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I'm wondering if there is really any difference between "чай долго остывал" and "чай долго не остывал". На мой взгляд, в первом случае идет просто констатация факта, а во втором случае делается акцент на том, что нам хочется, чтобы чай быстрее остыл. Поправьте меня, если это не так.

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    I don't really think it's the same question, albeit both refer to tea and the optional не. Absent пока, it becomes an altogether different, if related, issue of grammar and semantic emphasis. The answer I would give to this question would have nothing to do with any of the issues raised in the other discussion; the point here is that the opposite of чай долго остывал is чай недолго остывал whereas the opposite of чай долго не остывал is чай быстро остыл. In other words, we're dealing with "pure" imperfective vs. a negated perfective. – Nikolay Ershov Feb 23 '15 at 17:09
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    @NikolayErshov I tend to agree, thank you for clarifying. – shabunc Feb 23 '15 at 22:13
  • @shabunc - That's great that the question is re-opened, thank you! – Yellow Sky Feb 24 '15 at 1:24
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Если сравнивать с английским, то мне кажется....

чай долго остывал - it took long for tea to cool down

чай долго не остывал - tea stayed hot for a long time

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Your versions, colleagues, are based on the assumption that недолго and быстро are different enough to radically change the meaning of the sentence. What is a way to formalize that «нам хочется»? Do you mean, there is modality in these sentences? Or conjunctivity? Russian hardly operates with such categories, especially when there is no explicit modal or conjunctive words or forms of the words. It is all much more simple.

The difference here is between what the theme and the rheme in each sentence is.

(1) Чай долго остывал:

Theme — чай

Rheme — долго остывал

(2) Чай долго не остывал

Theme — чай долго

Rheme — не остывал

Situation (1) looks like this (theme, rheme):

— What was wrong with the tea? Why didn't you drink the tea at once?

The tea? It was hot for a long time.

Situation (2) looks like this (theme, rheme):

— You're late. Were you drinking the tea for so long?

— Yes, for a long time the tea was hot.

In other words, (1) says that cooling was not fast, it was slow, while (2) says that for a long time not cold, not tepid, not warm, but hot was the temperature of the tea. So the opposites are:

Чай долго остывал × Чай быстро остывал/остыл

Чай долго не остывал × Чай долго горячим не был

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Разница в общих чертах именно эта — «нам хочется» — но, как мне представляется, она и чуть более формальна. Тут дело в том, какое высказывание в каждом случае противоположно по смыслу.

Чай долго остывал x Чай остывал недолго

Чай долго не остывал x Чай быстро остыл

То есть во втором случае мы имеем тот чисто отрицательный несовершенный вид, который на самом деле указывает на отсутствие завершенного действия, сродни «ты сломал?» — «я не ломал!»

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