What is the difference between забывать and забыть?

Aj57

New Member
Today in class I was given a list of words, explaining verbs requiring accusative case without prepositions. A lot of these words I know but several others mean the same thing.

забывать and забыть both mean forget but I am not sure the difference. Can someone explain the difference?

There is also an arrow coming from кого(whose)? to these 2 words and the other arrow points to что(who)? followed by words such as слышать and услышать. I am not sure what it is trying to explain. It does not give any further explaination.
 
  • Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    To understand the difference between забыть and забывать you need to learn what are Perfective and Imperfective aspects of the verbs. This is a general notion, having nothing to do with prepositions or accusative.
    In brief, забыть means a single complete action, while забывать means a continuing or incomplete action.

    As for your second question, it's hard to understand what you mean without looking at the picture and surrounding text.
     

    Aj57

    New Member
    To understand the difference between забыть and забывать you need to learn what are Perfective and Imperfective aspects of the verbs. This is a general notion, having nothing to do with prepositions or accusative.

    As for your second question, it's hard to understand what you mean without looking at the picture and surrounding text.

    There is no other text associated with the text nor is there surrounding text other than "Verbs requiring accusative case without prepositions"
     

    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    the difference is roughly the same as that between 'to forget' and 'to be forgetting'.
    as for the second part of your question, I think it has to do with the form of the accusative case that nouns denoting people and those denoting objects take after these verbs.
    For people, the accusative form of the noun after these verbs is the same as the genitive form:
    забыть Марину (кого)
    for object, the accusative form is the same is the nominative case:
    забыть родной город
    there are exceptions of course, compare
    забыть Москву
    and
    забыть Ленинград/Курск/Воронеж и т.д.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    the difference is roughly the same as that between 'to forget' and 'to be forgetting'.
    as for the second part of your question, I think it has to do with the form of the accusative case that nouns denoting people and those denoting objects take after these verbs.
    For people, the accusative form of the noun after these verbs is the same as the genitive form:
    забыть Марину (кого)
    for object, the accusative form is the same is the nominative case:
    забыть родной город
    there are exceptions of course, compare
    забыть Москву
    and
    забыть Ленинград/Курск/Воронеж и т.д.

    This post is completely wrong. I advise both the topicstarter and the author of this post to read up on animacy and verbal aspect, they are completely essential to learning Russian.
     
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    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I thought these rules(http://rosental.virtbox.ru/styli_xxxvi.html#sect151) applied in the case of animate/inanimate objects. (by object here I mean the object of a verb). I was a bit out of my depth though. So, Sobakus, can you give us a quick and dirty intro to the morphology of Russian animate/inanimate nouns when they are used as the direct object of a verb?
    I mean point out how wrong I was is good and proper, but it doesn't really help the Aj57 a great deal, does it?

    As for 'forget' vs 'to be forgetting', I stand by my comparison.
    It's not exactly the same, since Russian only has two aspects while English has four and so naturally there is no one-to-one correspondence between the verb aspects in English and in Russian, however, the nature of the difference is the same.
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    So, Sobakus, can you give us a quick and dirty intro to the morphology of Russian animate/inanimate nouns when they are used as the direct object of a verb?

    I'm sorry but such basic things can be learned by simply typing "russian animacy" in Google. There's nothing meaningful I can add.
     
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    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    забывать and забыть both mean forget but I am not sure the difference.
    Well, I don't think there is much difference in the real physical meaning (at least, generally; generally, both just refer to forgetting, even if in certain specific cases various "enrichments" of the meaning do appear), but you have to choose one or the other in accordance to what aspect of the situation you are going to consider, that is, whether you want to say what happened, what changed in the world, and in what way the change took place (to consider the event from outside, that is to take its "perfective" aspect), or your intention is to dive into the underhoods of what happened and talk of the conditions and the structure of the action (to consider the process from inside, to take its "imperfective" aspect). You see, the perception is different, even when "what happened" is the same thing. :)

    The choice is very often not free, partly because other words (for example, adverbs, like "долго", which is not able to be used with perfective verbs) may have their implications about the aspect of the world they take to speak about, partly because of other constraints (like traditions of usage, possibly interaction with word order, etc). You see, all that is a very huge topic, almost as huge as the whole Russian language is, because the concept of verbal aspect is important for so many parts of the language.

