BARABTARLO.

One of the major Nabokov scholars these days is Gennady Barabtarlo, Professor of Russian at the University of Missouri, who studied Russian literature at Moscow University, got a PhD at the University of Illinois (his dissertation was on Pnin, which he has since translated into Russian), and has published poems and short stories alongside his articles on Nabokov; most recently, he has translated the posthumous semi-demi-novel The Original of Laura into Russian, in connection with which he was interviewed by Dmitri Bavilsky for Chastny Korrespondent. The most immediately striking thing about the interview (which was linked by Anatoly) is that Barabtarlo’s portion of it is in the old, prerevolutionary orthography (see this LH post, and note that the reform was actually promulgated by the Provisional Government in the summer of 1917, not by the Bolsheviks, which makes Barabtarlo’s position even odder than it would be anyway); he explains it thus (Russian below the cut):

It would help the rebirth not only of writing but of Russian civilization in general if there were an unconditional and decisive mass recoiling from everything produced by Soviet power, as people recoil with disgust from corruption [porcha] or infection, and this applies in the first place to speech in all its forms, including its written form (literary language is the last and least concern).

He has much more to say about translating in general and translating Nabokov, and I was greatly interested in his answer to the question “Which is closer to you, the Berlin Sirin [who wrote in Russian] or the American Nabokov, who wrote in English?” He begins by saying he doesn’t know any Russian emigrant—including Nabokov’s sister Elena, who knew English very well—who wouldn’t prefer the Russian Nabokov, “which is natural enough,” but goes on to say he himself believes the American Nabokov went farther artistically.
However, what concerns me at the moment is the name Barabtarlo: what is it from, and how is it pronounced? I say to myself /barab’tarlo/ (bah-rahb-TAR-low), but with very little confidence. The only thing I’ve found online is this brief Q&A, which says “On Ancestry.com, Barabtarlo turns up in listings as ‘Bessarabia (now Moldova).’ Many of them are identified as Jews.” My wild guess would be that it is derived from a Hebrew abbreviation, as the family name Barabash is from Ben Rabbi-Bunim Shmul, but I’d love to have something besides a wild guess to go on.

Помочь общему возрожденію не только словесности, но и вообще русской цивилизаціи могло бы безусловное и массовое отшатываніе рѣшительно отъ всего, произведеннаго совѣтской властью, какъ отшатываются съ отвращеніемъ отъ порчи или заразы, и это едва ли не въ первую очередь относится къ рѣчи, во всѣхъ ея формахъ, въ томъ числѣ и письменной (литературный языкъ — послѣдняя и наименьшая забота).

Comments

  1. Apparently Internet Explorer can’t reproduce “yat”s – I just get boxes. Anyone else have this problem?

  2. Vanya, if you mean the Russian in the above post, I just looked at it with IE in both Windows XP and Vista and see nothing unusual.

  3. Interesting—I opened it in IE and am getting boxes as well.
    The second letter in this word should be a yat: рѣшительно. Are you seeing the letter or a box, Nij?

  4. A letter. Screenshot in Vista.

  5. I got a letter in FF, IE and Chrome (Vista 64-bit, XP). What’s your setup, Vanya?
    As for the name, if it is indeed Jewish, here’s a wild guess:
    bar = Aramaic for ‘son’
    ab = Aramaic / Hebrew for ‘father’
    tar = Aramaic t’r ‘to notice, to understand’
    And that -lo could be either “his, to him” or the Slavic suffix. But here my judgment is clouded by the immediate association with another professor, Amvrosiy Ambroisovich Vybegallo from Monday Begins on Saturday – not that I’m making a comparison, far from it.

  6. You’ve left the URL out of your last link; I’ll be glad to insert it if you’ll tell me what it is.

  7. Several Windows Service Pack updates have become available in the last several days.

  8. michael farris says:

    I don’t know enough Russian (or about Russian) to have a justified opinion, but based on the very little I do know, I’d say that on linguistic grounds (as opposed to political ones as far as the two can be clearly distinguishedm there! enough hedges yet?) the ‘new’ orthography is better than the old no matter who came up with it. If anything I think it could have gone farther.
    But then as a fundamentally non-visually oriented person my preference is for writing and speech to go in roughly the same direction rather than in wildly different ones.

  9. An ignorant question: is the resemblance of “the family name Barabash” to the name of the NT Barabbas purely coincidental?

  10. Apparently so.

  11. I’ll look in A dictionary of Jewish surnames from the Russian Empire when I’m at the public library this weekend; Google Books won’t say more than that it’s in there.

  12. Thanks, all, for the advice, in Firefox I can see the ѣ just fine.

  13. When I first read the name (in the post) I inwardly pronounced: bar AHB tar loh.

  14. I’d guess the name derives from a local language, or at most something Turkish, like most Jewish surnames in that area. My grandfather, for instance, was a Jew born near Kishinev in the mid 1890s; his family name was Smid (which eventually was turned into Smith once he reached the USA). A name constructed from Aramaic would very exotic (sorry Bulbul); although something based on Hebrew acronyms might be plausible. (My other grandfather’s name was a acronym that is almost a word in its own right, Shatz (for shliach tzibbur, meaning the man who leads the congregational prayers in the absence of a formal cantor–which my grandfather often did, and apparently was something of a traditional function in his family.) Also remember that Jewish family names tended to be very fluid.

  15. Kutsuwamushi says:

    I say to myself /barab’tarlo/ (bah-rahb-TAR-low), but with very little confidence.
    I’ve never met him, but this is how I’ve heard it pronounced by people in his department. (I took Russian classes at MU.) Those were native English speakers, although some also spoke Russian very well.

  16. In Russian it looks like a composite of Бараб- and Тарло. As a composite it would have two stresses (pitches): Bah-RAB-tahr-LO with the stronger pitch on O. But of course surnames often change pronounciation when they go from one language to another.
    As for etymology, there is a well known Polish-Russian surname Tarlo, with Polish aristocrats linked to Marina Mnishek and a contemporary Russian lawyer. The word itself, I think, means ‘manger’. Baraba (Barabinskoye) is a village in South Urals, a crossing point between Europe and Asia in the region called Barabinskaya steppe.
    But isn’t it better to ask the man himself? he has a page on the university web-site?

