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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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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 ...
Vitaly Mijiritsky's user avatar
25 votes
4 answers
2k views

Как бы звучало по-русски название медведя *r̥ḱs-os/*r̥ḱt-os, доживи оно до наших дней?

Как известно, слово "медведь" это слово-заменитель табуированного "истинного" имени зверя. Похоже что такие замены происходили неоднократно - старое "истинное" имя забывалось и табу переходило на ...
Artemix's user avatar
  • 11.3k
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: ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 11.2k
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 ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 11.2k
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 ...
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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 ...
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why are United Nations and United Arab Emirates translated as "Объединённые", but United States as "Соединённые"?

Are there two different ways to be "United", or is one simply the more modern usage while the other was used historically in previous centuries?
ghostarbeiter's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
960 views

Why do verbs in past tense—and not other parts of speech—have gender?

In Russian, verbs in the past have gender information attached to them, so that “я спросил” implies that the asker was male, whereas “я спросила” comes from a female. Why no other tenses have this ...
Khrusch's user avatar
  • 173
15 votes
2 answers
720 views

Странный слог А. Дубровского

В романе Пушкина «Дубровский» повествователь, комментируя следующее письмо, написанное одним из персонажей, Государь мой премилостивый, Я до тех пор не намерен ехать в Покровское, пока не ...
СкарсоГашин's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
610 views

Н > И change in Cyrillic, when and why?

The modern Cyrillic letter had the shape of H a thousand years ago, it descends from the Greek H η 'Ήτα, Ēta'. What is interesting is when and why this letter changed the angle of its bar from H to И.
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 26.1k
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 ...
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14 votes
5 answers
2k views

What does "кося" in phrase "накося выкуси" exactly mean

These days I'm reading a book "История моего современника" by V. G. Korolenko (don't feel guilty for reading it online, you are not breaching any copyright laws in this case, since the author is ...
shabunc's user avatar
  • 37.9k
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 ...
shabunc's user avatar
  • 37.9k
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 ...
11 votes
2 answers
336 views

Why "обо всём" but "перед всем"?

Why is it обо мне обо всём but передо мной перед всем
Philip Seyfi's user avatar
  • 2,615
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Russianization of Ancient Greek personal names

Can anyone shed some light onto the process by which (masculine) personal names of the Ancient Greek world were Russianized? With some notable exceptions (Homer, Aristotle, Hadrian, et al.), English ...
Kачкодзьоб's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
558 views

What is "Э оборотное"?

Today I heard from my friend "Э оборотное". I still do not understand why he called it "оборотное". Is there a secret letter "э", which only Russian native speakers know about, which is turned the ...
L_Pav's user avatar
  • 1,049
10 votes
3 answers
654 views

Origin of the verb form "(я) ем"

Can please someone explain the origin of "-м" in "(я) ем". Why do other verbs have "-у (-ю)" ending in the 1st person singular of present ("я работаю, я учу"), but this verb has "-м"?
Olga's user avatar
  • 6,558
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-...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 11.2k
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 (...
shabunc's user avatar
  • 37.9k
10 votes
2 answers
529 views

Может ли известное ругательство с упоминанием матери быть сохранившимся аористом 1 л. ед. ч.?

У глаголов с основой на согласный формы аориста 1 л. ед. ч. (несъ, везъ и т.п.) совпадают с их прошедшим временем ед. ч. м. р. в современном русском. (Которое, разумеется, возникло гораздо позже с ...
Nikolay Ershov's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
646 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) ...
user31264's user avatar
  • 8,579
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 ...
9 votes
2 answers
10k views

"достичь" vs. "достигнуть"

Словарь указывает оба варианта как допустимые. Но хотя достичь и считается основным, в его спряжении все равно присутствуют формы с суффиксом -ну \ -н: достигну, достигнешь, и т.п. Как получилось, ...
Olga's user avatar
  • 6,558
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. «...
Nikolay Ershov's user avatar
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 ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
389 views

What are the advanced Russian words якобы and дабы?