    Imagine you have to depict a castle: you can choose its North side, West side, East side or its South side for description, as you like to, but all that is about the same castle, different sides of which look different. The same is with situations described in Russian, with the exception that they have only two sides — only two aspects.
     
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    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    the difference is roughly the same as that between 'to forget' and 'to be forgetting'.
    as for the second part of your question, I think it has to do with the form of the accusative case that nouns denoting people and those denoting objects take after these verbs.
    For people, the accusative form of the noun after these verbs is the same as the genitive form:
    забыть Марину (кого)

    for object, the accusative form is the same is the nominative case:
    забыть родной город
    there are exceptions of course, compare
    забыть Москву
    and
    забыть Ленинград/Курск/Воронеж и т.д.
    1) Female nouns are never identical in genitive and accusative. Марина gives Марины in Genitive and Марину in Accusative. So "забыть Москву" is NOT an exception, it's the rule.

    2) The rule you are speaking of applies only to masculine nouns with zero (consonant) endings in the nominative and neuter nouns (there are very few animate neuter nouns, to which the rule doesn't apply, as for all I know).
     

    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'm sorry but such basic things can be learned by simply typing "russian animacy" in Google. There's nothing meaningful I can add.
    ok, I did a google search for "russian animacy":
    https://www.google.ru/search?client...rceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&channel=suggest
    the top result in that search was this page:
    http://www.study-languages-online.com/russian-animate-inanimate.html
    unfortunately it says that, I quote:
    - For animate referents, the accusative forms are identical to the genitive forms (Acc=Gen).

    - For inanimate referents, the accusative forms are identical to the nominative forms (Acc=Nom).

    Only first declension masculine nouns and plural nouns are considered and no mention is made of nouns that belong to other declensions.
    So Angelo di fuoco, for example, was able to add something meaningful to the results of the quick google search that you suggested.
     

    Aj57

    New Member
    So, let me see if I understand correctly. If not feel free to correct me. I would say:
    я забыю его имя. (I forget his name.) забыть is it happens?
    я забывю что ты говорил. (I am forgetting what you said.) забывать is the action or process?
     

    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'm forgetting his name -> я забываю его имя.
    I forgot his name -> я забыл его имя.
    it's important to remember that the Russian perfective and imperfective aspects do not correspond to the English simple and progressive aspects.
    Thus, for example, in Russian imperfective verbs are used for repeated regular actions. For instance:
    I often forget names - я часто забываю имена
    Perfective verbs are only used in the past and the future because they denote finished one-off actions:
    я забуду твое имя - I will forget your name
    я забыл о чем ты говорил - I forgot what you were talking about.
     

    rusita preciosa

    Modus forendi
    Russian (Moscow)
    So, let me see if I understand correctly. If not feel free to correct me. I would say:
    я забыю его имя. (I forget his name.) забыть is it happens?
    я забывю что ты говорил. (I am forgetting what you said.) забывать is the action or process?

    I suggest you take the verbs забыть and забывaть and write down the full conjugation in all 3 tenses. A good excersise to understand the conjugation (BTW, you will find that perfective verbs do not have present tense). In addition, I would follow Maroseika's advice and look up prefective vs. imperfective aspect - it seems like you need to understand the basics first before you get into the detail of a particular pair of verbs.

    To answer your question, the difference between забыть and забывaть (and between any perfective and imperfective verbs) very much depends on the context. Sometimes they do indicate a finished action vs. action in progress, but not always.
     

    Aj57

    New Member
    I suggest you take the verbs забыть and забывaть and write down the full conjugation in all 3 tenses. A good excersise to understand the conjugation (BTW, you will find that perfective verbs do not have present tense). In addition, I would follow Maroseika's advice and look up prefective vs. imperfective aspect - it seems like you need to understand the basics first before you get into the detail of a particular pair of verbs.

