он житейски неопытен

It seems the word "житейски" is separately listed far below in the conjugation table of the adjective "житейский", and I'm not so familiar with its usage.

Is "житейски" an adverb derived from the adjective "житейский": "he's worldly inexperienced" or "inexperienced in life"? I assume it follows the same conjugational pattern seen in "я говорю по-русски".

If so, I wonder if it is odd to say:

он по-житейски неопытен

or: он неопытен по-житейски

When should I use "житейски" versus "по-житейски"?

  • As far as I can see, this word becomes outdated. Thus, a fair answer would be "you shouldn't use this word".
    – Dmitriy
    Oct 25 '18 at 18:52

Yes, житейски is an adverb.

But it's used to describe passive participles answering the question in what way? similar to how the adverb functions in the English phrase he's artistically gifted or in a Russian phrase он художественно одарён, and adjectives politically correct - политически корректный.

По-житейски is a standard adverb which describes verbs and (adverbial) participles.

  • For instance, I say something like the following in conversation: "Хотя она ведет себя не по-женски, когда на нее никто не смотрит". So does "женски" without "по" sound odd here? Oct 25 '18 at 12:46
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    @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens yes, it absolutely does, not least because there's no such adverb as женски, and in fact по-женски is also used with passive participles and adjectives similarly to житейски... at first glance there seems to be no clear rule as to the correspondence of adverbs with specific parts of speech: verbs, participles and adjectives Oct 25 '18 at 13:43

Qualitative adverbs originating from possessive adjectives in sg. inst. come in two varieties in Russian:

  1. The adjective they modify describes some quality pertinent to the noun from which the adverb is formed:

    • Он идеологически подкован // He's well versed in ideological matters (lit. "he's ideologically heeled")

    • Баллистически стойкая ткань // Ballistic-proof fabric (lit. "ballistically proof")

  2. The adjective they modify describes some quality similar to the noun from which the adverb is formed. They usually come with the preposition по-:

    • Он по-гусарски расточителен // He's as prodigal with money as a hussar (lit. "hussarly prodigal")
    • Макароны по-флотски // Pasta a la navy, a dish similar to ragu bolognese (lit. "navally (cooked) pasta, pasta as they do in the navy")

If you look closely, there is a difference between those adjectives.

The ones from the first list are about the thing the adverb describes: ideology is something which is good, ballistic is something the fabric is proof against etc.

The ones from the second list are like the thing the adverb describes: he's prodigal like a hussar, the pasta is like they do in the navy etc.

However, this is quite a fine line, and some of the adjectives are bleeding from one category to another. There is a number of adjectives like героически, чертовски, ангельски, дьявольски, творчески etc. which should have had the по- before them but they don't:

  • Он дьявольски умён // He's smart as a devil
  • Защитники Москвы героически пали на поле боя // The defenders of Moscow had fallen on the battlefield like heroes

In both those cases, по- would have had more sense.

Житейски in your example belongs to the first category: his everyday skills are what he is inexperienced at, not like something he's inexperienced at. Taken literally, он по-житейски неопытен would mean something like "he's inexperienced the way those who live their daily lives are", which makes little sense.

However, as I said, this is quite a fine line, and по-житейски and житейски are sometimes mixed:

  • Смагин был обеспечен, перспективен и совершенно по-житейски неопытен.

  • Губернатор Краснодарского края Александр Ткачёв заявил, что станица Кущёвская – это "по-житейски благополучное место"

  • i'd guess that the use of героически stems from the fact that it's not perceived as immediately related to герой, probably being overshadowed by геройски, which IS prefixed with по- in the context of death on the battlefield Oct 25 '18 at 21:21
  • @БаянКупи-ка corpus search for геройски + V yields 204 documents, по-геройски + V yields only two (and even those two are artifacts, not the real matches)
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 25 '18 at 21:26
  • OK, but it doesn't sound off to me and Google gives more than enough matches to go about, even if that's not a literary norm, it's seems to be quite at home in the language Oct 25 '18 at 21:34
  • @БаянКупи-ка sure, as I said, the usage of по- does sway to and from
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 25 '18 at 21:36
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    @БаянКупи-ка по-таврически, по-наёмнически, по-жульнически etc., basically, any adverb formed from a noun in -ик (or -icus/-ikos in original Latin or Greek).
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 25 '18 at 22:05

That means "inexperienced in life". And I wouldn't add по- here.

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