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Lesson Transcript

Oksana: [Всем привет! Я Оксана.]
Eddie: Eddie here. Lower Intermediate Series Season 1, Lesson 16. The fourth mini-set of five lessons. This is our fourth story in this season.
Oksana: So we’ve already been through some family problems, health issues and relationship makeups. Now it’s time to get serious.
Eddie: Yeah, time to get to business. And in our case, this should be understood literally. The next five lessons will take place in the office of a Russian company, and if you’ve ever worked in an office you know what it’s like. It’s got its own life, atmosphere…
Oksana: Problems with the boss, colleagues talking behind your back, just ordinary things which are a part of any office life. Or better to say, any group of people where more than two people are involved.
Eddie: Seems like you got some experience in that.
Oksana: I worked in a women’s team before. I hope it says something. You’re lucky you’re a man, Eddie.
Eddie: Oh, I know that. Anyway, let’s listen to the dialogue and find out what happened in this particular office. Our characters will be a boss and one of his employees, Ivan. Let’s listen to the conversation.
Oksana: Иван, Вы опять опоздали. Вы каждый день опаздываете, и каждый день у Вас новая причина!
Eddie: Сегодня я просто проспал... Но вчера я работал до двух часов ночи!
Oksana: Мила видела, как Вы уходили из офиса в 8 вечера.
Eddie: Я работал дома…
Oksana: А почему от Вас пахнет алкоголем?!
Eddie: Once again, more slowly
Oksana: Еще раз, медленнее. Иван, Вы опять опоздали. Вы каждый день опаздываете, и каждый день у Вас новая причина!
Eddie: Сегодня я просто проспал... Но вчера я работал до двух часов ночи!
Oksana: Мила видела, как Вы уходили из офиса в 8 вечера.
Eddie: Я работал дома…
Oksana: А почему от Вас пахнет алкоголем?!
Eddie: Once again with a translation.
Oksana: Еще раз, с переводом. Иван, Вы опять опоздали. Вы каждый день опаздываете, и каждый день у Вас новая причина!
Eddie: Ivan, you are late again. You are late every day, and every day you come up with a new excuse!
Oksana: Сегодня я просто проспал... Но вчера я работал до двух часов ночи!
Eddie: Today I just overslept... But yesterday I worked until two AM!
Oksana: Мила видела, как Вы уходили из офиса в 8 вечера.
Eddie: Mila saw you leaving the office at eight PM.
Oksana: Я работал дома…
Eddie: I worked at home…
Oksana: А почему от Вас пахнет алкоголем?!
Eddie: And why do you smell like alcohol?!
Oksana: Ok, Ivan is a bit stereotypical of a Russian worker, but I think this type of attitude to work was much more common in the soviet times.
Eddie: Well, there were no private enterprises and no matter how well you worked you got the same salary as anyone else. With such a motivation killer no wonder they were all drunk and late for work.
Oksana: Times have changed, but the habits remained. Let’s hope Ivan is more the exception than the rule in nowadays business world. Maybe he’s not that bad after all. Sometimes smart people are absent-minded and disorganized.
Eddie: Well, if you’re talking about crazy geniuses, then yes, a lot can be forgiven. But if you’re part of a team in a company, you have responsibilities, people rely on you. And this soviet attitude doesn’t exactly help Russian business bloom. But let’s stick to the language aspect of this lesson. First the vocabulary.
Ok, let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson. The first word is…
Oksana: [Начальник]
Eddie: Boss.
Oksana: [Начальник]
Eddie: The next word is…
Oksana: [Подчиненный]
Eddie: Subordinate.
Oksana: [Подчиненный]
Eddie: Next.
Oksana: [Опоздать]
Eddie: To be late.
Oksana: [Опоздать]
Eddie: Next.
Oksana: [Причина]
Eddie: Reason, cause.
Oksana: [Причина]
Eddie: Next.
Oksana: [Проспать]
Eddie: To oversleep.
Oksana: [Проспать]
Eddie: Next.
Oksana: [Уходить]
Eddie: To walk away, to leave.
