I was trying to read an online article, and got stuck with this sentence.

В этой колонке я собрался поговорить о расизме и недавних выступлениях в США и Европе, а начал – о советской колхозной деревне 1950-х. Вот ведь!

I think this sentence means something like "In this column, I'll talk about racism and recent speeches in US and Europe which started in 1950s Soviet collective villages. Here it is!"

The thing is, I just can't understand the meaning of "а начал – о советской колхозной деревне 1950-х. Вот ведь!" I've got two main questions:

  1. What does Вот ведь mean? Ведь means 'as you see', so I guess вот вед should mean something like 'let's see' or 'here it is'.

  2. What is the subject of this verb начал? Since it is singular, it can't be расизм и недавние выступления. But if the subject is я, then this clause would mean something like "But I began about Soviet collective villages", which doesn't make that much sense. "But I will begin by talking about Soviet collective villages" sounds natural to me, but I feel like I'm stretching it too far this way. Could someone please explain the composition of this sentence?

  • Hi, can you provide a link to the whole article? – tum_ Jun 30 '20 at 5:14
  • The author makes accent on how the two locations with two completely different cultural environments could be connected - "вот ведь!" in this context means shortened version of "Вот ведь как бывает" I think and means an unexpected outcome. I voted for the answer below by Владимир Сизов – boldnik Jul 1 '20 at 21:00

Well I am not a linguist but I will try to help you.

  1. "Вот ведь" have different meaning than just "ведь"

When Russians say вот ведь in majority of causes it means "Just look what an interesting situation \ outcome"!

For example:

Вот ведь красивый закат! What a beautiful sunset! (we have here)

  1. Lets translate that sentence

"В этой колонке я собрался поговорить о расизме и недавних выступлениях в США и Европе, а начал – о советской колхозной деревне 1950-х. Вот ведь!"

In this column I was going to talk about racism and recent protests in the USA and Europe, but instead (а) I started (начал) to talk (говорить - here we dismissing that verb, because it was already declared in "я собрался поговорить" ) about the Soviet collective farm village of the 1950s. What an interesting outcome! (Вот ведь!)”

  • Oh, I didn't think that this sentence may have something to do with preceding paragraphs, so I omitted them. Now that you point it out, the whole thing makes sense; the preceding paragraph did talk about Soviet villages. большое спасибо! – Jihyung Kang Jun 30 '20 at 6:18
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    A correction: "выступления" here are not speeches but rather protests. See выступления. – tum_ Jun 30 '20 at 8:43
  • 2
    This expression usually also bears a tone of invitation to share a sense of surprise (or wonder, light indignation, etc.). – yury10578 Jun 30 '20 at 15:11
  • @Jihyung Kang, I think your initial inference is OK." Вот ведь!" = "As you (can) see" or "You know (see)!" – Eugene Jun 30 '20 at 16:47

It's a shorter version of any of the following expressions:

  • Вот ведь (блин) <какая /зараза/напасть/any of the many other mild explications>.

In that expression, "вот ведь" is an introduction to the continuation, i.e. "Here, look at this issue". Given that this is an extremely common expression, all but the introduction words are dropped, and left for the reader/listener to elide. Native speakers mentally reconstitute this into the complete phrase.

It is intended to convey surprise, with possible negative connotations.

  • 1
    'Вот ведь' always expresses surprise, but it doesn't necessarily have negative connotations. In this particular text, this phrase expresses surprise invites us to smile. – Elena Jul 1 '20 at 6:44

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