--- Henrik Theiling <[log in to unmask]> skrev:
> Hi!
> 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'.
I think it is something like that in some cases, but
Russian 'a' is much weaker than 'aber'. It is
something between 'und' und 'aber'. For ex:
- On khorosho govorit po-russki. A on frantsus !
- (He speaks Russian well. Yet he is French).
In French, we can say:
- Il parle bien russe. Et il est Francais !
If we want to insist on the apparent contradiction,
then we will say:
- [Et] pourtant il est Francais !
but that's already stronger than the original 'a'.

Also in sentences like:
- A on uzhe priekhal ?
I don't know at all how to translate this into French.
In English, it could be:
- So he did come already ? or: Well, he already did
come ?

- On lezhit, a ona stoit
- He's lying, while she is standing
- Il est couché, et elle [est] debout (here, 'et'
could be all right; 'alors qu'elle est debout' would
be clumsy and too strong)
- In "Er liegt, aber sie steht", "aber" would be too
strong and inappropriate here (probably: doch sie
steht ? oder 'weil sie steht' ?)

- President Bush umer (President Bush died [just
suppose...] )
- A kto eto skazal ? [But] who said that ? ('but'
again too strong)

I guess in many cases, 'A' is used in Russian at the
beginning of a sentence, just to make a transition, or
even to introduce a new idea, without having a real
meaning (well, so, by the way). In other cases, it can
be translated by "and", "but", "while", "yet"...

By the way, I came upon an interesting case on my
Norwegian Yahoo:

"Denne meldingen har ikke flagg".
(This message has no flag)

In French (if I may call that French) we would say:
"Ce message n'a pas de flag". But if I had to
retranslate it into Norwegian, without knowing the
context, I would incline to say:

"Denne meldingen har *ingen* flagg".

and that, I guess, would be false, because a message
can only have one flag, if any. In French, again, that
could be 'Ce message n'a aucun drapeau', meaning, it
could have one or several, but it actually has none. I
understand that "ikke" is the negation of the verb
"har" (or of the phrase "har flagg"), while "ingen"
would be the negation of the noun "flagg" (?):

This message "hasn't flag" vs
This message has "not any flag"

This is subtle indeed...

Philippe Caquant

Ceterum censeo *vi* esse oblitterandum (Me).