Oksana: [Уходить]
Eddie: Next.
Oksana: [Пахнуть]
Eddie: To smell.
Oksana: [Пахнуть]
Eddie: Next.
Oksana: [Алкоголь]
Eddie: Alcohol.
Oksana: [Алкоголь]
Eddie: Let’s have a closer look at some of the words and phrases from this lesson. First we had two words that are not even in our dialogue, but we found them necessary for you to remember because first they’re an essential part of the business topic we’re dedicating this mini-set of lessons to. And second, we should just know the names for the people we’re talking about here.
Oksana: Right, so we have two people, a boss and his subordinate. The word for the “boss” in Russian is [начальник]. And a “subordinate” sounds as [подчиненный]. There is another word we’ve learned before, [сотрудник]. It can be translated as “employee” in a context of [сотрудник компании]. For example, “a company employee”.
Eddie: But when you’re emphasizing the relationship of employee to a boss, you shouldn’t say [сотрудник] because it puts the boss on the same level as them.
Oksana: Yeah, so you can say [сотрудник компании] but you can’t say [сотрудник начальника] because it would mean “a boss’ coworker”. The primary meaning of [сотрудник] is “coworker”, remember?
Eddie: Right. So again, you can say [сотрудник компании] but not [сотрудник начальника], only [подчиненный].
Oksana: Next we have the verb for “to be late”, [опоздать].
Eddie: Very often it’s used with the preposition [на] which is “on”, but can be translated as “for”. For example, “to be late for something”. What can you be late [на], Oksana?
Oksana: [На работу] is one of the most common ones, I guess.
Eddie: In Russia, yeah. “Late for work”. What else?
Oksana: [Опоздать на автобус] “To be late for a bus” or “to miss a bus”. [Опоздать на встречу] “To be late for a meeting”.
Eddie: You shouldn’t be late without a good [причина] for that. I mean “a good reason”.
Oksana: Ivan must be pretty creative. He has [новая причина] every day.
Eddie: Yeah, after a while working in some boring office you get creative with such things.
Oksana: Not today, his creativity let him down eventually. He confesses [Я просто проспал].
Eddie: Literally “I simply overslept”. We only had to add the prefix [про] to the word [спать], “to sleep”, to get [проспать], “to oversleep”.
Oksana: He explains that with having had to work until 2 AM the day before.
Eddie: But a good boss always knows what’s going on in his company. That’s why he hired Mila, a secretary who doesn’t let any single little thing slip or be unnoticed in the office.
Oksana: Yes, she ratted Ivan out. She saw [как Иван уходил] and she told the boss.
Eddie: By the way, the word [уходить] means “to leave”, right?
Oksana: Yeah, you’re right. It’s just the word [ходить], “to go”, with the prefix [у] which changes “to go” into “to leave”.
Eddie: So Mila fixed the time he left, it was 8 PM, and the boss knows about that. Time to come up with another excuse.
Oksana: [Я работал дома.]
Eddie: “I worked at home.” That sounds like a lame excuse because no one in Russia takes work home. Well, except for teachers.
Oksana: How do you know? Let’s not generalize here and say that all Russians are lazy. I know a couple of accountants who took work home at least twice a year and worked days and nights.
Eddie: Which just says that they didn’t work enough during the year. And when the time of the end of the year reports come, they panic. “Oh my god, so much work! My boss is going to kill me if I don’t meet the deadline!”
Oksana: Ok, you seem like you know Russian-working realities better than I do. I won’t argue. So, just the moment when Ivan thought his excuse about working at home worked, the boss ruins all his hopes for getting away with being late. [Почему от Вас пахнет алкоголем?]
Eddie: “Why can I smell alcohol from you?” The word [пахнуть] is “to smell” but you can’t use it in the English meaning of “to smell something”, as the action from the first person. So you can also translate it as “to produce smell”.
Oksana: Yes, so [пахнуть] is only used to indicate a smell coming from some object or a person. And when you want to say that you smelled something, you should use the word “to feel”. [Чувствовать запах] literally “to feel the smell”.
