A former chief sanitary inspector of Russia, Mr. Onishchenko, recently said the following about the chief infection control doctor of the Stavropol region, Ms. Sannikova:

Она долго работает инфекционистом — вот и притупилась бдительность. Не врачам этого не понять. (Source)

I got very much confused by the construction не врачам этого не понять. It is the first time I see a grammatical construction like this. I am confused as to whether the construction is grammatically and stylistically correct and what is its meaning.

The context is that Ms. Sannikova visited Spain, got infected there with the novel coronavirus, returned to Russia, and resumed her work as usual, engaging in close contacts with a dozen of Russian lecturers and a dozen of students and failing to test herself and observe basic self-quarantine measures.

My question: Is the expression не врачам этого не понять grammatically and stylistically okay? If so, what is its meaning?

  • it's "неврачам" or "не-врачам". – shabunc Mar 25 at 15:03

The meaning is:

Non-doctors can't/couldn't/can never understand that.

Also, I'm pretty sure that this is a misprint. They probably intended to use the prefix “не-” and not the particle “не”. I would write that sentence as:

Неврачам этого не понять.

EDIT: Here is an article about the “не-” prefix, which has “неврачи”, as well as other examples like:

(…) нефранцузы, немарксисты, нехристиане, неспециалисты, немосквичи, нерусские, недемократы, непоэты, нетермины, неметаллы, нестихи; (…)
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    @Mitsuko The misprint is repeated, probably, because the media are just copying what the others have written without proof-reading it. In case you haven't noticed yet, misprints aren't exactly a rarity in Russian media, especially when it comes to the Internet. As for Onishchenko, his terribleness is widely known in the RU-Net. He even has his own page on Lurkmore. The fact that the article starts with the “HATE!” template speaks for itself. – Ainar-G Mar 25 at 12:25
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    I see now, thanks a lot. And the link you provided to explain the spelling of неврач is very helpful. – Mitsuko Mar 25 at 12:27
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    Not a misprint but an orthographic mistake made by a journalist who first put this phrase in writing. Your last comment (how he could have been...), @Mitsuko, is not relevant to RussianLanguage.SE )) – tum_ Mar 25 at 12:27
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    @tum_ : I really wonder how all journalists could repeat the same orthographic mistake. No one corrected it. Everyone just copied it. I really wonder how Russian journalists are allowed to make grave mistakes in their articles whilst I am punished for slightest mistakes in my Russian classes. – Mitsuko Mar 25 at 12:37
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    @Mitsuko if you asked me, I could not tell you whether the не should be written together here or not. This is one of the difficulties even the native speakers encounter. – Anixx Mar 25 at 13:25

It is grammatically and stylistically correct. It means: non-doctors, but usual people, can't never understand that.

It is not misprint. It is particle "не", because it is implied in context as opposition.

rule: 4. Пишутся раздельно с не существительные, если имеется или подразумевается противопоставление. "non-doctors, but usual people"

(The context is: не врачи, а местные жители и многочисленные комментаторы Instagram возмущены поступком Санниковой)

Russian people usually don't use (and don't know) such words as нефранцузы, немарксисты, неврачи, немосквичи, недемократы, нелампочка, некот, нестул, непоэты, нетермины, нестихи (не- together), but sometime we use such words as неспециалисты, нерусские, неметаллы (and it is possible to say не специалисты, не русские, не металлы, не separately).

Often for some words it is possible to apply both rules (не- together, не separately). It depends on what would you like to say.

Prefixe не- expresses quality. (металлы, неметаллы)

Particle не expresses opposition or negation. (не металлы)

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  • 1
    +1. I also feel this should be separated. – Anixx Mar 29 at 13:36
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    Thank you namesake. Еxactly. Не врачам (а людям других специальностей) этого не понять. – Elena Mar 29 at 21:13
  • You are misinterpreting this rule. It's not a juxtaposition, and не should be used as a prefix here. Не врачам её судить is a juxtaposition, неврачам этого не понять is not. – Quassnoi yesterday
  • Here almost the same question and three different answers. – elena 20 hours ago
  • Could you please give me some links to a books or an articles where "неврачам" is together except this one – elena 20 hours ago

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