  17. Barbabietola is one of the few words of Italian I know, it means beetroot, or beets. It stuck in my mind, and has been of little or no use to me over the years.

  18. something based on Hebrew acronyms might be plausible
    There are a lot more than I would have dreamed before I acquired Unbegaun’s book on surnames. A few more: Bash (Ben Shimeon), Katz (Kohen-Tzedek), Shats (Sheliah-Tsibbur), Barsak (Ben Rabbi Zalman Kalonimus), Magarshak (Morenu Ha-rab Rabbi Shelomo Kluger), Marshak (Morenu Rabbi Shelom Kluger).
    I’ve never met him, but this is how I’ve heard it pronounced by people in his department.
    Thanks very much! At least I know I’m in good company.
    But isn’t it better to ask the man himself?
    Not a bad idea; if MMcM doesn’t come up with the answer, maybe I’ll do that.

  19. Barabtarlo from the hyphenated surname Barab-Tarlo, which was found in Kiev. (Barbatarlo)

    Bagrov BenHoRaV [Hebrew] son of rabbi. (Barav (Baraf), Bogorov, Bogrov, Barov, Bovov)

    Tarlo from the townlet of Tarlo (Lubartów d[istrict] of Lublin gub[erniya]). (Tarle, Tarler, Tarlinskij, Terlo)

  20. Excellent! So I was right about the Hebrew acronym, for the first part, and Sashura was right about the Polish-Russian surname Tarlo (though I don’t know why he wants to stress the -o; Unbegaun gives the stress as TAR-lo, which of course is what it would be in Polish). So it’s ‘son of the Tarler rabbi.’ I thank you, sir.

  21. One final twist
    Bagrov BenHoRaV [Hebrew] son of rabbi. (Barav (Baraf), Bogorov, Bogrov, Barov, Bovov)
    I’ve been told (learned this when doing some genealogical research on my family) that the same Cyrillic letter was used to represent both the G and H sounds in Hebrew names–which is how the G would have gotten into “BenHaRav”. Thus, my grandmother’s family name was Hondleman (from the word “hondler”, meaning someone who “hondles” or trades)=Gondelman. This grandmother, btw, is the one who married my grandfather Smid, and in fact she too was from Moldava, so Gondelman/Hondelman is yet another Jewish Moldavan surname.

  22. why he wants to stress the -o
    I suggested this, because, if unstressed, the ‘o’ at the end would turn into ‘a’. But that’s in Russian, in English the drawled ‘o’ would still be heard. But I think you are right, look at this famous remark by academician Evgeny Tarle at the height of Stalin’s anti-semitic campaign: «…я не француз, а еврей, и моя фамилия произносится Тáрле». (I am not French, but Jewish, and my surname is pronounced TAR-leh).

  23. I’ll be glad to insert it if you’ll tell me what it is
    is it okay to use future after ‘if’? my school English stops me from doing this, but in a freely flowing conversation I’d do it without thinking.

  24. michael farris says:

    Yes, ‘will’ can follow ‘if’, but has a slightly different meaning, to me it indicates a kind of negotiation (or simple willingness on the part of the speaker) that’s absent in the forms without will.
    It’s also more colloquial (and not usually taught to learners, since it makes the whole conditional mess in English even more difficult).

  25. ah! thanks, I knew they were hiding something from us.

  26. as far as his interview is concerned, I think using pre-reform orthography is crude posturing. It is general knowledge that the reform was prepared well before the revolution, but it was associated with the new regime. Bunin, for one, complained about the new bolshevik rules.

  27. the same Cyrillic letter was used to represent both the G and H sounds in Hebrew names
    Yes, there is no /h/ in Russian (except in some southern dialects bordering Ukrainian), so foreign h gets rendered either g (traditional) or kh (modern, as in Khemingvei).
    I think using pre-reform orthography is crude posturing
    Well, posturing maybe, but “crude” seems unfair—how crude can a yat’ be?

  28. I agree with Sashura. What’s better about making people write ея for eё? Or ыя for ые? And all those i’s and yats and whatever. As the Russians say, cauchemar!
    (I knew one person in Russia who insisted on using the old orthography, a Serbian woman engagingly named Dragana Drakulić, whose social views were as reactionary as her orthographic ones.)
    That said, Barabtarlo’s main point is to reject all things Soviet, first and foremost, and rejection of orthography seems a natural corollary, however misguided it may be. He himself states that the written form of the language is the least of their worries, though, so why take the melodramatic step of using the old spelling? I think this is what Sashura means by crude — it’s not the letters themselves that are crude, but Barabtarlo’s (hopefully feigned) ignorance of the basic fact of language that writing systems are totally arbitrary. In other words, if the systems were reversed (with the yats et al. being associated with the Soviet Union) then he would be advocating the current system. That would at least have the saving grace of advocating a simpler system, but his proposal is a linguistic gesture on the level of a 15-year-old girl swearing never to wear purple again because the boyfriend who just dumped her gave her a purple scarf.
    That’s what’s crude about it.
    However, all of this is beside the point, since the country will never revert to the old spelling system, and Barabtarlo knows it perfectly well, making his gesture all the cruder for its emptiness.

  29. yat can’t be crude, shurly. are you pulling my leggings?
    the interviewer asks: why do you insist on using pre-reform orthogrpahy? and Barabtarlo says: Russian orthography is as natural to me as Soviet is to you.
    This is crude posturing to me. He can’t be much older or younger than me, or Vladimir Yakovlev, the founder of КоммерсантЪ newspaper, which took Ъ (yer – hard mark, not used at the end of words ending with consonants since the reform) as their logo. That was widely seen as styeb or posturing. And it started the new fashion of using pre-reform orthogrpahy for all sorts of emphatic purposes.
    I can’t believe pre-reform Russian is more natural to Gennady Barabtarlo, a native speaker, than Soviet (which it isn’t) orthogrpahy, much debated and continuously improved by the best brains in Russian (not Soviet) lingusitics before and after the revolution.

  30. Jeff Blakeslee says:

    You can hear Ivan Tolstoy say /barapˈtarla/ a number of times beginning around 13:20 in this Radio Svoboda program. (In case that streaming link doesn’t work here is the mp3). So there’s another Russian speaker comfortable with the accent where you have it.

