also possible)

Omission can be used in a series of sentences describing actions of the same entity. I think it can be used in formal speech, too, if you are essentially making a list of actions, demands or something like that—just the verbs with their phrases are enough. Might sound telegraphic, though:

  • Месяц назад два сотрудника нашей лаборатории были в Португалии. На раскопках нашли интересный материал, даже подготовили статью.

We never use pronouns in pseudo-passives with an unspecified human agent or a natural force as an agent . It is universal regardless of style (at least, if unspecified agent is what you mean):

  • (formal) Только в начале этого столетия пришли к необходимости окончательно упростить силлабическое письмо.
  • (neutral) Но Колину мать ищут давно и безрезультатно.
  • (spoken) Нам холодильник починили.
  • В один из штормов конструкцию завалило набок.
  • Устье реки перегородили дамбой, но дамбу смыло

The subject pronoun is easily dropped in the subordinate clause if it is the same as in the main clause. In fact, always keeping it sounds stiff:

  • Тем не менее Фортов сказал, что не знает, как пойдет процесс принятия поправок в Госдуме.
  • Класс, в который пришла новая преподавательница литературы М. Д. Сосницкая, когда переехала учительствовать в Москву, в 201-й школе называли сильным.
  • Она почти ничего не ела ― говорила, что не голодна.

Finally, pronouns are not used in short asnwers (similar to English "Yes, I did" / "No, she has not"). Just use the predicate:

  • «Вы были в Казани?» — «Да, конечно была».
  • «Лида устала?» — «Нет, не устала».
  • «Ну как ботинки, малы?» — «Да, кажется, малы».
2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

Have all my lingots. I'd give you more but my finger is getting tired from pushing the button.

I've had three separate Russians on three separate occasions try to explain to me the difference between the pronunciations of "Говорит" and "Говорить." But they sound exactly the same to me.

Before I die I will crack the secrets known only by the names Мягкий Знак and Твёрдый Знак

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dotters

This helped me heaps wrapping my head around it, hope it'll come handy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roevsN1zBl4

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

"Витязь" is still used as a name for something in military or in sport :-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
  • 25
  • 22
  • 16
  • 15
  • 4
  • 2

Well, I'm not an expert but I can answer some of these, at the risk of making myself look stupid again.

3: Although I'm probably a bit more advanced than you, none of the dozens of Russians I've talked with have had a problem with my poor accent or worse grammar.

5: I don't think so, not significant enough that you need to worry about.

6: While I assume you can find books with pre-reform spelling if you want to, modern editions will generally have post-reform spelling, so you won't need to learn new letters. How different the language is I'm not qualified to comment on.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gwenci
Gwenci
  • 14
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 5
  • 2

0: Congratulations!

1: No.

2: Perhaps то есть… ("that is") will do. Also, как это сказать…, я хочу сказать…

3: Pretty forgiving. Edit: also, a good start would be not mentioning Putin in relation to everything in the world. This isn't directed at you, just a remark. ;)

4: No. Modern Russian is very uniform throughout the whole country (and beyond, if spoken natively). You could only hear a major not-so-standard variety in Ukraine and Southern Russia, but the differences are not really significant. Someone will probably start telling you about Moscow vs. St Petersburg differences, but they boil down to a few words like "kerb". Edit: sure, there were dialects in the past, but now they can be found mostly in rural areas, and their speakers are usually elderly. Edit-2: I remember a discussion on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/russian/comments/51gt2i/is_dialects_as_important_in_russian/

5: No.

6: If 4 letters, of which 2 were barely used, is a lot… But as Theron said, all modern editions have the new spelling.

The difference in language is roughly the same as between modern English and 19th century novels: the language is (for a native speaker) understandable, if old-fashioned, with some obscure words for realities of that time here and there.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
piguy3
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 21
  • 21
  • 17
  • 17
  • 15
  • 15
  • 14
  • 14
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8

I think the answer to 1. is no, but if it's not, I hope someone will tell us. And thanks for resolving a Latin point I didn't know I didn't know!

Children's books: a challenge. Children's books w/ Immerion: a challenge but a doable one, it just requires the requisite effort and the understanding that it's hands on work with vocab, so compare it to flashcards instead of reading French literature, and it starts to look mighty appealing!

Here's what's active in Russian Immersion right now: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/17183514 (current work is on chapter 10).

A children's book, indeed. The way I started out making the substantial jump from the tree to comfortable reading (a jump that is still very much a work in progress, mind you) was to look at already translated chapters sentence by sentence and puzzle out the meaning as best as I could using my knowledge and the hover hints. Then I checked the translation. I did have some Russian prior to doing the tree, but I was very surprised at how relatively little time it took before I felt ready to have a go on my own.

