Russian Language Blog

How I Ended This Summer With Russian Grammar Posted by on Jul 11, 2011 in Culture, language, Russian for beginners

Have you watched a great movie lately? How about a great Russian movie? Did I just give the subject of this post away? Not really because while it will be about a really good movie, it will also be about «анаколуф» [anacoluthon] and grammar.

The movie I watched a couple of days ago was called «Как я провел этим летом» [How I Ended This Summer]. I first read a review of it in the latest issue of The Russian Life magazine. It was the movie title that caught my attention. It just didn’t sound right.

But let’s start with the verb «проводить». It can be translated as “to conduct”, “to spend time” or “to play a joke”:

«Обезьяна украла камеру и провела фотосессию.» [A monkey stole a camera and conducted a photoshoot]

«Света провела лето у бабушки в деревне.» [Sveta spent the summer with her grandmother in the village]

«Паша думал, что провел напарника, подменив данные метеорологических приборов на показания телеметрии.» [Pasha thought he fooled his partner by substituting telemetry data for the data from the meteorological instruments]


As you can see, the objects in each of these sentences are in accusative case:

«камера» – «камеру» («а» ending changes to «у» for feminine nouns)

«лето» – «лето» (the ending doesn’t change for inanimate neuter nouns)

«напарник» – «напарника» («а» is added to the consonant ending of animate masculine nouns)

Yet in the title of the movie the noun «лето» is not in accusative case, but is in instrumental case (in which «м» is added to the ending of the neuter nouns).

Furthermore, the grammatically correct sentence, «Как я провел это лето» [How I spent the summer], is oftentimes used in schools as an essay subject. There’s also an alternative phrase that relies on instrumental case: «Что я делал этим летом» [What I was doing this summer].

Naturally, my first thought was that there was a typo in the magazine. I was just about to e-mail the editor, but got sidetracked watching the movie first (it’s available for instant download on Netflix). Turns out, the typo wasn’t a typo after all.

Instead, it was an example of «анаколуф» [anacoluthon], a rhetorical device in which sentence structure changes abruptly. We use this rhetorical device «на каждом шагу» [at every turn] in our daily informal conversations. We just don’t think much about it. Yet it becomes very noticeable in print or in formal conversations, such as interviews. In fact, anacoluthon is frequently used by «политики» [politicians] trying to prove that they are «из народа» [men (or women) of the people].

With so much language learning in the title alone, it is a must-see. In fact, it’s a good intro to the everyday informal Russian language.

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  1. Richard:

    Спасибо Елена!

    Вы преподавали мне новое слово на английском языке! 😀

    “Как я провел этим летом” походит на хороший фильм!

    Я увидел российский фильм – “Кин-дза-дза!” Я люблю научную фантастику, и это было очень забавный фильм также.

  2. Richard:

    On a more somber note, and I know that this may not be the right forum for this, I would like to extend my personal condolences and my sympathy to the families who lost loved ones on the “Bulgaria”. To lose loved ones is tragic, to lose children even more so.

    Their loss touches us all.

    Мои соболезнования,

  3. PaulS:

    This is very interesting as someone who is currently trying to learn Russian 🙂

  4. Rob McGee:

    Лена — почему-то, полтора недели назад у нас в квартире Интернетные связи по VerizonDSL все пошли на “ху…ла-хуп”!

    I mean to say that I’m on day 11 or 12 of having extremely unpredictable Internet connectivity — it’s like rolling electrical “brown-outs” during a thunderstorm, where the lights flicker and the power goes out for three seconds, except that it’s our Net connection that’s being affected.

    Anyway, sorry I’m missing the fun… hope this comment will successfully post!

  5. Rob McGee:

    Maybe it’s a домовой or кикимора haunting me!

  6. Yelena:

    Rob, I hope you get your Internet problem sorted out ’cause losing connection every so often is extremely annoying. Yep, it just might be a “домовой” – try leaving a shot of vodka and a plate of sweets in a corner for him 🙂 Le me know if it works 🙂