  31. either g (traditional) or kh (modern)
    Харпо Маркс (“Exapno Mapcase”)

  32. I remember someone saying, and I think it was Nabakov or someone writing about Nabakov, that the letter theta was eliminated from the new alphabet, in part because it was used in so many obscenities. My source even said that the word “thetiuk” was used as an insult.
    Previous efforts have failed to confirm that this is true or even that it is a joke of Nabakov’s. So maybe I dreamed all this, thoug if so, that was quite a dream.

  33. Sorry, it was the literary language that he said is the least of their worries, and includes the written form of the language in the rejection of all that is putrid and infected.
    Anyway, the guy comes off as a kind of a kook in the interview, e.g., “…но главная въ томъ, что всякій настоящій писатель знаетъ, или по крайней мѣрѣ чувствуетъ, тончайшую, но ненарушимую связь между образомъ выраженія (въ его высшихъ формахъ) и правой рукой съ писчимъ инструментомъ въ трехъ пальцахъ.”
    (“… but the most important [reason Nabokov wouldn't have used computers or the internet] is that any real writer knows, or at least feels, an extremely fine but unbreakable link between the mode of expression (in its highest forms) and the right hand holding a writing instrument with three fingers.”)
    Uh-huh, right, yeah so “real” writers write by hand…
    Maybe it’s just me, but it’s seems par for the course for a guy who uses spellings like “орѳографически” and “каѳедрѣ” which are about as self-consciously attention-grabbing as you can get (his self-conscious denial of being conscious of this aside…) to indulge in sloppy phrasing like “писатель знаетъ [...] связь” (“a writer knows [...] a link”).
    Full disclosre: I can’t stand Nabokov’s writing, so in a way Barabtalo might actually be the ideal translator of his books, since his (Nabokov’s) writing rarely rises above superficial and self-regarding wordplay for me. (His stories are thin and his characters are one-dimensional.) A translator who reduces the entirety of the Russian language spoken today to “Soviet jargon” (from whose defiling clutches he’s saving Nabokov’s prelapsarian wordcraft) might possibly be exactly the kind of translator Nabokov would have wanted to translate his books.

  34. Regarding H as Г or Х: you can find both Гемингвей and Хемингуэй, but I doubt Гитлер or Гамлет will ever be respelled.
    But then again who knows. Language changes.

  35. Bunin, for one, complained about the new bolshevik rules.
    My Russian is poorer than it should be, but I happen to be familiar with Bunin’s Okayannye dni in the original language, and I’d like to have it recorded here how little this amazes me and how fully appropriate and in character I find this.

  36. letter theta was eliminated
    I think it was mostly because there was no distinct difference in pronounciation between Ф (F)
    and Θ (F-Th). It’s the obscene look of this letter, to those with dirty minds, (Dostoyevsky’s name begins with it), rather than its use that embarassed some. One of the most famous references is in Gogol’s ‘Dead Souls’.
    thetiyuk – фетюк just means dumbrain, dummy. It’s rarely used these days.

  37. As I remeber there was a lewd character resembling a theta in one of the ancient Chinese scripts.

  38. I can’t believe pre-reform Russian is more natural to Gennady Barabtarlo, a native speaker, than Soviet (which it isn’t) orthogrpahy, much debated and continuously improved by the best brains in Russian (not Soviet) lingusitics before and after the revolution.
    I second all of that, both the disbelief and the disagreement. That said, I can imagine how total immersion in the kind of die-hard nostalgic spirit that his specialty is steeped in can create this kind of bend in a sensitive soul… And someone who is a distinguished scholar of Nabokov just has to be original in some way, doesn’t he?

  39. the guy comes off as a kind of a kook in the interview
    Oh, absolutely! But as maxim so eloquently says, “someone who is a distinguished scholar of Nabokov just has to be original in some way, doesn’t he?” I find his quirks charming rather than repellent, sort of like Oscar Wilde’s ostentatiously foppish manner of dress. Certainly less off-putting than, say, Solzhenitsyn’s form of crankiness.

  40. Another thing that strikes me in Barabtarlo (and the orthographic peculiarity has almost made me forget it) is this:
    It would help the rebirth not only of writing but of Russian civilization in general…
    Surely this — Russian civilization — sounds too much like the post-soviet patriotic press (unless he means “civilization in Russia”, something the Russian original doesn’t seem to support). Next thing to expect is “Russian logic” or “Russian truth”… I know that this view has a long tradition, it’s just mildly surprising given whom it comes from; then again, maybe not.

  41. is it okay to use future after ‘if’?
    Sure, but the future tense in the protasis (the ‘if’ or dependent clause) will give a particular kind of tone to the whole statement.
    The “first conditional” often looks like this: If + [present tense], then + [future tense]. “If John comes, Bob will leave.” (Understanding that the future action/state of being in the apodosis can be expressed in a variety of ways.)
    Well, if you say, “If John will come, Bob will leave.”, you could easily be understood to be expressing either certainty (in a smug way) or, perhaps more likely, irritation. If you will continue to nag me, I won’t ever do it. – that kind of registering of information.
    It’s also important for learners – including those with native fluency! – to remember that conditional ‘rules’ are broken by native speakers for many reasons: creatively, ignorantly, tiredly, whyever.
    I think it’ll prove to be hard to find any language which isn’t plastic in this way: both coherent (‘ruled’) and constantly re-forming coherence as ‘rules’ are, in the pressure of “the imperfect [...] so hot in us”, broken.
    The imperfect is our paradise.
    Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
    Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
    Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.
    –Stevens, The Poems of Our Climate

  42. Re: kookiness — de gustibus no disputamos, but I don’t think it’s colorful eccentricity that turns me off so much as stubborn disconnectedness. Wilde and Solzhenitsyn at least were realists. This guy belongs to the class of pedant who mistakes his own pedantry for some kind of purism. Such “purists” proclaim allegiance to ideals which are largely of their own imagining, and when they implement those ideals the result is … well, just imagine the comments in the editorial office when this guy’s interview replies came back in the old spelling.

  43. Sounds like recent discussion about the highly unlikely possibility of China changing from simplified back to traditional characters. It still wouldn’t let you read the thousands of years of pre-20th century Classical Chinese literature, but somehow people still have the idea it would be classier.

