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Beginner here, I have a sentence with it's translation, but need some help understanding why.

На его месте вы бы ещё не так заплакали.

So the translation is

In his place, you would cry even more (or in french, à sa place, vous pleureriez encore bien davantage).

I'm able to see what each word means, but am having trouble seeing why, all together, it means the above translation.

вы        -> You
бы        -> Makes the verb conditional
ещё       -> More 
не        -> negates 
так       -> so much
заплакали -> Past tense of cry

So literally, it reads more like

In his place, you wouldn't cry as much

which is the opposite of what the translation says.

Any help on understanding why this sentence means what it means?

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    не - negation, but it relates to 'так', so a better 'literal' way of thinking could be 'In his place you WOULD cry not so' (implying not so, but even more ') – alexsms Feb 13 '18 at 5:11
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Так in relation to плакать describes a manner of the action

Он ТАК (сильно/горько/громко) плакал - He cried SO MUCH

By itself не так would mean not so much

But in combination with ещё (more), which in this sentence functions as an intensifying particle, не так comes to mean even more, which can be thought of as this/so much and more, or if we employ the negation, then not so much, but more, which is the underlying idea

Я ЕЩЁ (и) НЕ ТАК плакал - literally I cried SO MUCH MORE/NOT SO MUCH, but MORE

I'm not sure it can be further rationalized and dissected, it's an instance where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And it's a stable construction in Russian

-Я слышал, что они занимаются рэкетом / I've heard they practise extortion
-Я ещё (и) не то слышал / I've heard so much more

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  • Well, just for completeness, how would you negate it? Like to say, I didn't cry so much more ? Я ЕЩЁ (и) НЕ НЕ ТАК плакал ? – Eric Feb 12 '18 at 19:46
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    yes, how does one negate ещё не так ? – Eric Feb 12 '18 at 19:48
  • i can't think of it being ever negated, maybe because it in itself is a sort of implied negation of a statement by an interlocutor, if you give me an English equivalent i might try to come up with something, but it likely won't be through the negation of this construction – Баян Купи-ка Feb 12 '18 at 19:50
  • ok, thanks, that helps. I figure in a real conversation, you'd just say something like "no that's not true" and not just adding another "not" to the phrase. – Eric Feb 12 '18 at 19:53
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    To negate the phrase remove ещё and apply the particle не to the verb, something like: На его месте я бы так не плакал -- In his place I would not cry that much. – mustaccio Feb 13 '18 at 14:20
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Так in Russian has different values.

  1. It can be an intensifier, as in the following example: a. Я так рада, что вы пришли! I'm so happy you came! in French : je suis si heureuse que vous soyez venus ! where the speaker is not only happy, but "so happy that..."etc (You think of this value when coming to a translation like "so much".)

  2. Так has also another value which I would paraphrase as "in this way", as in the sentence: b. Мне просто хочется понять, почему он так поступил. I just want to understand why he acted this way / why he did this. in French: Je veux juste comprendre pourquoi il a agi de la sorte / pourquoi il s'est comporté comme ça.

The word так in your sentence:

На его месте вы бы ещё не так заплакали.

is to be understood in this second meaning. Literally: -> In his place, you would cry "not in this way" - in French: à sa place, vous pleureriez encore "autrement".

Of course the translation sounds weird, and the context makes it clear that the implicit meaning is: -> you would cry even more. -> vous pleureriez encore davantage. (autrement, c'est-à-dire "davantage" ; sous-entendu "je vous laisse imaginer comment vous pleureriez")

Keep in mind that так is not only an intensifier!

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