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Word of the Week: Барак Обама

But within Barack Obama's name there is a strange task for the Russian system of cases - his first name is masculine, ending as it does on a consonant, while his last name is feminine, ending on the vowel a. In Russian thus Барак Обама. According to the rules of Russian grammar, we must decline his first name as a masculine noun, but his last name as a feminine one. This can and will surely mess with your mind in the way of «Дядя Ваня пришёл» [Uncle Vanja came] or «Врач Смирнова пришла» [Doctor Smirnova came] can and do. Such are the fine and finite rules of Russian grammar - here the 'hidden sex' of the words is what counts, not what letters the words actually end on. The problem that arises because of this does so not because we, ambitious yet simple mortal learners of Russian as a foreign language, are unintelligent and think that just because he's uncle Vanja, then all the verbs connected with him should also end on -a, no! The problem is caused by our brain and its burning desire to make things make sense.

I find, when dealing with Russia in general, all problems are caused by our brains and their burning desire to make things make sense.  When you stop expecting things to make sense, they suddenly do!  Magic of the Russian Mind!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 03:05:30 PM EST

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