Pet Peeves in Russian Posted by Maria on Feb 2, 2015 in language
Many of us have turns of phrase in our language that give us rage. In English, some examples would be “irregardless,” “I could care less,” and other things people consider redundant, incorrect, or plain inane. Russian has such phrases, too, so let’s look at what many Russians find infuriating. I’ll use examples from the spoken subcorpus of my favorite National Corpus of Russian. The punctuation will be odd because of the way spoken entries are transcribed. Feel free to add to the list!
1. похо́ду/по хо́ду
По хо́ду (spelled as two separate words) means “in the course of something,” for instance, “по ходу бесе́ды” — in the course of the conversation. По ходу пье́сы is an idiom meaning “as we go along” — “разберёмся по ходу пьесы”. Похо́же is an introductory word meaning “it looks like.” The two expressions must have got(ten) mixed up in vernacular Russian, and some people started saying “походу” to say “похоже.”
– Пре́под сего́дня / по хо́ду / с похме́лья / да и я пе́рвую па́ру проспа́л! [The professor seems to be hungover today, and I slept through my first class, anyway!]
2. име́ет ме́сто быть
According to gramota.ru, there are two different expressions in Russian. Име́ть ме́сто is a literal translation from French and means “to be present.” This is a bookish/formal expression. Име́ет быть means “is scheduled.” The two got blended — initially as a mock “officialese” expression. Now many people use it to say something is present, to the annoyance of countless others.
Поня́тно / что эта тенде́нция в Белору́ссии име́ет ме́сто быть. [It’s clear that this trend is present in Belarus.]
3. До́брого вре́мени су́ток!
Conventional Russian greetings for each time of the day are “до́брое у́тро,” “до́брый день,” and “до́брый ве́чер.” However, with the rise of electronic communications, people are not sure when their message will be read by people in various time zones. This could be why this new greeting literally meaning “[I wish you a] good time of the [24-hour] day.” As linguist Maksim Krongauz (Максим Кронгауз) pointed out, existing greetings are usually in the nominative case, whereas goodbyes and wishes are in the genitive case (for example, “споко́йной но́чи!”). Consequently, saying “Доброе время суток” would be more consistent with the existing norm, but “Доброго времени суток” is much more common.
До́брого вре́мени су́ток, э́то Андре́й из Сама́ры! [Hello, this is Andrey from Samara!]
4. как бы
The primary meaning of как бы is “as if” — Но дед не слы́шал их ти́хого пла́ча, он как бы огло́х (Людмила Петрушевская. Маленькая волшебница) [But the old man couldn’t hear their soft crying as if he had lost hearing]. It is often used in spoken Russian as a filler word, an approximate equivalent of the English “like,” especially by younger people. Many people get annoyed at this usage, but Maksim Krongauz noted that it may aim to soften the message and convey respect for the listener.
Ну / э́то уже́ как бы вопро́с не к нам / а к ним. [This /like/ isn’t a question for us, but for them].
Any other phrases you find annoying? Any expressions you actually find ingenious?
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