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Translation and language comparison

 
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

Right, I got that. I was suggesting that it was entirely possible that the Russian word came from the plain "soft" piano rather than the derived "painoforte" piano. Based on Map's post though it seems neither is the case.


Jim, Tom, I have no clue what you are talking about, but there *is* a musical instrument called "fortepiano", not sure if this is what you mean. But if it is, then it is *(n) funny that we switched "forte" and "piano"...
 
Mapraputa Is
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And I cannot think about any other translation of "soft" into Russian but "myagkiy" - probably very wrong spelling, yet having nothing to do with "piano"
But if somebody has a better translation, you are welcome.
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
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According to m-w:
fortepiano - an early form of the piano originating in the 18th and early 19th centuries and having a smaller range and softer timbre than a modern piano
pianoforte - Piano - Etymology: Italian, from gravicembalo col piano e forte, literally, harpsichord with soft and loud; from the fact that its tones could be varied in loudness. Date: 1803
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
 
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Ok, the Russian is:
roial' -- grand piano
pianino -- upright piano
fortep'iano -- generic piano, particular configuration not important
pianola -- player piano (probably from trademarked brand, maybe US?)
It's the coincidential pronunciation and spelling of the last two syllables of "fortep'iano," namely "p'iano," and a form the word for "drunk," that Gena is talking about, I believe.
Etymology is not my strong suit (<-- notice the avoidance of "forte" here), but I'm with Map: a connection between Russian p'ianyi/pit' (an alternating root, probably: p/j and p/v) and Italian piano (I'm thinking pie Jesu kind of soft/sweet/dear/merciful) is dubious.
Couldn't find an online Vasmer.
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Michael Matola ]
 
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Jim, Tom, I have no clue what you are talking about
Guennadii implied that the Russian for "deadly drunkard" was derived from Italian. Tom and I suggested two slightly different ways that the "piano" root could have been known to Russians, but neither of us saw how it could be linked to drunkard. You (Map) and Michael Matola subsequently indicated that there (most likely) was no real connection between "piano" and "drunkard", other than coincidental similarity of pronunciation. Thus. "based on Map's post, it seems that neither [proposed derivation of the Russian word for "drunkard"] is the case".
Which is too bad, because the main reason I posted (and perhaps Thomas as well) was because it sounded like there might be an intriguing story behind the derivation - but apparently not.
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Which is too bad, because the main reason I posted (and perhaps Thomas as well) was because it sounded like there might be an intriguing story behind the derivation - but apparently not.

I was thinking that maybe there were a lot of drunk piano players in Russia.
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Thank you, Jim.
To hijack this conversation - I figured out why I do not use articles. Because when I am trying to say something, I do not naturally distinguish "a thing" from "the thing". When later, during serialization process, I add them (sometimes), it only distorts what I am trying to say. If we agree that the goal of writing is to convey one's thoughts, then my anti-articles policy promotes clear communication.
 
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Jason Menard: Has anyone seen the recent movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? There is a character in it who is constantly demonstrating how every word in some way originates from Greek. Kind of sounds like some of this conversation.
Amen, Jason
Now you can relate how difficult it is to argue a point from another world's view
Thomas Paul: I was thinking that maybe there were a lot of drunk piano players in Russia.
And there still are.
Map: . If we agree that the goal of writing is to convey one's thoughts, then my anti-articles policy promotes clear communication
Unless, of course, it is a IM or email...I am suggesting a campaign of adding smilie faces to English alphabet. Never thought I'd be a fan of hieroglyphic alphabets
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
To hijack this conversation - I figured out why I do not use articles. Because when I am trying to say something, I do not naturally distinguish "a thing" from "the thing". When later, during serialization process, I add them (sometimes), it only distorts what I am trying to say. If we agree that the goal of writing is to convey one's thoughts, then my anti-articles policy promotes clear communication.


But there is more to it!
Articles seldom provide any significant information. In most cases they are just verbal parasites. When I took English classes in college, they used to give us pieces of texts with blank space where articles were expected, and we had to insert "a", "the", or nothing. Then our instructors checked the result and marked mistakes. But the very fact they were able to find "mistakes", that there is only one correct choice, means all the information is already in the sentence, articles can be simply derived out of it! They are superfluous.
What liberating idea. Now I am convinced to ultimately stop using articles, and I suggest everyone do same.
--------------------------------
"Adverbs are parasitic by nature"
Michael Ernest, "Your most hated word"
[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Jim Yingst
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Vwls sldm prvd ny sgnfcnt nfrmtn. n mst css thy r jst vrbl prsts. Whn tk nglsh clsss n cllg, thy sd t gv s pcs f txts wth blnk spc whr rtcls wr xpctd, nd w hd t nsrt "", "th", r nthng. Thn r nstrctrs chckd th rslt nd mrkd mstks. Bt th vry fct thy wr bl t fnd "mstks", tht thr s nly on crrct chc, mns ll th nfrmtn s lrdy n th sntnc, rtcls cn b smply drvd t f t! Thy r sprfls.
Wht lbrtng d. Nw m cnvncd t ltmtly stp sng rtcls, sggst vryn d sm.
 
