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Lesson Transcript

Zdrastvuite, Ya Svetlana! Welcome to Russianpod101.com’s Алфавит Made Easy!
The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn the Russian Cyrillic alphabet: the Алфавит!
In this lesson, we'll be learning about how the Russian punctuation system differs from English. First, I'll give you the good news: In general, Russian follows punctuation rules that are similar to English, so things like periods, semicolons, and exclamation points are more-or-less the same in Russian and we won't be discussing them in this lesson. Instead, we'll be focusing on the differences in the use of the em dash and the Russian equivalents for quotation marks.
First, let's see how the em dash is used in Russian. For those of you that don't already know, the em dash is the longer dash that looks like this in a sentence:
In English, this is not a very common grammatical symbol, but in Russian it is used quite frequently. Russian does not use a present tense “to be” verb like “am”, “is”, and “are”. Instead, it is very common to see the em dash used for short and direct sentences like the one we just saw. This indicates a level of strong connection.
Are you getting used to seeing accent marks? If so, you should have had no trouble reading the phrase as “Мой отец – врач.” We already know that Мой отец means “My father,” and the second half of the sentence, “врач,” means doctor. With the em dash, we are stating that “My father is a doctor”. Another use of the em dash can be in reported speech, and we'll go over that a little later.
Here's another example:
Одна́ голова́ -- хорошо́, а две – луч́ше
This is a simple proverb. “Одна́ голова́” means “One head,” and of course we know that “хорошо́” means “good.” “а две” means “but two,” and “луч́ше” means “better.” Doesn’t this remind you of “Two heads are better than one”? See how the em dashes are used to highlight the relationship between “one head” and “good,” and “but two” and “better”.
Great job. Next we'll look a bit at how Russians write reported speech. Instead of using quotation marks, we have to use an em dash here.
For example...
— Я тебя люблю! — сказал Виктор.
In this example, the em dashes offset “Я тебя люблю!” which means “I love you.” After the quoted speech we write ”сказал Виктор.” which means “said Victor”. So this is one way that Russians use em dashes to report speech in a written form.
Now we'll look at one last difference in Russian punctuation.
What about other instances where we use quotes in English? In English, we use quotation marks to set aside the name of something like a movie or book, and also to quote from other works.
In Russian, instead of using quotation marks, we use angled brackets that look like this around the quoted words or title:
Let's look at an example:
Я читал «Война и мир»
Here we see our trusty old friend “Я” which means “I”. Next is “читал”, which means “read,” and then the title of Tolstoy's most famous novel, «Война и мир», War and Peace. You can see how this is written using angled brackets, where in English we would use quotation marks.
Here's one final example:
Достоевский написал «Преступление и наказание».
Раскольников – главный герой романа.
Here we see both the em dash and the unusual angled brackets.
In the first line, hopefully you were able to pronounce and recognize that “Достоевский” is the famous Russian novelist, Dostoevsky. The next word is “написал” which means “wrote,” and finally «Преступление и наказание», his famous novel “Crime and Punishment.” Because it’s the name of the novel, we surround it with angled brackets.
The next line starts with “Раскольников”, which is a name, then “главный герой” which means “main character,” and finally “романа” which means “of the novel.” So the second line reads “Rasskolnikov is the main character of the novel.” In that sentence, you can see how the em-dash is used in the absence of a “to be” verb.
This series has gone by so fast! In the next and final lesson, we'll review everything that we have learned in this series, and by the end you will be able to write a sentence that uses every single letter of the Russian alphabet! In addition, we'll learn some fun idioms that you can use to impress your Russian friends! See you in the next Алфавит Made Easy lesson!
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