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Questions tagged [история-языка]

Questions on the history of the Russian language, its origin and changes it underwent through the centuries.

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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

History of /f/ sound in Russian

My wife is Russian and I am learning it. One thing I seem to see is that no "native" or "elementary" words seem to start with the letter ф (other than the name Fedor perhaps, and I ...
0 votes
1 answer
114 views

сё or сие as a pronoun

In modern Russian you could say: Это дерево – дуб. Это – дерево. In older times you might have used сей in its neuter form for the first sentence: Сие дерево – дуб. But what was used for the ...
19 votes
1 answer
5k views

What kind of Russian orthography is this?

This is a screenshot from Tchaikovsky's Harmony textbook: (from page 5 of an 1897 edition — link to PDF) And here is a transcription: Ученіе объ интерваллахъ. Хотя предполагается, что приступающій ...
1 vote
5 answers
412 views

Is my understanding of the surname suffix -ов correct?

I have two questions about the suffix -ов in Russian surnames. Is the -ов surname suffix the most common one in Russia? Does the -ов surname suffix in modern Russian mean "a descendant of the ...
3 votes
3 answers
237 views

How pleonastic is "эту работу выполним целиком и полностью"?

... до конца года мы эту работу выполним целиком и полностью ... do kontsa goda my etu rabotu vypolnim tselikom i polnost'yu I understand what this means from closed captions, google translate and a ...
5 votes
1 answer
239 views

How early is the word "животноводство" attested?

"Животноводство" (from "животные") describes animal husbandry, particularly cattle-raising. From how long ago is this word attested?
12 votes
3 answers
651 views

What circumstances led to the dramatic change in the Russian language between the 17th and 18th centuries?

The language of the 19th century (even at its beginning), judging from the poetry and prose of Pushkin and Lermontov, was much the same language that we speak today. If somebody decided to compose ...
8 votes
2 answers
312 views

What are the differences between "и" and "і" in pre-reform orthography?

In very old texts, sometimes the letter і is used, but it has been replaced by и in modern spelling. I, like many others, learned modern orthography, so I don't understand why sometimes і is used, and ...
2 votes
1 answer
186 views

Old orthography grave accent vs acute accent in words like какъ, такъ, что, то, чѣмъ

I noticed in old russian bibles, the words чѣ’мъ (іудіѳь 8:26), именны’мъ (2-ая ездры) have an acute accent (ó) instead of a grave accent (ò), since if a stressed syllable is at the end of a word, a ...
2 votes
1 answer
103 views

Old orthography всѣ, все, всё and издалека vs издалёка

It's redundant to write the two dots above the е in the word все in old orthography (because when it isnt a ё sound, ѣ is written), so why do some old russian bibles do it still? Some places they ...
8 votes
2 answers
4k views

Значение слова кощун в средние века

Современные словари определяют слово кощун как "насмешник, богохульник". Однако в "Материалах для словаря древнерусского языка" Срезневского напротив слов кощуна, коштяна, коштюна написано "μύθος, ...
0 votes
2 answers
132 views

Was the genitive case of personal pronouns ever used to show possession?

For example, nowadays, one might say Собака женщины - большая, but not Собака меня - большая(cf. When should I use genitive personal pronouns versus possessive pronouns?). Was it ever historically ...
9 votes
4 answers
898 views

Any way to trace when «учёный» became a noun?

I need to know the approximate time учёный was substantivised. Dahl has no separate entry for the word as either noun or adjective, but he does use it as a noun when defining other terms (e.g. «...
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Did Russian language brought any thing from Tamil language?

My mother language is Tamil (which considered to be a very old language). While creating Russian language did they got any words or characters from Tamil language?
7 votes
7 answers
1k views

Why are German soldiers of WWII commonly referred to in the Russian language as fascists (фашисты)?

I read quite a few Russian materials about WWII and noticed that Russians commonly refer to German soldiers of WWII as фашисты (fascists). Here are some typical examples: (1) Фашисты заняли ...
4 votes
5 answers
342 views

How to explain two almost opposite meanings of "лихой"

I am puzzled by the fact that while most earlier usage of лихой have distinctly negative connotations (лиходей, лихой человек is most certainly a villain, лихие времена - bad times, лихоимство - deeds ...
23 votes
6 answers
9k views

Why do Russians call a joke a stake (прикол)?

