Bulgarian: secondary imperfective verbs

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Psi-Lord

Member
Portuguese - Brazil
I translated the sentence ‘The girl who stole books’ the other day as

„Момчето, което открадваше книги.“

but got corrected to

„Момчето, което крадеше книги.“

I’d picked открадвам because it was the first verb I found when I looked ‘to steal’ up, so I didn’t realise крада existed. When I tried to find information on the exact relationship that exists in крада – открадна – открадавам, I found a section in the Wikipedia article on Bulgarian verbs about secondary imperfective verbs, and I could see that a secondary imperfective verb (открадавам here) is just as imperfective as the original verb (крада), but preserves the perfective qualities of the perfective form (открадна), so that it can be used in situations where grammar wouldn’t allow a perfective verb, or when one wants to emphasise that a complete (perfective) action took place but was repeated over time.

So far, so good on what concerns theory, but, in practice, how exactly would the two sentences above (my original translation and the correction) differ, or how my translation would sound off? I’m almost sure that the prefix от- is playing some role here regarding a more exact/subtle nuance of stealing, but I can’t tell which. :confused:

P.S.: Just out of curiosity, the sentence I translated comes from the title in Portuguese of The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak: ‘A menina que roubava livros’.
 
  • Darina

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria
    The suffix emphasizes the beginning of the action. This version sound more intriguing because we don't know what happens next. An implication that somebody caught him or he took the books to read them and then returned them. Or something else...
    The second version sounds more like organised crime ;) : for example he stole and then sold the books.
    Of course, I exaggerated a bit but only to help you understand the difference!
    :)
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    To me крада has a more habitual meaning, like stealing all the time. Открадвам is more of a one time deal. The same with крадеше - she was stealing all the time, she was a professional :D, while открадваше implies rare occurences of theft. That's how they sound to me. In this particular case, I'd use крадеше.
     

    lavverats

    Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi Psi-Lord,
    First of all, I think, both sentences need to be corrected because it is written "the girl" which means "момИчето" in Bulgarian.
    As for "крада- открадвам/открадна" I am not a professional, but I fully agree with DarkChild:
    "крада" is mostly used for describing a habitual action, while "открадвам" - sooner, for a "single" action.
    So, IMO (because we may classify this as a habit) it sounds better:
    "Момичето, което крадеше книги".
    But yet, I should repeat - I am not a linguist. My compatriots may express another interpretation in this particular case.
    Regards
     

    Darina

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria
    So stealing can be a habit... :)

    открадвам is a single action but we have here открадваше (imperfective) and not открадна which makes a difference. To me открадваше puts an emphasis on the doer of the action of stealing.

    Нашата банда крадеше коли. Иван ги открадваше, а аз им намирах купувачи.

    If you are not sure which verb to use, choose крада.
    :)
     

    Psi-Lord

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Благодаря! And thanks for pointing me the misspelling in момиче as well.

    If you are not sure which verb to use, choose крада.
    :)
    Yeah, this is a ‘lesson’ I’ve learnt – for the time being, I’ll pay more attention in order to choose the most basic form of the verb, so to speak, and leave such secondary imperfective verbs either to a later stage or when there’s no doubt (for me) they fit the context I want. :)

     
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