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Looking From a Russian Point of View

Published: March 28, 2014 (Issue # 1803)


Любоваться: to look on with delight

As spring slides into St. Petersburg and the parks will soon go from boring black-and-white to blazing Technicolor, it is a good time to look at how Russians look at things. When they look at things, they fall in love with them, they become fascinated, and they get so caught up in what they are looking at that they forget where they are.

This week, I fell in love with three Russian verbs that do not have easy equivalents in English: любоваться, заглядеться, and засмотреться, all of which mean to look at something or someone in a particular way.

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Любоваться is usually translated as "to admire," but the unusual bit is that the admiration is visual. It means to look at something and admire it, experience aesthetic or other pleasure from it. The phrase "я любовался параолимпийским чемпионом" means "I looked at the Paralympic athlete with admiration." To say that I admire him in general, I would use another verb, like восхищаться.

This can sometimes lead to difficulties in translation, and you have to be a bit creative. For example: Каждый раз, когда он приходил, я любовалась на его руки (Every time that he came over, I loved to look at his hands.

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In other cases, admiration is clear, even when you do not spell it out. When little Sasha puts on his skates and takes off on the ice, he calls to his mother: Любуйся! This is obviously not going to be translated as "Admire me!" When little Mikey does the same thing, he would probably just call out, "Watch me!" It is clear that both Mom and мама are expected to clap their hands and coo over their progeny's skill on the ice.

For grammar lovers out there, любоваться uses the instrumental case: она любовалась им (she loved looking at him), but dictionaries note любоваться на plus the accusative case as a colloquial variation. Either way, when любоваться is applied to oneself, it usually registers as self-­centered, if not outright self-obsessed. Она стояла перед зеркалом и любовалась собой (she stood in front of the mirror and admired herself) is OK only in small doses.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

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 today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s 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 city’s 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 Dolan’s 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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