  44. Actually, the simplified characters are, for the most part, based on “cursive” (草書) stroke order, so traditional characters are generally understandable to modern mainland Chinese. It’s the other way around (e.g., Taiwanese on the mainland) that problems arise. These days on the internet most sites can be converted between simplified and traditional with the click of a button, though, so I don’t know how that will affect things. Wikipedia has several traditional options.

  45. Solzhenitsyn’s form of crankiness.
    interesting you should mention Solzhenitsyn, because Gennady’s interview reminded me exactly of that crankiness which is so off-putting in S. I feel a nasty, menacing streak in his comments, not at all charming…
    Deadgood – thanks a lot for your essay on future.

  46. is it okay to use future after ‘if’?
    “If John will come, Bob will leave.”, you could easily be understood to be expressing either certainty (in a smug way) or, perhaps more likely, irritation. If you will continue to nag me, I won’t ever do it. – that kind of registering of information.
    In the above examples, “will” isn’t used as future–the meaning is more like “insist on”. If you want to write the above two phrases as future time clauses, you would write “If John comes, Bob will leave” and “If you nag me, I won’t do it”.
    According to Azar,

    “the simple present is used in a future time clause. Be going to and will are NOT used in a future time clause….When the meaning is future, the simple present (not be going to or will) is used in an “if-clause.”

    Example: Maybe it will rain tomorrow. If it rains tomorrow, I’m going to stay home. If + subject and verb = an “if clause“.

    If you want to see if “will” is being used for future tense here, try substituting be going to [ If John is going to come, Bob will leave.] and you find you have changed the meaning, and the sentence makes no sense. It’s not being used as future.
    Likewise with
    I’ll be glad to insert it if you’ll tell me what it is.
    “I’ll be glad to” is not “will” as future, but more like “I would be happy to insert it” or “I can insert it”. Again, substituting “I am going to be glad to insert it” makes no sense and tells you that “will” is not being used here as future, but probably more like meaning #1 here, “used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent”.
    The “I’ll be glad to” construction doesn’t sound strange to me at all; in fact, it’s been immortalized in the phrase “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

  47. michael farris says:

    nij, from a linguistic point of view trying to say that will after if isn’t a future tense is irrelevant. What’s important is that it exists (and I can’t help thinking that many analyses are simple wishes to explain it into non-existence).
    With conditionals, it’s important to remember that first and second etc conditionals are heuristic devices to help students and not necessarily any firm category in the language.
    I do think there are restrictions on will after if. I found some of deadgod’s examples to not work in my dialect:
    “If John will come, Bob will leave.”
    Is at best marginal.
    “If you will continue to nag me, I won’t ever do it.”
    This is flat out ungrammatical in my dialect. On the other hand
    “If you’ll stop nagging me, I’ll do it.” is perfectly fine.
    I think (without giving it too much thought) that the structure requires two conditions
    1. the first person needs to be involved in the second part, it needs to be something that the speaker either has control of or can guarantee.
    2. the first part has to be neutral or positive, some kind of good will offering or removal of an impediment. A negative stated condition blocks it for me.
    Also, for some reason only the ‘ll form in the first part works for me, ‘will’ as a separate word seems to block the construction somehow.
    If Sue’ll come here, Bob will give her the book (implied: I’ll see to it that he does).
    If they’ll just bring the report here, I’ll sign it.
    (counter examples will not exactly be welcomed, but will be grudgingly considered)

  48. I found some of deadgod’s examples to not work in my dialect
    I had to parse them several times to get them to work; they work only in spoken English if you emphasize “will”, i.e. “If John will come…”, meaning “if John insists on coming…” “if you will wear your overshoes in the house” and indicates disapproval of the activity at the same time that it points out the willfulness of engaging in it. I would argue that it’s an old usage.
    “will” after “if”
    The examples above all fall into the category of what Azar calls “polite questions”.

    People use would you, could you, will you, and can you to ask polite questions. The questions ask for someone’s help or cooperation….Answers to polite questions are usually affirmative.
    Would you please open the door?
    Could you please open the door?
    Will you please open the door?
    Can you please open the door?

    The Murphy purple breaks this down further:

    Offering to do something

    • That bag looks heavy. I’ll help you with it. (not I help)

      Agreeing to do something

      • A:You know that book I lend you? Could I have it back if you’re finished with it?
      • B: Of course. I’ll give it to your this afternoon. (not I give)

      Promising to do something

      • Thanks for lending me the money. I’ll pay you back on Friday. (not I pay)
      • I won’t tell anyone what happened. I promise.

        Asking someone to do something (Will you…?)

        • Will you please be quiet? I’m trying to concentrate.
        • Will you shut the door, please?

          for some reason only the ‘ll form in the first part works for me, ‘will’ as a separate word seems to block the construction somehow
          Works either way for me.
          I’ll be glad to insert it if you’ll tell me what it is
          A more natural construction for me would be “I’d be glad to…”(I would be glad to…). “I’ll be glad…” sounds very formal, tux as opposed to suit, as was probably the intention.

        • You’re welcome, Sashura.
          If you’ve followed Nijma and Michael’s posts, let me guide you through what I think of “If + [future tense], stimulated by them.

        • yes, I’m here and having read the explanations I can see why Hat’s blog has Language in it.
          Thanks a lot!

        • “the highly unlikely possibility of China changing from simplified back to traditional characters”
          What are you talking about? In the Republic of China they still use traditional characters. It’s only in the rebellious provinces on the mainland that simplified characters are used.

        • Heh. Back when I was in Taiwan, in the ’70s, they actually talked that way.

        • Japanese uses traditional characters too – no problem.
          There is an aspect to this which has long interested me: pictographic vs phonetic languages. Young people of the communist utopian future in Yefremov’s ‘Andromeda’ discuss the relative merits and disadavantages of the two types. Hierogliphs are understood by different people pronouncing them differently (Chinese vs Japanese) which is a great advantage. One disadvantage is that while you can understand characters (if you’d already learnt them), but you can’t speak them. While as in phonetic languages you can reconstitute the meaning – and communicate – by being able to read words and phrases (e.g. Slavonic languages) – and speak them. Of course, there are faux amis, but in general it is true, or is it?