Mapraputa Is
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But you know, Jim, there are actually languages that do not use vowels in writing. "Like most early Semitic alphabetic writing systems, the alef-bet has no vowels. People who are fluent in the language do not need vowels to read Hebrew, and most things written in Hebrew in Israel are written without vowels."
http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Judaism/alephbet.html
I remember when I learnt that English uses only two noun cases and yet is able to convey all the information Russian conveys with 6, I thought why do we need 6 then? Admit it, in regards to articles Russian grammar is superior.
------------------------
"Articles are parasitic by nature"
Mapraputa Is
 
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I am able to read it.
BTW wht do u want to say??
 
Jim Yingst
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Any natural language has a fair amount of redundancy to it - we need only look at the compression ratios achieved by zipping up text files to see this. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea to start removing things just because they usually seem to be unnecessary. Sure, most of the time we can read things without vowels, as their values can be guessed eaily enough based on context. But sometimes, that's not true - more than one meaning is possible, and it turns out the deleted vowels actually had some significance after all. It's much the same for articles - often not really necessary, but sometimes carrying important info. The fact that it was possible for some English language instructors to make a bunch of examples in which articles were unnecessary does not mean they're unnecessary in general.
I'm happy that some languages manage to work well without vowels, or without articles - but I expect that just means they've got redundancy elsewhere. (Not that I would expect an unbiased response on this point, of course.) Deleting apparent redundancy without fully understanding its subtleties just serves to needlessly reduce readability.
------------------------
"Rtcls r prstc by ntr"
Mprpt S
 
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Шура,


Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:
Darn, so you are saying you are older that 28?


I understood that she was conveying the idea that she had not started learning English yet.
 
Guennadiy VANIN
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Originally posted by Маргарита Is:
[QB]
Italian "piano" can mean "drunk" only because it happened to sound like Russian adjective "pyaniy"; not sure how to spell it, but it is derivative of the verb "drink", "pit'" in Russian.
German "hier und da" - means in Russian (erunda):
which means "nonsense"; again, only because it accidentally happened to sound like this. :roll:


Peter the Great had too many Dutch and German (if it can be called it, at that time) masters and instructors. They oriented drunk muzhiks giving orders: "Hier und da". I have read it 30 years ago in "Tehnika Molodiozhi".
Sorry, I have never consulted any italian dictionary in my life but, somehow, thought it means "cheerful", "gay", The connection is obvious...

Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
German "Herr" means "shit", worthless
"shit"? Really? I thought it's "penis"? How did we arrive at "worthless" I am not quite sure, though


Well, it is used usually only idiomatically and not according to physiological functionality... Idi na herr...
But you have got me... to live without practicing for years...

Originally posted by Маргарита:
Just read "War and Peace" and you should, I believe, find pages and pages in French
and I wonder what this should prove. Besides the fact that the educated part of Russian society in early 1800s largely relied on French to communicate with their countrymen, and some of those Russians couldn't speak Russian at all, and there was no need to, because everybody could speak French. What is your point?


It is you who wrote taht normal person does not exceed 2000 words, and 200 daily? or not... never mind...
Did you count the percentage of French words used in everyday spoken Russian?
[ December 12, 2002: Message edited by: G Vanin ]
 
Guennadiy VANIN
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Everybody,
I forgot... how "Gone with the Wind" ended? "Tomorrow will be another day", till then.
Personally I like "Amadeus" movie:
"Good job! Well done... But too many notes... just remove a few... And it will be perfect. Just it. That's all"
Well, I am sorry for translation... I have seen it only in Russian, German and French
[ December 12, 2002: Message edited by: G Vanin ]
 