    To answer your question, the difference between забыть and забывaть (and between any perfective and imperfective verbs) very much depends on the context. Sometimes they do indicate a finished action vs. action in progress, but not always.

    Unfortunately we were only given the words without their conjugation. It, from my understanding, is a lesson on the difference between perfective and imperfective cases. I realize I used the wrong conjugation of забывaть and saw that I mixed the two up as henrylee100 said
     

    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Unfortunately we were only given the words without their conjugation. It, from my understanding, is a lesson on the difference between perfective and imperfective cases. I realize I used the wrong conjugation of забывaть and saw that I mixed the two up as henrylee100 said
    Well, understanding of Slavic verbal aspects takes much more time than one lesson or a few lessons (this is very much true for speakers of both Romance and Germanic languages, like English, because your language expresses itself in quite other ways, not using verbal aspects, and so you do not have examples of its use "in heart"; I do not know for speakers of other languages). In the first lesson you just become aware of the concept, so that further you can know it is important and study examples in highly developed contexts (a paragraph or so, sometimes more), getting to feel where to use one aspect and where to use the other.

    Why in highly developed contexts? Because different languages take very different ways to establish links inside a text; that is, direct one-to-one translation between languages is impossible, every language expresses the world in a very incomplete way, and different languages choose different parts of the world to be explicitly worded. And so, getting an answer for the question "Do I translate 'я забывал' as 'I forgot', 'I have forgotten', or 'I was forgetting'" is impossible — it may be any, depending on what is the whole paragraph about, you do not have one-to-one correspondence.

    So, you will have to learn new concepts just through getting exposed to examples of their usage (relatively long ones), there is no other way. ::
     

    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    another two kopeks from Y.T.
    Actually the concept of verb aspects is not alien to English.
    English actually has a whole four aspects as opposed to just two in Russian.
    In English we've got:
    to go - simple aspect, the action in the most general sense
    to be going - progressive aspect,
    to have gone - perfect, a.k.a. retrospective/before/looking back aspect
    to have been going - basically a combination of the two previous aspects.
    And unlike Russian all the four aspects in English can be used in any time to build tenses (where tense = aspect+time) and with any modal thus you can say things like
    She may have been going there
    he will have gone by the time we get there
    she had to be doing something wrong
    etc.
    The problem is that in Russian there are just two aspects and they work differently than the four aspects in English.
    In a nutshell, the imperfective aspect in Russian denotes actions in general and unfinished actions while the perfective aspect denotes one-off completed actions in the past or in the future. If anything, it's a simpler system than in English, at least in theory. In practice, you just need time and lots of practice to get the hang of it.
     

    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    The problem is that in Russian there are just two aspects and they work differently than the four aspects in English.
    Therefore, it's alien, at least alien enough so that it's not good to rely on accidental similarities. :) But it's just a question of words and terms, of course.

    Just my three dinars.
     

    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Therefore, it's alien, at least alien enough so that it's not good to rely on accidental similarities. :) But it's just a question of words and terms, of course.

    Just my three dinars.
    common, you know what I meant.
    The concept of aspects isn't alien, it is the Russian verb aspects themselves that are alien.
    I also don't think that the similarities I was talking about are accidental. The verb aspects in both languages are based on the same principle: rather than simple name the action, you change the form of the verb to provide some additional information about the action, like, whether it's finished, or in progress or whether it's been going on over a period of time between now and some point in the past and so on and so forth.
     

    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    The concept of aspects isn't alien, it is the Russian verb aspects themselves that are alien.
    Yes, I am Ok with this formulation. ;-) My remarks were just practical, so I paid more attention to differences that have to be dealt with and are hidden at first, than to similarities, that are seen at once. You know, people often get unnecessarily confused when they rely too much on some predefined knowledge, conditioned by their native language.