        • Japanese uses traditional characters too – no problem.
          Not entirely Sashura. A lot of the Joyo Kanji (the 1,945 offical characters everyone has to know) have been simplified (“shinjitai” – but not always as simplified as the Mainland orthography, just to make it even more fun. For example, in Taiwan “country” is written 國 but in Japan and “Red China” it’s 国.
          There’s actually a good write up on Wikipedia – look up Shinjitai.

        • yes, I’ve just read the Wikipedia article on shinjitai, thanks.
          is it not fascinating how the thrust of reforms in Japan was similar to what had been driving Russian language reform – making the language more comprehensible to wider public?

        • Heh. Back when I was in Taiwan, in the ’70s, they actually talked that way.
          One of my friends there in 1983 denied that there existed such a country as Mengguguo (Mongolia).

        • In short, Nijma is wrong
          Oh, my, I hope no one thinks I just made that up out of the clear blue sky. I was citing someone else. The indented blockquote sections are direct quotations.
          Azar does not consider future and conditional to be the same thing. They are in separate chapters. The examples of “polite questions” are from a section titled “Asking for assistance: would you, could you, will you, can you” from the chapter on modal auxiliaries, again classified separately from both future and conditional.
          Murphy’s chapters are a bit more fluid about labeling, and I can appreciate here michael farris’s observation that “from a linguistic point of view trying to say that will after if isn’t a future tense is irrelevant.” Murphy merely describes each word’s usage, and notes things like present tenses being used with a future meaning (“Tomorrow is Wednesday.”)
          I don’t think it’s fair to say either author “makes rules” or “breaks rules”. They are just categorizing actual usage in a way that non-native speakers can get a handle on it.
          Deadgod’s latest examples don’t work at all for me, not even as colloquial, regional, or atypical examples. It’s definitely not my dialect, or any dialect I’m familiar with.
          I don’t usually use the “first, second, and third conditional” analysis, but for anyone who does find it helpful, here is an analysis of conditional clauses that includes a discussion of if after will.

        • Nijma, I meant the (unindented) “I’ll be glad to” discussion (after “Likewise with”), in which you (I think) write, “not ‘will’ as future” – which I’m pretty sure is wrong.
          That is: I’m telling you now that tomorrow let’s say I will be glad to do you that favor. The “will be [glad]” is a future tense indicating a future action / state of being.
          If I’m wrong about you being wrong, my ego would be salved only by its familiarity with the circumstance.

          The explanation / chart at that site is pretty useful. I’d definitely expand the EXCEPTION to the ‘if + [future tense]‘ ‘rule’.
          -
          I also think the “zero-degree condition” is actually a real “condition” – an expression of cause.
          Sashura, the “zero condition” is that of a generality, physical fact, or anything which is always true:
          If it‘s a Pinto, it‘s a dangerously crappy car.
          When water is chilled below 32 degrees F, it turns to ice.
          Whenever he sees her, his heart leaps.
          You see the pattern, right?: “If + [present tense verb], then + [present tense verb].” There’s as much a case of dependency, of ‘conditionality’, of the independent clause’s action on the dependent clause’s action as in any of the three ‘numbered’ conditions, as I see things.

        • deadgod, um, no, not really.
          To make this as simple as possible, breaking down the original sentence:

          [I'll be glad to insert it] [if you'll tell me what it is.]

          the two sections (both using “will”) have the following meanings:

          [Offering to do something] [polite request for assistance]

          So this is the answer to Sashura’s question: is it okay to use future after ‘if’?. You would ordinarily use “will” in what one grammarian calls “polite questions”, that is, questions that use would you|could you|will you|can you to ask polite questions, or as the other grammarian says, “asking someone to do something.” You can use “will” after “if” when the polite question comes after “if”. Otherwise you do not use future (“will” or “going to”) after “if”.
          As a side note, using the present tense (as in the textbook formula):

          [I'll be glad to insert it] [if you tell me what it is.]

          also sounds perfectly all right to me, but less formal.
          You can go through a lot of convolutions trying to explain the grammar forms of [if you'll + (request)], but when it comes right down to it, you’re looking at a formula phrase with a set meaning, regardless of the grammar forms it resembles. Think of the phrase “How do you do?” You can explain it in terms of the verb “do” used as a transitive, intransitive, or auxiliary verb, then go on to talk about “do” in questions and negatives, or you can just tell the students it means “hello.” The second explanation is probably more accurate, and is certainly one they will understand more readily, especially if you can pair it with other formula “hello” phrases: “How are you?”–”Fine”; “Mucho gusto.”–”El gusto es mío.”

        • Nijma, Deadgood,
          thanks again for these, even though you disagree between yourselves.
          It also seems to confirm my thinking that, regardless of what grammar says, it always sounds more polite to use could/would instead of can/will?

        • michael farris says:

          My probable final words on ‘if + will’
          1. native speakers of English (unless they’ve been corrupted by ESL training) don’t really think in categories of 1st, 2nd etc conditionals. Those are a heuristic device for teaching about conditional constructions. native usage is messier and more complicated (the same thing goes for sequence of tenses; the rules as given in even the most advanced ESL classes won’t really allow you to predict or account for native usage).
          2. the conjunction ‘if’ changes the meaning of tenses that occur in the clauses that it governs so that not all tenses naturally occur with it and those that do find their semantics changed to a lesser or greater degree.
          3. Cross linguistically, courteous usage of irrealis forms are especially susceptible to pragmatic considersations. Although Polish normally doesn’t distinguish ‘If I did X’ and ‘If I had done X’ it does distinguish can, could and ‘was able to’ and which should be used in a particular situation (and which is more polite in a particular situation) is subject to a lot of extra-linguistic factors that cannot be easily summed up in a set of rules. (and there’s disagreement about some specifics among native speakers).
          “regardless of what grammar says, it always sounds more polite to use could/would instead of can/will?”
          Not necessarily. In a first person offer, can and will are much more polite (to me, others may disagree).
          “I can give you a ride.” (nice offer)
          “I could offer you a ride.” (sounds either grudging or actively hinting that the person should decline the offer).
          “I’ll give you a ride.” (nice offer)
          “I’d give you a ride.” ????? not an offer, the listener is now primed for an excuse.

