клавиши западали

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Sniegurochka, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Sniegurochka

    Sniegurochka Senior Member

    Waco, Texas
    How to say this in English? I reminisce of my first piano, which was German and old. I remember its smell of wood touched by many fingers, and the feel keys that I would press, but they wouldn't go all the way down, and then wouldn't come back all the way up. Perhaps because some string wouldn't be fully hit in its ancient mechanics. You would still get a sound, but only a short one, weakened, dulled, with a crack. I couldn't find anything remotely similar to западали in English, so I am just giving my Russian sentence:
    Я помню моё старое пианино, как оно пахло временем, и клавиши западали.

    The best I could do:
    I remember my old piano, its smell of time, and its keys were falling through.
  2. turkjey5 Senior Member

    English - USA
  3. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    " .... and its keys that stuck ..." (stick/stuck/stuck) or "... and its sticky keys..."

    If, as I strongly suspect, западать is being used as an imperfective here, (in other words: запада́ть, and not запа́дать) ... its keys that kept sticking/used to stick ... brings out the sense even better than ... keys that stuck ... (but stuck is also okay for a repeated or habitual action).

    (And it's the same if it's your computer keyboard - the keys stick, the keys are sticking, the keys keep sticking, its keys are sticky, it has sticky keys.)
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  4. e2-e4 X Senior Member

    The perfective verb is «запасть»; its plural form of the past tense is «запали», and it can't be used here.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
  5. Sniegurochka

    Sniegurochka Senior Member

    Waco, Texas
    I was trying to recreate the actual memory of playing and experiencing the keys sticking. So in Russian is definitely "запада́ли." Just want to make sure that in English it's "sticking," and that's what this verb conveys figuratively. I am still not sure, because, if literally, then there was not "something adhering to something" involved. It's just when an instrument is old, and you press a key, it does go all the way down, but doesn't come all the way up. Again, I am very illiterate as far as how the actual mechanism works, but it felt as if whatever was supposed to hit the string wasn't hitting it full force, and the string wouldn't resound, reverberate in response (as it should), but just produce a dull clicking sound, just indicate it was touched. Sorry that I don't have the terminology, and only describing how it felt. A musician would have described it much more precisely, but I never became one.
  6. turkjey5 Senior Member

    English - USA
    Stuck doesn't have to mean "something adhering to something" like gum to a table. It can mean something doesn't move because it's impeded by something. In this case, the key is impeded by the framework or body of the keyboard.
  7. Sniegurochka

    Sniegurochka Senior Member

    Waco, Texas
    Thank you. It really makes sense now.

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