была построена / строилась

jos.dan

Senior Member
Spanish
Всем привет!
I have a question regarding past passive constructions in Russian. The other day I translated a text about a train station in Taiwan from English into Russian. The original text was something like:
"This station was built by the Italian artist Narcissus Qualiata during 4 and a half years"

I originally wrote:
"Эта станция было построена итальянским художником Нарциссом Куалата на протяжении 4-х с половиной лет"

But the corrector's version is:
"Эта станция строилась при участи итальянского художника Нарциссуса Куалата на протяжении 4-х с половиной лет"

Why is строилась the proper construction? Both are past passive constructions, right?

Thank you in advance :)
 
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi jos.dan, I think the correction is primarily on grounds of style, though there's nothing grammatically wrong with станция былa построена (but not было строенна :cross:, as your thread's title currently stands); былa has to agree with the subject станция, which is feminine.

    There's a related thread here Short passive participle with linking verb, and note Sobakus's observations in #8:
    ... the English past participle carries more verbal meaning and can express both the Russian past participle and the Russian mediopassive voice:
    The problem is already solved = Задача уже решена (P.P.)
    The problem is solved easily = Задача решается легко (M-P)
    While the Russian past participle carries more adjectival meaning and isn't tied to the verbal tense as much (...):
    ... in non-official speech, when the agent is known, using an active construction instead is more natural.
    In your example, your agent is known - the Italian artist Narcissus Qualiata. Cтроилась is (grammatically) reflexive, and therefore (grammatically) active, not (strictly speaking) passive (though some may call it "medio-passive"), though often best translated using a passive form in the target language.
     
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    jos.dan

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Sorry, my mistake... I'll change the title now :)
    And for the answer, thank you a lot, Enquiring Mind :)
     

    GCRaistlin

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Первая конструкция неправильна. Вторая правильна, однако не вполне соответствует смыслу исходной фразы, т. к. её можно трактовать и как строилась, но не была достроена. Лучше сказать: была построена за 4,5 года.
     

    jos.dan

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    There's a related thread here Short passive participle with linking verb, and note Sobakus's observation in #8:
    In your example, your agent is known - the Italian artist Narcissus Qualiata. Cтроилась is (grammatically) reflexive, and therefore (grammatically) active, not passive, though often best translated using a passive form in the target language.
    Thanks for the link and the explanation regarding my example. Just to make sure:
    – If the agent is known, an active construction is better
    – If the agent is not known, a passive construction is better

    Did I get it right?

    Спасибо, @GCRaistling
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    I think that's probably a reasonable observation, though the use of the active construction may have more to do with reflecting a verbal action (the station was built by) rather than an adjectival state, which the past participle may tend to describe. As always, you need to look at each example in its own specific context.
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    But the corrector's version is:
    "Эта станция строилась при участи итальянского художника Нарциссуса Куалата на протяжении 4-х с половиной лет"
    I'd say the corrector's version is what's called in Russian отсебятина (one's own invention). Original phrase clearly states "was built by" and not "with the participation of". I.e. according to the English sentence, Qualiata leaded the building and not just participated.

    As for the known and unknown agents, active constructions in the latter case is also possible, but Plural is used instead: Станцию построили за 4 года.
    If the agent is known, passive constructions sounds more formal.

    And a sidenote: cardinal numbers are used without augments: в течение 4 лет (not в течение 4-х лет).
     

    Vadim K

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    Для более точного понимания, почему корректор перевел именно так, как он перевел, необходим контекст. Вполне возможно, что основной мыслью этого предложения было то, что эта станция строилась достаточно долго. Если это так, тогда становится совершенно очевидным, почему был использовано глагол "строилась", а не "была построена". Дело в том, что в русском языке фразы "была построена" и "на протяжении 4-х с половиной лет" вместе не употребляются. Или "была построена за" или "строилась на протяжении". Но фраза "Эта станция была построена итальянским художником Нарциссом Куалата за 4 с половиной года" не передает мысль о том, что станция строилась долго.
     

    Vovan

    Senior Member
    Russian
    My version:
    Эту станцию метро строили четыре с половиной года по проекту итальянского художника Нарцисса Квальяты.
    No need to use any preposition for the original "during".
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    My version:
    Эту станцию метро строили четыре с половиной года по проекту итальянского художника Нарцисса Квальяты.
    No need to use any preposition for the original "during".
    Your variant is rather informal, though.
     

    Okkervil

    Member
    Russian - Russia
    The original text was something like:
    "This station was built by the Italian artist Narcissus Qualiata during 4 and a half years"
    Вот именно, что очень уж something like. :)
    Наверное поэтому и имя его написано с ошибкой, и строил он не столько станцию (Formosa Boulevard Station), сколько занимался декоративным оформлением одного из подземных вестибюлей.

    Редактору надо отдать должное, он все ж таки написал "при участии". Но он не смог догадаться, что 4,5 года - это на самом деле не время строительства станции, но монтажа световой инсталляции (the Dome of Light).
     
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    jos.dan

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hello again :)
    I reopened this thread because I have another question regarding the translation of passive English constructions into Russian

    I wrote this about the National Library of Belarus:
    «Это строительство разрабатывалось архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовом и Виктором Крамаренком...»

    But somebody corrected it as:
    «Это здание было разработано архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовом и Виктором Крамаренком..»

    This contradicts what it's written in this thread –or at least what I understood–: that past active (mediopassive) constructions are preferred if the agent is known, but past passive constructions are preferred if the agent is not know. Or maybe I didn't get it right?