    Besides, while I agree that expressing different real characterstics of actions depends on verbal aspect in Russian too, I think that such dependance is not systematical in Russian, unlike in English. In English, you have one tense for expressing progressing actions, another tense for expressing actions that have effect specifically now, a third tense to express mere statements that some action happened, etc. In Russian, all that seems to be at random and confusing, if you look at it this way. I think, this is because in reality the Russian aspect primarily is needed to express looking at the same situation from different aspects, and in this area it is pretty systematic (actually I read about it in a printed encyclopaedia, but I observed it myself, too), and the differences in the factual meaning are only secondary, thus random. So it is another difference, I'd say, a conceptual one, from English.

    And yet another difference I didn't mention is that, while in English there is a perfect correspondence between different forms of the same verb, there is no such in Russian: there is a plenty of different ways to form various perfective verbs from imperfective ones and vice versa, not every imperfective verb has a perfect perfective match and vice versa, but many imperfective verbs have a lot of imperfect perfective matches. So it's safe to say that, in Russian, verbs are just classified into two categories: perfective and imperfective ones, and then conjugated for tenses, two tenses for perfective verbs and three tenses for imperfective ones. Unlike in English, where every verb is just conjugated into forms.

    Sure, in both languages you do something to verbs in order to get some variation, this is common between the two languages; and sure, there are some coincidences between ideas, it couldn't be otherwise because the world is the same and we people are the same, humankind. But the differences are here, too, and they are important.
     
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    Estuardo

    New Member
    English
    Can I assume the English perfect and pluperfect tenses (even in their progressive forms ,has been ...ing,had been ....ing) are translated by the perfective ? Or is that just too simple ?

    Winter was setting in Imperfective
    Winter has (had) set in perfective
    Winter had been setting in ??

    Наступала зима
    Наступила зима
     

    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Can I assume the English perfect and pluperfect tenses (even in their progressive forms ,has been ...ing,had been ....ing) are translated by the perfective ? Or is that just too simple ?
    This is too simple. In fact, I think there is no correlation in usage when comparing the English perfect tenses and the Russian perfective aspect:
    "Yes, I have watched this movie" => - "Да, я смотрел это кино"
    "I have watched this movie yesterday, and I think it's not the best movie of its kind" => - "Я посмотрел это кино вчера, и я думаю, что бывают фильмы получше"

    The only rule that works almost always is that the past progressive (as well as the future progressive and, surely, the present progressive and the simple present) is translated in Russian with imperfective verbs (because English uses past progressive exactly to describe conditions and situations of the longing nature). The same applies to the Romance imperfect tense, by the way, which is used to describe conditions and backgrounds (at least, in French and Italian). And the reverse is not true (so imperfective verbs can be translated in English with verbs in various tenses, including present and past perfect tenses and simple tenses).

    I think that the perfect progressive form should normally be translated with imperfective verbs ("Зима наступала две недели кряду, и мы отчаялись уже было понять, какое сейчас время года, когда восемнадцатого утром ударил настоящий мороз"), when the "progressive" nature of the situation is the most important one, but I would not postulate this as a rule, because I remember that similar constructions sometimes are just paraphrased (I cannot now remember the examples I thought of, unfortunately :-( ).
     
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    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Can I assume the English perfect and pluperfect tenses (even in their progressive forms ,has been ...ing,had been ....ing) are translated by the perfective ? Or is that just too simple ?

    Winter was setting in Imperfective
    Winter has (had) set in perfective
    Winter had been setting in ??

    Наступала зима
    Наступила зима
    English perfect tenses have a range of uses that are not at all perfective.
    For example:

    I have known her for ten years.
    I have come here every day for the past two months

    Both these examples would be translated into Russian with imperfective verbs, probably in the present tense. (an on-going situation).
    This is actually a quite common misconception about English perfect tenses.
    The name 'perfect' in the case of the English perfect tenses is historical and a bit of a misnomer as these tenses are used quite often to describe situations that are still on-going.