If you want more side-by-side reading, the entirety of Russian Winnie-the-Pooh is lurking around, and it is a shade or two simpler than Dunno. Let me know if you have any trouble finding it, and I can dig up a link.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RCRvet
RCRvet
  • 22
  • 5
  • 2

пождравляю

@for me it takes a few moments before I switch my language thinking, English, Dutch, German and Russian seem to have a seperate chamber and can only switch English and Dutch randomly, German and Russian I need to get in the language a bit by hearing it then the switch goes on

When I struggle with a word I just use нууууу (which seems to be the popular choice among my Russian relatives) and as for dialects as a kid I learned to speak оканье (which means all the o's stay an O and is spoken is northern Russia, but any language course only teach you the 'standard' Russian so I struggle sometimes with if I want to pronounce it the way I learned in the past or how the courses that I use want me to say it (that's the problem of not being able to speak a language for a while)

And no, Russians are actually friendly once you get to know them and no matter if you only speak a few words or are conversational an accent won't bother them at all provided you are clearly understandible (написать, пописать sometimes get mixed up by foreigners and unless you have to go to the bathroom avoid the last word), they're actually very friendly and really appreciate it when you try to learn the language and talk to them in their own language

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

Well done! I'll read it all later (sorry) LOL But it's probably because the more you know, the more you become aware of the things you still don't know.

Edit:

  1. No.

  2. In order to prevent someone from switching into English you can try saying “как это по-русски…” (though this phrase can sound funny) or “как это будет…”, “как это…”. Just about anything short, but I would advise against saying “эээ” because listening to someone who constantly says it usually becomes a torture for anyone who can put two words together.

  3. You probably know that the infamous mustachioed man of Georgian descent from the times of the WW2 was unable to speak Russian without Georgian accent.

  4. There can be a slight difference in intonations sometimes, especially in the south of Russia, but it’s very difficult to describe even for a native speaker and most likely impossible to hear for everyone else. “Г” can be pronounced in an Ukrainian fashion, but it’s not standard. Those who speak Russian as a second language can have their own accents.

  5. No.

  6. I can’t recall any problems reading War and Peace or famous verses by Pushkin and Lermontov. I would even recommend relying on the literature of the 19th century as a source of refined language (and only Bulgakov from the whole 20th century). Yes, the Bolsheviks have very predictably introduced a spelling reform after their revolution. But I wonder how you expect to get ahold of a book printed in the 19th century?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

All the translations of Tolstoy I've read render his style in a very limpid manner. If that's any indication of his style in Russian, I might be able to start with him—I just wish he weren't so boring! (dont kill me) :P

EDIT: Also, I left out one question that I need to ask. I've yet to receive a satisfying answer to the question of when it's okay to drop pronouns in formal Russian (no use asking about informal Russian; you can drop pronouns in every language informally).

In English, it's never okay. Ditto for French. For Latin, it's always okay. But for Russian? Apparently, constructions like "Думаю, что . . ." are acceptable but I'm not allowed to ask "Хочешь говорить с моим?" When is it okay in Russian?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

I actually enjoyed reading The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov and not even because of the story itself, but probably because of his manner of writing. It’s hard to tell whether it can be your kind of a book, but maybe you can give it a try too.

I haven’t read much enough so I’m completely not familiar with Hemingway and I am not sure what exactly you are looking for.

Vocabulary can be the most difficult about reading books. It makes deliberately simplified texts or books with included complete translation very useful in the beginning. It saves a lot of time compared to a dictionary. I know that they are available for those who learn English. I wonder if something similar can be found for the Russian language.

Everyone talks about books for children, but I don’t try to read them. They tend to contain still huge vocabulary, but no plot that an adult would normally find intriguing. The only thing you can hope to enjoy is the author’s language, his style.

Your example sounds rather informal because of “(ты) хочешь”. It can be quite a normal question (with “поговорить” instead of “говорить”) as a part of a conversation where the context is already known, and the contact between the participants has already been established. In that case it would sound fine even with “хотите” (a pupil talking to a teacher for example or co-workers of very different age). I can imagine something like this:

  • Я хотела поговорить по-французски с его братом, но он уже ушёл.

  • Хочешь поговорить с моим? Он тоже знает французский, и он ещё здесь.

I never give it a thought so I can’t provide complete instructions in proper linguistic mumbo jumbo :-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/msgur
msgur
  • 25
  • 22

Пушкин, Гоголь, Лермонтов, Гончаров, Лесков, Тургенев, Достоевский, Толстой, Чехов had very large vocabulary. I have read all of them. Hemingway had a simple vocabulary, I can read books by him without any dictionary at all. And my English is pretty poor. Did you ask about Hemingway's style or about his level of vocabulary?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

I was asking, if there's a Russian writer known for the limpidness of his style, the way Hemingway is known for the limpidness of his.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MissCamden
MissCamden
  • 20
  • 20
  • 20
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 2
  • 2
  • 8

Congratulations for completing the tree. Now that you're done with duo you should use clozemaster & lingvist to expand your vocabulary. Oh, & reading the russian translation of your fav book is also a great way to absorb words faster.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

My favorite book is Quatrevingt-treize by Victor Hugo, and I would be quick to say that it likely doesn't have a Russian translation, if I didn't know that it was one of Stalin's favorite books, a translation of which he read in prison.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arcusimpetus

Isn't the internet amazing?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

What if it’s not a familiar book, but something that can be found in both languages? It wouldn’t work with a paper copy of War and Peace of course (again)…

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/airelibre
airelibre
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 22
  • 21
  • 15
  • 13
  • 7

Congratulations!

