Why does мартышка exist, but *мартыха does not?
The rest of the words seem to follow this productive pattern. Cf:
- картошка <=> картоха;
- плашка <=> плаха;
- Антошка <=> Антоха;
- Машка <=> Маха
And so on.
Russian Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Russian language. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
When we are trying to say “Go to the shop and buy some potatoes”, we don’t say “Иди в магазин и купи картофель.” — it’s too official for shopping. We say “Иди в магазин и купи картошки.”.
So we use the diminutive form плашка, but we almost do not use the full form плаха.
Антон, Мария — official, full form (passport, forms, at work, etc.). Антоша / Антошка, Маша / Машка — diminutive form. We use it with children and good friends in good mood. Антоха — very light, brute form, only for good friends. This form is very similar to cases of use like “How are ya, you old bastard?”. It’s very tricky to define when you may it use, and when — not. I think that for foreigners it’s better not to use that form. By the way, I can’t remember that I have had heard Маха. Maybe, it’s too brute to call a girl that.
Мартышка evolved from Март (March). We never needed light, brute form of this word for good friends. So it sounds weird.
However, in everyday life some people sometimes use мартышка for the brand name Martini, and, maybe, мартыха. But these cases are infrequent. And I don’t suggest them for foreigners to use.
The other thing is that such transforming does change the emotional additional meaning.
Машка is just a girl, Маха is "свой парень", a good friend. (same for Антоха) Пожрать картошки is to fill the emptyness in the stomach, навернуть картохи is to have some great event, some gastronomic fun. Плаха (in first association) is a place for killing a person. Плашка is anything at all (плашка памяти DDR, for example).
So, in -ха case, we show more respect than in -шка case. Showing any respect to a funny monkey is... Well, yes, everyone will understand the word Мартыха, but almost no-one really use it.
Woktionary says origin of this word is deutch "marten" or dutch "martijn" (and refers to M.Fasmer dictionary). So this probably happened about 200 (+-100) years ago (my own number). Мартын - at that time popular russian male name. So natural association occurs. And Мартын would 200 years ago be Мартышка. Just like Иван-Ивашка, Петр-Пертушка. This is quite natural for aristocrates of that time to use -шка- suffix when talking to peasants (just recalling Pushkin, Gogol, Saltykov-S.). No idea how you call this form of a name scientifically in English.
Also russian language has suffix -их- which is dedicated to female species of animals. Слон-слониха, заяц-зайчиха. Which borders мартыха which has suffix -х-. But not the same (almost) obviously.
Then suffix -х- is quite new compared to -шк-. I suspect (from my memory) that is was not widely used even 50 years ago, and probably has to do with borrowing words from Ukraine/Poland. I.e Петруха - is definetly Петр in Ukraine. So мартыха would sound as 'ukrainism(украинизм)'. Those who consider examples as картоха, братуха - are not aware those are ukrainisms, and try to follow the patterns, so naturally suffix -х- becomes kind of "Russian". But still very limited compared to -шк-.
This day native Russian speaker is not aware мартышка is a form of Мартын. So someone might use "Мартыха" occasionally. But мартышка has so many strong associations so it is hard to imagine to widely use other forms. "Мартышка и очки" by Krylov is on top. "Мартышкин труд", "кривлятся как мартышка". Those are unseparable strong forms. If you say "мартыхин труд" association will not ring.
Plus see that мартышка is just a 'meme' in real life we would very very seldom see мартышка and refer to it, and memes tend to keep it's original form. (ie "All your base are belong to us")
*мартыха exists too. If you say "мартыха" for russian native, he (she) wil understand you.
But some of this forms (
*ха: Антоха, Маха, картоха, мартыха) belongs to colloquial speech. So you may not find them in dictionaries.
плашка <=> плаха
In this case плаха is literary form, and плашка is diminutive form of it.
Excuse me for my poor English.
"Мартышка" reflects disparaging attitude. Marmosets are small, ugly and human-like (that is why this word often may be used in Russian to offend African American). "Мартыха" may be possible as a poetical description of some very big marmoset, deserving respect. But nobody ever seen marmosets like those.
As a reverse example you may take "Гиббон". There is no stable form "Гиббонишка", because Gibbons are big apes, they are strong, noble, and deserving respect by their own nature.
Just as an example, try to analyze also word "Америкашка"...