Some thoughts on gallicisms in early 19th-c. Russian usage. Here are some recurring types I’ve noticed in the material I’ve been reading:
1. Using a French word as is, with its original spelling in Roman letters. Adjacent Russian words conjugate/decline to agree with it as best they can, but the gallicism itself isn’t forced to do anything outside French grammar.
Читал ли ты его последнюю brochure о Греции?
[Have you read his latest pamphlet on Greece?]
(Pushkin in a letter to Vyazemsky; October 14, 1823)
Note how brochure is a grammatically feminine French noun, so the Russian adjective modifying it, последнюю, is also feminine. The French noun is the object of a verb, so the Russian adjective is in accusative case, even though the French noun’s morphology doesn’t mark that.
1a. The mirror-image of that, using a Russian noun in the middle of a sentence that’s mostly in French, seems to typically involve not applying Russian morphology, i.e. leaving it in the nominative case because the French words around it aren’t case-marked.
Je suppose, Madame, que mon brusque départ avec un фельдъегерь vous a surpris autant que moi.
[I suppose, Madame, that my abrupt departure with a state courier has surprised you as much as it did me.]
(Pushkin in a letter to P. A. Osipova; September 4, 1826)
If the rest of the sentence were in Russian, that would have been instrumental case: с фельдъегерем. Note also how this grammatically masculine Russian noun is paired with the French masculine singular article (un).
2. Transliterating a French noun into Cyrillic, and applying Russian morphology to it.
[My regards to my sisters-in-law.]
(Pushkin in a letter to his wife; September 21, 1835)
French belle-sœur [sister-in-law] transliterated into Cyrillic, and declined into the dative plural. Fascinating to note: Pushkin immediately second-guesses himself after he writes this, and wonders whether he should have palatalized the vowel in that suffix? («Как надобно сказать: бель сёры иль бель сёри?» How should one say it: bel’ syory or bel’ syori?) I think that’s very telling. There’s often something a bit impromptu and conversational about these kinds of usages, a sort of in-between space with less-standardized forms.
2a. The mirror-image of that, using a Russian noun transliterated into French spelling in the middle of a French sentence, is something I’ve seen much less often, but it does happen. It seems to come with a particular tone of voice, and the word in question loses Russian morphology, staying in the nominative.
J’ai le dégoût des affaires et des boumagui [бумаги], comme le dit le comte Langeron.
[I have a dislike for business and paperwork, as Count Langeron said.]
(Pushkin in a letter to Ye. M. Khitrovo; mid-May, 1830)
3. Using a French word (transliterated into Cyrillic) as a root, and deriving more Russian words from it. A bunch of the -ничать verbs I was looking at recently are examples of this.
4. Calquing a French expression into Russian. There’s a great example of this near the end of Ch.4 of Onegin, when Pushkin describes the twilight hours as “the time between the wolf and the dog” (пора меж волка и собаки, a calque of French entre chien et loup).
12 notes · View notes
I don't know how to talk about my past without digging rabbit holes that tug anyone who listens down into it.
I open my hand as a warning and someone takes it as a beckon, and suddenly we're both in the dirt again.
I've destroyed my nails clawing my way back out of more pits than the woods of my childhood could hold.
There's no religion in those trees, no freedom, no wild and liberating return to nature. There are only empty husks and burnt out trunks and lightning spots that still shimmer with fire.
I don't want to bring friends into haunted places anymore. I don't need witnesses to prove myself to myself.
I don't know how to heal without help, and I don't know how to accept a helping hand without pulling on it.
I hold my breath when I pass the graves of my earliest and worst mistakes.
I hope their ghosts stop following me home.
1 note · View note