Michael Matola
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Map in bold
Articles seldom provide any significant information. In most cases they are just verbal parasites.
Nonsense.
First I have to confess something: Map -- I sometimes have great difficulty telling when you're serious and when you're joking. Smileys don't help. So forgive me if I seem combative or defensive. I have to ask: you don't seriously believe what you just said, do you? (Or half of the other things you've written about English? There was something of yours I was going to comment on the other day and just shut up, so as not to stir up the kind of conversation I find myself presently stirring up.)
When I took English classes in college, they used to give us pieces of texts with blank space where articles were expected, and we had to insert "a", "the", or nothing. Then our instructors checked the result and marked mistakes.
Pointless exercise. Stupid teachers. Coping strategy: supply the teachers with the answer you think they want then go off and your own and learn how things really work.
But the very fact they were able to find "mistakes", that there is only one correct choice, means all the information is already in the sentence, articles can be simply derived out of it! They are superfluous.
The fact that they were able to find "mistakes" means that they have an answer in mind ahead of time and you haven't supplied that answer. That has nothing to do with how articles are used. That has nothing to do with whether articles are superfluous.
To learn how articles are used you have to learn the situations where only one choice is possible and why. And you have to learn the situtations where more than one choice is possible and what the different versions mean.
What liberating idea. Now I am convinced to ultimately stop using articles, and I suggest everyone do same.
There was an article you used well in a post I noticed sometime in the past few days. If this conversation on articles continues, I'll dig it out and comment.
I remember when I learnt that English uses only two noun cases and yet is able to convey all the information Russian conveys with 6, I thought why do we need 6 then? Admit it, in regards to articles Russian grammar is superior.
Me being combative:
If you believe any of your statements on articles or cases to be true, Map, then I believe that you just don't get how English or Russian work as languages. Seriously.
If you're just joking around, sorry to spoil anyone's fun with a tedious post.
Do you understand the difference between form and function? Do you understand the difference between a feature and the implementation of a feauture?
Languages often have a way of signaling the interplay between new information and old information (consider this a feature). (What I'm calling "old information" plays into what Jim calls "redundancy" and what discourse analysis would call "context.") In Russian this feature is largely implemented through word order and intonation. In English this feature is largely implemented through articles. (Consider word order/intonation versus articles different means of implementing the same feature.)
(Aside: part of the problem with teaching Russian word order/intonation or English articles when teaching these languages as second languages is that the topic is approached as one of "grammar" or "syntax" -- when really things are operating at the more abstract level of discourse.)
Languages often have a way of signaling the relationships between participants/agents/nouny kinds of things (consider this a feature). Russian largely (not exclusively) uses inflexion to do this (hence numerous cases). English largely (not exclusively) uses word order to do this. (Consider Russian inflexion versus English word order different means of implementing the same feature.)
Have you ever done any reading on synthetic versus analytic langauges?
If you have specifics you'd like to discuss I'm willing to take part (wherever the conversation would be appropriate). But if this isn't going to move beyond ranting and pot-shots, I'll keep quiet on the subject like I usually do.
(Disclaimer: I'm very busy with work over the next 6 weeks and won't be around all that much. Disclaimer 2: My Russian is pretty darn rusty these days -- It's been almost six years since I vse peredumal i brosil vse russkoe.)
 
Shura Balaganov
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Michael, you got me here....Can you post some examples, when you have free time? Obviously Map didn't want to influence a rampage
Shura
 
Mapraputa Is
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Michael Matola (boldness provided): First I have to confess something: Map -- I sometimes have great difficulty telling when you're serious and when you're joking.
Ha! I have the same difficulty myself!
I have to ask: you don't seriously believe what you just said, do you?
I cannot say I 100% seriously believe in what I said -- then what I said wouldn't be funny, but it's not that I consciously utter utter nonsense - that wouldn't be too funny either.
There was something of yours I was going to comment on the other day and just shut up, so as not to stir up the kind of conversation I find myself presently stirring up.
This not good. Conversations must be stirred up. If you found my posts too nonsensical to be funny, I need to be pointed in direction of improvement and work harder.
Well, to set discourse back: I mostly wanted to vent out and rant out my own problems with articles (their applications, to be precise). Then, I wanted to provide the public with free entertaiment, then, If I were lucky, to irritate Jim... I was kidding, of course, when suggested everyone to abandon articles, and I do not seriously plan to implement this strategy myself. Rest of my statements were over-statements and oversimplifications, stretched almost to the point of absurdeness for no other point but to amuze myself.
Pointless exercise. Stupid teachers.
Well, you have a bunch of foreigners in yur class, and you probably want them to write "the Pacific Ocean" rather then "a Pacific Ocean"... So what do you do? And they were not stupid.
The fact that they were able to find "mistakes" means that they have an answer in mind ahead of time and you haven't supplied that answer. That has nothing to do with how articles are used.
Ok, let's take my brilliant example: "What liberating idea" <...>I suggest everyone do same." What are other variants? "What the liberating idea"?
"I suggest everyone do a same"? I seriously insist that in this context articles are superfluous.
There was an article you used well in a post I noticed sometime in the past few days.
Ah, but this probably means I was trying to express something different from what I in fact expressed.
If this conversation on articles continues, I'll dig it out and comment.
Now I am curious!
Do you understand the difference between form and function? Do you understand the difference between a feature and the implementation of a feauture?

Languages often have a way of signaling the relationships between participants/agents/nouny kinds of things (consider this a feature). Russian largely (not exclusively) uses inflexion to do this (hence numerous cases). English largely (not exclusively) uses word order to do this. (Consider Russian inflexion versus English word order different means of implementing the same feature.)
My poin was that there are different ways to convey the information through grammar, and some are more economical = elegant. Are you trying to say that the ratio "useful information/grammar features" is more or less constant among languages?
Example:
"He told me about this book" - in English " book" doesn't change its form. In Russian you would also use a preposition plus "book" would change its ending. Looks totally superfluous to me. Finnish is even worse in this respect, dunno exactly how many cases are there, at least 13. Here are "The word-forms of the Finnish noun kauppa 'shop' (N=2,262), generated automatically" :roll:
Another example: in Russian, like in many othr languages, all nouns have gender (one of 3 possible). What useful information this grammatical feature convey? What is its analog in English?
I have to go now, more on this later...
 
