Philippe Caquant <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> In Russian, using 'a' instead of normal 'i' (for:
> 'and') is very usual. It normally denotes a slight
> opposition ('but' being 'no', strong opposition). It
> can sometimes be translated into French by 'tandis
> que' (while, whereas). In many cases where the French
> would use 'et', it would be incorrect to use 'i' in
> Russian, like in sentences like: "Je pars. Et toi ?"
> (I'm going. What about you ?) ([And you ?])
> Si it's a pity to lose all these nuances and to have
> to use periphrases to express them, IMO.

In German, there are two words for 'but': 'aber' and 'sondern'.  The
difference ist obvious for Germans when they learn that English has
only one word.  Some shade is lost in translation. 'sondern' would
be something like 'but instead':

a) 'Ich hab  kein Auto, aber ein Fahrrad.'
    I   have no   car   but  a   bicycle.

    I don't have a car, but I have a bicycle.

b) 'Ich hab  kein Auto, sondern     ein Fahrrad.'
    I   have no   car   but-instead a   bicycle

    No, I don't have a car, but I have a bicycle instead, ok?

b) stresses the fact that a bicycle is a full substitute for a car (in
this and many other cases one could interpreted some indignation in
the sentence) while a) is more neutral.

The 'a' vs. 'i' difference in Russian, when I came accross it,
reminded me of 'aber' vs. 'sondern'.