много лет назад ему раассказывал его отец

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by wonlon, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. wonlon Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese - Cantonese
    It is from a passage in my Russian reading called "Источник молодости". It is generally an easy text for me, but still I am not sure about something.

    The woman did not recognize her husband who became young by drinking the spring water. Then, the old man suddenly remember what his father said long ago:


    ... Тогда старик понял, что выпил воду из источника молодости, о котором много лет назад ему рассказывал его отец. Он рассказал об этом чудеском источнике своей старухе, она обрадовалась и решила тоже выпить этой воды, чтобы стать молодой. Муж рассказал ей, где находится этот источник, и посоветовал ей пойти туда утром...


    1. About aspect, why is the imperfective рассказывал used, not the perfective рассказал?
    2. Why is находится in present tense?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    1. About aspect, why is the imperfective рассказывал used, not the perfective рассказал? - the father told him about that fountain of youth several times rather than just once.
    2. Why is находится in present tense? - the fountain is still there at the moment when the story is told.
     
  3. wonlon Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese - Cantonese
    I used to think that fictitious stories should be told in past tense and thus imaginary things like the spring in the story should be in past tense. Right?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  4. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    No.
    First, there is such a thing as "hystorical present": Было это сорок лет назад, но помню как сейчас: иду я по лесу, а навстречу выходит из чащи прекрасная девушка, и спрашивает меня....
    Seconds, there is no strict sequence of tense in Russian like in English. Even if we don't know whether the spring is still there now, we can use present time: ... и спрашивает меня, не знаю ли я, где находится ближайшая библиотека.
    And of course there is no difference in this sense between fiction and real stories.
     
  5. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    The imperfective aspect is used to express the indefinite and recurring character of the action. (not once at any particular time -- maybe once, or maybe more than once). The present tense is used because there is no tense agreement -- of the same kind as there is in English -- that when one verb is in the past tense the second verb has to be in any of the past tenses as well. When the description is still valid at the time the story is told, present tense is used.
     
  6. e2-e4 X Senior Member

    Русский
    I don't agree. It is not specified how many times the father told it to the son. I personally understood it as it was one single time. Neither would it be specified if the aspect was perfective, the father might as well repeat his narration many times and still it would count for the perfective – at least, it wouldn't contradict it.

    One could use the perfective in this context and it would be valid, but would have a different sense. In fact, the action itself as specified by the perfective or the imperfective verb would be exactly the same in this context, only the attidude of the speaker and his notion about the value of what happened matter for the choice; but still they make the difference in meaning very important.
    I don't agree either. :) It is not said where the fountain is when the story is told ( [@wonlon:] the story must be called «Источник молодости», not «Источника молодости», by the way :) ). It's only said where it was when the old man said his wife how to find it. It was there at the moment when the old man said his words, and that's why the present is used.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  7. wonlon Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese - Cantonese
    It looks like historical present, which rhetorically gives the sense "it is/was there at that moment" is the answer. I still need time to digest.
     
  8. igusarov

    igusarov Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Russian
    I would say that imperfective form conveys the process. Depending on the context, it could refer to the process of one single event, or to the process of repetition of the like events.

    "В 5 часов вечера 12 октября 1982 года мой дед рассказывал мне сказку про колобка" = "He was telling me that story at that specific time". This sentence describes a process (i.e. continuous, imperfective), it answers the question "what was happening at that moment?" It is about one event merely because we know that one moment is not enough for a series of events to happen.

    "В детстве дед [часто/редко] рассказывал мне сказку про колобка" = "He was telling me that story [quite often/hardly any time] when I was a child". This sentence answers the question "What are your most clear childhood memories?", "What did your grandpa usually do?". Such sentence does give an impression that that story was told over and over, many times through my entire childhood. Don't you feel that this sentence is about a habitual, repetitive processes, what with the lack of precise time indication?

    On the other hand, perfective form refers to an event. It could be a single event, or an example event of a set, but the sentence itself describes only one event, one instance.

    "В 5 часов вечера 12 октября 1982 года мой дед рассказал мне сказку про колобка" = "He told me that story at that specific time". This sentence describes an event, it answers the question "When did you hear that story?" or "What has happened at that time?". One event.

    "В детстве дед рассказал мне сказку про колобка" = "It is that story that he told me when I was a child". Actually, the translation heavily depends on the context. This sentence emphasizes one specific event. Perhaps that was a single event, perhaps that was one instance of a repetitive event - we don't know. However this sentence alone is about only one specific event:
    "В детстве дед рассказал мне сказку про колобка. И мне так не понравилась лиса, что я уже никогда больше не открывал эту сказку."
    "В детстве дед рассказал мне сказку про колобка. Потом я слышал её много раз от разных людей, и каждый рассказывал по-своему."
     
  9. Wasmachien Junior Member

    Dutch - Flanders
    The historical present has nothing to do with this, it's just a structural difference between Russian and English when you're talking in the past.

    Я думал, что будет весело. - I thought, it was going to be fun.

    Он мне сказал, где находится фонтан. - He told me where the fountain was.

    About 'рассказывал', you should use the imperfective here because there's no result implied. His father told him about it and that's that. No further implications. In the last sentence the perfective form is used, because he afterwards advised him to go there.
     
  10. e2-e4 X Senior Member

    Русский
    Sure. But it doesn't mean that something happened at once. In fact, it doesn't set anything for definite about how the action physically developed. An example of a perfective verb for an action that was scattered in pieces: «Прошлым летом куст дерева рассказал мне захватывающую историю о муравьях. Да-да! Не раз, не два и не три он принимался за неё, но всего лишь рассказывал только часть, потому что память у кустов древесная, и соображают они медленно». What matters here for the speaker is 1) that the story was indeed told to him (by the way: nobody knows how complete it was because the bush might have missed something anyway, but it was told); 2) what a typical act of the bush's story-telling looked like, why it couldn't finish its story all at once.

    So, it's difficult to say how one can classify an action as an event on behalf of the action's actual development, how one can tell that a particular action is an event. But it's much simpler to see how an action can be treated as an event by the speaker because of the speaker's attitude to it.

    On the other hand, of course the speaker's attitude would often reflect the real course of things in some way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013

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