за что бы они ни взялись, у них выходит ровно противоположно

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by tristein, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. tristein Member

    American English

    I'm having a hard time understanding the second half of the following sentence:

    "Перечень факапов наших лидеров можно продолжать бесконечно: за что бы они ни взялись, у них выходит ровно противоположное."

    It comes from here:


    I can't get my head around what is being negated by the particle ни -- "what they would not grasp/undertake". I'm also confused about the last phrase -- I know that у них выходит is used to express "they ran out of...". But what are they running out of here -- the precise opposite of what they would not undertake?

    As you can see, I'm confused. I would greatly appreciate insights from native speakers.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. VicNicSor

    VicNicSor Senior Member

    За что бы они ни взялись, у них выходит ровно противоположное. -- Whatever they get down to/start to do, it (usually) results in the exact opposite (of what they've wanted).
    (By the way, "факап" is 'fuck-up', written in Russian letters, but uttered the same as in English.)
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  3. tristein Member

    American English
    Thanks! I still don't understand what "ни" is doing in the first part of the sentence...

    I couldn't figure out what was meant by "
    факапов", but I found it in the online dictionary of Russian youth slang. Me likey!
  4. VicNicSor

    VicNicSor Senior Member

    "Hи" is often used for emphasis:
    За что бы они ни взялись = Всё, за что они бeрутся (these two phrases are not interchangeable in the sentence, though)
    from a Ru-En dictionary:
    кто бы ни — whoever
    что бы ни — whatever
    где бы ни — wherever
    когда бы ни — whenever
    как бы ни — however
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  5. morbo Senior Member

    The 'ни' particle isn't used solely for negation; in fact, when employed for the purposes of negation, it is most often used before nouns, pronouns, adverbs, infinitives, adjectives (others may add something here) to emphasize the scope of a negative verb phrase made negative by adding the 'не' particle in front of the verb:
    'Рычаг не двигался ни туда, ни сюда.' -- The lever wouldn't move either way.; 'Кот не выглядел ни старым, ни уставшим.' -- The cat looked neither old nor tired.; 'Я так и не встретил ни Ивана, ни его друга.' -- In the end I met neither Ivan nor his friend.

    Its second major role is to introduce an unlimited set of unspecified alternatives, unspecified extent, etc.:
    'Как бы далеко ни продвинулась эта технология, ее коммерческий потенциал неочевиден.' -- However far this technology may evolve, its commercial protential is far from obvious.; 'Кем бы он ни был, не впускай его.' -- Whoever he is, don't let him in.

    Your example is an example of the latter use of the particle.
  6. igusarov

    igusarov Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    "выходит" (literally: out goes) here is quite similar to "output / outcome", apart from the Russian word being a verb. Whatever they set their hands to - the outcome is exactly the opposite [of what was desired].

    If used in a positive declarative sentence, "ни" means that the statement holds true under all possible circumstances. In a negative (or imperative) sentence the meaning would be different, though.
  7. tristein Member

    American English
    Thanks, All for the fantastic explanations. I've learned a lot from your help in this thread!
  8. Saluton Banned

    Moscow, Russia
    This is not correct. To express "they ran out of...", we use the verb кончиться or закончиться: They ran out of petrol - У них кончился бензин.
    У них выходит is indeed used to describe the result of some actions ("they get..."), like in this context.
  9. igusarov

    igusarov Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Er... "Кончиться" and "закончиться" are by far more popular verbs, but the verb "выходить" could be used in a sense "run out of something" too. In certain context, of course, most often if its perfective counterpart is used in the past tense. For example: "У меня весь табак вышел" (Маршак).
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  10. Saluton Banned

    Moscow, Russia
    Archaic (when did Marshak live?) and in the past tense. Who would say so today? In present? У меня выходит табак? I don't even think you would.
  11. Maroseika Moderator

    I'm not sure выходить was ever used in the sense of кончаться in the imperfect form. But выйти - кончиться doesn't seem to me archaic, just bookish.
    And of course it is quite alive in the sayings like был, да весь вышел or вышел срок (хранения).
  12. Saluton Banned