Very recently in a russian newspaper I came across the words якобы and дабы. I surfed the internet for these words and found out that generally якобы is alike псевдо or как будто бы, and дабы is так ...
L_Pav's user avatar
  • 1,049
8 votes
2 answers
682 views

Alternate shapes of cyrillic letters?

In the below image, the two characters underlined don't seem to have a match in the character map program I'm using: The closest matches I can find are п and д, respectively. Are these indeed the ...
pr1268's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
2 answers
369 views

Думпкар и самосвал

Чуковский в книге "Живой как жизнь" перечисляет заимствованные слова и возникшие русские эквиваленты, например "голкипер" и "вратарь". Впервые в этом списке встретил слово "думпкар" аналогом которого ...
Artemix's user avatar
  • 11.3k
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, ...
Artemix's user avatar
  • 11.3k
8 votes
6 answers
944 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 ...
Nikolay Ershov's user avatar
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 ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 11.2k
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." ...
SAH's user avatar
  • 384
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 ...
Oliver Williams's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
621 views

What were the original half-Russian Siberians called?

What were the Imperial Russian terms for a mixed-race Siberian person? Historical background: As Russia expanded eastward, many mixed children were born to native women and Russian men. Near the end ...
user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
452 views

"Качели" vs. "качель"

While reading Osip Mandelshtam, I came across the word качель in singular. Я качался в далеком саду На простой деревянной качели, И высокие темные ели Вспоминаю в туманном бреду. ...
petajamaja's user avatar
  • 2,071
7 votes
2 answers
455 views

The origin of complex plural forms

What caused complex plural forms in Russian? Were they borrowed from another language, inherited from Old Russian, or is there another reason why they appeared? By "complex plural forms" I mean the ...
nanofarad's user avatar
  • 355
7 votes
2 answers
974 views

Несовершенный вид в значении совершенного

Мы то и дело используем в прошедшем времени несовершенный вид там, где он по базовому смыслу вполне заменим на совершенный, однако контекст требует подчеркнуть, что было выполнено некое предписанное ...
Nikolay Ershov's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
411 views

When did (Old) Russian lose its Plusquamperfect?

Did it disappear in some transitional period or later, when Modern Russian already existed?
Manjusri's user avatar
  • 4,482
6 votes
3 answers
298 views

Раз, два и обчёлся

I was just wondering what would be the origin of the verb обчёлся? Does it have something to do with закончил считать? I don't think we use other forms of this verb, but in this idiom. How old is this ...
UVV's user avatar
  • 398
6 votes
2 answers
560 views

Orthodox priests' facility with the Church Slavonic language

What I got from reading this is that the Russian recension of Church Slavonic (церковнославянский язык) is probably not terribly difficult to understand, at least generally, for an educated Russian. ...
Kачкодзьоб's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
399 views

When "кде" became "где"?

When in history of Russian language "кде" became "где"?
Anixx's user avatar
  • 14.5k
6 votes
1 answer
300 views

Kакова этимология слова "варяг"? What is the etymology of 'varyag'?

Имеется в виду буквальное значение слова. The word is meant in its literal sense.
Manjusri's user avatar
  • 4,482
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 ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 11.2k
6 votes
3 answers
348 views

What are all the times where "е" changes to "ё"?

I don't know if this was asked before but I never saw it in search, so I'll just ask it. Can someone list all the situations where "е" would be changed to "ё" ? Like maybe after 2 vowels or if the ...
cdskl's user avatar
  • 61
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 ...
user avatar
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?
soorapadman's user avatar
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?
user avatar
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 ...
ngn's user avatar
  • 171
5 votes
2 answers
217 views

"Промышленники" working for the fur companies

The term промышленник described individuals seeking furs and the employees of 1700s and 1800s fur companies such as Shelikhov-Golikov and the Russian-American Company. Those workers were involved in a ...
user avatar