Mapraputa Is
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The fact that they were able to find "mistakes" means that they have an answer in mind ahead of time and you haven't supplied that answer. That has nothing to do with how articles are used.
Are you sure?
We have a cat, but wait, wait, it's really "decat", this is how she is called. "Where is the cat"? - I've heard this question 139 times by now, and I cannot recall my husband ever wondering where is "a cat". "they have an answer in mind ahead of time" - absolutely! And what worse, most of the time!
In Russian this feature is largely implemented through word order and intonation. In English this feature is largely implemented through articles. (Consider word order/intonation versus articles different means of implementing the same feature.)
Ok, back to our cats. In Russian we could ask either "Where cat"? or "Cat where"? 1) Intonation: totally lost in writings,so forget about it. 2) Word order. It *does* look like the latter variant suggests "the cat" rather than "a cat", but the more I think about it, the more I feel that it suggests that the asker is *really* interested in an answer. "Where cat"? - this can be asked just to keep conversation going, while "cat where" word order has rather dramatic effect and signals that the destiny of the cat is important. Now, that the question is about "the cat" rather than "a cat" is completely clear out of context!
Disclaimer: since we decided to establish serious discourse, I must point out that all I am typing is only my personal feelings which can differ from what other native speakers of Russian think or feel.
Michael, you are saying "in Russian this feature is largely implemented through..." but my personal experience tells me that the distinction between "a thing" and "the thing" is far more vague in Russian. "A" or "the" is visible and clearly distinct; word order and intonations... Intonations are hard to digitize, and word order apparently has other, more important workloads... I know that I have great difficulties with figuring out when I mean something "concrete" or when I mean just any thing of this kind -- it's not how I naturally think about things.
Have you ever done any reading on synthetic versus analytic langauges?
I heard the terms but I did not know what they mean (until you asked )
And now I wonder why I was expected to. They only name what any good MD participant alteady knew: that some languages have inflexions and free word order, and some have less inflexions and more rigid word order. So what?
If you have specifics you'd like to discuss I'm willing to take part (wherever the conversation would be appropriate). But if this isn't going to move beyond ranting and pot-shots, I'll keep quiet on the subject like I usually do.
Mm... I do not feel educated enough to carry out any serious conversation in this field, but I *am* interested, and if you want to say something, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't. I cannot promise to make sense in any of my responses -- this is not what I am -- but I promise to read your posts carefully.
[ December 12, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Michael Matola
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Finnish is even worse in this respect, dunno exactly how many cases are there, at least 13. Here are "The word-forms of the Finnish noun kauppa 'shop' (N=2,262), generated automatically" :roll:


Marjatta puhut suomea?! Voi voi voi! Hyv� on -- emme puhu Meaningless Drivel:n viesteiss� ven�j��, mutta suomea.
Michael "matojen talolla, Michael puhelimessa" Matola
 
Jim Yingst
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:roll:
Well, at least you're using a proper alphabet now. Mostly.
 
Michael Matola
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Map in boldRest of my statements were over-statements and oversimplifications, stretched almost to the point of absurdeness for no other point but to amuze myself.
No problem. Overstatement is one of my favorite rhetorical devices too.
MM> Pointless exercise. Stupid teachers.
Well, you have a bunch of foreigners in yur class, and you probably want them to write "the Pacific Ocean" rather then "a Pacific Ocean"... So what do you do? And they were not stupid.
Well, there's only one Pacific Ocean (notice the caps) on this planet, and it's widely known. So its very oneness is enough to justify "the" in the vast majority of contexts. Its oneness and knownness lead to what some would call something along the lines of "shared perceptions of the world," (which is a kind of "old information" (more about which later)). This kind of usage would be neutral/unmarked (more about which later). "A Pacific Ocean" could be possible, but it would be nonneutral or marked, and possibly violating some shared perception of the world.
"Built a house on top a cliff in Malibu. Woke up one day and noticed a Pacific Ocean oustide my window."
"Just got email from my wife in Indonesia. A Pacific Ocean separates us, but I can still hear that tone in her voice."
Test your iazykovoe chut'e -- what do you make of these usages?
My poin was that there are different ways to convey the information through grammar, and some are more economical = elegant. Are you trying to say that the ratio "useful information/grammar features" is more or less constant among languages?
Now there's an intersesting thought. Do all languages more or less have a set of base features that they implement in some fashion or other. I don't know. I'm not a linguist, just a vaguely more interested practioner than most.
I really wasn't commenting on economy or elegance.

"He told me about this book" - in English " book" doesn't change its form. In Russian you would also use a preposition plus "book" would change its ending. Looks totally superfluous to me.

On rasskazal mne ob etoi knige. (He told me about this book.)
So you're saying the case ending -e here is superfluous? Hmm. IA opiral bashku ob ety knigu (I leaned my head against this book) sounds possible to me. On rasskazal mne ob ety knigu* doesn't sound like valid Russian to me. ("*" indicates that the item under question is not a valid utterance in the language in question.) It's not the preposition "o/ob" alone that "means" "about" -- it's the combination of the preposition "o/ob" plus the appropriate ending (and the proper context) that lead to it "meaning" "about."
Another example: in Russian, like in many othr languages, all nouns have gender (one of 3 possible).
Right: nonfeminine, nonneuter, and feminine.
What useful information this grammatical feature convey?
It tells you which third-person singular pronoun you have to use when referring to it. (Kidding. )
I have no good answer.
I think a lot of time gets wasted speculating about things like why is "bread" "masculine" but "salt" "feminine." (I think more interesting questions are things like how languages with gendered nouns deal with situations in which the gender of a noun doesn't match the sex of a human it refers to. Ever catch a Russian saying "Nash direktor -- ona skazala, chto..." or somesuch? I have.)
Just think of them as a some random grouping, along the lines of "staia ptits" and "staia volkov" versus "tabun loshadei" ("flock of birds" and "flock of wolves"* versus "herd of horses").
What is its analog in English?
Why does it have to have one?
 
