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BCS: čemu to?

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by Bresca, May 29, 2013.

  1. Bresca Senior Member

    Dear foreros,

    in a dialogue in a film subtitled in Serbian one character gives some documents to another character, who asks him: "čemu to?"

    To me it would sound better "čemu je to?" and the question is: is this a correct question in Serbian or just a shortened version due to the lack of space for subtitles?

  2. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    It's a fixed expression, so it's not much use to analyse its grammar. However, if I'd have to guess its origin, it would rather be a shortening from čemu to vodi?. Also, it might be a Russism, or a remnant from Church Slavonic where pochemu? means 'why'?
  3. slavic_one

    slavic_one Senior Member

    Prague, Czech Republic
    Croatian (štokavski, jekavski)
    You can use that normally. "Čemu to?" means "why is that (necessary)?", while "čemu je to?" sounds to me more like "what is it for?".
    Почему? → pa čemu (to)? :D (just a joke).
  4. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    Čemu je to?, in isolation, does not even sound grammatical to me. It might be part of a longer expression, e.g. čemu je to namijenjeno?.
  5. Bresca Senior Member

    I've found right now in the web: " Po čemu vam je zanimljiv vas hobi?"

    That "po čemu" means "zašto? (the Russian Почему?)

  6. slavic_one

    slavic_one Senior Member

    Prague, Czech Republic
    Croatian (štokavski, jekavski)
    "Čemu je to?" also sounds unnatural to me.

    "Po čemu vam je zanimljiv vaš hobi?" - What makes your hobby interesting to you? (You can also say "što čini vaš hobi zanimljivim"?)
    In that sentence, "po čemu" is, I would say, more narrow than "zašto". Compare English translation with "Why is your hobby...".
  7. Apollodoros

    Apollodoros Junior Member

    I (being a non-native speaker of BCS) felt it more as true dative of the pronoun šta/što > i.e. čemu, in its natural meaning without a preposition needed. In the above context the sense would be: čemu to? 'for what' is it/this? Is that right?
  8. slavic_one

    slavic_one Senior Member

    Prague, Czech Republic
    Croatian (štokavski, jekavski)
    Čemu is dative form of što, there is nothing disputable about it. It can be also translated as "for what?" or even better "what good it makes?".
  9. Anicetus Senior Member

    You're right, it's just that plain dative isn't used to express cause or purpose outside this example in modern BCS.

    By the way, po actually requires locative in BCS, rather than dative like in Russian. The ending is the same as for dative, of course, but the accent is different in some nouns: po grádu, not *pȍ grādu or *po grȃdu.
  10. elalba New Member

    It's the same as What was that for? The other suggestions sound unnatural in English to me. What is it for is not the translation, that would be Zašto je to? Para que sirve esto?
    What was that for
    is the exact translation and it's not a shorter version of čemu je to, because čemu je to rige algo más en la continuación ;)
    No sé cómo de dice exactamente en castellano, pero sería como decir Y eso por? Čemu to is the same as Čemu je to (bilo) potrebno? Lo ves?
  11. Bresca Senior Member

    I suppose that's the same in Spanish: ¿Para qué es eso? vs ¿Para qué? The first one is polite/complete, while the second one is more oral and familiar. (What is it for?/What for?)
  12. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    Yes, sounds like an apt comparison.

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