I am just beginning to learn Russian and I've started translating an online book after memorizing the sounds of the Russian alphabet. I'm a tactile learner who is really fond of mathematics, so memorizing symbols is no problem as I frequently use Greek letters and others in equations etc. What is really difficult, however, is learning the rules of how these "symbols" fit together to create a language. I do not know any second spoken languages and obviously my first and only fluent such language is English.

My question is, how do I translate the following phrase?

"Кир, сир."

It can be found in the very beginning on this web page. I believe I can translate the first line,

"Что там, Бертран?"

as "You there, Bertrand?"

Corrections and suggestions would be most helpful. And also, I apologize if this might be viewed as too broad a post, so hopefully I do not receive too many down votes. As I said, I am a beginner and while I have a good sense of what is acceptable on the Stack Exchange forum for mathematics, I have little idea what might be here.

Thank you for your time,

  • Seems there is a typo: it says "Кит, сир".
    – Anixx
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:37
  • I don't follow the link you're making from fondness for math to learning Russian. Knowing math well is not about memorizing symbols, but understanding their meaning and how different symbols are related. Are you treating the letters or sounds of Russian as abstract objects that you want to link together without reading about grammar or other aspects of how the language works? I'm fond of math too, and found reading real analysis or number theory in Russian to be much more interesting than the stories in Russian class, but I can't imagine learning Russian without studying grammar along the way.
    – KCd
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:39
  • In particular, I don't think the way I learned math was the same kind of skill set I needed to learn Russian.
    – KCd
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:40
  • @KCd No no, you've misinterpreted what I meant. I appreciate your input, however. It is not my goal to neglect grammar etc. to study just "how different symbols are related." There's obviously rules, as there is in any language. Knowing the alphabet in Russian is probably like...I don't know...knowing the Pythagorean Theorem in mathematics. It's necessary to do many things in Geometry and Trigonometry, just like knowing the alphabet and the sounds associated with each letter is necessary to say words and then proceed to figure out what they all mean and remember.
    – bjd2385
    Jan 30, 2015 at 4:01

2 Answers 2


It is not "Кир, сир.", but "Кит, сир." "Что" is "what", not "where" as you have it. The whole dialog is like that:

— Что там, Бертран? (What [is] there, Bertran?)

— Кит, сир. ([A] whale, sire.)

Russian omits the present forms of the verb "to be" (am, is, are), and has no articles, you have to insert them yourself when you translate from Russian into English, based on the context.

  • Actually, "sire"
    – Anixx
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:39
  • @Anixx - Oh, yes, sure, corrected. Thank you.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:40
  • Thanks! I will keep studying and learning the words. I really appreciate you taking the time.
    – bjd2385
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:55

-- Что там, Бертран?

-- Кит, сир.

It is translated as:

-- What's there, Bertrand?

-- A whale, sire.

Please note that you might have mistyped "Кир", instead of "Кит"

  • It is sire, not sir
    – Anixx
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:40
  • @Anixx Thanks for pointing it out. Indeed, 'sire' is the appropriate term, since the person being addressed is the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
    – Vitaly
    Jan 29, 2015 at 18:53

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