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I was searching the Russian National Corpus recently and in the results I noticed that nouns referring to duration in time are sometimes marked with a diminutive suffix, as in the following examples:

Посидела там часик и всё.
Я думаю, вам не помешает на недельку съездить в Инсбрук.
О нем поговорить так годика через два актуальней.

  1. When are these sorts of diminutive forms used? Are there certain verbs or constructions they are more likely to occur with?
  2. If so, can a non-diminutive form be used in these situations also? What is the difference in meaning between a diminutive form and a non-diminutive form in these contexts?
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В приведённых примерах уменьшительная форма использована для придания незначительности, пренебрежительности отрезку времени: "Только часик, и всё. Что такого?".

"Съездить на (всю/целую) неделю куда-нибудь" Здесь неделя - значимый период времени.

"Съездить на недельку куда-нибудь" Неделька здесь - незначительный период времени, всего на недельку и сразу обратно.

Также, уменьшительная форма может ничего не означать, если человек использует её постоянно. Частое или постоянное использование уменьшительных форм свойственно некоторым девушкам-подросткам или в разговоре матери с маленьким ребёнком.

In these examples a diminutive form is used to make time period less significant:
час ~ for an hour
часик ~ only an hour.
Also, a diminutive form may mean nothing if a person uses it constantly. Frequent or constant use of the diminutive form of typical some adolescent girls or mothers in conversation with a little child.

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  • How does using a diminutive compare to using a perfective verb with the по- prefix? Is there a difference in meaning between Я стоял там часик and Я постоял там час? Would you ever hear something like Я простоял там часик? Jan 1 '13 at 2:13
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    Yes, all of your examples are correct and used. "стоять" и "постоять/простоять" is imperfect and perfect form of the verb, uncompleted and completed action, no other difference. How about "час" и "часик(часок)" in this case, if meaning of sentence is 'waste of time', then "час" - neutral, "часик/часок" - irony, sarcasm. do not get carried away with the diminutive form, it sounds a bit sweetly
    – Eugene
    Jan 1 '13 at 13:25
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    I would like to support @menzenski. I think there is some correlation between using a diminutive of time period and using the prefix по- before a verb. It is not that perfect-imperfect forms create the difference but in particular the prefix по-. (As a side effect по- converts the verb into the perfect form.) Compare: Я хочу есть. vs. Я хочу поесть. Поесть implies that you want to eat a little bit, and in general sounds more soft. The same with time periods, if you want to soften the message, you most likely will use both diminutive suffix and the prefix по-.
    – farfareast
    Jan 2 '13 at 20:26
  • Agreed. I don't quite understood what exactly @menzenski was asking for.
    – Eugene
    Jan 7 '13 at 15:58
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    Grammatically, there are no restrictions, you can use the diminutive form of the noun anywhere. There are stylistic limitations - not always a diminutive form is appropriate. Also, as noted by @farfareast, the prefix "по-" with the verb increases the effect of the diminutive form.
    – Eugene
    Jan 9 '13 at 4:54
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1. They are approximate and not exact.

2. There is another form of ч*а*сик: час*о*к Перевод из «Нового большого русско-английского словаря» ABBYY Lingvo м. разг. an hour or so

уйти на часок — leave for an hour or so

both forms used in unofficial speaking, not official documents (mark разг. means разговорная речь)

Неделька is associated with

набор трусов "неделька"

phrase.

Годик and годок used in storytales and epic rhymes (былины) для "красивого" детского звучания.

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  • compare "Не садись на пенёк, не ешь пирожок" и "не садись на пень, не ешь пирог". In Russian diminutive forms are ussualy used to make speech more endearing, tender and frivolous. Dec 31 '12 at 14:45
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    "неделька" not associate with underwear for me and not only for me. Some type of milk in Tetra Pak we call "неделька". "Не садись на пенёк, не ешь пирожок" isn't good enough example, because it's phase from children's tale, where a diminutive form used frequently.
    – Eugene
    Dec 31 '12 at 16:27
  • @eugene, while I would consider this answer weak, the notion expressed by author in his comment (and which should have been included in an answer, in my opinion) is very vital to understanding of this issue. In your own answer “insignificance” of such forms could be explained as related to that charming way of talking to little children.
    – theUg
    Feb 2 '13 at 19:29
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http://www.ruslichimya.ru/polnoe-lichnoe-imya-i-ego-proizvodnye/umenshitelnye-laskatelnye-i-drugie-formy-imeni.ini 1) something cute, little 2) for expressing sympathy to some heroes of books 3) short time Посидела там часик и всё.

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    Welcome to Russian Language and Usage Beta! Usually we prefer longer and more elaborated answers to short answers. If you can improve your answer by adding detail, context, examples, and backing up with references, this would increase your answer's quality. Poor answers risk being down-voted and subsequently removed.
    – Olga
    Dec 31 '12 at 13:07

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