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Food Sanctions, Really?

It is a word whose meaning shifts dramatically depending on context and intonation.

Published: August 13, 2014 (Issue # 1824)


: indeed, after all, really, since

Ive always thought ofthe word as theverbal equivalent ofa fist hitting thetable, aword you use toemphasize your message andpound it home. As anintensifier its agreat little word tospit out inphrases like: ! (I told you so!)

But , like all little Russian words, is more than just anintensifier. It can show cause andeffect. It can show juxtaposition. Ina question, it can indicate doubt.

That is, it is one ofthe Russian languages multipurpose words, with ameaning that shifts dramatically with context andintonation, giving us hapless foreigners myriad opportunities tomisuse, misunderstand or mistranslate it.

Much ofthe time it does intensify thesense ofa phrase. Because English doesnt have anequivalent little word, you need tobe creative toconvey themessage of. ! (Come on its not hard atall!) ! (It really is thetruth!) , (We have tohelp her get ready forthe move; she certainly cant handle it byherself). , , (Im just not going todo it thats forsure. I know myself andmy character.)

Sometimes draws attention toa particular word ina sentence. , . . (Of course, Ill help her. Shes my wife, after all.) ! (Thats him!) , ! (Thats thevery book Ive spent thelast three hours looking for!) , (You were theone who wanted togo tothe movies, not me). , , (Its theanticipation as much as theholiday itself thats so marvelous).

Inother contexts, brings together two contrasting ideas: ! (He performed brilliantly despite being totally inexperienced).  ? . (Are you already here! But we werent expecting you today!)

Inother contexts, it can be translated as since: , ! (Its easier foreveryone totally up their failures, since every organization has people who have made mistakes.) Or as but then again: , (It was quite hard towork with him, but then Im used toworking with difficult personalities).

Thegrammar books say that insome contexts is aconjunction that indicates thereason forthe preceding assertion. Got that? I didnt, but it makes more sense inthis example: . ! (Translate theletter. You can do it you know English!)

But thestrange thing about is how all theintensity disappears when it is used ina question. Here it expresses doubt, not certainty: ? (Thats not true, is it?) ? (You do want togo tothe dacha, dont you?)

? (You do want toforget all about , dont you?)

Michele A. Berdy, aMoscow-based translator andinterpreter, is the author ofThe Russian Words Worth (Glas), acollection ofher columns.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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