    When it comes to translation there are usually no hard and fast rules for mapping specific grammatical structure from the source language to some specific structures in the target language. The progressive tenses in English are an exception as most of the time you can safely translate them using Russian imperfective verbs.
     

    Estuardo

    New Member
    English
    Thanks for the answers. As a general rule then any progressive verbal idea with imperfective .
    I'm struggling with the Imperatives atm.I can work them out 'mathematically',however there would be some long pauses in speech while my poor brain searches for the right form. Is it not possible in Russian to use the infinitive as an imperative as in some other languages ? At least in everyday speech ?
     

    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    English perfect tenses have a range of uses that are not at all perfective.
    ... but are instead 'perfect'. I'd say that the difference is that the English present perfect tense means that something, having happened in the past, is especially important for the present (that's why the tense is called 'present'), and it is not said how we would consider what happened and whether that thing is still happening — it's just unimportant for the concept of the tense and can be either way; whereas the Russian perfective aspect means that, whatever happened, the most important aspect of what happened are the changes that the action brang into the world, the action's local consequences being considered in the time right after the action, but whether the action has a special relation to the present is unimportant and unexpressed, so the perfective aspect is not at all 'perfect'. Another difference is that a 'perfective' action, being considered as an effectively structureless point in the time, is finite and cannot take place now (because it cannot 'take place' by definition, its nature is that it can only happen and be noticed, but not take place; points do not occupy area). Therefore, it is already finished if used in the past tense (which is not necessarily the case for 'present perfect' actions).

    As for the infinitive as an imperative, it's possible, but surely not in everyday speech, because it sounds really rude. But I'd suggest discussing this topic somewhere else :) .
     
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    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    ... but are instead 'perfect'. I'd say that the difference is that the English present perfect tense means that something, having happened in the past, is especially important for the present (that's why the tense is called 'present'), and it is not said how we would consider what happened and whether that thing is still happening — it's just unimportant for the concept of the tense and can be either way; whereas the Russian perfective aspect means that, whatever happened, the most important aspect of what happened are the changes that the action brang into the world, the action's local consequences being considered in the time right after the action, but whether the action has a special relation to the present is unimportant and unexpressed, so the perfective aspect is not at all 'perfect'. Another difference is that a 'perfective' action, being considered as a mostly structureless point in the time, is finite and cannot take place now (because it cannot 'take place' by definition, its nature is that it can only happen and be noticed, but not take place; points do not occupy area). Therefore, it is already finished if used in the past tense (which is not necessarily the case for 'present perfect' actions).


    As for the infinitive as an imperative, it's possible, but surely not in everyday speech, because it sounds really rude. But I'd suggest discussing this topic somewhere else :) .

    Well, strictly speaking the 'perfect' aspect in English is a 'before'/retrospective aspect that simply looks back at the period of time between the finite form of the auxiliary verb 'have' and some specific or indeterminate point before that point in time. In the case of the present perfect, the event/action/state denoted by the present perfect is relevant to the present because we're looking back at the entire period of time before now. Sometimes it can be relevant in the sense of still happening or still being the case. Think about how in English if you want to know how long someone has had their new car, you ask them about it using a present perfect verb - how long have you had this car? Again the idea is that we're looking back at the period between now and the time the new car was bought.
    Russian simply doesn't have anything remotely similar to the English perfect tenses.
    And English doesn't have anything like the Russian perfective aspect.
    To me the key idea of the perfective action is 'completion'. An action denoted by a perfective verb is perceived as being completed in time.
    When you promise someone that you will do something you use a perfective verb in Russian:

    Я сделаю это

    because you want to stress that you will get it done.
    It's not exactly the same as saying I will have done it in English. In English that would imply some point in the future by which you promise to have it done. In Russian no such future reference point is needed, because the focus is on the idea that you will start doing it and do it all the way until it's done, as opposed to simply being doing it at some point in the future.
     
