"Це свіжа сметана?"

Translation:Is this fresh sour cream?

September 15, 2017

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I cannot find any difference in meaning between 'Is this fresh sour cream?' & 'Is this sour cream fresh?' As a native American English speaker the meaning is the same.


There is a difference. In the first sentence, you're asking an identifying question. Is this particular item fresh sour cream? In the second sentence, you're asking about the status of the sour cream, if it's fresh or not.


Thanks for your reply and your thoughts. In text books there may be the difference you point out. In spoken English the question is often phrased either way to ask about the particular item or the status of the sour cream. Often I read in the Ukrainian course that word order can be flexible at times. This is also the case in spoken English. Many English speakers do not know the rules of grammar well, and yet they manage to communicate successfully. It is good in conversation there is context because without it there is confusion. Thanks again for your reply, but I don't see it the same way.


My pleasure. To your point about flexible word order in Ukrainian, without vocal or written emphasis (italics, bold, etc.), the last word in a Ukrainian sentence is the "news" or the word that takes the focus of the sentence.

Це свіжа сметана? Sour cream is the emphasis.

Це сметана свіжа? "Fresh" takes the emphasis.


The difference is in grammar.

"Is this fresh sour cream?" -> the subject is "this", "this" can be interchanged with "it" ("Is it fresh sour cream?"), "this" is a pronoun that plays a noun role. An answer to this question: "This is fresh sour cream".

"Is this sour cream fresh?" -> the subject is "this sour cream", "this" cannot be replaced by "it" ("Is it sour cream fresh?"), "this" is an attribute of "lunch", a pronoun that plays an adjective role. An answer to this question: "This sour cream is fresh".

It just happens so that in English both roles are played by "this", and in Ukrainian the noun role is "це", and the adjective roles are "цей/ця/це". It's the same in German, "das" plays the noun role of "that" ("Das ist ...") and "der/die/das" the adjective role of "that".


It is hard to imagine somebody saying Is this fresh sour cream. Is this sour cream fresh is used way more often. So people naturally tend to choose the second


In another exercise, свіжі means "recent" as opposed to "fresh." Is the same word used for both English meanings?


I saw that your question was answered in another thread already :)

The proper word for "recent" is нещодавній, but свіжий is often used metaphorically meaning very recent and new. "Fresh" newspapers, fresh news.


Thank you! Your answer is better than in the other thread! :-)


Is this question not really asking is this sour cream fresh? Should that interpretation not be accepted?


"Is this sour cream fresh?" would be "Ця сметана свіжа?"


Is 'smetana' not a word in English? I thought 'сметана' wasn't quite 'sour cream,' and therefore the translation is not the most precise --- wouldn't it be a bit like translating 'борщ' as 'beetroot soup'?


No, сметана is sour cream. There's no other word, at least in American English.


My guess is that Cmetaha is close or equivalent to the French "Crème fraîche", a product we don't have in the US, and that we don't have a name for, but that is similar enough to categorize as Sour Creme. Either way, all are forms of "Sour Creme", even if the final product is slightly different in terms of fat content, additives, and the bacterium used. "Sour Cream" is a good translation for conversation sake.


Yes, you're right. сметана/smetana (NOT cmetaha!) is not always sour, so it is both sour creme and creme fraiche. But it's sour more often than not, so sour creme is an accurate translation of сметана


Thanks for the comments :-)

I still think the anglicized form 'smetana' should still be accepted, even if it's not an "official" work in English --- in the same way we do with proper names, or other cultural artifacts.

There's at least a Wikipedia precedent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smetana_(dairy_product)



That's pretty cool!

At first i was in favour of smetana or kotleta to stop confusing people with foods they may have never seen. But then i thought, maybe the point of this vocab is for them to learn what these foods are. Then typing "smetana" doesn't count because the person didn't actually learn what it means and is just transliterating the word.

So i guess, either leave "sour cream" and "cutlet", or remove these words completely and replace them with more common foods :)


Interesting. I never heard of "smetana" in English. Is it pronounced the Russian way or the Ukrainian way? Or other?

[deactivated user]


    I think whether you translate it as sour cream, crème fraîche or smetana depends on the context, audience, etc. If I want to say what I've eaten I'll just say sour cream. If I'm writing a recipe I'll probably write smetana and add a note. Etc.

    Brits using this word are most likely to pronounce it with a British accent /ˈsmɛtənə/ or the Polish way.


    This is a trick question !

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