Dative vs. Genitive: "цену раю"

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by 123xyz, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. 123xyz

    123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    In the song "Ненаглядный мой", the following verse appears:

    Я узнаю цену раю, ад вкусив в раю

    In it, the phrase "цену раю" perplexes me. First of all, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand the verse to mean "I discover the price of heaven, having had a taste of hell in it". Thus, I'd expect "цену рая" rather than "цену раю" - if that particular phrase is to mean "the price OF heaven", shouldn't "рай" be in the genitive, i.e. "рая", rather than the dative, i.e. "раю"? However, it's quite possible that I've mixed some of the words up, as I have never studied Russian (I'm asking this question because of my interest in the song rather than as a Russian learner) and thus have very little understanding of its vocabulary beyond what my knowledge of Macedonian and BCS provide me with - I have an even scantier understanding of Russian grammar, such that I wouldn't be surprised to find that there's a perfectly simple grammatical rule accounting for what appears to be the dative in the phrase in question.

    Thank you in advance
  2. raf8

    raf8 Senior Member

    Russia, Pyatigorsk
    Russian (Русский)
    You can use dative instead of genitive in very rare cases. For example:

    Я узнаю цену раю (dative) = Я узнаю цену рая (genitive)

    But we can't say: Я узнаю цену дому (dative) instead of Я узнаю цену дома (genitive). In this case, we can use only genitive.

    So, dative instead of genitive can be used in rare cases and usually in the literature or to create a rhyme.
  3. Drink

    Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I don't think this is the dative, but rather the old genitive, which now survives as the "partitive case" (разделительный падеж).
  4. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    I think it's the genitive too, see this thread. (Unfortunately the link in Maroseika's reply doesn't work for me).
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    I don't think it has anything to do with Partitive, it looks like mere Dative:
    Я знаю тебе (себе) цену.
    Ему цены нет.
    Цена ему - полушка в базарный день.
    Грош цена чему-либо (stable saying).

    I understand it like a price given to something (цена, данная, назначенная чему-либо), like in the example from Dahl:

    Но Лиров заметил презрительную улыбку старика трактирщика, колченогого голштинца, в ответ на запрос Иванова и прочел на ярлыке, хотя и мало смыслил толку в винах, что цена этому чудному вину назначена была восемь гривен. [В. И. Даль. Бедовик (1839)]

    I corrected that link to par. 1179-1182, but still don't think this is Genitive.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  6. Linguoman Senior Member

    Russian - Russia
    I disagree. "Цена раю" is not partitive in this sentence.

    You just confuse it with a similar form "стакан чаю" where "чаю" is partitive. However, the partitive does not make sense with "рай": its only genitive form is "рая" ("сады рая", not "сады раю").

    "Цена раю" is a true dative. The matter is we do use dative sometimes with "цена": цена чему? Compare: Грош ему цена. Он знает себе цену.

    PS I noticed Maroseika just wrote the same.
  7. igusarov

    igusarov Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    Dative can be used for certain indirect objects and determiners, however I cannot come up with a simple rule right now. But I can present some illustrations and parallels.

    First, there are a lot of cases where an object of another noun could be either in Genitive or in Dative. But the sense of such phrases would be rather different, not to say opposite:
    "приказ сержанта - приказ сержанту"
    Likewise in English:
    "order of the sergant - order to the sergant"

    And then, there are some rare cases, where an object could be either in Genitive or in Dative, and such phrases convey pretty much the same sense:
    "альтернатива семьи - альтернатива семье"
    "конец сказочки - конец сказочке"
    "товарищ президента - товарищ президенту"

    There are similar examples in English, too:
    "a friend of the family - a friend to the family"
    "a wife of his brother - a wife to his brother"

    Well, you have faced yet another example of the latter rare case. :- )

    There could be a slight connotation to these phrases. Typically the phrase "узнать цену чего-то" (Genitive) means to know the cost of obtaining that thing, whether that cost is monetary or not. While "узнать цену чему-то" (Dative) could mean "to realize how useful that thing is, to learn its true value". It really depends on the context.

    "Я узнал цену свободы" =~ I realized how difficult it is to get the freedom. I have learned its price.
    "Я узнал цену свободе" =~ I realized what the freedom actually means for me. I have learned its value.
  8. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Слуга царю, отец солдатам.
  9. Drink

    Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    "Servant to the king", "father to the soldiers"

    Even "price to the house" makes sense in English.

    I realize I was wrong.
  10. 123xyz

    123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    Thank you for the informative replies. My question has been resolved.

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