Michael Matola
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Map in bold
MM> The fact that they were able to find "mistakes" means that they have an answer in mind ahead of time and you haven't supplied that answer. That has nothing to do with how articles are used.
Are you sure?
See above.
We have a cat, but wait, wait, it's really "decat", this is how she is called. "Where is the cat"? - I've heard this question 139 times by now, and I cannot recall my husband ever wondering where is "a cat".
It's a single cat, known to both interlocutors. (By the way, "interlocutor" is a lot less common in English than sobesednik is in Russian.)
Two people enter a dark room they've never been in before and hear movement and then a crashing noise.
-- I think there's a cat in here.
-- (Panicked) Where's a cat? I don't see any cats? I hate cats!
Ok, back to our cats. In Russian we could ask either "Where cat"? or "Cat where"?
Gde koshka? is unmarked to my mind. Koshka gde? (1) There's previous mention or prior knowledge of a cat. (I would lean toward "A koshka gde?" if I were the speaker in this case.) (2) Marked with at least some degree of emotionality: where is that cat of yours?

2) Word order. It *does* look like the latter variant suggests "the cat" rather than "a cat", but the more I think about it, the more I feel that it suggests that the asker is *really* interested in an answer. "Where cat"? - this can be asked just to keep conversation going, while "cat where" word order has rather dramatic effect and signals that the destiny of the cat is important. Now, that the question is about "the cat" rather than "a cat" is completely clear out of context!


So I think we're tending toward agreement on this one. It's often helpful when dealing with this sort of thing to think of the question implied by a statment or the kind of answer expected from a question.
Ivana net (Ivan isn't here) answers the question Gde Ivan? (Where is Ivan?).
Net Ivana (We're missing Ivan) answeres the question Kogo net? (Who isn't here?).
1) Intonation: totally lost in writings,so forget about it.
Yes, but can often hear the intended intonation of a really good writer. (By the way, don't believe anyone who tells you that placement of commas in English is about pauses. It's about syntax, convention, and (gasp) intonation. But that's a whole nother conversation.)
Disclaimer: since we decided to establish serious discourse...
Please, not too serious.
Michael, you are saying "in Russian this feature is largely implemented through..." but my personal experience tells me that the distinction between "a thing" and "the thing" is far more vague in Russian. "A" or "the" is visible and clearly distinct; word order and intonations...
Other vagueries:
Studenty, kotorie sdali eksameny, ushli na kanikuli.
Seems fine in Russian, but try to translate into English and you stumble over the question of whether every student who left for vacation passed all their exams.
Those students who passed their exams left for vacation. (Not necessarily.)
After finishing their exams, the students went on break. (Closer, but still awkward.)
Intonations are hard to digitize,
You do know that there are only seven basic intonation patterns in Russian, right?
and word order apparently has other, more important workloads... I know that I have great difficulties with figuring out when I mean something "concrete" or when I mean just any thing of this kind -- it's not how I naturally think about things.
Very, very rough guidelines with some severe restrictions: boil the utterance down to its simplest. If it's a nonemotional, unmarked context and you find yourself putting the noun at the end of the sentence in Russian, tend towards "a" in English. If you find yourself putting the noun at the beginning of the sentence in Russian, tend towards "the" in English.
MM> If you have specifics you'd like to discuss I'm willing to take part (wherever the conversation would be appropriate). But if this isn't going to move beyond ranting and pot-shots, I'll keep quiet on the subject like I usually do.
Yucko. Sorry about the tone of that.
 
Michael Matola
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Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:
Michael, you got me here....Can you post some examples, when you have free time?


I'm not forgetting about you, Shura. Are there specific things I've puzzled you with?
I never did get to the "more about which below" stuff I mentioned to Map above. Maybe that's a good starting point as to where I'm coming from wiht all this.
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Michael Matola:
Marjatta puhut suomea?! Voi voi voi! Hyv� on -- emme puhu Meaningless Drivel:n viesteiss� ven�j��, mutta suomea.
Michael "matojen talolla, Michael puhelimessa" Matola


OMG...
What the heck it means? Very
Well, there's only one Pacific Ocean (notice the caps) on this planet, and it's widely known. So its very oneness is enough to justify "the" in the vast majority of contexts.
But this is precisely what I am talking about! "In the vast majority of contexts' articles are not needed. And when they *are* needed, when a writer wants to express something deviant -- *then* he could use some special/marked features. That's the whole point of my complains. Like when Russians want to talk about "a cat", they can say "some cat" (kakaya-to koshka, I do not know her) and leave the language free of this mission otherwise.
Built a house on top a cliff in Malibu. Woke up one day and noticed a Pacific Ocean oustide my window."
"Just got email from my wife in Indonesia. A Pacific Ocean separates us, but I can still hear that tone in her voice."
Test your iazykovoe chut'e -- what do you make of these usages?