    Also, could somebody change the title of this thread to something more general like "Translation of passive constructions"? Thank you in advance :)
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    I wrote this about the National Library of Belarus:
    «Это строительство разрабатывалось архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовом и Виктором Крамаренком...»

    But somebody corrected it as:
    «Это здание было разработано архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовом и Виктором Крамаренком..»

    This contradicts what it's written in this thread –or at least what I understood–: that past active (mediopassive) constructions are preferred if the agent is known, but past passive constructions are preferred if the agent is not know. Or maybe I didn't get it right?
    I'd say it's more about perfectivness than known/unknown agents, and the choice more depends on the style of the text in general, such as:

    Это строительство разрабатывалось архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовым и Виктором Крамаренко*. Они искали техническое решение, которое позволило бы преодолеть трудности, связанные с выбором места строительства.
    But:
    Это здание было разработано архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовым и Виктором Крамаренко. Они выбрали решение, которое позволило преодолеть трудности, связанные с выбором места строительства.


    *A sidenote: Slavic surnames on -нко are not declined in the modern Russian.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I wrote this about the National Library of Belarus:
    «Это строительство разрабатывалось архитекторами Михаилом Виноградовом и Виктором Крамаренком...»
    1. Building is "строительство" only as long as we speak about building as a process. If you mean an object, it's basically "здание".
    2. "Разрабатываться" is normally used regarding plans of actions or complex devices. For buildings, "проектировать(-ся)" or "спроектировать" are the verbs you are seeking for.
    3. Don't forget that Russian surnames which end in -ов and -ев have the adjectival declension (meaning they have -овым/-евым in the instrumental case). As for declining surnames of Ukrainian origin, see Maroseika's reply.
    I'd say it's more about perfectivness than known/unknown agents
    About tenses and aspects, I'd say. "Проектировалось" is, essentially, close to "was being designed", it describes a process - but as long we aren't particularly interested in the very process and speak about some actual finished building, it's more natural to describe it as a result. However, perfective reflexive verbs simply don't have the mediopassive meaning, so we must either use the proper active voice (turning the agents into the subject, with certain pragmatic and stylistic consequences) or use the "true" passive construction.
     

    jos.dan

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thanks a lot Maroseika and Awwal12
    I think I get it... If we were to change the agents into subjects, both constructions would look like this

    Это здание проектировалось архитекторами. → Архитекторы проектировали здание. ("was being designed", which wouldn't fit here, as Awwal12 clearly wrote)
    Это здание было спроектировано архитекторами. → Архитекторы спроектировали строительство. ("was designed")

    Did I get it right?

    Лучше сказать: была построена за 4,5 года
    Now I get why была построена was wrong before. Rather than being because the agent was known, it was because the preposition на is used with imperfective verbs, while за is used with perfective verbs. You guys explained it to me from the beginning but I didn't get it back then.

    *A sidenote: Slavic surnames on -нко are not declined in the modern Russian.
    3. Don't forget that Russian surnames which end in -ов and -ев have the adjectival declension (meaning they have -овым/-евым in the instrumental case). As for declining surnames of Ukrainian origin, see Maroseika's reply.
    I didn't even know -нко surnames were specifically Ukrainian :) And I didn't know that about the declension of Russian surnames either.
    Thank you so much :)
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Это здание проектировалось архитекторами. → Архитекторы проектировали здание. ("was being designed", which wouldn't fit here, as Awwal12 clearly wrote)
    Это здание было спроектировано архитекторами. → Архитекторы спроектировали здание. ("was designed")
    Pretty much yes.
    Now I get why была построена was wrong before. Rather than being because the agent was known, it was because the preposition на is used with imperfective verbs, while за is used with perfective verbs.
    1. It's not "на" but precisely "на протяжении какого-л. времени" (which is basically equivalent to "какое-л. время" in the adverbial meaning, stylistics aside; i.e. "здание строилось на протяжении двух лет" = "здание строилось два года").
    2. It doesn't exactly demand an imperfective verb (cf. "я побуду там на протяжении пяти дней", which is stylistically poor, but perfectly grammatical and makes sense), but this construction carries what may be described as semantic imperfectivity, and it should suit the general meaning of the sentence. I.e. the interaction between the adverbial phrase and the verb takes place right on the semantic level, not on the more superficial grammatical one.
    3. "За какое-л. время" can be used in the "imperfective" meaning as well, although the exact meaning will be different.
    "За последнюю неделю он заходил ко мне трижды". = "He visited my place three times during the last week." (an interval during which some events occured - or nothing occured at all)
    "Здание построено за месяц." = "The building was built in a month." (an interval at the beginning of which some activity started and at the end of which it was succesfully finished)
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I didn't even know -нко surnames were specifically Ukrainian :)
    -Ко or -енко, to be precise. One could say that modern Russian is very suspicious about nouns ending in -о or -е and is looking for any excuse not to decline those. :) In the classical literature you can encounter two models of declining these Ukrainian surnames: "original" (-ко/-ка/-ку/-ка/-ком/-ке, like 2nd declension neuter nouns) and "analogical" (-ко/-ку/-ке/-ку/-кой/-ке, like 1st declension masculine nouns aside of the nominative form - but this ending is rarely stressed anyway, so most of the time there is no phonetical difference; moreover, all native Russian masculine nouns which used to end in -*ко have shifted to -ка and exactly to the 1st declension paradigm: батька, мальчишка, братишка etc.; the original forms remain only in the dialects with okanye). These days such surnames are quite consistently left undeclined.
     
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