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Blog > Russia Blog Roundup, 17 June

Russia Blog Roundup, 17 June

A roundup of the best Russia blog posts from the past week.

It’s been a quiet week this week – I wonder if everyone was out getting drunk on Russia Day?  Anyway, on with the best of this week’s posts:

Finally, courtesy of the Russian President, Gorbachev sings:

25 comments

  • The system of Russian verbs isn’t that complicated. Next to Classical Greek, with its 6+ infinitives for every verb, it’s positively prosaic.

    Like French, Russian is one of those languages people like to pretend is really, really hard, but actually isn’t.

  • I don’t know about classical Greek, but I’m learning modern Greek at the moment, and finding it much tougher than Russian…

  • I took a brief look at a modern Greek textbook recently. I know they’ve lost a couple of cases, Do they still have the aorist verb system (with its separate infinitives) and the funky middle voice (with its separate infinitives)?

  • Beats me – I’m still very much at the beginner stage. Ask me again in a couple of months 🙂

  • Speaking of Greece (a fellow Orthodox country! 🙂 ). You know how Russia is often criticized for interpreting its past in a “wrong” way that alienates its neighbors?

    Have you caught the OUTRAGE!! in Greece over Macedonia renaming its main highway the Alexander the Great Highway?

    Talk about living in the past.

  • Kyle and Svet(a) got themselves a nice ecological refuge (tornados or not), while looking at the pictures I could almost feel the fresh air. I’m wondering if there are any vacant houses there for sale?

    ??????????´s last blog post..Moscow metro to introduce women-only carriages and VIP trains?

  • Chris sez:

    “Like French, Russian is one of those languages people like to pretend is really, really hard, but actually isn’t.”

    Not generally true, for English speakers at least. The Defense Language Institute (which trains US Army linguists) puts languages in four categories, based on how long it takes English speakers to learn them. French is in Category 1 (easiest), along with other Romance languages. Russian, as well as other Slavic and Finno-Ugric languages, is in Category 3. The hardest category (4) is reserved for languages like Japanese and Chinese.

  • Yeah, that’s the DLI. I mean in the popular consciousness. French is supposed to be hard because it’s all intellectual and stuff.

    Of the languages I’ve studied (not that I can speak all of them), I would put French as easiest, then German, then Russian, then Latin, and then Greek.

  • Of the languages I’ve studied (not that I can speak all of them), I would rank them in this order:

    Spanish, French – easiest
    German – harder
    Russian – harder still
    Czech, Polish – even harder than Russian, though not by much
    Lithuanian – even harder than the Slavic languages
    Japanese – hardest

    This list leaves out Yiddish, which is hard for me to rank because so much of it comes from German, which I already knew; and Latin, which I only studied in desultory manner. I also had a few Finnish lessons; it was obvious from the beginning that was a hard one.

  • It’s interesting how these languages interact. I studied a little bit of Icelandic, and with both German and English — ha! once you get the “the article goes on the end of the word” thing, it’s easy. The Scandinavian languages’ general closeness to English is a big bonus.

    Unfortunately, Russian has occupied that part of my brain that controls foreign languages and it takes me great effort to actually speak anything else. I’ve started putting the direct object into the genitive if it’s an animate object in Greek…

  • Classical Greek, Latin, Russian, Icelandic … Chris darling, it’s so tacky to go around to blogs to flaunt your big brain like this. And I have absolutely never heard anyone suggest that French is really, really hard. Not even you, when you incorrectly use “vous.”

    Anyway, keep up the good work, Andy! 🙂

  • “Classical Greek, Latin, Russian, Icelandic … Chris darling, it’s so tacky to go around to blogs to flaunt your big brain like this.”

    I studied a little Hebrew too! 🙂

  • English is my native language so it is hard to judge, but I think that the weird English tenses (which Icelandic and I suppose the other Scandinavian languages also have, which is weird since they are North Germanic languages while English and German are both West Germanic — what happened to German?) would make it difficult. Really the declension pattern in German is ridiculously simple.

  • Have you caught the OUTRAGE!! in Greece over Macedonia renaming its main highway the Alexander the Great Highway?

    This is why Macedonia doesn’t have an embassy in Canberra: the Greek dispora has prevented it.

    Incidentally, Russian verbs are okay until you get to the perfective and imperfective: when you use which is completely beyond me and, I suspect, anyone.

  • I have problems wrapping my mind around a society in which the doings of Alexander the Great (and the dirty Macedonian-loving traitor Aristotle) can arouse such passion.

  • “Incidentally, Russian verbs are okay until you get to the perfective and imperfective: when you use which is completely beyond me and, I suspect, anyone.”

    I find it’s more than just aspect that’s the problem. I once sat down and tried to figure out exactly how many ways there are to conjugate a Russian verb. I came up with upwards of 10 different conjugations, and that’s just my informal count.

  • “I came up with upwards of 10 different conjugations, and that’s just my informal count.”

    Har! Look at a complete Classical Greek conjugation,list sometime, just for a boring verb like “luein.” (Seemingly the only completely regular verb in Athenian dialect.) Russian has usually two infinitives for every verb. Greek has at least 6 (luein, lusai, luesthai, lusasthai, lelukenai, luthenai, and I’m sure I’m forgetting the passive plusperfect infinite at least).

    luo, lueis, luei, luomen, luete, luousin
    luomai, lue, luetai, luometha, luesthe, luontai
    eluon, elues, elue, eluomen, ulete, eluon
    elusa, elusas, eluse, elusamen, elusate, elusan
    luoimi, luois, luoi, luiomen, luoite, luoien

    Etc. etc, etc, etc.

  • I think we’re talking about 2 different things. You’re talking about the number of forms one verb can take (right?). I’m talking about the diffferent classes of verb, where each one requires a different set of conjugations. Consider:

    ????????, ????????, ????????, ???????????, ?????, ?????, ?????, ????, ?????????, ??????, ???????, and so on…all conjugated differently

  • Yeah, that is what I meant (different tenses/moods of a single verb).

    Greek was (still is? I don’t know modern Greek) characterized by a huge number of different set of conjugation patterns. I’m going to write in Latin characters rather than Greek because I do not have a Greek keyboard or translit program. There are the -ein verbs (like “luein” above, “to loosen/free”), which become “esthai” in the middle voice, e.g. luesthai, “to be loosened or freed.” Then there are the -emi verbs, like hiemi (I send), didomi (I give), istami (I stand), etc. And then a whole bunch of others. When I get home I might actually try to tally up all the declension patterns — however boring this might be to ecerybody else. 🙂 I wonder how they would compare to Russian.

  • Love this web site. one grandfather family origin originall Russia..have much love for Russia..happy to correspond for interest …hope to return Russia again soon.

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