Ok, my language instinct:
1.the situation is unusual/appealing, and "a Pacific Ocean" stresses it further.
2.I am lost here. I wouldn't notice any difference if you said "The Pacific Ocean"
Now there's an intersesting thought. Do all languages more or less have a set of base features that they implement in some fashion or other.
This is exactly what I am interested in!
1)Do all languages more or less have a set of base features
2)Are there better (more economical) ways to express them
There is another problem – stress/importance. I read that in Japanese language there are two words for "brother", one for younger brother and another for older brother. So every time you are using this word you need to think whether a brother (or is it the brother? ) is older or younger, - not so in Russian and not so in English, as far as I know. The language itself stress some concepts!
 
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So you're saying the case ending -e here is superfluous? Hmm. IA opiral bashku ob ety knigu (I leaned my head against this book) sounds possible to me. On rasskazal mne ob ety knigu* doesn't sound like valid Russian to me. ("*" indicates that the item under question is not a valid utterance in the language in question.) It's not the preposition "o/ob" alone that "means" "about" -- it's the combination of the preposition "o/ob" plus the appropriate ending (and the proper context) that lead to it "meaning" "about."
Mmm... "the combination of the preposition "o/ob" plus the appropriate ending" -- well, if you used only one, the preposition, "On rasskazal mne ob eta kniga", that would be enough, I would be able to understand what you mean.
*"On rasskazal mne ob ety knigu"; this is not valid Russian, true, yet the meaning is perfectly clear. Only proves that our six cases are superfluous.
Right: nonfeminine, nonneuter, and feminine.
I like it!
Two people enter a dark room they've never been in before and hear movement and then a crashing noise.
-- I think there's a cat in here.
-- (Panicked) Where's a cat? I don't see any cats? I hate cats!

Ok, in Russian it would be rendered as:
-- I think there's cat in here.
-- (Panicked) Where's cat? I don't see any cats? I hate cats!
and if you asked me if they were talking about some famous cat they both knew before, or just some unknown cat, I would have to scratch my head and finally decide that probably the latter, but the whole matter is, unless you ask, I do not really care whether they knew that terrifying cat or not.
Gde koshka? is unmarked to my mind. Koshka gde? (1) There's previous mention or prior knowledge of a cat. (I would lean toward "A koshka gde?" if I were the speaker in this case.)
Gee, thanks for using "koshka" (feminine cat) rather than "kot" (masculine cat), I also think feminine cats are far more interesting
"Koshka gde? (1) There's previous mention or prior knowledge of a cat."
True. If you do not know there is a cat in the house, you wouldn't ever ask "Koshka gde?"
I would lean toward "A koshka gde?"
This "a" word is utterly superfluous, yet very Russian, and I am lost how they are able to teach these subtleties in the USA, it just looks like a miracle to me And by the way, Michael, while I am on this sentimental note, I do not remember you ever posting anything grammatically incorrect in Russian, which fact I would render as "amazing", if it wasn't more than amazing. I would never believe that a foreigner can get such a grasp of Russian language, if not you. Especially considering my own inability to correctly render just about any "English" sentence.
[ December 13, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Ivana net (Ivan isn't here) answers the question Gde Ivan? (Where is Ivan?).
Net Ivana (We're missing Ivan) answers the question Kogo net? (Who isn't here?).

But the last answer can also perfectly answer "where is Ivan?" question, except it would carry some ironical, if not mean, overtones. "You need Ivan? You know what, we do not have him here!"
Well, that's about how well I can convey the same idea in English
Studenty, kotorie sdali eksameny, ushli na kanikuli.
Seems fine in Russian, but try to translate into English and you stumble over the question of whether every student who left for vacation passed all their exams.

Another interesting case! In Russian there is only one way to express the idea you expressed but as far as I understand, in English you can say either (roughly):
Students, who passed their exams, left for vacation
Or
Students who passed their exams left for vacation.
- two different meanings, glued together in Russian variant so I never even realized that "Studenty, kotorie sdali eksameny, ushli na kanikul" has not one meaning, but two.
You do know that there are only seven basic intonation patterns in Russian, right?

I never heard about it! What are they?
And before I went to sleep, "koshka" (feminine cat) has such a rich semantics, so I wonder if there are some mirror phenomena in English. Like, perhaps, "car" fails to convey all the feelings an American would feel to his car
[ December 13, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Michael Matola
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Michael Matola>
Marjatta puh...
Marjatta>
OMG... What the heck it means?
Surely you can guess who "Marjatta" is...
 
Guennadiy VANIN
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Маргарита,
ognei tak mnogo...
Do you know what I tell my mother when I want to shortcut my phone expenses? "Mam, why don't you just look on Internet about it?". That's usually enough. She just slows down abruptly.
Soviet, cheap.


Orihginally posted by map:
quote:
Originally posted by G Vanin:
CAN YOU GIVE ME LINKS TO LIBRARIES WITH FREE BOOKS IN RUSSIAN, originals, not translations (with books of Solzhenitsin, Bunin, Dostoyevskii, Pushkin, Nabokov).
http://www.lib.ru/
Gena, I am curious, how old are you?


