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The Here, Now and Never

Published: February 26, 2014 (Issue # 1799)


: now, just, soon, never

Way back in Russian 101, I was enchanted by the words (now) and (now). How clever of Russians, I thought, to clarify so simply the distinction between right-this-moment now () and nowadays-at-present now ().

But or should that be ? Ive come to realize that these seemingly simple words have several meanings. They can refer to the past, present and future and have a new now-word friend. They are still enchanting but not so simple. is the nowadays now: (Currently, all apartments must have water meters). Its often used in then-and-now expressions: , (In the past, I loved to go on rides, but now Im afraid).

But its also used as a transition word to indicate a change of topic or task and might be translated as next. You often hear this in the lecture hall: (Now that weve solved the first problem, lets move on to the second). But you can also hear it around the house: (Next we add a little flour and mix it thoroughly).

is the right-this-moment now: (Im busy right now call me back in an hour). But time travels. It can refer to the future in the sense of very soon. ! (Ill be there in just a sec). Or it can refer to an action that just took place in the past. (He just stepped out).

In parental arguments with teenagers, means either right this instant or sometime next year:

Mom: ! (Clean your room!)

Teenager: ! (Im on it, meaning Ill get to it after I finish up on Facebook, try on my new jeans, eat dinner, walk the dog and spend three hours on the phone with my best friend.)

Mom: ! (Now! I mean it!)

And sometimes leaves the temporal dimension and enters the spatial realm to mean right next to: (The forest begins right behind the house).

And then theres a new now word . Okay, its not a new word but a transcription of the way is pronounced. For now it seems to have the same meaning of . (pronounced )? (What are you thinking about right now?)

? (Are you coming?)

(In a sec)

I often get as a one-word e-mail reply after sending in work. It means: Got it, give me a second to look it over.

My favorite slangy use of (or ) is delivered dead-pan and means: Not now, not ever. Say you are listening to your teenage daughter complain she has nothing to wear to a party on the weekend. Her solution? , (Give me your credit card and Ill go and buy a new dress). Your sarcastic response: (When pigs fly).

Your solution? (Now lets take a look at your clothes). Her response: . (In a minute.)

Translation from teenagerese: Like thats going to happen. Ill borrow something from my friend instead. A satisfying .

Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is the author of The Russian Words Worth (Glas), a collection of her columns.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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