        • it always sounds more polite to use could/would instead of can/will?
          Sashura, what michael says is true when the “offer” is phrased as a statement. If you make an offer in the form of a question – can/could you tell me . . .? – ‘could’ and ‘would’ are indeed more polite, because, in such a question, they are ‘conditional’ — that is, they depend more emphatically on the other person’s decision.
          “Always” is, or should be, pretty tough to be sure of in language matters . . .

        • What michael farris said.
          I would add that “can” is sometimes associated with “ability”. So if your boss says to you “Can you do X?” the question is probably not whether you want to do it (or to elicit cooperation) but whether you understand the expectation. One teacher’s edition suggests that students who are concerned that requests with can/will are not as polite can add “please” to the sentence. But why choose a word like that in the first place if you are just going to try to soften it?
          native speakers of English (unless they’ve been corrupted by ESL training) don’t really think in categories of 1st, 2nd etc conditionals
          lol, but in midwest universities at least, ESL training isn’t like that at all. When educators talk about grammar at all it’s usually mentioned at the end of a long list that includes workforce skills, civics, and critical thinking. (A typical statement that appears in training materials for adult educators: “Grammar is labeled ‘Supporting Grammar” in order to emphasize the goal that adult educators integrate grammatical skill development throughout instruction, rather than focusing lessons on such skills completely.“) As far as categories of conditionals, three current textbooks use the terms “present unreal conditional” and “real future conditional and unreal conditional,” but the district “learning outcome” standards only call out “Models (sic) of past ability, possibility, advice, polite requests, and ability. (can, could, should, would, able to, supposed to).” I do teach grammar, usually as a 5 minute introduction to the lesson, because 1) if I don’t, the students have a hard time grasping the textbook 2) I myself learn language better if I have the grammatical explanation, so I imagine that many of them will too.

        • um, no, not really
          “Not really” what, Nijma?
          In the “original sentence” – I’ll be glad to insert it if you’ll tell me what it is. -, “I’ll be glad to” was denied to be “‘will’ as future” (this was at 5:03 am, Dec. 21).
          It is “‘will’ as future”; that is, it’s the apodosis of the dependent ‘if’ clause (“if you’ll tell”), which other clause (the protasis of the “original sentence”) does employ the ‘if + [future tense verb]‘ that Azar rules out. No amount of making as simple as possible will make the “I’ll be glad to” an ‘if’ clause in this case, nor will that simplification put the time of ‘my being glad to do something’ at any time other than the future.
          (“I” might be glad now to do it for “you” later, but the apodosis, in the “original sentence”, is a promise that “I” will be glad to do something for “you” later. That’s how “simple” that “original sentence” is!)
          -
          “You can use ‘will’ after ‘if’ when the polite question comes after ‘if’.” Now that we agree on what the protasis of the “original sentence” is, yes – that’s one EXCEPTION (as that useful site you link us to has it) to the ‘rule’-against-”‘will’ after ‘if’” that Azar seems dogmatically to assert.
          But it’s an example of just one category of exceptions.
          -
          I’m not looking at a “formula phrase with a set meaning”, nor am I going through “a lot of convolutions”. People actually, in the pressure of a moment, say things like:
          If you will be determined to be obtuse, then we‘ll have to agree to disagree.
          Understanding the ‘error’ (as Azar and the ‘books’ have it) in this protasis to be intelligible – not really to be an ‘error’! – is a matter, not of imposing a “formula”, but rather of discovering a rational exception to a ‘rule’.
          Likewise with ‘Howdy do!’; for myself, I try never (though I fail) to appeal to mysticism by resorting to saying, “It is what it is.” Most expressions can be ‘explained’ – not ‘away’!, but rather, the reasonableness (mostly) of speakers can be plumbed and made intelligible.
          It’s my (small) experience that students are enabled rather than harmed in their becoming capable speakers/listeners/readers/writers by this kind of pedantry. They can internalize set phrases rotely, but, at the same time, they can also understand English – and their own native languages – to be more amenable to their capacities than would be a murk that allows for direction only serendipitously.
          -
          Courses for horses?

        • native speakers of English [...] don’t really think in categories of 1st, 2nd etc conditionals
          Of course not, michael. They also don’t “think in categories” of subject/verb number agreement; they just have singular or plural regularity because that’s what ‘sounds right’ in the pressure of a conversational moment.
          But ‘normal’ accuracy doesn’t ‘sound right’ – or wrong – randomly; the pattern embedded in everyday usage is actually a pattern of something, right, michael? Because otherwise, linguistics would be closer to astrology than it would be to astronomy.
          -
          I can’t be sure if you mean a personal sneer by “corrupted by ESL training”, because I never was ‘trained’ in teaching ESL, so I don’t have first-hand experience with what you’re talking about. (I simply took up the explication of grammar, in accordance with structures presented in the ‘books’, as I understood/understand (it’s a process, not a product) grammar rules actually to indicate, but not to dictate, intelligibility.)
          -
          The pragmatism you espouse – subject to a lot of extra-linguistic factors that cannot be easily summed up in a set of rules – is perfectly “pragmatic” for someone who’s already comfortable generally following the ‘rules’, even if she or he couldn’t produce a schema (even in conversation) of those ‘rules’. The conventionalism of ‘whatever works’ is a fine heuristic meta-device for a native speaker – until, of course, it doesn’t work.
          But in acquainting a group of people struggling with a mass of data – a language – with tools to make that data intelligible, useful, even beautiful, summary “sets of rules” are inevitable. And, carefully adumbrated with warnings about exceptional cases that arise from both linguistic and “extra-linguistic” pressures, these “sets of rules” have, in my (small) experience, been taken up and discarded by students as easily as, but, in their place, as indispensably as, training wheels.
          Your “probable final words 2.”, above, is a perfect indication of the limitations of how too-sweeping such a pragmatism would be in a classroom. Can you show more simply – more tellingly of the actually intelligible conditional sentences that people use – than the schema of four ‘grades’ of conditionality of ‘if – then’ sentences, just how the conjunction ‘if’ changes the meaning of tenses that occur in the clauses that it governs?
          Try it, michael! Assume that Sashura is as clever as you are – you both seem smarter than I, enabling me, with no perfect methodological guarantee!, to make that assumption. Explain to Sashura whether, in what cases, and how an ‘if’ clause could be understood with its verb in the future tense.

