1) А чего это мы такие ворчливые?

=? Why is it that you ...

2) Не знаю, как такому, как ты, удалось сделать ...

=? I don't know how such a thing, how you managed to do ...

The functions of the words "это" and "такому" placed after the interrogative pronouns got me thinking. I'm assuming both "это" and "такому" can be omitted, so by placing these seemingly extra words, can you emphasise your statement?

(Incidentally, why say "как такому" in dative rather than "как такое"?)

I wonder if "чего это" and "как такому" are both used only in colloquial style, as these two phrases come from chatty IMs that my girlfriend sent to me.

  • 5
    "Не знаю, как ((такому, как ты)) удалось сделать" - "I can't grasp how ((someone like you)) even managed to ...." – Arioch Jun 25 '18 at 12:50
  • Notice, that a correct #1 question would had been "что это", not "чего это". Just like "мы" there, this intentionally clumsy question wording is a part of "baby-speak", сюсюканье, ути-пути, etc. It even would be pronounced in exaggerated "а чииивоооо этоооо" manner. It could be even said in an even more overly exaggerated way with yet another non-essential word added: "А что/чего же это мы такие....." – Arioch Jun 25 '18 at 12:55
  • why say "как такому" in dative rather than "как такое" - because it describes you, not the thing you did. "как такому [человеку], как ты ( == какой ты есть), ...." // "это" and "такому" can be omitted - "это" is redundant and used for spectacular exaggeration, can be omitted. "такому" builds the semantic structure, specifies what exactly caused an amusement, so can not be dropped. – Arioch Jun 25 '18 at 12:56
  • @Arioch The original question #1 is correct, there are quite a few occurrences in modern literature. It's the same deflection as in the corresponding question: "Какого фига?" ("What the heck?"), so it's "что" that is less correct here. If the question were "А чего это мы сказали?" ("What did we say?"), then the version "А что это мы сказали?" would be more correct indeed. – Kirill Bulygin Jun 26 '18 at 15:07
  • If we would read "black detective" which became a large part of USA literature late half of XX we would find there a lot of "nigga" or "nigger" words. To which extent those words belong to literatury standard English is questionable. Another example would be meaningless expression "в этой связи", despite getting widespread use it still is syntactically meaningless. – Arioch Jun 27 '18 at 7:25

To answer your question directly: both of these expressions are used only colloquially, but their function is somewhat opposite to emphasis. It's rather (at least sometimes) about being able to "humbly" ask or suggest something that might be too rude with a more straightforward wording.

"Чего это" is a reduction of the more literal "для чего это" ("what is this for"). This example (with "мы" like in your sentence) is obtained from Russian National Corpus:

Ralph turned. "What are we hiding for? He stepped through the screen of grass on to the little open space that led to the narrow neck. [William Golding. Lord of the Flies (1954)]

Ральф обернулся. Чего это мы прячемся? Он вышел из заслона травы на голое место перед перешейком. [Уильям Голдинг. Повелитель мух (Е. Суриц, 1985)]

An example of "такому, как" (also from Russian National Corpus):

Там кому попало выдают паспорта! А я б, например, не выдал такому, как вы! Глянул бы только раз в лицо и моментально отказал бы! ― кот до того рассердился, что швырнул паспорт на пол. [М. А. Булгаков. Мастер и Маргарита (1929-1940)]

Whereas I, for instance, wouldn't issue one to the likes of you! Not on your life I wouldn't! I'd just take one look at your face and instandy refuse! ' The cat got so angry that he flung the passport on the floor. [Mikhail Bulgakov. Master and Margarita (Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky, 1979)]

  • Your example contradicts your reduction hypothesis. Для чего это ради тебе понадобилось вдруг ― одежду стирать? – Arioch Jun 27 '18 at 7:29
  • @Arioch Thanks, you're right. That was an example of a different "чего это". I've updated the answer. – Kirill Bulygin Jun 27 '18 at 10:10
  • So, you say we have kind of homonyms here, two identically written but semantically different "чего это" constructs. Then perhaps your answer has to reflect them both ? – Arioch Jun 27 '18 at 10:15
  • @Arioch I don't think it has to. The fact that there are different "чего это" constructs is already mentioned in the comments thanks to your suggestion. Analysis of all such constructs is not related to the original question. – Kirill Bulygin Jun 27 '18 at 10:36

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