Eddie: Oh, yeah. We should learn the noun for smell too. It’s quite different from the verb, which is [пахнуть], “a smell” is [запах], something Oksana just mentioned.
Oksana: Oh, I think we should also mention that a noun coming after the word [пахнуть] should be put into the instrumental case. Here are some examples. [Пахнуть духами]
Eddie: To smell like perfume.
Oksana: [Пахнуть мылом]
Eddie: “To smell like soap.” In the dialogue, it was [алкоголем]. I don’t think this word needs much explanation. “Alcohol” sounds the same even in Russia.
Oksana: Almost the same. [Алкоголь]

Lesson focus

Eddie: Grammar time. Today the focus of our attention will be on verbs. Our task will be to review the thing called aspects.
Oksana: It’s not something new to you. I'm sure you remember a lot from the beginner lessons, but still it never hurts to practice what you already know.
Eddie: So, unlike English, Russian language has only three basic tenses: present, past and future. But this simplicity in tenses is compensated for by such concepts as aspects.
Oksana: Yeah, we have two aspects: perfective and imperfective. Aspects are used to indicate if an action was completed successfully or is ongoing.
Eddie: To do this in English you can use the verbs like “had” and “have”. For example, in the phrase “I read”, the action is completed. However, in a phrase like “I have been reading” it is implied that the action is not yet completed. Aspects are used to illustrate this difference.
Oksana: That’s right. Oh, we should also mention that aspects are only used in the past and future tenses, and in the dictionary forms of the verbs. If you are talking about the present event, it’s obvious that the action is ongoing so you only use the imperfective for that.
Eddie: Yeah, so once again, imperfective aspect of the verbs indicates incomplete, ongoing, habitual, reversed or repeated actions. And perfective indicates actions that have been completed successfully. So every Russian verb has two forms and three tenses, is that right?
Oksana: Yes, almost every Russian verb has both aspects. There are normally two words for each verb indicating each aspects.
Eddie: Are there some rules or patterns we can use to easily switch from one aspect to the other?
Oksana: Well, often these two words are closely related and only different prefixes or suffixes, but sometimes they’re completely different. There are no strict rules for how to form the aspects, unfortunately.
Eddie: Well, in that case, we should just take the verbs from our lesson and try to understand the concept of aspect by analyzing those verbs at least.
Oksana: Yeah, that would be the best way. So here are the verbs. [Опоздали]
Eddie: You were late.
Oksana: [Опаздываете]
Eddie: You are late.
Oksana: [Проспал]
Eddie: I overslept.
Oksana: [Работал]
Eddie: I was working.
Oksana: [Видела]
Eddie: “She saw.” Let’s go over them one by one. The first word was “to be late”, right?
Oksana: Yes, and the dictionary form of the verb “to be late” is [опаздывать], but it can also be [опоздать].
Eddie: So you’re saying there are two dictionary forms for each verb. What should we look for in the dictionary then?
Oksana: Well, as we mentioned before, the dictionary forms of the verbs also come in two aspects, but I can’t really tell you which aspect to look for in the dictionary. Some dictionaries give both perfective and imperfective aspects of the verbs, some give only one form. Honestly, I don’t know why they chose one or another aspect.
Eddie: So basically you’re saying we have to learn both aspects at the same time, right?
Oksana: If you’re serious about Russian you should learn them anyway. The good thing is any good dictionary will always tell you which aspect the verb is used in and give you the other aspect right away.
Eddie: Ok, so back to our examples. The verb “to be late” was used in both aspects in our dialogue.
Oksana: The imperfective aspects [опаздывать] and the perfective one, [опоздать].
Eddie: So [опаздывать] is an imperfective verb which indicates ongoing or habitual action. Give us some examples, Oksana.
Oksana: [Я опаздываю на работу.]
Eddie: “I'm late for work.” Here we have an ongoing action like someone is on the way to work and he’s late.
Oksana: [Он всегда опаздывает]
Eddie: “He’s always late.” Just from the word “always” we can guess that the action is habitual, which tells us to use the imperfective form of the verb again. Next we have the word [опаздать], the perfective form of the verb “to be late”, which indicates a completes action. Let’s try using it in both future and past tenses.