        • It is “‘will’ as future”
          Neither grammarian cited states that “will” used to make polite requests is the same as “will” used as future. “Will” is a modal auxiliary, and like many other words in English, has more than one usage.
          People actually, in the pressure of a moment, say things like: If you will be determined to be obtuse, then we’ll have to agree to disagree.
          The usages you cite as being something that “people actually, in the pressure of a moment, say” are not agreed on or understood by other native speakers on this thread. In my dialect, they are not correct, they do not mean anything, and people do not actually say them.

        • Neither grammarian cited states that “will” used to make polite requests is the same as “will” used as future.
          No, nor has anybody on this thread represented – or defended (or even suggested) the existence of – a “dialect” in which the word “will” has only “one usage”. I’d be glad to was presented as a case of “not ‘will’ as future”; that assertion remains in error.
          -
          In my dialect, we follow, or indicate by conformity to convention, ‘rules’, whether we know them, and that we’re following them, or, in either case, not – which conformity Nijma seems to recommend. We, in my dialect, are also somewhat pragmatic about accepting the intelligibility, even the explicability, of exceptions to those ‘rules’, which intelligibility michael seems to argue for.

        • Pardon me: I‘ll be glad to was presented as a case of “not ‘will’ as future”.

        • which conformity Nijma seems to recommend
          Huh?
          I would suggest that anyone who is that interested in ESL grammar look in the library for these authors — Azar should be easy enough to find in the U.S., while Murphy is more known in Europe and the Middle East– before condemning them out of hand.
          In my experience, most adult educators recognize the need for textbooks that use realistic dialogues rather than texts with lengthy grammar explanations and examples that don’t quite ring true but fit a poorly crafted model. At the same time you don’t want to weigh students down with a lot of extraneous detail that is too far beyond their level. Idioms are particularly difficult. The end goal is for students to be able to communicate and be understood.

        • Huh?
          Nijma, here’s an example of your recommending conformity to a ‘rule’:
          Otherwise [than a "polite question" after 'if'] you do not use future (“will” or “going to”) after “if”.

        • What you both say makes perfectly good sense to me.
          In primary school I learnt ‘No future after if and when’, which is fine because it emphasises, to a non-native student of English, the difference between tense usage in Russian and English.
          Если он придет (future), я уйду – If he comes (present), I will go.
          Then, some years later, if and when the student is comfortable in the second language, they will learn – academically or from colloquial interaction, that
          Если он придет (собирается придти), то я уйду – If he will come (if is to come), I will go.
          is also correct, but has additional meaning.
          At secondary school level you’d get a nought for using future after if. But at higher school level, it is okay if it is used in a context that shows you understand the difference.
          Did I get you right?

        • michael farris says:

          In any second language learning situation, especially in institutionalized and broadly aimed ones, what is taught is a very small subset of real usage that has been deemed acceptable by those in charge of the program. In mass learning situations, there’s always a least common denominator factor (often with overly systematized ‘rules’ along for the ride too).
          In Poland, even at a very high university level, my students are often surprised to find ‘if’ can sometimes be followed by ‘will’. I think it’s just one of those practical things (like informal quotatives and space fillers) that are left out of almost all instruction.
          I also think there are good reasons for this. For one thing if + will is not the sort of thing you’ll hear every day (or week or month). It exists, but it’s not very common and can always be rephrased without ‘will’ with only a small loss in meaning.
          Also, in the particular case of Slavic learners (at least Russian and Polish, probably others) there’s probably concern that if you let students know that occasionally ‘will’ can follow ‘if’ that they’ll start to use that all the time, since it’s generally easier to just calque structures from one’s own language rather than come to grips with different basic structures.
          My experience with some other structures (like the past continuous that is so horribly overused by many Slavic learners) that is certainly a valid concern.

        • David Marjanović says:

          Wikipedia has several traditional options.

          And there’s an entire Wikipedia in Classical Chinese.

          informal quotatives

          Like “I was like”?

        • If he will come (if is to come), I will go.
          is also correct, but has additional meaning.

          …is not correct and has no meaning.

        • “If he will come, I will go.” = 2 ghits (both from non-native speakers).
          “If he comes, I will go.” = 1,830,000 ghits

        • The html markup for the previous example should have been:

          If he will come (if is to come), I will go.

          is also correct, but has additional meaning.

          …is not correct and has no meaning.

        • If he will come (if HE is to come), I will go?
          (missed the ‘he’ bit, sorry)

        • if you let students know that occasionally ‘will’ can follow ‘if’
          Michael Farris, thanks for helping me out – your point illustrates exactly why I asked about future after ‘if’ in the first place.
          And the other way round, when you teach Russian to West European students, here is a good way to introduce the notion of aspect (совершенный/несовершенный вид), when you have to explain the notion of perfect tense in future: Я пойду – I will go (definitely), я буду идти – I will be going, я уйду – I will have gone, я иду – I am going, I go.

        • marie-lucie says:

          Michael Farris: if + will is not the sort of thing you’ll hear every day (or week or month). It exists, but it’s not very common and can always be rephrased without ‘will’ with only a small loss in meaning.
          - If you will.

        • michael farris says:

          “Like “I was like”?”
          Actually, those are usually in the present tense:
          I’m like “I just can’t be there by five,” and he’s all “you’d better if you still wanna be working here.”
          What kinds of structures fill that niche in German? Or is it extremely regionalized?
          On Slavic aspect : that’s another case where learning and applying all the rules won’t let you account for or predict all native usage.
          And in you’re example, it looks to me like ‘я уйду’ and ‘я пойду’ are both perfective but that the coverb (po vs u) changes the lexical meaning. Would that be a fair description?
          (and in Polish there are government issues as well as verbs don’t always seem to govern the cases they’re supposed to).

        • Three Dramaticules In Search Of a Prescriptive Ghit
          ~
          -John shouldn’t come; he knows that.
          -He does what he wants to.
          -Bah! Like every day this week! – [taunting] If he will come, he’ll just be sorry.
          ~~~
          -Is Mary coming?
          -She’s not sure; she doesn’t want to have a scene with Sally at your party.
          -[slightly exasperated] Well, if Mary will just come, I’m sure Sally and Bob will behave themselves.
          ~~~
          -We need Tom; it won’t work without him. But he doesn’t have any way to get home after midnight.
          -Ok; [bargaining] if Tom’ll come, I’ll drive him home.