In modern Russian, прикол is a very frequently used word and means a joke, a funny incident, or just anything funny, but the original meaning of this word is very different: a stake to which a ship, a ...
19 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why are there so many Dutch words that sound similar to Russian words?

Some examples: Dutch Russian English appelsien апельсин orange broek брюки pants dam дамба dam jacht яхта yacht kajuit каюта cabin matroos матрос sailor meubel мебель furniture paprika ...
4 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why has the word Жид (Jew) become a taboo in Russian?

As far as I know, it is a neutral word in some Slavic languages, and it was legal in Russian before the Russian Revolution. However, now, it's completely illegal and, thus, Russians utter it only to ...
2 votes
1 answer
223 views

When was the expression "фунт презрения" introduced?

I am wondering when the expression фунт презрения was introduced. On Google Books, the oldest occurrence of фунт презрения seems to be in Slezkin's Козел в огороде (1923): Но только в силу моего ...
1 vote
1 answer
96 views

The history of which case to follow after a number in the nominative case

In the nominative case, if we are counting something of size that ends with 1 (literally in Russian), then the object being counted is in the genitive singular case, e.g., тридцать один час. if we ...
10 votes
4 answers
461 views

Comprehensibility of "Sub-Standard" Speech?

I suspect that this question may be both too specific and too vague for this forum, but here goes... I recently tried to watch the film "Жила-была одна баба" (2011) -- I'm not sure I'd recommend it ...
-3 votes
1 answer
677 views

Why do so many Russian words sound similar to the ones in English and Sanskrit? [closed]

I have been trying to learn Russian and have come across many words that sound very similar to English words. This is particularly surprising because, unlike other European languages (which would ...
38 votes
8 answers
5k views

Why doesn't Russian have native words beginning with А?

I've heard that Russian has no native words beginning with the letter A. The claim is that the words appearing under A in dictionaries were all imported at some stage or another. Browsing through the ...
2 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why is this Russian expression an idiomatic example of mutually exclusive things?

The Russian idiom "и рыбку съесть, и на хуй сесть", whose literal meaning is "to eat fish and sit down onto a dick too," is an idiomatic way to say that your interlocutor is ...
1 vote
1 answer
157 views

Is there an ancient language related to Russian that can be easily studied? [closed]

I am a native American English speaker. To improve my SAT verbal score, I studied Latin. Is there an analogous ancient language for Russian?
7 votes
5 answers
2k views

"Красная" Площадь

It seems to be relatively common knowledge that the name "Красная Площадь," while translated in English as "Red Square," does not actually mean "Red Square" in Russian, but rather "Beautiful Square." ...
4 votes
3 answers
882 views

Why do phonetically same Russian and Polish obscenities mean very different things?

Let us compare the meanings of some phonetically same Russian and Polish obscenities: Заебать (Russian): to get to, to pester. Zajebać (Polish): to beat someone up, to steal something, to brutally ...
24 votes
5 answers
4k views

How come the Russian cognate for the Czech word "čerstvý" (fresh) means entirely the opposite thing (stale)?

In Russian, черствый хлеб (chorstvy khleb) is stale bread. And to my great surprise, I recently learned that in Czech, čerstvý chléb is precisely the opposite thing: fresh bread. My question is: ...
6 votes
2 answers
691 views

Why was it decided in 1956 to abolish the spelling чорт (devil) in favor of чёрт?

I read in Wiktionary: чорт This spelling of the word was officially abolished in 1956 in favor of чёрт and is no longer in use. Both variants are pronounced identically. (Source) I see in Ngram ...
4 votes
1 answer
221 views

Was "Novgorod" in 1815 one city or the other?

This question is not about grammar or syntax, but about historical toponymy. In 1815 an employee of the Russian-American Company was taken prisoner in Spanish California. An interpreter from a ...
10 votes
5 answers
1k views

Why did the frequency of the word "черт" (devil) in books increase by a few times since the October Revolution?

