Saturday, September 22, 2007

Re: Cases, part 2

I haven't found any Russian declension tables on the internet that I really like, so I've reproduced this table from A Comprehensive Russian Grammar:

I-oм / unstr. -ем / str. -ём-ой/-ей/-ёй-ью-ами/-ями

I know that it's really dense. Don't worry about understanding all of it right now; I'll spend the next few posts going over it and showing you how it works and what the inherent patterns are.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Re: Cases

"I understand that masculine animate nouns don't change."

Actually, you've got this backwards. Masculine animate nouns do change; inanimate ones don't. Happily, there's a logic behind it, so this isn't just something to memorize.

Remember that Russian word order is very fluid because of its highly inflected case endings. There's a subtle difference in emphasis in sentences like "The flowers are on the table" and "On the table are the flowers," but both are equally grammatical. This flexibility extends to sentences like "человек укусил кролика" ("The man bit the bunny rabbit"), which can also be written "укусил кролика человек" or "кролика укусил человек" without a fundamental change in meaning. In situations like this, where you have two animate nouns, it's pretty important to know who is biting whom, since the nouns could come in either order. If it was a pairing of animate and inanimate: "человек укусил бутерброд" ("The man bit the sandwich"), the object is inanimate, so its ending doesn't change, but the man is the only one in the sentence who could be doing the action, so the meaning is still clear.

Does that make sense? (More to follow . . .)

Monday, September 17, 2007


I'm working on learning case endings, and I'm stuck on the accusative case. I understand that masculine animate nouns don't change. The same applies to neuter nouns. My problem lies with feminine nouns, I think. Feminine nominative nouns end with -a and -я. In the accusative case, they end with -y, -ю, -ь, or -ию, right? I just don't know when to attach which ending. For instance, книга becomes книгy. My book told me that one, so I'm confident about it. Same thing with неделя - it becomes неделю. Does that mean that я always becomes ю, and a always becomes y? I haven't found any hard and fast rules for this, so I'm still a bit unclear on it.

This is my second time learning a language with cases, admittedly, so I shouldn't be having this much of a problem with it, but it's been ages since I've even thought about Latin.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Клиффорд — коммунистическая собака

A remark made yesterday by the Lt. Col. has inspired me to translate "Clifford, the big red dog" into Russian. (Also I think I'm going to replace Emily Elizabeth with Lenin. And possibly add random communist slogans.) I've checked out a copy of copy of "Clifford" and I'll be working on translations over the next few weeks.