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Englishmen See what Russians Hear
before March 9, 2006


The research fellow of RAS Institute of Linguistics Lebedeva L.B. thinks that the Russian people during conversation rely mainly on their ears, while the English trust their eyesight. The philologist made such a conclusion after comparing some verbs of speech perception popular in both languages.

Bearing in mind that hearing and eyesight are the most important information perception channels for human beings, Ms Lebedeva has decided to find out what words meaning “see” and “hear” are used in similar situations by the Russians and the English. It turned out that Russians tend to “hear” the surrounding world, while Englishmen prefer to “see” it.

The scientist has compared “smotret’, videt’ – to look, to see” and “slyshat’, slushat’ – hear, listen” verbs together with appropriate adjectives and nouns of Russian and English speech. She has found that Russian language has more verbs meaning “listen” that are used in speech more often, while in English there are more “see” verbs.

In similar situations, to draw somebody’s attention, for example, Russians use “Listen to me!” and Englishmen say: “Look!”. When an Englishman answers a phone call, he says: “Speaking!” and Russians say something like “I hear you!” Moreover, Russians use “glukhaya” (“deaf”) for designating a wall without windows, whereas Englishmen will say “blind wall”. Russian needles have “ushko” (“ears”), and English needles have “eyes” (the eye of the needle).

When an Englishman understands the meaning of a phrase, he usually says: “I see”, while Russian will say: “Clear”. Englishmen tend to see the humour of a situation (to see the joke) or the core of a subject (to see the point). Moreover, in England it is a common practice to see a doctor or a lawyer, and in Russia people prefer to get a piece of advice.

According to Ms Lebedeva these interesting nuances will help Russian and English people to understand each other better. One must always remember to “look at” an English companion and to “hear” a Russian one.

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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