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Old 16th November 2009, 04:49 AM
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The perils of Russian plurals

A lot of IDNers have run into trouble with Russian plurals. In this message I'll explain why Google translate gives the wrong answer, and I'll give some hints on how to stay out of trouble.

The main reason Google gives wrong answers is that Russian grammar is, well, a bit unusual.

As an example, let's use the word dollar, which in Russian is доллар. IDNers would say that this is the stand-alone form, and grammarians would call it the nominative singular.

The Russian for dollars is доллары. Domainers might call this the stand-alone plural; grammarians call it the nominative plural. It corresponds to "dollars" or "the dollars", when used as the subject of a sentence.

But if you go to Google translate and translate dollars from English to Russian, you get долларов, which has the wrong ending. IDNers would say that this is a non-stand-alone form. Grammarians would call it the genitive plural.

Why did Google mess up? There's a reason...

Recall that the correct translation of dollars is доллары. But what happens in Russian if you have 2 dollars? Well, you have 2 доллара. Note the different ending. This form is what grammarians call the genitive singular (yes, that's right, 2 is followed by a type of singular). Same goes for 3 dollars and 4 dollars: 3 доллара, 4 доллара.

OK, that may seem strange, but we haven't actually gotten to the strange part yet.

In Russian, 5 dollars is written 5 долларов (there's that genitive plural that Google is so fond of). Likewise, 6 долларов, 7 долларов, all the way up through 20 долларов.

Anyone care to guess how 21 dollars is written in Russian?

That's right, it's 21 доллар (the nominative singular), because доллар has to be singular to agree with the 1 in 21.



So now imagine Google's problem. Their machines don't really understand language. Instead, they look at a bunch of parallel texts and try to find patterns. One pattern they notice is that after most numbers, "dollars" in English texts is translated as "долларов" in Russian texts. So Google's machines conclude that dollars = долларов.

So what's a poor domainer to do?

First, a rule of thumb: In Russian, stand-alone plurals end with а, я, ы, и, or (rarely) е. If it doesn't end with one of those, it might be a stand-alone singular, but it's not a stand-alone plural. But keep in mind that this isn't a guarantee of safety, non-stand-alone forms can also end with these letters. Also note that й is not и; stand-alone plurals don't end with й.

A handy resource for the words that it knows about is http://ru.wiktionary.org. In the text-entry box in the left column, enter your word (enter the stand-alone singular form in Russian; Google translate will probably give you the right form). If you are lucky, wiktionary will recognize your word. If it does, look on the right-hand side of the page, down toward the middle, for a table with 2 columns and 6 rows (not counting the row and column labels). This shows you all the forms of your word. The stand-alone singular is at the top of the left column; the stand-alone plural is at the top of the right column. Those are the two you need; the others should not be registered. Important note: don't just cut-and-paste the words from this table. Wiktionary helpfully puts accent marks on the words to help you pronounce them, but you don't want to register a word with accent marks; as with English, accent marks are only used only in Russian in dictionaries.

Hope this helps.

Avtal

P.S. I'm not a native Russian speaker; nowhere close. I hope some native speakers will add corrections and elaborations to this thread.
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Old 16th November 2009, 07:12 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

thanks Avtal, very interesting stuff.

I'm tempted to sticky this thread, before I do that, would a native speaker please comment on the above, even if just to say, yep agree.
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Old 16th November 2009, 09:27 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Czech does this sort of thing as well. Bloody confusing.
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Old 16th November 2009, 10:15 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha View Post
would a native speaker please comment on the above, even if just to say, yep agree.
It is correct. Also when using ru.wiktionary.org, one should be careful not to use the archaic forms of words, which will appear there sometimes. For example here: http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BC...BE%D0%BA%D0%BE.
The word "молоки" which appears there to be the multiple form of "молоко" is either archaic form, or applies to only one meaning of the word and not the most common meaning. Luckily in these cases these words will be shown with asterisk in front of them, or in red color, so u can identify them and double check.
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Old 16th November 2009, 11:24 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

thanks guys, reps added and thread stickied
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Old 16th November 2009, 10:20 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

so far, I haven´t found a site with correct information about plural forms of Russian words.

ru.wiktionary.org can come in handy in many cases, but you still need to be carefull and verify their suggestions.

for example I found there a couple of errors, like:
смех -> смехи
доброта́ -> добро́ты

those suggestions are wrong, because the words (смех, доброта) don't have a plural form at all.

thank you for your input, Avtal.
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Old 17th November 2009, 12:46 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Quote:
Originally Posted by rofsjan View Post
so far, I haven´t found a site with correct information about plural forms of Russian words.

ru.wiktionary.org can come in handy in many cases, but you still need to be carefull and verify their suggestions.

for example I found there a couple of errors, like:
смех -> смехи
доброта́ -> добро́ты

those suggestions are wrong, because the words (смех, доброта) don't have a plural form at all.

thank you for your input, Avtal.
As I just said one post earlier, there are cases when the words shown are archaic, or are used only for some specific meaning of the word which is not well known. These are exactly such cases, and so wiktionary shows them in red, and ads asterisk in front of those words(смехи, добро́ты). These are not mistakes, but rather not widely used(or not used at all nowadays) terms.
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Old 17th November 2009, 08:09 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Great post... Still trying to learn this stuff and keeping the Visa well tamed before buying.
Pretty sure I really screwed the pooch by buying украинские.com and золота.com
Probably both names that get passed around amongst beginning IDN'ers who are just learning and don't know any better :D

Oh well. Live and learn from the mistakes we make is the best way to go about it.

