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I found this passage and can't make out the meaning and how как fits in. Perhaps it has another adverbial function I don't know about?

“Он снял с тумбочки лампу: если что, он как стукнет! ”

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This colloquial word does not neccessary mean suddenly. Example:

Как дам сейчас!

(I'll hit you so hard!) Obviously, this couldn't be sudden, since you are telling you may do it.

Как means strongly, hard, or suddenly, or both.

The original sentence is translated as: He took a lamp from the nightstand, now, if neccessary, he will be able to hit very hard.

Как in this meaning is mostly about hitting, screaming and such, but occasionally used about other actions:

Леня Голубков вкладывал деньги на счет, а потом как разбогател.

Sometimes after such как the verb is in future tense instead of past tense to make the sentence more emotional:

Сначала он онемел, а потом как заорёт: — Убирайтесь отсюда!

The similar seentence with paste tense:

Сначала он онемел, а потом как заорал: — Убирайтесь отсюда!

would also be correct, and have the same meaning, but would be less emotional.

However, in the original example the construct "если что" means that the action is going to happen in future (or not happen at all).


There is also another, completely different, meaning of как which is often missed by dictionaries: sometimes it replaces как только. This meaning of как already existed in old Russian:

Како приде ся грамота, тако пришли ми цоловек на жерепце, зане ми здесе дел много.

(In modern Russian: Как получишь это письмо, сразу пришли мне слугу на коне, потому что у меня тут много дел.)

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  • Thank you so much for such an informative and interesting answer. In this usage, is как stressed? In other words, is it: он как сту́кнет -or- он ка́к сту́кнет – CocoPop Oct 15 '14 at 12:15
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    @CocoPop : both variants of stress are possible: no stress or full stress. And even theaccented "ка-а-ак стукнет!" with a stretched "как". – Shady_arc Oct 15 '14 at 13:18
  • @Shady_arc: I wonder if you wouldn't be so kind as to translate the Russian sentence with Lenya for me; and if possible the two with заорать - I'm not sure I understand them. – CocoPop Oct 15 '14 at 20:45
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In this context как indicates suddenness of the action (hitting). So, the phrase can be translated like "He took a lamp from the drawer, in case he would suddenly hit with it".

Another example: Он как заоралHe suddenly screamed out

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