I never knew that about Latin. It seems like it would be useful in English...that would stop those stupid jokes (if you can call them that) that go like "-Is it X or Y? -Yes."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Enzfj2
Enzfj2
  • 25
  • 25
  • 24
  • 23
  • 18
  • 15
  • 9
  • 8
  • 961
  1. The constructs 'либо... либо...' are rather archaic, normally 'или то, или это' works as XOR

  2. There were many posts here about the difference of the Ukrainian kind of Russian language, however, nothing was said about quite audible accent differencies which can be heard in the everyday's life, however could not amount to be dialects.

Viz. the Moscow variety distinguishes with longer 'а' sound even in unstressed syllables and 'ш' instead of 'ч' in 'что' and many other words. Most parodies of Yeltsin started with his famous 'ну шта-а...' In Petersburg they say clearly что, though they use some non-standard words.

South-Russian (Gorbachev has this) and Ukrainian variety differs with specific sound of 'г', which can be rendered as 'h' sound, the Czech one.

Belorussian variety cannot pronounce hard 'р' where must be the soft one, and and ppronounce soft 'ц' instead of soft 'т', sometimes it has a slightly comic effect. Eg. one of famous Lukashenko's words was перэтрахиваць for перетряхивать

People of other ethnicities (generally from former USSR) may speak Russian with their own accents, the most distinguishing is the Caucasian one: both cis- and trans-Caucasian people have more common traits than the different ones.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

While "ну, шта-а..." sounds as a good parody of Yeltsin indeed, I'd like to point out that he was born somewhere near Ural and moved to Moscow only in 1985 approximately at the age of 54 (give or take one year).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rappelke

There's simply more to learn for an English speaker studying Russian. The US Foreign Service Institute (they train Ú.S. government personnel who have been given a foreign assignment) classifies languages by the time it takes to achieve basic fluency: 24 weeks for French, 44 for Russian and other Slavic languages, and twice that for Arabic and Japanese - here's the list: http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty.

If you want to read Russian literature, most of it is available online. Open up something and an online translation app and an SRS program and just start in. The translators aren't to be depended on for sentences, but they are good for most common words and phrases, and these transfer nicely into Anki or Mnemosyne. (Let's face it: this is going to take a lot of work.) Chekov is known for his style, and his short stories are often a lot funnier than the major works he's best known for. There are also graded readers, which use a simplified vocabulary and explain grammar points. Frankly, they're a lot better choice after just finishing the Duolingo tree than the first method.

BTW (afterthought), those are weeks of full-time study, not of time spent on the train or waiting in line at the grocery store. And (at least if you're in the Armed Forces), there's plenty of homework.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

I've come across this verse by Lermontov and it may be an interesting example for your question #6.

I think everyone should be able to read it even if the spelling is old. And apart from the spelling the most interesting is that Lermontov's language in this verse is 100% correct modern Russian.

So it seems to be possible to find books with the original spelling after all. If you look further you can find the link to the whole book on Google (I can't seem to add a working link to it).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
Shady_arc
Mod
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 9
  • 7

I can tell you more—it is possible to find reprints of old books in pre-reform orthography sold in shops. I guess, the target audience for some of these books is so small they do not wish to retype them.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

I actually have found one such at home since my last comment here, but it's a book about cooking: "Подарокъ молодымъ хозяйкамъ" :-) "Репринтное воспроизведение четвёртого издания Москва 1901 г." It's not very entertaining to read, but still interesting to take a look at the spelling and the sentences.

Edit: It's printed in 1991 and still mentions РСФСР. If you say that such books can be found today too, it's interesting to know.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Olja.
Olja.
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 5
  • 1186

:)

m1

m2

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zeitschleifer
Zeitschleifer
  • 23
  • 18
  • 17
  • 16
  • 843

Oh my! :-D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Olja.
Olja.
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 5
  • 1186

e

e1

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Olja.
Olja.
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 5
  • 1186

pav

pav2

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/helrasincke
helrasincke
  • 24
  • 22
  • 18
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 6

I'm not surprised, I'm coming to the end of an undergraduate degree in Russian and still feel fairly inadequately prepared to tackle reading, though perhaps not to the degree you describe.

So far as authors go, several of my Russian friends and teachers have suggested that Chekhov can be a great place to start. His style is relatively clear, his plots relatively straight-forward and his language relatively modern. Not to mention, his works are fairly highly regarded by many Russian speakers. There is even a textbook "The roots of Russian through Chekhov" which trains the student to recognise lexical roots and is a great way to maximise the transparency of the language. Other writers from more recent times such as Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn present a much more challenging read in the original. There are also many recent writers of science fiction and thrillers which might be up your alley, but I find the convoluted plots and unrealistic settings can present their own problems in terms of comprehension. If you are genuinely serious about understanding the inner workings of the language and are not afraid of linguistic terminology, I can recommend Charles Townsend's 'Russian Word Formation', which is easily purchased from various online stores and should cover all topics you need as well as many you didn't even know existed.

At the end of the day, you will have to choose your path, but I hope some of this may be of assistance.

4 months ago
Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.