I saw that there are many prepositions which translate "about" into Russian. о, насчёт, на, про, по поводу, even по itself.

I guess they are not interchangeable and their usage must be memorized for each context...

Sometimes verbs are learned with the preposition that normally follows them. For example, жалеть (о чём), настаивать (на чём). No doubts here.

As far as I know, говорить is followed either by о (чём) or на тему (чего).

Are насчёт (+gen.) and про (+acc.) interchangeable when introducing the subject of a conversation without a verb? For example:

"Talking about languages... I've read a bit." would be "про языки / насчёт языков... я читал немного"

while the "about" after a verb would be translated otherwise?

"I've read a bit about languages" would be "я читал немного на тему языков"?


Насчёт is very close to the English regarding. In your example, the topic of languages is quite abstract, thus насчёт and на тему are good fits:

Насчет языков. Недавно прочитал интересную книгу и узнал, что... — Regarding languages: I’ve recently read an interesting book and learned that... (This could as well begin with [К вопросу] о языках or На тему языков, while про would be a bit unnatural.)

Это сборник статей на тему языков. — This is a compilation of articles on the topic of languages. (Про or о would also be decent fits.)

For concrete things, you would prefer про or о/об:

Расскажи мне об этом. — Tell me about this.

Узнал что-нибудь про концерт? — Have you found out anything about the concert? (Here про implies there’s something in particular the person asking wants to know, while о would imply a request for general information.)

But in general, it’s true that one has to memorize the prepositions. English has the same problem, maybe even worse, where prepositions have the tendency to turn verbs into something else altogether.

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