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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of “Treasure Island,” visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russia’s “Russian Knights” stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during today’s Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the center’s Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonight’s performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Center’s Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodina’s website for more details.



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