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

Looking at the meanings of cognates of the Proto-Slavic čь̑rstvъ, one can notice the common meaning 'hard', 'strong', 'sharp'. I guess the Czechs and the Slovaks view fresh bread as 'hard on the ...
Sergey Slepov's user avatar
29 votes
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Why are there so many Dutch words that sound similar to Russian words?

The first Russian Emperor Peter I actually studied in what is modern-day Netherlands and was very inspired among other things, by the navy. Coming back to Russia he initiated the creation of the ...
shabunc's user avatar
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28 votes
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What kind of Russian orthography is this?

Yes, it's the Russian pre-reform orthography. The reform took place in 1918, so this is just hundred-year-old Russian. It's easy to understand — just like it's easy to understand hundred-year-old ...
27 votes

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

The words you give fall essentially into three groups: Words that have been borrowed into both Russian and Dutch from some third source: meubel/мебель, from French, and paprika/паприка, from Serbo-...
PLL's user avatar
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23 votes
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Why is there a "ц" in "Сан-Франциско"?

As you can notice nobody calls in Russian Francesco d'Assisi Франческо д'Ассизи - and I'm not saying this in ironical way. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci is indeed called Леонардо да Винчи. The thing ...
shabunc's user avatar
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23 votes
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Why do Russians call a joke a stake (прикол)?

Just homonyms.There's an older word, подкол 'joke' together with the verbs подколоть (perf.), подкалывать (imp.) 'to play a joke [on smb]', but here 'the joke' is aimed at a person to make laugh of ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
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18 votes
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Why do verbs in past tense—and not other parts of speech—have gender?

Because historically what we call past in modern Russian is perfect, and what we believe to be past forms of the verbs are in fact participles (adjectives formed from verbs). Compare: Он пел / она ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
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17 votes

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

Объединять and its derivatives were not used in Russian before about 1850. Kostomarov did use it time to time in his works, however, he mostly used соединить wherever a modern Russian speaker would ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why are German soldiers of WWII commonly referred to in the Russian language as fascists (фашисты)?

First of all, people call those they don't like "bastard" and "son of a bitch", even if they were not actually born out of wedlock and their mother was a woman rather than a female dog. "Fascist" is ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
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17 votes

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

As a rule you just can not ask question like "why some words has changed their meaning". Well, you can but quite often we just can not say why. Just like phonetic changes, semantical shifts ...
shabunc's user avatar
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15 votes
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What is "Э оборотное"?

"Э оборотное" is just other name for "э". The reason why it's called "оборотное" (sort of reversed) is that modern Russian "е" initially was written as "є" - well, more strictly among other form this ...
shabunc's user avatar
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15 votes
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How early is the word "животноводство" attested?

Well, these kinds of terms — I mean terms for describing some branch of economical activity as a whole — usually came into active usage when economical statistics became a thing. In Russia (more or ...
shabunc's user avatar
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15 votes

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

I decided to turn my comment into an answer and add some references, etc. It is a very common phenomenon in related (but, nonetheless, different !) languages. A common language splits into branches ...
tum_'s user avatar
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13 votes
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Did Russian language brought any thing from Tamil language?

Obviously nobody created the Russian language, it evolved from Slavic which evolved from some proto-Slavic which evolved from something that we now call Proto-Indo-European language. Tamil is not ...
shabunc's user avatar
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13 votes

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

If you deal with languages that split quite recently, about 1000 years ago or even later as it was for the Slavic languages, you will definitely encounter the false friends, a phenomenon every ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
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13 votes
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History of /f/ sound in Russian

The letter ф is found almost exclusively in loanwords. The only exceptions are sparse native Russian words like дрофа, филин and onomatopoeic words like фу, фыркать etc. The sound [f], though, can be ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
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12 votes
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What were the original half-Russian Siberians called?

There's no such thing like "Siberian person" - Siberia is huge, really huge and was populated by very different people with different history, culture and genetic heritage. That said, there never ...
shabunc's user avatar
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11 votes

Странный слог А. Дубровского

Возможно дело действительно в обращении. Они были регламентированы в зависимости от чинов и прочих заслуг. В частности, в переписке частные лица обращались следующим образом: ко всем частным лицам —...
Artemix's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why are United Nations and United Arab Emirates translated as "Объединённые", but United States as "Соединённые"?

Соединённые is historical, used AFAIK only with the US and the UK (Соединённое Королевство, which loses overwhelmingly to Великобритания in frequency of usage. The English term "United Kingdom" dates ...
Nikolay Ershov's user avatar
11 votes
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"дочерям их не будет ни в пути, ни при Дворе никаких обид"

“дочерям их не будет ни в пути, ни при Дворе никаких обид” I am not a native speaker, but it is pretty straightforward, so I cannot miss the rare opportunity to answer: "Their daughters won't suffer ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
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10 votes
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What are the advanced Russian words якобы and дабы?

Якобы means "allegedly". It's perfectly normal in everyday speech. Дабы (either the first or the second syllable can be put under the stress) is an old-fashioned conjunction meaning "so that". You ...
Matt's user avatar
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9 votes

Why Lomonosov calls Russian language "российский"?

Россия is a hellenized form of the native Russian word Русь. It was first attested in XIV century and had since been for some time a part of grand style rhetoric (высокий штиль), the one Lomonosov ...
Quassnoi's user avatar
  • 53.8k
9 votes

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

"Fascism" is a strong label in Russian language. It is stronger than "Nazism" or "Racism". It is much stronger in Russian than in English, for example. But how come this ...
Alexander's user avatar
  • 4,339
9 votes

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

Как возник термин "фашисты". "Правда" от 21 июня 1941 года не называет никого ни фашистами, ни нацистами, а всегда использует нейтральные термины вроде "германское командование", "германское ...
user31264's user avatar
  • 8,579
9 votes

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

Those words are definitely related. The thing is that the relation is not direct. Let's start with колоть. It has two major meanings – to chop (when talking about wood), and to prick. The word кол ...
Alissa's user avatar
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8 votes
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Раз, два и обчёлся

Обчёлся is past tense of Обчесться which is just the same as Обсчитаться i.e. to miscount. Yet the verb Обчесться is almost never used nowadays except this idiom. How old is this expression? Well,...
Matt's user avatar
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8 votes
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Откуда взялось местоимение «её» и куда пропало «ея»?

Сведу всю вышеупомянутую информацию в один ответ. В праславянском языке не было личных местоимений 3-го лица, их роль выполняли различные указательные местоимения, самыми распространёнными из которых ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
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8 votes
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Alternate shapes of cyrillic letters?

The word prelude "прелюдия" is printed with an older font. Hence glyphs are slightly different from the modern fonts. In the future you can check such glyphs against the table of Old Cyrillic ...
Vitaly's user avatar
  • 3,109
7 votes
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"Промышленники" working for the fur companies

The word промышленник is derived from the word промысел which means both (1)hunting/fishing and (2)handcraft. And, in fact, it was used in both meanings (professional hunter and craftsman) for a long ...
Matt's user avatar
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