Females become adults much earlier to read classics...
Certainly I would have preferred reading hard-cover books but I understood that with world victory of capitalism, I shall not have the static library like our parents used to have...
Do you want to treat me with the same reverence as your farther or substitute my mother on-line to orient my everyday life?
I was in Primary School when "The Seventeen Instances of the Spring" came to TV screens. Do you remember?
It seems to me that those seven are called cases (inclinations)
I shall be back to this date on 14 Dec. 2002
Everybody,
It was amuisng : so many great Internet users and nobody even tried just look on-line in italian dictionary on-line.
I just do not have any more patience. Well, I saw a movie in italian and there was "Piano, piano" in context of drunkards moving without maintaining properly equilibrium. I wrongly understood and memorized it as: "Cheerful". Well, but it was really""Slowly", but anyway very connected to drunk.
 
Guennadiy VANIN
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Thomas Paul,

Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
For those with interest in the subject, I heartily recommend: "Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language" by Douglas Hofstadter. In this book, Hofstadter talks about the problems of translating a nice little French poem (Le Ton Beau De Marot). The poem is very cleverly written in that it uses a lot of wordplay. So how do you translate it? Do you try to recapture the wordplay? But what about rhyme? And overall feel and meaning? The poem uses a repeating number of words also. How do you capture all of these things and still make a translation worth reading? Can it truly be translated? He also talks about the problems of translating "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" into other languages.


I lost a lot of time trying to read anything from your link.
96% of all pages are illegible to reading "too many notes", very small, even after zooming and anyway they are: full index, content and cover...
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by G Vanin:
I lost a lot of time trying to read anything from your link. 96% of all pages are illegible to reading "too many notes", very small, even after zooming and anyway they are: full index, content and cover...


Guennadii, you are supposed to buy the books and then read them.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by G Vanin:
It was amuisng : so many great Internet users and nobody even tried just look on-line in italian dictionary on-line.

Really? And how do you "know" this? Especially since it isn't true.
 
Jim Yingst
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and nobody even tried just look on-line in italian dictionary on-line.
Perché? Why, if we already knew the Italian part? It was the link to Russian that was in question. In fact most English dictionaries will explain the two meanings of piano and where they came from.
[ December 13, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Jim Yingst
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Guennadii, you are supposed to buy the books and then read them.
Or look in your local library...
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally asked by Gena Banin:
Do you want to treat me with the same reverence as your farther or substitute my mother on-line to orient my everyday life?


Did my farther treat you with reverence? I've never heard about it. As for substituting your mother-on-line... Gena, unlike your mother, I *did not* call you. This thread lied dormant until *you* resurrected it, by challenging well-formedness of its topology via bizarre questions like "where is the beginning and the end of this thread"? Then you shouted at us to provide you with links to Russian classical books online, which I did, hoping... Ah, never mind. Now you complain that I am trying to orient your everyday life???
And you know what, instead of going to the library to connect to the Internet to ask where online books are, you could just borrow these books right in the library, as Jim recommended, this would save you few steps. I guess, this is how they use libraries in Arizona...
Ok, I am kidding.
I was in Primary School when "The Seventeen Instances of the Spring" came to TV screens. Do you remember?
Sure, the movie was made in 1973, so you must be around 36-39.
It seems to me that those seven are called cases (inclinations)
Jeeeesus, which "those seven"? You just talked about seventeen, is this what you mean? For those who care, "The Seventeen Instances of the Spring" should probably be "Seventeen Moments of Spring"
[ December 14, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally grumbled by Jim Yingst:
Any natural language has a fair amount of redundancy to it - we need only look at the compression ratios achieved by zipping up text files to see this.


This is a different kind of redundancy. I was talking about semantic redundancy, and zip works on a level of letters, I suppose (I can be wrong here). Letters do not have meaning, meaning evolves only starting from the level of word.
Sure, most of the time we can read things without vowels, as their values can be guessed eaily enough based on context. But sometimes, that's not true - more than one meaning is possible, and it turns out the deleted vowels actually had some significance after all. It's much the same for articles - often not really necessary, but sometimes carrying important info.
I guess, there should be a balance between redundancy and usefulness. To get rid of vowels would mean to decrease readability significantly. As for articles, these are my personal (possibly wrong) estimations that there are far less cases when they carry any important info. In such cases a speaker of Russian would use some extra words like "some thing" to mean "a thing" or "that thing, you remember..." for "the thing". Better overall balance.
I'm happy that some languages manage to work well without vowels, or without articles - but I expect that just means they've got redundancy elsewhere. (Not that I would expect an unbiased response on this point, of course.) Deleting apparent redundancy without fully understanding its subtleties just serves to needlessly reduce readability.
So your, as Michael M. would say, linguistic intuition tells you that
1) the level of redundancy is more or less stable among languages, and if a language has less redundancy in one grammatical feature, it will have more in another;
2) this redundancy serves to improve readability?
For me redundancy is just an epiphenomenon. "To delete" or "not to delete" is a very orthogonal question, and if to speak seriously, I do not see much reasons for "delete". Just wanted to vent out.
Well, imagine that every time you want to use a noun, say, "bread", you have to decide is it "he", "she" or just "it". Normally, dictionaries provide you with such an info, but imagine they do not. What they provide you with are vague recommendations to decide whether in this context, and depending on what exactly you want to express, this is "she-bread" or "he-bread". But you really do not care if this is "she-bread" on "he-table", or it is "he-bread" on "she-table" or they both are of the same sex. I have four possible solutuions to offer:
1) you make your best guess and you are wrong about as often as right
2) you chose gender at random
3) you make a preference and always call things "he" or "she"
4) you leave this construction empty and allow your reader to substitute whatever gender pleases them most
I think, my own strategy evolved exactly in this direction, from 1 to 4, with number 4 as my current preferred approach, as it is lest intrusive/less harmful. Any protests?
P.S. I just noticed that I know how to spell "epiphenomenon", and not so sure about "bread".
------------------------
"Articles are parasitic by nature. Vowels are not"
Mapraputa Is
[ December 14, 2002: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Michael Matola:
Seems fine in Russian, but try to translate into English and you stumble over the question of whether every student who left for vacation passed all their exams.
Those students who passed their exams left for vacation. (Not necessarily.)
After finishing their exams, the students went on break. (Closer, but still awkward.)