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    Estuardo

    New Member
    English
    Yes I realise this thread does not refer specifically to imperatives but the imperfective/perfective situation still applies.
    For instance in one course I use ,passengers are helping each other buying tickets on a bus.USSR era.
    In one sentece someone says...
    Опустите,п,деньги
    But a few sentences later..
    Не опускайте пять копеек
    So perfective then impefective imperatives being used for the apparent same sort of action.
     

    Syline

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes I realise this thread does not refer specifically to imperatives but the imperfective/perfective situation still applies.
    For instance in one course I use ,passengers are helping each other buying tickets on a bus.USSR era.
    In one sentece someone says...
    Опустите,п,деньги
    But a few sentences later..
    Не опускайте пять копеек
    So perfective then impefective imperatives being used for the apparent same sort of action.
    The second imperative sentence is negative, that's why the imperfective form is used.
     

    e2-e4 X

    Senior Member
    Русский
    An action denoted by a perfective verb is perceived as being completed in time.
    I agree (and I agree with your explanation of English perfect tenses, that was very interesting, thanks!). With the exception that for me it's not the key idea, but just a consequence. The only thing that I would like to add is that we must be careful when thinking what exactly will be completed. For example, "я сделаю это" may mean that the thing will be completely done, almost done, or done for a half:

    - Переписал?
    - Да, наполовину.

    Well, the 'half' is of course completely done. And when someone says that "он пошёл в канцелярию", that means exactly that the point of time in which he started going is over, and nothing else. The same holds for "Армия вышла из города": even if it took a few days or even weeks for the army to be out, it doesn't really matter for what is said, what happened is for the speaker effectively a point in time, otherwise he would say "Армия выходила из города", which means the same situation in the past, but considered differently.
    Yes I realise this thread does not refer specifically to imperatives but the imperfective/perfective situation still applies.
    For instance in one course I use ,passengers are helping each other buying tickets on a bus.USSR era.
    In one sentece someone says...
    Опустите,п,деньги
    But a few sentences later..
    Не опускайте пять копеек
    So perfective then impefective imperatives being used for the apparent same sort of action.
    Yes, that was what I have been saying in this thread — that the sort of action is the same in both cases, you just look at it in different ways. When you look at the situation of dropping the coin, you're interested to know what changed in the world (the ticket is bought); and when you look at the situation of not dropping the coin, then nothing interesting really changes, and you're rather interested to know why one shouldn't drop the coin into the slot, what is the nature of the situation that takes place.

    Using the analogy of a castle, with the Russian aspects you look at the same castle from different sides and see different things, and with the English tenses you consider different castles — for example, that one which really matters for you now (a 'perfect' castle), or that one which continues to be green (a 'continuous' castle).

    Of course, this is an ideal case; as any perfective verb is a different lexical unit than a 'corresponding' imperfective one and viceversa, there can be always some slight (or not so slight) variations in meaning, different for different verb pairs and contexts.
    The second imperative sentence is negative, that's why the imperfective form is used.
    This rule doesn't work just always, but sure there is a tendency as Estuardo had noticed...
     
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    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    Yes, I agree. Russian Perfective and Imperfective forms don't have that much to do with English Perfective forms, in most cases, so it is probably better to study them as a separate phenomenon. It might be more confusing to compare them with the English forms.
     

    henrylee100

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes, I agree. Russian Perfective and Imperfective forms don't have that much to do with English Perfective forms, in most cases, so it is probably better to study them as a separate phenomenon. It might be more confusing to compare them with the English forms.
    the thing is verb aspects in English and in Russia are the exact same phenomenon at their, it's just that this phenomenon manifests in very different ways in the two languages.
    Russian nouns and English noun also work in very different ways from each other, yet everybody recognises the fact that in both languages we're dealing with nouns and we start from there.
     

    yakor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Забывать-глагол несовершенного вида (что делать?)
    Забыть -глагол совершенного вида (что сделать?)
    Они говорят об одном и том действии. Кто-то что-то упустил, упустит, может (что сделать?) упустить из поля зрения(совершенный вид). Или упускал, упускает или будет упускать (несовершенный вид) .
     
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