How do hares and elephants help us to understand Russian grammar?

10 Октябрь 2011 Автор: Категория: Russian

It seems, a lot of people abroad cannot see the Russian video from Youtube due to copyright issues. So, I have decided not to post the modern video here. It will be more useful to play Linguistic CSI and dissect an elephant and hare  poem for children. I hope it will help you to learn 5-7 lovely Russian words and pay attention to the grammar cases, prepositions and diminutive forms of some nouns and adverbs.

The red characters are under the stress.

Зайка весело хохочет:

«Слон за мной угнаться хочет,

Но бедняжка не учёл,

Что немножечко тяжёл».

Here is my recording.  About a hare and elephant.

1. Зайка весело хохочет

Зайка = diminutive of заяц (a hare). The noun заяц has a lot of diminutive variants. For example, зайчик, заинька and зайчишка. People use this words calling a child or lovely person who is tiny, cute and sweet. (Зайчишка refers to a cute and timid one). A guy can use an informal form зая  speaking with his sweet heart.  NB! Зайчик and заяц = masculine gender. Зайка and заинька = common gender. Russian language has a list of nouns that are both masculine and feminine. So, everybody can be зайка. Весело = merrily / cheerfully

Хохочет = 3d personal singular of хохотать; present time. To laugh (loudly / boisterously); guffaw; roar with laughter.

Take a look at the order of the words. The word весело (merrily) is emphasized.  This hare doesn’t feel scorn for the elephant. He is a really friendly зайка. 

2. Слон за мной угнаться хочет.

Слон = an elephant

Хочет = 3d personal singular of хотеть. Present time. Хотеть = to want.

Угнаться = infinitive. To keep pace (with); keep up (with). To run after smb.

! Хотеть + any verb in infinitive = to be going to do something.

За = the preposition “after” in this context

Мной = The pronoun Я(I) in the Instrumental case.

The regular order of the words looks like “Слон хочет угнаться за мной”.  However, we see “Слон за мной угнаться хочет”. За мной is emphasized.  So, this hare tells us, “What did think this elephant about? Nobody can catch me – a superhare on a tricycle! Even don’t try!”

3. Но бедняжка не учел

Но = but. We also can say “however” here.

Бедняжка = diminutive of бедняга (poor man, poor thing). Russian languages has such variants as бедняга — бедняжка — бедняжечка. Бедняжечка is the most sentimental term in this list. So, this this hare feels pity and tenderness for the elephant. I don’t know for some reasons though…

Не = not; negation.

Учёл = учитывать in the past perfective; masculine, singular. Учитывать, замечать = to consider, to notice.

Here we can see the normal, regular order of the words. What a happyness!

4. Что немножечко тяжёл.

Что = that

! We omit the subject (он, слон, бедняжка) here.

Немножечко = diminutive of немного (a little). Немного – немножко – немножечко… Немножечко is a very common word for the children speech. The synonymic term of немножко / немножечко is чуть-чуть.

Тяжёл = the short form of the adjective тяжёлый (heavy). We use a short form to point something doing right now. However, people often forget about this and use the full form of an adjective.

All the words are on their places. This hare just informs us about current state of affairs at this stage of the cycling race. :)

So, why does this hare laugh? Because an elephant wanted to run after him, to chase him. However, this elephant didn’t realize that he should chose other vehicle. So, my dear native speakers, please, correct me if I am wrong, but this poem might look like this:

The hare laughs merrily:

“This elephant is chasing me.

But he did not notice

His weight. What a surprise! “

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