In the "Техника – молодежи" magazine, №5 1977, there is a sci-fi story translated from English, "A Task for Emmy", it is about a super-computer called "Эмми". The story has a phrase that puzzled me, "тысячи милей ее проводов". All my dictionaries (Dahl, Ushakov, Ozhegov, Zaliznyak) say "миля" is the 1st declension soft variant, that is the genitive case plural should be "миль", like "пуля – пуль". What is that "милей" form? Can that be an archaic/regional variant? Or is it just a mere typo or the translator's mistake? I have been reading "Техника – молодежи" for all my life and so far I have never seen even a single typo in it.

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2 Answers 2


Well, it feels almost like cheating but once again Google Ngram Viewer turns out to be a nice research tool at least for getting started:enter image description here

So, it's actually pretty clear that милей never was as popular as миль. Which is actually kinda strange, since there's no obvious reason for this. In wiktionary it is mentioned, that in Zaliznyak's classification миля belongs to type 2a - that means "слова с основой на мягкий согласный, ударение всегда на основу" - but, say тюлень, олень or even pretty rare киль do not follow that pattern.

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    I wonder if when doing the corpus search there's a way to separate милей, the gen. pl. of миля, from its omograph милей, which is the comparative degree of the adjective милый.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 22:35
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    Found it! Here, starting from page 315 and on. Printed in 1850.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 8:35
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    but, say тюлень, олень or even pretty rare киль do not follow that pattern Well, that's because they belong to the masculine gender ;-) "Миля" is regular feminine 2a, just like "неделя".
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 9:58
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    Never paid attention, but that's really interesting. Say, миля will be миль, but доля – долей. Why?
    – V.V.
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 17:13
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    @YellowSky very nice and interesting find!
    – shabunc
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 21:33

It is indeed not grammatical. It may be a regional form from the place the author was from, but not standard Russian. By the way, Google search has got 162 for "тысяча милей" whilst 20k for "тысяча миль".

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