I am using some Tintin books to expand my understanding of casual speech. Tintin books are (in my opinion) a great way to supplement dull textbooks. However sometimes the language can be a bit too colloquial, so I have a few questions:

  1. Только попадись мне этa болтушка!
    [From the context: Just let me get my hands on that chatterbox!] This is a grammatical question: I can't reconcile the 2nd person imperative (попадись) with the noun in the nominative case.

  2. Пойду скажу пару слов этому типу.
    [I am going to say a few words to that character.] Grammar again: I would have said 'сказать' instead of 'скажу'. Two adjacent 1st pers. sing. verbs just looks wrong to me ...

  3. Чёрный ход был открыт.
    Whatever is a 'чёрный ход'? Obviously not a 'black entrace', put possibly a 'back entrance'?

  4. Ни с того ни с сего у нас начали ломаться стёкла.
    I can't find an explanation of 'ни с того ни с сего'.

Any explanations will be much appreciated. It will help me finish my glossary for the 'Дело профессора' (The Calculus Affair).

By the way, anyone interested in Tintin glossaries may check out mine at http://www.users.on.net/~c.rennie/. I have done two so far.

  • 1. is a special form of conditional and optative moods constructed through the use of imperative 2. makes the phrase more expressive and assertive, consider English - I will go and whoop his ass NOT I will go to whoop his ass; 4. Eng: out of the blue, with no apparent reason Jun 23, 2018 at 6:55
  • 2. Nice to know that more assertive nuance. I haven't registered it before, but it already feels right. (The parallel in English is spot on.)
    – xris
    Jun 23, 2018 at 7:44
  • it occurred to me that approximate English equivalent to using imperative for conditional mood in Russian could be a construction with should - Should you need any help, just call me - Понадобись тебе какая помощь, звони мне Jun 24, 2018 at 7:26

1 Answer 1

  1. The imperative is used to express the desired state of things (Just let me catch that chatterbox!). Попасться is a reflexive verb ('be caught') so literally it's saying 'Just let that chatterbox be caught by me!' with chatterbox in the nominative. The speaker is addressing 'the chatterbox' with the 2nd person imperative.

  2. Two personal forms (or imperatives) are not that uncommon in Russian, especially with идти/пойти:

    • Пойди сходи за молоком! - Go and fetch some milk!
    • Пойду схожу за молоком. - (I will) go and fetch some milk.
    • Иди работай! - Go and do your work!
  3. https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Чёрный_ход
    You were right, it's close to 'back door'.

  4. https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/ни_с_того_ни_с_сего
    This means 'suddenly' or 'without any reason'.

  • 1
    пойду схожу for a foreigner may sound even more puzzling :) Jun 23, 2018 at 6:47
  • 1. The idea that he is addressing the chatterbox through the imperative makes sense to me. Thanks. By the way, later in the book someone says 'Если только он мне попадётся.' That seems to have the same meaning, while being a bit easier for me to unravel.
    – xris
    Jun 23, 2018 at 7:45
  • @xris yes "Если только..." is a more conventional way to express conditional mood Jun 23, 2018 at 9:17

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