I see in the Google Books statistics that the frequency of the word "черт" (devil) per unit of text length in books increased by ~3 times since the October revolution: Link. I used the case-...
4 votes
2 answers
248 views

Kamchadalskii dialect

The native people of southern Kamchatka are Itelmen. The arrival of Russian men around 1700 created a mixed group called Kamchadals. By 1800, the Itelmen languages were mostly extinct and the Russian ...
5 votes
3 answers
269 views

"дочерям их не будет ни в пути, ни при Дворе никаких обид"

The ИСТОРИЧЕСКИЙ ОЧЕРК ГЛАВНЕЙШИХ СОБЫТИЙ В КАМЧАТКЕ. 1650—1855 by Sgibnev, 1869, contains this passage: Января 13-го 1758 г. прибыл в Нижнекамчатск штат-фурьер Шахтуров для выбора ко двору ...
10 votes
7 answers
746 views

Was "сладкий" ever synonymous with "пресный" in Russian

Fresh (non-salt) water is also called sweet in English. Surprisingly, the word sweet is also used in some Slavic languages. To be precise: in Polish, woda słodka in Czech, sladká voda in Croatian (...
14 votes
1 answer
688 views

Why is there a "ц" in "Сан-Франциско"?

San Francisco, Сан-Франциско in Russian, is a Spanish name meaning "Saint Francis". The Сан in the city name is a direct phonetic adoption, but the Франциско differs from the Spanish in the inclusion ...
8 votes
6 answers
945 views

The exact origin of шёл

I'm aware of шёл's derivation from Proto-Slavic *xьdlъ, related to ходить, but that form still seems irregular — given that вёл, which has the exact same relation to водить, had e rather than ь in the ...
1 vote
1 answer
122 views

From where does "это" come?

Sorry if this is not exactly about Russian language, but I do not know where else to ask. What is the origin of word "это" in Russian language? Is it some kind of a combination of "je co"/"jest to" ...
2 votes
2 answers
151 views

Mainland Russia as seen from Kamchatka circa 1800

Kamchatka is a peninsula, but overland access is so difficult that it also resembles an island. The road and rail networks of Siberia are a long sea or air voyage away. Around the year 1800, how ...
4 votes
2 answers
205 views

Have technology changes had any effect on the usage of идти vs. ехать (and similar verb pairs)?

I've only been studying Russian for about a year (and slowly at that), so I'm probably misunderstanding a lot. From what I understand, though, идти and ехать are both unidirectional verbs of motion ...
1 vote
2 answers
170 views

Origin of Валюта

I am curios about Валюта meaning currency. What is the origin of the word? Does it come from greek or latin or somewhere else?
0 votes
0 answers
97 views

Origin of Валюта

I am curios about Валюта meaning currency. What is the origin of the word? Does it come from greek or latin or somewhere else?
1 vote
1 answer
130 views

Why did the meaning of the loanword креол change?

The term креол was adopted in Russian a couple of centuries back. Just possibly, it was introduced by Nikolai Rezanov after he visited Brazil and California. The term's origin is described as the ...
10 votes
4 answers
647 views

Почему с конца 30-х перестали употреблять словосочетание "в Украине"?

В русском языке сочетание "в Украине" используется издавна. Господин гетман, <...> того ради вам надлежит итти по Киева, в Украйну свою и смотреть того, о чем уже вы известны. (К Мазепе) ...
1 vote
0 answers
119 views

Had any Spanish words been established in Russian by 1800? [closed]

I started wondering about long-established loanwords from the Spanish language. It's easy to find some lists of same, but not with dates of attribution. Here's a great list from Wiktionary. Had any ...
3 votes
2 answers
242 views

common-usage term for pre-1861 Russian agriculture system?

When referring in English to the dominant agricultural system in the southern US pre-1865, one typically says something like "plantation slavery," and reasonably-educated people "know what you're ...
4 votes
1 answer
334 views

Cathedral, "Кафедральный", why is ф in there?

After reading this article I got curious how ф is in place of "th" in English for the word Cathedral (Кафедральный)? Sounds almost like a coffee-place. (I know it is not Café or Kafee in russian but ...
12 votes
6 answers
566 views

Talking of historical grade systems, how should I call "отличник"?

In pre-prevoluationary times in Russian gymnasiums there was a 12-level grade system. In Soviet Union, as well as in Russian Federation, schools stand with 5-level grade system, but there is an ...
5 votes
2 answers
393 views

Use of "да" instead of "и"

In Mussorgsky's operas Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina it strikes me how often "да" (usually meaning "yes") is used as a substitute for "и" ("and"). Is that how they normally spoke in the late 19th ...
1 vote
0 answers
432 views

Lomonosov's three literary styles [closed]

According to Serhii Plokhy's Lost Kingdom, at a time of linguistic-nationalist tension, Mikhail Lomonosov prescriptively defined three styles: the high style, to be used for the composition of ...