Russian Language Blog

Russian Phraseology: «Руки» [Hands & Arms] Posted by on May 11, 2009 in language, Uncategorized

Since we’ll have to do without pictures here on our blog for a little while more, let’s pay close attention to the purely written side of Russian language instead, thus – Russian words and everything related to Russian words. I don’t know if anyone remembers that I wrote a few posts about Russian phraseology here about «полтора года назад» [a year and a half ago], but I think now is the most fitting time to return to this interesting subject and continue exploring the many ways of using body parts in Russian phraseology. Last year I managed to write posts on «голова» [head], «нос» [nose; which is very sad because I would’ve have greatly enjoyed writing a post about ‘the Russian nose’ this year as well] and «душа» [soul]. What we have left are «глаза» [eyes], «ноги» [legs & feet], «уши» [ears], «сердце» [heart] and «руки» [arms & hands]. I suggest we re-start this discussion with «руки». The first thing you need to know about the word «рука» is that it means both HAND and ARM. In Russian if you say: «У меня чешется рука» you could be understood as saying a) my hand icthes, or b) my arm itches. If this phrase was not uttered by you during a conversation on the phone you should probably demonstativly scratch the correct body part, or at least point in its direction, so as to not confuse the Russian you are having to pleasure of communicating with. One other thing that should be noted about this word is that the stress has a rather tricky pattern to fall, at least in the beginning – in singular the stress falls on the first vowel in accusative: «Жать (pfv. пожать) руку другу» [to shake (your/a) friend’s hand], just like in plural: «Жать (pfv. пожать) руки друзьям» [to shake (your) friends’ hands]. But in nominative singular stress is on the second vowel – «красивая рука» [beautiful hand/arm], – just like in, for example, plural dative: «по рукам [it’s a deal!]. But let’s not get too lost in all the discomfortable rules of Russian stress, as that will only have us more confused than we were to begin with. Let’s look at a few examples of Russian phraseology using this word, or more correctly speaking – this certain body part:

«Маша с Пашей вместе работают из рук вон (плохо)» [Together Masha and Pasha work atrociously; miserably bad].

«Был поздний вечер после жаркого, яркого дня в середине августа. Они шли по набережной Ялты рука об руку, словно как в рассказе Чехова «Дама с собачкой»…» [It was a late evening after a hot, bright day in the middle of August. They were walking on the Yalta embankment hand in hand, just like in the short story “The Lady with the Dog” by Chekhov].

– «Что мне взять[What should I take?] – «Это не так уж важно, возьми что под рукой» [That’s not really all that important, take whatever’s at hand].

– «Леночка, я люблю тебя. Выйдешь за меня замуж?» [Lenochka, I love you. Will you marry me?] – «Да, но только если ты бросишь курить, не будешь пить пиво в парке с мужиками каждый вечер, а готовить мне ужин и мыть посуду после него[Yes, but only if you quit smoking, and won’t drink beer in the park with the guys every evening, but cook me dinner and wash the dishes afterwards]. – «Ладно… По рукам[Okay… It’s a deal!]

– «Откуда ты знаешь, что Алла Пугачёва только притворяется, что даёт последний концерт?» [How do you know that Alla Pugachyova is only pretending that this is her last concert?] – «Это ПРтрик, я узнал это из первых рук» [It is a PR-trick, I found out firsthand].

«Взяв себя в руки, она пошла потребовать повышения зарплаты» [She gathered herself and went to demand a raise in salary].

«Первые месяцы без работы он был как без рук» [The first months without a job he was helpless; lost].

«Мы в Москве в 30-ие годы жили совсем рядышком с Михаилом Афанасьевичем Булгаковым рукой подать[In Moscow in the 1930’s we lived very close to Mikhail Afanas’evich Bulgakov – only a stone’s throw away!]

«Милиционер кричит вору: Руки вверх[The policeman shouts to the thief: Hands up!]

«Мама кричит ребёнку, взявшему без разрешения печенье: Руки прочь[The mother shoes to the child who has taken a cookie without permission: Hands off!]

«Раньше все произведения Солженицыина ходили из рук в руки в самиздате» [Before all of Solzhenitsyn’s work went from hand to hand in samizdat].

«Победу в конкурсе стихов он взял голыми руками» [He took home victory in the poetry slam competition with his bare hands]. (P.S. this sentence might be incorrect and weird, but«что написано пером, того не вырубишь топором[“What is written with a pen, that you can’t cut away with an ax!”, i. e. ‘what is written is written’ or ‘what is done is done’].)

Tonight at three in the morning I woke up by hearing the Russian national anthem at an extreme loud volume all around me. At first I thought it was a part of my dream, but then I opened my eyes and looked around me and realized that not only was I awake, but the national anthem was still in sounding my ears! I gathered that it was coming from a room above mine in the dormitory, and the easy to identify melody was entering into my room through the open window. (Now summer has come to the Urals – we like to skip the whole ‘spring thing’ here – and sleeping with the window closed would mean waking up in a bath of sweat.) Then I heard cars everywhere beeping and driving fast and people shouting and singing and suddenly I remembered last summer and thought to myself: “Probably Russia has won something… maybe hockey. It is too early for soccer, right?” The national anthem was followed by my neighbors shouting to each other “Russia is the best!” and “We are the champions!” for about an hour. Until they were both out of breath and patriotism, I suppose, and decided to finally go to sleep. Doubtlessly, I love Russia. There’s always something happening in this country… Where else in the world would I be woken up in the middle of the night to «славься, Отечество» and a city in complete blissfull chaos because of some sport related event?

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  1. Lara:

    …in Spain 😉