Oksana: [Я не опоздаю в следующий раз]
Eddie: “I won’t be late next time.” We’re talking about one specific act in the future like “it won’t have happened” to be exact.
Oksana: [Он опять опоздал]
Eddie: “He is or he was late again.” – talking about one specific, completed action in the past.
Oksana: Next we have the verbs for “oversleep”. First I’ll just give you both aspects. [Просыпать] imperfective and [проспать], perfective.
Eddie: [Просыпать] is an imperfective verb which shows a regular action. It can’t possibly show us the ongoing action because you can’t be in a process of oversleeping, right? Oksana, give us an example.
Oksana: [Он часто просыпает работу]
Eddie: “He often oversleeps and is late for work.” Great. Now the word [проспать], a perfective verb which indicates that the action was performed once and successfully completed.
Oksana: No need to ask me again, yes, I will give you the examples. [Я проспал свою остановку].
Eddie: I slept through my stop.
Oksana: [Я опять проспал сегодня]
Eddie: “I overslept again today.” Thanks a lot. We have another couple of word pairs to compare, don’t we?
Oksana: Yes, we do. The verbs [работать] and [поработать], for example.
Eddie: [Работать] is an imperfective verb which indicates a process or a regularity of work. In the dialogue, Ivan was talking about a process. “I was working”, [Я работал]. Any more examples, Oksana?
Oksana: Sure. [Я работаю в банке]
Eddie: “I work in a bank.” - a regular thing.
Oksana: [Я буду работать допоздна сегодня]
Eddie: “I will be working late today.” - ongoing process in the future. And the perfective form of the verb “to work”, [поработать]. It means to do some amount of work, to complete some piece of work.
Oksana: But there is a little nuance about this word. The prefix [по] can also give a diminutive sense of the word “to work” and make it sound like “to work a little”.
Eddie: Oh, right. We mentioned it in one of our beginner lessons. The diminutive prefix [по], like in [попить, поесть], which mean “to drink a little”, “to have a bite”.
Oksana: Exactly. I’ll give you some more examples. [Мы сегодня хорошо поработали]
Eddie: We did a good job today. We worked well today.
Oksana: [Пойду, поработаю]
Eddie: “I’ll go and work a little.” Ok, let’s move on. We have another two pairs to take a look at.
Oksana: I think it’s just one, the verb “to see”, no? [Видеть] and [увидеть].
Eddie: Oh yeah, you’re right. We’re close to the end. So let’s start with the imperfective form of “to see”.
Oksana: [Видеть]
Eddie: This is an interesting word. It doesn’t indicate the process because there are separate words for that like “to look” or “to watch”, but rather indicates the ability or states the fact.
Oksana: Right, for example [Я ничего не вижу].
Eddie: “I can’t see anything.” - shows the ability or rather inability to see.
Oksana: [Я тебя видела вчера]
Eddie: “I saw you yesterday.” - makes a statement. And the perfective “to see”, [увидеть], indicates a short completed action like “to capture with your eyes”.
Oksana: Listen to the examples. [Она увидела его и потеряла сознание]
Eddie: “She saw him and fainted.” Obviously she saw him for a very brief moment.
Oksana: [Я ничего там не увидел]
Eddie: “I didn’t see anything there. Nothing specific.” If we talked about not being able to see anything [Я ничего там не видел].
Oksana: [Я тебя завтра увижу?]
Eddie: “Will I see you tomorrow? - in the future tense, [увижу] is the most commonly used form of this verb, in any case. That’s about it for the verbs for today. You might have understood everything we’ve talked about here but actually getting a feel for which aspect to use is something that can only come with practice. Believe me, I’ve been there.


Oksana: I think we had quite a lot of practice today.
Eddie: I’d say this lesson gave us a general idea about the aspects of Russian verbs. In the following lessons of this season, we’ll practice forming and using the verbs in both aspects a little more.
Oksana: Sounds good to me.
Eddie: That just about does it for today. Stay with us next time.
Oksana: [Всем пока!]