Russian verbal forms (was: (In)transitive verbs
|From:||Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, February 8, 2004, 8:44|
Russian verbs can be fun too.
I was very impressed by a book about Russian verbal
aspects (Marguerite Guiraud-Weber, Laspect du verbe
russe, Publications de lUniversité de Provence),
especially about the prefixo-postfixal and
prefixo-suffixal forms. It is startling that the
Russian language manages to enclose in a single verb
what takes us sometimes a whole line to explain. Ill
give hereunder some examples from the book:
- Prefixo-postfixals :
. vy - plakat sja, to feel relieved after having
wept all one could
. za chitat sja, to be completely absorbed in
. ot kosit sja, to come back to ones
occupations after hay-making ( ! )
. s pet sja, to get on with singing together
- Prefixo- suffixals :
. ot stuk ivat, to knock several times,
insisting on each knock
. po krik ivat, to utter small cries now and
then, or to scold now and then
. pri kus yvat, to nibble while doing something
. ras kur ivat, to smoke with content and taking
- sja seems to mean something like middle voice,
to do something for oneself, when -yvat / -ivat
mainly carries an idea of iteration / repetition.
All these verbs have only 4 syllables, or even 3, in
most forms. It looks like a very economic way to
express complex actions. I think German works somehow
the same, for ex vyplakatsja looks the same as
It would be interesting to combine some affixes
(Russian, like German, do sometimes (e.g. po raz!
exatsja = to leave, one after the other, or familiar
[pejorative] po na vy delyvat = to make, but
not to the point of expressing ideas like to be
completely absorbed in getting on with uttering small
cries together now and then, slowly and with content,
while doing something else) (*
In some French verbs, the suffix carries an idea
resembling a little some Russian verbs, e.g. tapoter
= to hit gently and repeatingly, pianoter (the same,
but on piano [or computer] keys). This mark -ot
looks the same as Russian po- (attenuative) +
-yvat (iteration), so in that case, French would be
more concise than Russian !
But ideas like to do something while doing something
else at the same time, or to be completely absorbed
in doing something seem to me very hard to translate
into French concisely. The first would be tout en +
gerund (grignoter tout en regardant la télé ; but it
seems that Russian doesnt have to express the other
action), the secund, e^tre plongé dans + deverbal
noun (e^tre plongé dans la lecture du Monde, or :
e^tre complètement absorbé par sa lecture).
Vy-plakat- sja could be pleurer tout son soul (or
« toutes les larmes de son corps »), and ot kosit
sja, en avoir fini avec la fenaison (or : « avec
les foins »).
--- Christophe Grandsire
> Germanic verbs can be such fun! :))
"Le langage est source de malentendus."
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
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