What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

There's a quote here about stress: "In English, it's usually the first." Um... not really true.
"There are also languages like English, Italian, Russian and Spanish, where stress is (at least partly) unpredictable. Rather, it is lexical: it comes as part of the word and must be memorized, although orthography can make stress unambiguous for a reader, as is the case in Spanish and Portuguese. In such languages, otherwise homophonous words may differ only by the position of the stress (e.g. incite and insight in English), and therefore it is possible to use stress as a grammatical device."

Spanish being included there is odd, since if you know the word's spelling you can determine the stress. Perhaps we should replace English with Finnish (stress always on first syllable) or Hebrew (penultimate syllable).


Sikon: It's longer than I thought it would be — I wanted to list all aspects of the language I can think of that can seem unusual to those who only know English. If you have more questions about the Russian language, I'll be happy to answer them.

Silent Hunter: That's good. I'll link in Russian Proverbs and Expressions as well.

alexs: «Verbs have three tenses ...» — that's the way it's taught to native speakers, but that's hardly how you should describe it to foreigners. Skipping details, I'd suggest something like this:

«Russian verbs have two simple tenses (past and present-future) and two voices (active and passive); there's also four kinds of participles (adverbial/adjective present/past), infinitive, imperative and several complex forms (mostly preposition + simple form). Most of these conjugate according to subject's person and number (first singular, third plural etc.), all past forms also cojugate according to subject's grammatical gender.»

This will give more or less correct notion about number of different verbal forms in Russian. But you'll have to move sentences about noun before this to have at least gender "defined" by this point.

Also, speaking of gender, paragraph starting with «Russian is notably a gender-specific language» is just lame. I'd suggest deleting it completely; in current form it's more like saying "positive charge is good because it's, well, positive" — you completely miss the difference between gender and grammatical gender, as someone correctly noted in Addendum. The only thing that should be pointed out, aside from complexity for non-speakers, is the fact that you can (sometimes) guess if speaker is female.

The goal of this page is neither to provide liguistic information about the language (there's The Other Wiki for that) nor to help learning Russian; it should help understanding language-related tropes, which are most of the time about foreigners speaking/trying to understand Russian. The notion of inherent noun gender is too subtle to affect this. If you want to include this information anyway, I'd suggest approach (and maybe examples) from "Russian jokes" Wikipedia page. For the same reason I'd suggest removing infomation about types of conjugation — it's not needed unless you going to learn the language.

Sikon: My pet peeve with gender in Russian is that it makes it difficult to conceal someone's gender in first-person and second-person constructs, which irritates me because I prefer to remain gender-neutral in speech. I manage it in real life, but not without effort.

Commie Dog: While this article is being very informative, I am being disappointed that there is no mention of verb aspect in Russian. Though it may be seeming an esoteric subject best left to The Other Wiki, I would be disagreeing. Overuse of progressive aspect is being one of the most notable features of the Lzherusskie, and like the note on article usage, it would be being good on knowing how much of it is Truth in Television.

das: I've never actually heard of "grazhdanin" being a standard form of address towards prisoners - quite the opposite, the only widespread case of it being used non-ironically is in the phrase "grazhdanin nachalnik", i.e. "officer" (as in police militia milice officer).