Accusative vs genitive

omiraze

Member
french
Hi,

Is this sentence correct?

я хочу выпить минеральной воды.

or is the accusative needed?

Thanks!
 
  • morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    You are talking of partitive case. Find the topic and read it up first.

    It is also called "second genitive", "второй родительный", "количественно-разделительный" or "партитивный" case.
    It was discussed here so many times I just do not want to re-explain this again.
     

    omiraze

    Member
    french
    So it seems correct. I was confused because I knew that хотеть was followed by the genitive case for abstract nouns (But mineral water didn't sound abstract to me:)
    I was just another rule applying: In russian genitive is used for the partitive.
    Thanks for your help!
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Your translation is correct.

    The general rule is that when you would use de/du in a partitive sense in French, you will have to use the Genitive in Russian: «boire du lait» — «выпить молока», «prendre du pain» — «взять хлеба». It doesn't work in every case («avoir d'argent» vs. «иметь деньги»), but the partitive feeling is reflected in grammar in both languages. Note, that after negation Russian may use the Genitive instead of the Accusative without any partitive meaning.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    when you would use de/du in a partitive sense in French, you will have to use the Genitive in Russian
    Partitive is a spoken form, rather than a literary one. So "have to" is a bit strong. I don't know French, so if it the case here, you may say "to try to keep partitive you need to" but you don't have to keep it, as if one form is a literary one in one language and a spoken one in another, the translation suffers anyway.

    Remember how in "my fair lady" in Russian translation this very case is used to show how Higgins teaches Elisa to speak correctly.
    When she says "чашка чаю" he corrects her to say "чашка чая" instead.

    In literature you may find partitive like "выпить чаю" in some classical works, but this often is direct speech rather than the author's line.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    I did not emphasize the word "Partitive", instead I used the term "Genitive". In any case, whichever form of the Genitive we chose («чаю/чая»), it will be the Genitive, not the Accusative. The distinction «чаю/чая» is relatively new to the language (around 1000 years, originally these were genitive endings of two different declension types), while the use of the Genitive in the partitive sense is, in contrast, as old as it can be traced.
     
    Last edited:

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    I do not speak French, so...

    But. Why only Genitive?

    Выпил чай. (accus.)
    Выпил чаю.
    Выпил чая.

    The last two are interchangeable (чаю - spoken form), the first one means "to drink all the tea (not some of it)". So, unless the french expression you listed specifically means "to drink some tea" then accusative is also possible.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I hope my question is related to the subject of this thread. Why many people use the accusative in Russian instead of the genitive, where I think the genitive should be used, especially in negation. The accusative from the imperative should change into the genitive in negation. This sounds very natural to me. Many people from the media speak like that, especially people who at least in their 40s. The new tendency that I have observed is towards using the accusative in place of the genitive, which sounds unnatural to me. What is the reason? It is more than the partitive example.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Well, first of all this is an example of fluctuations that occur in languages. I think that in general the language evolution is much more similar to the evolution of tastes (e. g., fashion, music) than to the biological evolution. So, the most honest answer would be "just because".
    Second, there are things that favor such a shift.
    (1) While the extended use of the genitive is peculiar of especially Balto-Slavic languages, this is not a "natural" usage — in contrast, this is something that is not evident within the case system, and both foreigners and children have to learn when to use the genitive with the direct object. In the past, across various languages, there were more such deviations, say in the ancient Germanic languages many transitive verbs were used with the Dative. Sometimes, several variants are imaginable («бросить палку/бросить палкой»). So, we may regard this tendence as an example of leveling.
    (2) In many cases the endings in Russian are ambiguous («-а» for both Accusative and Genitive in most masculine nouns, «-ы/и» in both Accusative Plural and Genitive Singular of many feminine nouns [«не слышать новости»]). Because of the uncertainty, which case is actually used, people instinctively try to use the most straightforward variant — the Accusative.
    (3) Especially the Partitive is underdeveloped — it exists only for direct objects, while in principle it is imaginable with any cases. Since there are no way with the existing Russian grammatical mechanisms to build the whole partitive paradigm, there are big chances that this distinction will be eroded completely.

    By the way, all this will apparently occur in Lithuanian, too, just somewhat later (if the current demographics gets reversed, otherwise this language will remain in use only among comparative linguists).
     
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    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I think the categorization into Balto-Slavic languages may be partially at fault. I do not personally think Baltic languages have that much in common with Slavic languages, except for some loan words. It does not sound nice to my ears when the genitive is being replaced by the accusative. It is so good to listen to some people who speak Russian the natural way, at least to what I have been used to. I have observed the new trend for the last few months, as far as media are concerned. Maybe there are some new guidelines to do it.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    I think the categorization into Balto-Slavic languages may be partially at fault.
    Linguistically, they virtually have no isoglosses separating them, plus Prussian lies in many senses between Slavic and East Baltic. Simply, Lithuanian in many aspects has preserved the habit Slavic languages had some 2-2,5 thousand years ago — it is like comparing early Runic Norse and modern English.

    For laypeople, as usually, the main reason is whether they like or dislike the respective nations. Say, the entire Aryan theory was mostly popular among Germanic-speaking nations, while especially the French authors tried to prove that there is strong evidence for a non-indoeuropean substrate in Germanic and thus the Germanic is one of the most deviating IE languages. I think the desire of Baltic-speaking people to distance their languages from the Slavic ones is mostly because these latter (as well as their speakers) are regarded as less prestigious.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    No, I do not think so. I do not have any reasons based on prejudice to claim so. My knowledge of Lithuanian is on a medium level. I cannot see that many similarities between the structure, words, or sounds of Lithuanian and Slavic languages. Whereas there are a lot of similarities between Old Prussian and Modern Lithuanian. I do not know what Slavic languages looked like 2000 years ago. I doubt they had similar structures to Baltic languages. I see more similarities between Germanic languages and Slavic languages, than between Slavic languages and Baltic languages.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    I am afraid it will lead us too far from the topic. There is a huge literature for the last 150 years about the relationships of these two groups. To my knowledge, there is a universal agreement that they are very close, the question is whether they belonged to a single branch from the IE times, or were just close dialects in the IE, then separated for a while, and then got in contact again. I could repeat the argumentation, but indeed you can find it in any special publication. Just remember, it is not a discussion whether something in the language A reminds something in the language B: this is the discussion about genealogy, not about the current similarities (which exist anyway, but are irrelevant in this context). The Baltic and Slavic languages experienced the similar changes after the IE times: the sounds, grammar, syntax and vocabulary originally evolved in similar ways, and as I had written these groups are not separated by any serious isogloss (which are very evident in Slavic vs. Germanic or Baltic vs. Germanic). Of course the later development made them less similar, plus the Lithuanian in many aspects remained more archaic while the Slavic languages changed much faster.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Well, I first read something on this topic 20 years ago and for the time that has passed since then I have learnt nothing that contradicts the above-mentioned view. Would be nice if you publish your doubts in the academic literature.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    With the Genitive I think I had already answered. The use of Genitive for the direct object is in slow decline in Russian, and this is a process that started centuries ago. The less educated is the person, the less he/she uses the Genitive in this syntactic role.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    In principle yes, but often it may cause troubles: «я не читала книги» would be rather understood as having the Nominative Plural, as "I have not read books", than the Genitive Singular. When the endings are clear, there are less restrictions, «я не читала книг».
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I usually use the genitive with negation because I like it, and I was just wondering whether this would not be considered out of style. The only consolation for me is the fact that some people from the media speak like that, so maybe I am not totally out of touch with the reality.
     
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