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I've got these two questions in my homework at my university in Japan, where I learn Russian:

  1. Мне ни к чему с ним окончательно (...).

  2. Как можно со всем коллективом из-за такого пустяка (...)?

(a) рассориться

(b) перессориться

(c) рассориваться

(d) перессориваться

I'm at a loss as to what to choose and why. Could you explain?

P.S. Encouraged by respected members of the forum, I am humbly sharing my own naive thoughts. I beg your pardon if I say anything wrong about your wonderful language.

The questions seem to have two separate dimensions:

  • пере- vs рас-

  • perfective aspect vs imperfective aspect

To start with the first dimension, I checked the meanings in Wiktionary (рассориться, перессориться):

рассориться: сильно поссориться

перессориться: поссориться со всеми или между собой

These definitions as they stand seem to suggest that рассориться reflects the depth of the conflict in terms of emotional strength or importance, whilst перессориться points out the width of the conflict in terms of the number of people (or maybe issues) involved.

If my humble impression is true, then the answer to Question 1 is either (a) or (c), whilst the answer to Question 2 is either (b) or (d), because Question 1 seems to be about the depth of the conflict as can be seen from окончательно, whilst Question 2 is about the width of the conflict as can be seen from со всем коллективом.

However, the problem is that I fail to see the same pattern with other verbs having рас- or пере-:

раздать что-то: to give something out (to a group of people)

передать что-то: to pass something (to somebody)

Here the pattern is precisely the opposite: now раз- means dealing with a group people, not пере-.

Looking at other verb pairs, such as разрубить-перерубить, разубедить-переубедить, I got even more confused as I failed to deduce any common denominator.

I am thus unsure whether the definitions given in Wiktionary are complete and accurate, and I seem to be too shallow to see the deep underlying logic behind these prefixes...

Concerning the second dimension (perfective vs imperfective), I checked in Google that ни к чему делать is more than 10 times more common than ни к чему сделать. Using this analogy I am tempted to choose answer (c) to Question 1.

Yet I am at a loss as to what the underlying logic is. Exactly what is wrong, unnatural, or illogical in using ни к чему in conjunction with the perfective aspect of a verb? The perfective aspect means the outcome of a completed action. What is unnatural in saying that it is not useful to have a certain outcome (ни к чему сделать)?

In Question 2 the phrase seems to be rhetoric, but is it supposed to be about the outcome or process? Again, I used Google and found a few results with как можно перессориться and none with как можно перессориваться. This is a hint that answer (b) is correct, but exactly why is it correct?

Summarizing all of the above, I guess that the correct or most naturally sounding variants are 1c and 2b, but I am very unsure and do not fully understand the underlying logic.

Please accept my apologies if I overwhelmed you with my naive and chaotic thoughts.

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    Hi Баян Купи-ка and Quassnoi, thank you very much for your kind responses. My homework is for training purposes only and will not affect any grade of mine. I could as well not do this homework at all. I did not ask my question to simply get a better grade, save my time, or get my homework done. I want to fully understand the underlying logic of the language, because it is only with love to the language and a complete determination to fully and deeply understand each and every aspect that I have a chance to truly master such a complex, developed, and beautiful language as Russian. – Mitsuko Apr 27 '19 at 15:09
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    I felt shy to bother the respected members of this forum with my naive reasoning, but, encouraged by you, I now have updated my question to show my thoughts. – Mitsuko Apr 27 '19 at 15:18
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    There's a first time for everything, so please don't be discouraged from posting similar questions! As someone who didn't study a foreign language at university, I'm personally glad that your question gave me a glimpse of how Russian is taught in an official capacity in Japan. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Apr 27 '19 at 15:37
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    As for the apparent oddity in using almost exclusively imperfective verbs with "ни к чему", it just so happens that I posted a similar question a while ago: russian.stackexchange.com/questions/17943/… – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Apr 28 '19 at 0:04
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    That's... an awesome question! Consideration: ten of ten. Depth: ten of ten. Preparation: ten of ten. All do like @Mitsuko does! – Quassnoi Apr 28 '19 at 16:26
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If my humble impression is true, then the answer to Question 1 is either (a) or (c), whilst the answer to Question 2 is either (b) or (d), because Question 1 seems to be about the depth of the conflict as can be seen from окончательно, whilst Question 2 is about the width of the conflict as can be seen from со всем коллективом.

