Sunday, August 16, 2009

a copular verb in the present tense

Elizabeth Bear (1:01:28 PM): ...does anybody know how Russians punctuate dialogue?

Leah Bobet(1:04:39 PM): I do not, sorry.

Bear (1:05:28 PM): I have learned that Russian lacks a copular verb in the present tense, and so it may be indicated by a dash.

Bear (1:05:39 PM): IE, they have no equivalent of "to be."

Bear (1:06:17 PM): I am a jelly doughnut, then, in Russian becomes I -- jelly doughnut.

Bear (1:06:34 PM): Aha!

Bear (1:07:15 PM): They use a combination of the dashes and the guillemets

Bear (1:07:17 PM): win!

One wonders how one translates "To be or not to be" or "I think, therefor I am," into Russian., here's a webpage on domovoi....


  1. Interestingly, Klingon also lacks the verb "to be".

    When I was in junior high we had a Create-A-Language project (which I think is awesome even today.) Every student had to create their own language, alphabet, etc. My language also lacked the verb "to be" (before I knew that either Klingon or Russian was the same), but possessed a verb for "to not be"; my explanation (I was in Grade 7 at the time) was that they considered "being" to be such a fundamental concept in existence that they only felt a need to comment on things "not being". If they had to express something as "being" they did so by saying "not not being."