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The Here, Now and Never

Published: February 26, 2014 (Issue # 1799)


: now, just, soon, never

Way back in Russian 101, I was enchanted by the words (now) and (now). How clever of Russians, I thought, to clarify so simply the distinction between right-this-moment now () and nowadays-at-present now ().

But or should that be ? Ive come to realize that these seemingly simple words have several meanings. They can refer to the past, present and future and have a new now-word friend. They are still enchanting but not so simple. is the nowadays now: (Currently, all apartments must have water meters). Its often used in then-and-now expressions: , (In the past, I loved to go on rides, but now Im afraid).

But its also used as a transition word to indicate a change of topic or task and might be translated as next. You often hear this in the lecture hall: (Now that weve solved the first problem, lets move on to the second). But you can also hear it around the house: (Next we add a little flour and mix it thoroughly).

is the right-this-moment now: (Im busy right now call me back in an hour). But time travels. It can refer to the future in the sense of very soon. ! (Ill be there in just a sec). Or it can refer to an action that just took place in the past. (He just stepped out).

In parental arguments with teenagers, means either right this instant or sometime next year:

Mom: ! (Clean your room!)

Teenager: ! (Im on it, meaning Ill get to it after I finish up on Facebook, try on my new jeans, eat dinner, walk the dog and spend three hours on the phone with my best friend.)

Mom: ! (Now! I mean it!)

And sometimes leaves the temporal dimension and enters the spatial realm to mean right next to: (The forest begins right behind the house).

And then theres a new now word . Okay, its not a new word but a transcription of the way is pronounced. For now it seems to have the same meaning of . (pronounced )? (What are you thinking about right now?)

? (Are you coming?)

(In a sec)

I often get as a one-word e-mail reply after sending in work. It means: Got it, give me a second to look it over.

My favorite slangy use of (or ) is delivered dead-pan and means: Not now, not ever. Say you are listening to your teenage daughter complain she has nothing to wear to a party on the weekend. Her solution? , (Give me your credit card and Ill go and buy a new dress). Your sarcastic response: (When pigs fly).

Your solution? (Now lets take a look at your clothes). Her response: . (In a minute.)

Translation from teenagerese: Like thats going to happen. Ill borrow something from my friend instead. A satisfying .

Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is the author of The Russian Words Worth (Glas), a collection of her columns.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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