Saturday, August 25, 2012

Russian morphology: negative prefix не-

  Russian prefix не- comes from нет and works just as English prefixes un-, non-, in- etc. When you see a word starting with не-, there is a very big chance it means something negative. If you know what this word would mean without не-, you can guess the meaning of it with the prefix.

Some examples:

небольшой - small
невысокий - short, low
неженатый - single, unmarried
неважный - unimportant
непонятный - incomprehensible
некрасивый - ugly
некоторый - some, unspecified
невероятный - incredible, impossible
нежирный - low-fat

некто - somebody
нечто - something


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Russian self, linguistically speaking

  Today we'll look at the Russian word for self – сам. Below are examples of its use, words with the same root and more.

сам - oneself, itself (masc.)
само - oneself, itself (neut.)
сама - oneself, itself (fem.)
сами - oneself, itself (pl.)

с самим собой - with oneself
разговаривать с самим собой - to talk to oneself

сам по себе - by itself, by oneself, alone
Кошка гуляет сама по себе. - A cat is walking by itself (i.e. choosing her own way).

Я сама связала этот шарф. - I knitted this scarf by myself.
Я сам! - I'll do it alone/by myself!
Машина едет сама. - The car is driving on its own.
Он любит говорить только о самом себе. - He likes to talk only about himself.
Сделай это сам. - Do it yourself.
Сами они из Австралии. - They themselves are from Australia.
Он сама невинность. - He is innocence itself.
Само собой я сделаю это. - Of course I'll do it.
Он сам не знает, что говорит. - He himself doesn't know what he is saying.
Сам Пушкин не смог бы написать лучше. - Pushkin himself wouldn't be able to write (it) better.
Им самим нетрудно это сделать. - It's not hard for them to do it by themselves.

Complex words with -сам- root:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Are Russian words too long?

 Чувствовать, необыкновенный, железнодорожный, бессердечный, преподаватель, североамериканский... These words are so long! How can you learn them at all? Russian language might seem tough, but fear no more – I'm going to show you that even such monsters as железнодорожный are learnable.

First, remember that big words are made from smaller words and morphemes. For example 'North American' in Russian is североамериканский. It's made from words северный (northern) and американский (American). Северный is made from север (north), and aмериканский is made from Америка (America).

Преподаватель (a teacher) is made from преподавать (to teach) which in turn is made from давать (to give). Пре-, по- and -тель are prefixes and a suffix. So in the heart of this big word lies a short давать that you can easily learn.

From железо (iron) we can make железный (iron, adj.), from дорога (road) — дорожный (related to roads), and together they make железнодорожный — railroad (adj.). Looks less scary now, doesn't it?

Поприветствовать (to greet) is made from привет (hello) by adding a few morphemes. I'm sure you know привет already. ;)

По-весеннему (like in spring) is made from весна (spring).

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