I said "two different meanings, glued together in Russian variant so I never even realized that "Studenty, kotorie sdali eksameny, ushli na kanikul" has not one meaning, but two", but after some better thinking, this is not true. Russian punctuation rules are more rigid and you have to provide commas whatever the meaning is, so Russian counterpart is perfectly ambiguous. Now, I vaguely remember that we were taught in school to avoid this ambiguity by re-formulating the sentence.
What is more interesting, is that I never had problems with how to use commas in English sentences in this case, after I read explanations... I can possibly do it wrong, or I can forget to make this distinction, but I always *know* (even if mistakenly) how to use them -- subjectively I do not perceive this as a problem.
With articles, all options often look equally right to me, but what is strange, there is some isomorphism between the two problems. Just like Russian "cat" can mean both "a cat" and "the cat", the Russian sentense you quoted above can mean two different things. Yet I have (subjectively) no problem to render it into two English sentences, while with articles I am lost.
If it's a nonemotional, unmarked context and you find yourself putting the noun at the end of the sentence in Russian, tend towards "a" in English. If you find yourself putting the noun at the beginning of the sentence in Russian, tend towards "the" in English.
This is interesting. Are you sure? I read an insightful observation, I can post a link if you need it, that in an English sentence logical stress is at the beginning, and in Russian at the end. (I suspect it can be more complicated than that, but Ok.) Another reading, right on the matter, "how to convey "a/the" with word order in Russian. They give this example:
1. Housemaid opened door
2. Door opened housemaid
For me the first variant sounds like "a housemaid" and the second as "the housemaid", but you seem suggest the opposite.
Ha! I just thought about "where cat" and "cat where" word order, and in this case your theory works. Except that one can utter "where cat?" with such a stress on "cat" that everybody around would abandon their occupation and start looking for a/the cat (What a brilliant idea! Like you use he/she, I could write "a/the"! )
It's a single cat, known to both interlocutors.
Yes, so why call her "the cat" every time? Russian variant "cat" is more economical.

It's not the preposition "o/ob" alone that "means" "about" -- it's the combination of the preposition "o/ob" plus the appropriate ending (and the proper context) that lead to it "meaning" "about."
I think, the combination of the verb and preposition, "tell about", eliminates any ambiguity. Ending isn't needed, really.

"Koshka gde? (1) There's previous mention or prior knowledge of a cat."
True. If you do not know there is a cat in the house, you wouldn't ever ask
"Koshka gde?"

It occurred to me that in this case you would not ask "gde koshka " (where cat) either. You would ask "Do you have cat"? (notice that there is no article -- we do not need them )
------------------------
"Articles are parasitic by nature. Vowels are not"
Mapraputa Is
 
Thomas Paul
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Should we call Jim's theory, "The Conservation of Redundancy"?
I have to admit that I don't know what the problem is with redundancy. Are we all in such a hurry that we can't stop and smell the roses? So what if articles are redundant! They make the sentence nicer and make it flow smoothly and cleanly. Next you will be proposing that we remove all the articles from Shakespeare!!!
 
Mapraputa Is
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

But there is more to it!
Articles seldom provide any significant information. In most cases they are just verbal parasites. When I took English classes in college, they used to give us pieces of texts with blank space where articles were expected, and we had to insert "a", "the", or nothing. Then our instructors checked the result and marked mistakes. But the very fact they were able to find "mistakes", that there is only one correct choice, means all the information is already in the sentence, articles can be simply derived out of it! They are superfluous.
What liberating idea. Now I am convinced to ultimately stop using articles, and I suggest everyone do same.


But there is more to it!
Articles aren't just harmless parasites, no, there is social cost in them! They serve to mark those of us who cannot use them properly, mostly because of our foreign origin, as illiterate and ultimately serve to question our intellectual abilities and perhaps even morale! Articles are discriminatory and chauvinistic! They are not roses, Tom, they are thorns! Do we really need thorns on our roses?
------------------------
"Articles are parasitic by nature. Vowels are not"
Mapraputa Is
 
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