        • Sashura — a detail I didn’t fill in when I listed those four ways of expressing a future action above:
          [to be] + [full infinitive]
          Like (as you’ve got in your apodosis (‘if’ clause)): “He is to come.”. This certainly expresses ‘him coming’ in the future – but in a particular interpretive context.
          Imagine a participle between the finite ‘to be’ and the full infinitive (here: ‘to come’). A good way to think of the interpretive context is the participle supposed: “He is supposed to come.” You could also (imaginatively) interpolate expected: “He is expected to come.”
          [More dangerous would be to imagine going: "He is going to come." 'Dangerous' in the sense that {[to be going] + [full infinitive]} is a general future tense – at least in modern American usage – that can have the sub-coloring of supposition or expectation or intention.]
          So: [to be + full infinitive] implies a plan, intention, anticipation — which, together, are a smaller subset of the general future action of [will + bare infinitive].
          He will come. = sometime in the future, he’ll arrive
          He is to come. = He has the plan of arriving, or we expect him to arrive, sometime in the future, but, by saying “is to come”, I’m indicating not his arrival in the future, but rather his plan now to arrive later, or my expectation now that he’ll arrive later.
          (Do you see how it’s rational that present tense “to be”s can form the expression for a future action?)
          He is to come. can also = a strong command; ‘He has been ordered to come.’ [to be + full infinitive] is often heard in the army: “You‘re to report to Sgt. Smith at 0600 hours – that’s in the a m , Private.”

          Anyway, I mention all this because you used “is to come” as though it were equal to “will come”, and, as I see things (always susceptible to contradiction-by-google), they mean different things.

        • David Marjanović says:

          What kinds of structures fill that niche in German?

          None. If you want to make explicit that it’s probably not a literal quotation, you have to say so in words, such as so ungefähr, or just use reported speech in the first place.
          It’s the same in French, isn’t it?

        • m-l: - If you will.
          …if it be Thy will, take this cup away from me; yet not my will but Thine be done
          deadgod:Three Dramaticules In Search Of a Prescriptive Ghit
          I can sort of see your second two examples (sorry, but the first one is opaque) if I squint and look at them out of the corner of my eye, but they’re hedged with a lot of speaking directions, which should tell you the meaning doesn’t come from the word structure. Also that it would be pretty hard to explain to a non-native speaker (or even someone from a different region) how to use it. I have an idea (maybe from a previous discussion about Joyce) that you like to play with English and stretch it. A native speaker will be able to follow you, at least some of the time, and understand the creative parts as well pick out the standard English parts, but I think a non-native speaker would find it difficult. Good luck with your googlehit project. My husband claimed to have invented the expression “screw the pooch” and was on a personal campaign to get it adopted into the language; every once in a while I do see it in a thread somewhere. While the two examples aren’t as drop-dead, rimshot hilarious as m-l’s “- If you will,” the part with the “if” clause seems to describe an action that happens after the other action, that is, “will” helps to indicate the order of the actions.
          If he will come (if HE is to come), I will go?
          I interpreted the part in parenthesis to be an explanation of the meaning, not part of the example.

        • michael farris says:

          “What kinds of structures fill that niche in German?
          None.”
          Wirklich? I’m heartbroken or skeptical, not sure which. If you ask a Polish speaker they might tell you the same thing but they do exist in casual spoken Polish (usually collocations of pronouns with ‘do PRO’ as the reported addressee ‘a ja do niego “quote”‘ with ‘na to’ for reactions ‘a ona na to “quote”).
          How do you act out previous interactions in casual conversation with close friends?

        • If you mean what do people say when they report a conversation, in my experience it starts out with the full verb “und dann hab’ ich gesagt:” “und er hat geantwortet:”, alternatively also in the present tense “und dann sagt er doch zu mir:” and subsequently shortened to “und ich:” “und er:”. I can’t really think of another way.

        • Reported speech im Deutsch? Surely:
          -Ich bin gleich . . . Und er ist gleich . . . Und ich bin gleich . . . Und –

        • you used “is to come” as though it were equal to “will come”
          I see the difference, but your explanation is very good. The bit about command especially.
          Michael Farris,
          ‘я уйду’ and ‘я пойду’ are both perfective?
          yes, they are and the lexical meaning is different. But if you translate just the words back into English they turn out to be the same: ‘I will go’. But it is ‘I’ll go away’ in the first example and ‘I’ll go there’ in the second. That’s why many find aspect so difficult.

        • Reported speech auf Deutsch (oder im Deutschen): “Surely – Ich bin gleich …”
          DG, I don’t think that’s right. I’ve never heard somebody say “Ich bin gleich” followed by a quote. Gleich just implies something that is about to happen or has happened immediately, as in “Ich bin gleich wieder da”, “Ich bin gleich zur Post gegangen”.

        • michael farris says:

          Actually a little googling turned up “(und) PRO so” as in “ich so ‘quote’” or “und er so ‘quote’”.

        • David Marjanović says:

          bruessel is right both times.

          “(und) PRO so” as in “ich so ‘quote’” or “und er so ‘quote’”.

          Yes, but that’s very rare and/or regional, and I don’t quite think it means what you think it means. Compare und er, so ganz cool, “exact quote”.

        • michael farris says:

          “I don’t quite think it means what you think it means.”
          The sources I could find, would indicate that it’s very much like “And I’m all ‘quote’” or “He’s like ‘quote’”
          here,
          http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-3043.html#1
          there’s a mention that while people consciously think of it as teen-speak, it can be found in speakers up to 50 years of age (in 2002).
          And this:
          http://linguistlist.org/pubs/sums/summary-details.cfm?submissionid=8366
          suggests “Er darauf ‘quote’” is very much like Polish “a on na to ‘quote’”- “and he’s all / like ‘quote’”.

        • David Marjanović says:

          “Er darauf ‘quote’”

          Actually, I’ve encountered that one in print a couple of times. It must be some regional teenspeak from somewhere in Germany.
          The way teenagers talk is strongly regionalized.

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