    Moscow, Russia
    That's right but the expression in question was у них выходит. Your message as well as igusarov's PM reminded me that we can say so about time: у них выходит время/срок - they're running out of time. Yes, I did miss that point, thanks.
  13. Ёж! Senior Member

    I'd put the word, for indeterminate choice (we can choose anything among a great number of variants); indeed like the 'ever' part in the English conjunctions. This use is very akin to the use as 'neither/nor', where we again choose a number of things that we say aren't right out of many that indeed aren't, with the difference that the number is finite (usually two, but by far not necessarily: «у него не было ни трубки, ни табака, ни спичек» (and of course he lacked many other things as well, like a sputnik, for example).
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  14. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's

    Hi tristein, as the other posters have noted, the function of ни is not negatory here. It translates as who/what/why/when/where ever, or no matter who/what/why/when/where, or regardless who/what/why/when/where, or it makes no difference who/what/why/when/where...). Here are some more examples (source: otvet.mail.ru) :

    Кто бы это ни был, скажи ему, что я занят.
    No matter who it is, tell him I'm busy (or whoever it is, or regardless who it is, or it makes no difference who it is ...).

    Что бы они ни сказали, не верьте им.
    No matter what they say, don't believe them (or whatever they say, or regardless what, or it makes no difference what ...).

    Как бы поздно ты не пришёл, позвони мне.
    No matter how late you arrive, ring me (or however late, or regardless how late, or it makes no difference how late ....).

    Куда бы ты ни пошёл, я пойду с тобой.
    No matter where you go, I'll go with you (or wherever you go, or regardless where ... etc., as above).

    Когда бы ты ни попросил о помощи, я помогу.
    No matter when you ask for help, I'll help you (or whenever you ask, or regardless when...etc., as above).

    Где бы он ни был, мы его найдём.
    Wherever he is, we'll find him (Or no matter where ..., or regardless where... etc., as above).

    Не трогай это, чем это ни было*.
    Don't touch it, no matter what it is (or whatever it is, or regardless what it is, etc., as above).

    Куда бы ты ни пришёл, не забудь поздороваться.
    No matter where you are, don't forget to give a greeting (or wherever you are, or regardless where, etc., as above).

    Кто бы ни постучал, не открывай дверь.
    No matter who knocks, don't open the door (or whoever knocks, or regardless who knocks ... etc., as above).

    Когда бы я ни позвонил, его всегда нет дома.
    No matter when I ring, he's never at home (or whenever I ring, or regardless when I ring... etc., as above).

    I've offered the shortest and, ин май хамбл апиньан :p, most idiomatic translation. Many other variants are possible. The particle бы introduces conditionality (e.g. Кто бы ни постучал... - in fact, nobody might knock at all) so using "might" would usually also be appropriate in English.

    [*I copied the Russian from the native speaker on the source page; I suspect "бы" is missing here. The natives will tell us :cool:.]
    [[ps: Unfortunately, not a single one of the answers on the linked source page is possible.]]
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  15. Ёж! Senior Member

    Yes it is.
  16. tristein Member

    American English
    Thanks for all the clarifications. The examples from otvet.mail.ru are very cool! (For some reason, I can't access the link, maybe because I'm in the US).

    This has been a great Russian lesson for me, thanks for taking the time to respond so thoroughly!
  17. Colora

    Colora Senior Member

    USA, Denver, CO
    Hi! Tristein, I'd like to make this clear for you. "Word-for-word" translation does not accurately convey the sense of the original, that is why you got confused with this translation. Hope I could make it :)
    "Перечень факапов наших лидеров можно продолжать бесконечно: за что бы они ни взялись, у них выходит ровно противоположное."
    The list of F*ed-up things of our leaders can be continued forever; whatever they have tried to do in life, the eventual results turn out to be the exact opposite of what they expect.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  18. tristein Member

    American English
    Thanks, Colora, for the awesome translation! :)

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