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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36
votes
8answers
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 ...
26
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
25
votes
5answers
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: ...
22
votes
6answers
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
4answers
4k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
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?
17
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3answers
719 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
4k views

What kind of Russian orthography is this?

This is a screen shot from Tchaikovsky's Harmony textbook: Is this the pre-reform orthography? If someone learns modern Russian, how difficult will it be to understand such paragraphs?
15
votes
2answers
537 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
641 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
545 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.
12
votes
6answers
533 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
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-...
11
votes
2answers
321 views

Why "обо всём" but "перед всем"?

Why is it обо мне обо всём but передо мной перед всем
10
votes
2answers
790 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
475 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
615 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"?
10
votes
3answers
526 views

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

The language of 19th century (even its beginning), judging from the poetry and prose of Pushkin and Lermontov was quite the same language we speak today. Even if somebody decided to compose similar ...
10
votes
7answers
694 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 (...
10
votes
2answers
470 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
580 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) ...
10
votes
4answers
445 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
4answers
883 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. «...
8
votes
1answer
346 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
543 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
334 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
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, ...
8
votes
6answers
694 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
8k 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, ...
7
votes
7answers
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 ...
7
votes
5answers
1k 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." ...
7
votes
2answers
437 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
469 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. ...
7
votes
2answers
355 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. ...
7
votes
2answers
420 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
932 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
369 views

When did (Old) Russian lose its Plusquamperfect?

Did it disappear in some transitional period or later, when Modern Russian already existed?
6
votes
3answers
257 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
389 views

When "кде" became "где"?

When in history of Russian language "кде" became "где"?
6
votes
1answer
277 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.
6
votes
2answers
645 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
319 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
241 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
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?
5
votes
1answer
173 views

How early is "животноводство" attested?

Животноводство (from животные) describes animal husbandry and particularly cattle-raising. From how long ago is it attested?
5
votes
2answers
204 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
291 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
985 views

Откуда взялось местоимение «её» и куда пропало «ея»?

Интересно было бы узнать больше об истории и этимологии личных местоимений третьего лица. Помнится, я где-то читал, что они якобы происходят от слова «оный». Как вы считаете? Может быть, все как ...