This part is correct

However, the problem is that I fail to see the same pattern with other verbs having рас- or пере-:

I would warn from relying on the semantics of similarly prefixed verbs in figuring out the semantics of any given verb. This is a very complex system (if system at all) with little consistency. I'd advise to treat each verb or a perf/imprerf pair as a verb in its own right. Once your personal vocabulary is rich enough you may start noticing certain logic behind choice of prefixes, but this point may be far along the way.

Summarizing all of the above, I guess that the correct or most naturally sounding variants are 1c and 2b, but I am very unsure and do not fully understand the underlying logic.

Thus
1. Мне ни к чему с ним окончательно (рассориваться).
2. Как можно со всем коллективом из-за такого пустяка (перессориться)?

This is a correct answer.

1. The phrase ни к чему indeed normally requires imperfective aspect. In itself it's a modal construction because as evident from the sentence it nessecitates verb in infinitive form.
The reason i think is that imperfective aspect is normally preferred in negated modality of general and deontic (that which denotes obligation and duty) types (but not epystemic, one which denotes likelihood).

Есть, однако контекст, где замена СВ на НСВ при отрицании обязательна. Это контекст отрицаемой модальности, см. Рассудова 1982: 120-127.

Отрицание в контексте модальности необходимости, общей и деонтической, требует инфинитива глагола в несов. виде:

Надо открыть окно – Не надо открывать окно (не надо открыть);

Ты должен (т.е. обязан) ей помочь – Ты не должен (т.е. не обязан) ей помогать (помочь)

Какими бы средствами ни выражалось значение ненужности действия, инфинитив должен быть в несов. виде (см. Рассудова 1982: 122):

Да надо ли вам обращаться к этому человеку?
Мне не рекомендовали сажать эти деревья,
К чему возражать?
Не за что его благодарить,
Он не велел подчеркивать, и др.

source: rusgram.ru 6.2.3. Несов.вид инфинитива в контексте отрицательной модальности
further reading on semantic difference between deontic and epystemic modalities: Мельникова Л.С, К ВОПРОСУ О МОДАЛЬНОСТИ (НА МАТЕРИАЛЕ ИТАЛЬЯНСКОГО ЯЗЫКА)

2. Here I believe perfective fits because the sentence deals with a fait accompli, something which has been done, which would be its first possible reading. In fact i believe that its complete version must include the verb было which makes its past tense apparent -> Как можно (было) со всем коллективом из-за такого пустяка перессориться?

However i can envision use of imperfective as well if it's understood to rhetorically express objection to a certain course of action thereby denoting its undesirability, i.e. Как можно из-за такого пустяка со всем коллективом перессориваться?. This variant is less likely but still plausible. Likewise in a sentence such as Зачем (было) из-за такого пустяка со всем коллективом перессориваться?, which also expresses objection to a course of action taken in the present or in the past (было).
So all these sentences seem to denote negated deontic modality as well, which, as shown above, necessitates imperfective aspect.

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  • Баян Купи-ка, thank you so much for such a detailed and enlightening answer. It was so interesting to read, especially as you explain things in a manner different from the one used here in Japan. We are taught to think in terms of analogies to examples. I am unsure whether it is appropriate for me to vote for answers, as I am not a native speaker to judge the accuracy and completeness of answers to my questions, but I like your answer and style very much, so I voted for your answer to express my gratitude despite not being in a position to judge – Mitsuko Apr 28 '19 at 16:39
  • @Mitsuko sure, hope it helped – Баян Купи-ка Apr 28 '19 at 17:27
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There are situations where all of the options above would be correct, depending on your intentions. So here are the definitions of the terms you provided so that you would understand where to pick the particular choice:

рассориться - the assumption is there is or is going to be an ongoing conflict of a quarrel type and that you are going to cease the communication with one or more person afterwards.

перессориться - there is no assumption of being in a conflict, and the implied intention is to enter the conflict with mostly one person. You can use it in a slightly derogatory meaning towards the team or many people, implying that you take them as just a single herd.

The next 2 terms are approximately the same, with the difference that you would be hypothetically considering a possibility of conflict, or, more importantly, some actions which would START the conflict.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Quassnoi Apr 27 '19 at 11:03
  • Just a linguist, thank you very much for your answer. I got even more confused because what you say is the opposite to what Wiktionary says (see the update to my question). You say that перессориться is about a conflict with one person, whilst Wiktionary says that it is rather about a conflict with everyone in a group. – Mitsuko Apr 27 '19 at 15:34

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