Last edited by CapeBrenton; 17th November 2009 at 08:14 AM..
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Old 17th November 2009, 08:57 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Thanks Avtal - very helpful post (this gives me some additional checks / ways to help to look out for the times that native speakers who give me a quick hand, don't miss anything).

Appreciated ... cheers - Asiaplay
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Old 17th November 2009, 10:57 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanakreon View Post
... so wiktionary shows them in red, and ads asterisk in front of those words(смехи, добро́ты). These are not mistakes, but rather not widely used(or not used at all nowadays) terms.
ok, another example. the word лень doesn't have plural form in Russian language.

but wiktionary shows a plural form ле́ни.
and wiktionary doesn't show that plural form in red,
and doesn't ad asterisk in front of that word.
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%8C

we are talking about Russian language as it is now,
not about what was in the past and is not usable anymore.
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Old 17th November 2009, 11:02 AM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Quote:
Originally Posted by rofsjan View Post
ok, another example. the word лень doesn't have plural form in Russian language.

but wiktionary shows a plural form ле́ни.
and wiktionary doesn't show that plural form in red,
and doesn't ad asterisk in front of that word.
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%8C

we are talking about Russian language as it is now,
not about what was in the past and is not usable anymore.
Probably got it out the CIA Fact Book again!
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Old 17th November 2009, 03:45 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

True, there is no plural for "лень".

I have altered the contents of the page now, so that it shows no plural form for "лень".

In fact the site is on wiki platform, so anybody can alter it. So probably there will be some mistakes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rofsjan View Post
ok, another example. the word лень doesn't have plural form in Russian language.

but wiktionary shows a plural form ле́ни.
and wiktionary doesn't show that plural form in red,
and doesn't ad asterisk in front of that word.
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%8C

we are talking about Russian language as it is now,
not about what was in the past and is not usable anymore.
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Old 17th November 2009, 03:53 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

WOW!
It seems that they changed it back.

The guy who changed it back says that in wiktionary they use a different definition of which words have plural forms..
Basically if it is theoretically possible for a word to have plural form, then even though if there was not even a single case that the word was used in such form, the form will be included into the table.

Then I guess this website might not be the best place for domainers to check words.
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Old 17th November 2009, 03:59 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Some other fucked up plural forms:
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%B4%D1%8C
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B3...81%D1%82%D1%8C
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B1...82%D1%83%D0%BC
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D1%86...B5%D0%BD%D1%82
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%A4...86%D0%B8%D1%8F
http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%98...BD%D0%B5%D1%82

So for example for a word "France", they will include "Frances" as a plural form, although probably noone has ever used that word. Or "coppers" for "copper".
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Old 17th November 2009, 04:32 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

музыки.com is one of my only Russian single word names....


I understand its plural nature, that it is searched 1/10 vs the singular.....

should a fair ROI..
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Old 17th November 2009, 04:48 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Sanakreon, thank you for your efforts.
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Old 18th November 2009, 03:47 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

One another thing,
Notice this auction: http://www.idnforums.com/forums/2398...m-russian.html
Apparently Jose saw that фирм.net is taken by native and so he decided that .com will have more or at least the same value.
It is true normally, but not in this case. The thing is that фирм together with .net makes sense, and can be translated as "there are no firms", as "net" means "no" in russian. But when coupled with .com, it has no sense. In fact there are many domain names that are built on this principle in russia, for example: zaycev.net is a website with 496 alexa rank, and ranked 23rd in russia according to alexa. The meaning together with extension is "there are no rabbits", but by itself "zaycev" can not be used standalone.

So u have to be careful, not all russian domains that have value in .net will have value in .com.
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Old 8th April 2012, 06:40 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Great info - thanks!

As a full time domainer for the past 6 years but only just turning my attention to IDNs, this stuff is confusing as hell...but interesting.

Wouldn't it just be easier to marry a Russian girl? The current wife only speaks English so maybe now while I'm just starting out might be a good time to think of a switch.
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Old 8th April 2012, 06:48 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesD View Post
Great info - thanks!

As a full time domainer for the past 6 years but only just turning my attention to IDNs, this stuff is confusing as hell...but interesting.

Wouldn't it just be easier to marry a Russian girl? The current wife only speaks English so maybe now while I'm just starting out might be a good time to think of a switch.
Hi welcome to the forum, nice to see you here (at last )

Russian is one hell of a complex language, if you spend enough time in the whois, you'll see people having sat on crap Russian typos for years without knowing it.
I really would suggest you work with a native, they are cheap to hire, or buy from a reputable source with a guaranteed translation... or get yourself a Russian bride, I hear you can buy them online too.
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Old 8th April 2012, 09:15 PM
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Re: The perils of Russian plurals

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha View Post
Hi welcome to the forum, nice to see you here (at last )
Cheers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha View Post
Russian is one hell of a complex language, if you spend enough time in the whois, you'll see people having sat on crap Russian typos for years without knowing it.
I really would suggest you work with a native, they are cheap to hire, or buy from a reputable source with a guaranteed translation... or get yourself a Russian bride, I hear you can buy them online too.
Reading between the lines, I'm guessing you've checked my sample domain from the forum sign up criteria, and think I need some help maybe, or am I being paranoid?
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