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Unbearable Russian homonyms Options
askmaxim
Posted: Monday, November 2, 2009 5:09:47 PM

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Joined: 9/29/2009
Posts: 12
Location: Montenegro
Homonyms are always fun. In the English, I like the 'bear'. But I don't think that would qualify as 'unbearable' (a gig).
There are a few homonyms in the Russian.
Out of them all, I would classify two as 'unbearable': топить/topiti and мешать/meshati .

'Topiti' combines the ever-fighting water and fire. It stands for 'sinking'/'drowning' (something/someone) and for 'firing' (an oven/stove). Somehow, this homonym is not a poster-word - I don't recall anyone deriding this concept. Perhaps, too weird to come to mind readily?

'Meshati' means (1) bother/obstruct, and (2) stir/mix. It's funny when you are in the kitchen and are ordered by your superior: 'meshati!' (e.g. to stir a soup). - Do you really mean me to do this, Honey? :)

Originally posted at KanjiDic.com Language Discussions

Maxim Buyakov
SandraM
Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 1:06:19 PM
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Joined: 3/11/2009
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Neurons: 1,499
Isn't there the same problem with писать? At least in writing, the only difference being where the stress falls.
Am I right in thinking that in Russian, the infinitive form is often used as a way to express an order? If this is the case, I can think of one or two embarassing situations with this one too ;-)
askmaxim
Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 6:26:42 AM

Rank: Member

Joined: 9/29/2009
Posts: 12
Location: Montenegro
SandraM wrote:
Isn't there the same problem with писать? At least in writing, the only difference being where the stress falls.
Am I right in thinking that in Russian, the infinitive form is often used as a way to express an order? If this is the case, I can think of one or two embarassing situations with this one too ;-)


Hah, this is what I called 'a poster word'! Isn't this unbearable? :)

By the way, the two words differ in the imperative mode:
pishite (write) vs. pisaite (pee). (You must be right that the infinitive form may be used to express an order. I don't know the 'rules' but it feels like an order in the infinitive bears a stronger stance than the imperative.)



Maxim Buyakov
Evgenius
Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 7:09:21 AM
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Joined: 4/28/2010
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Location: Minsk, Belarus
Just like in the English, in the Russian homonyms are distinguished using the context. Also the form of the word may help.
In the case of мешать, this word can hardly be used in the imperative mode in the meaning "bother" without negation. You usually say "не мешай мне!" ("don't bother me"), but I can hardly imagine a situation when you can say "Мешай мне!".

What about топить, this word is rarely used without an object. And by object you usually can tell what meaning is implied.

I'm a native Russian speaker learning English language. If you are a native English speaker learning Russian language, please, contact me. We can help each other and maybe practice speaking using voice chat (skype or any other).
stas
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 3:40:26 PM
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Joined: 5/11/2011
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Both meanings of мешать require an object, but the object is conjugated differently, depending on the meaning:

мешать кому/чему: to disturb something/someone.
мешать кого/что (чем): to stir something/someone (using something)

That resolves the ambiguity of this homonym in all the cases that I can think of!


As for топить, both meanings sound the same gramatically, so a phrase like "Ты топишь печь?" could be taken to mean either

"Are you using the furnace?"
or
"Are you drowning the furnace?"


Bonus homonyms:
мир: the world, or peace
коса: a braid or a scythe
лук: an onion or a bow (the weapon - this one's a homonym in English, too!)
ручка: a handle or a pen
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