Bychoice (bychoice) wrote in linguaphiles,
Bychoice
bychoice
linguaphiles

From My Bad (?) French to Russian

I don't speak French very well, having studied it in school and then put it into use for about a year in West Africa a decade ago. That having been said, I am under the impression that using the third person pronoun "on" is more common and less formal in French than "one" is in English. It isn't uncommon for me to use it when speaking French, and now that I'm learning Russian, I find that I am using the Russian masculine pronoun он in its place when I speak Russian, even though that is clearly not right. Generally, I am trying to say things like "one can do X/on peut faire" or "one could find/on pourrait trouver" to make statements about things that are possible. I'm trying to substitute in люди (people) for "on" when speaking Russian, although I'm getting tripped up because one is singular and one is plural. Anyway, do any of you who speak Russian have thoughts on how I should be doing this? I really love Russian and would like to be understandable.
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  • 24 comments
you should use impersonal constructs like можно сделать, можно найти. using он for that purpose is definitely wrong

also, I would like to recommend learn_russian
p.s. on dit que ... - говорят, что... (no noun or pronoun needed)
Yes, I am in that group, and it is great! Since I was asking about more than one language, I wasn't sure if I should ask there or here.
"Он" is only for male, not female. I guess the best choise here is "кто-то" (like someone, anyone) or "некоторые" if you suppose plural case.
I am sorry, but this is wrong. The French "on" is an impersonal general construct and cannot be translated with кто-то or некоторые.
There's multiple choice, I think. As pointed out in the comments above, one can use impersonal forms like "можно сделать Х" which don't need a pronoun. Besides that, you can in most cases use the second person plural (which is also the polite form of address) - "вы можете/могли бы сделать Х". You can think of it as though speaking directly of the other person/audience possibilities while addressing them, instead of using impersonal form - like "you can/could do X" - and it's going to sound so much better than "он может".
This may not be a problem with Russians, but I don't like to say "you could do X" to Americans because with some people you end up getting into a fight because they say "Well, I would never do that!" or get offended for one reason or another. It is just easier to use an impersonal construction. Like I said, though, this may not be a problem when talking to Russians. Thanks for your suggestions!

one_gin

4 years ago

bychoice

4 years ago

whswhs

4 years ago

As a side note, in contemporary colloquial French, on is more often used with the meaning of "we" than "one". In some varieties (e.g. Cajun), it has completely displaced nous.
Cool! Thanks!!!! This is fascinating!

whswhs

4 years ago

muckefuck

4 years ago

whswhs

4 years ago

muckefuck

4 years ago

embryomystic

4 years ago

I do not actually speak French, but my impression is that "on" is *sometimes* equivalent to "kto-to": "On frappe" = "Somebody's knocking". More often, however, it is best rendered with a passive: "Ici on parle francais" = "French spoken here". (Sorry, I don't know how to do a cedilla in this medium.)
In Russian, impersonal constructs are used in both cases:

"On frappe" = "Стучат." (You can say "Кто-то стучит" as well.)
"Ici on parle francais" = "Здесь говорят по-французски." (In this case you cannot use кто-то - it will sound awkward.)
Just remember it's nothing but homophony.

(if not to dig so deep that nobody can figure anything anyway,
if the link somehow exists, it is very ancient and undetectable)
Thanks to all of you for your comments! This is really helpful!
This might be complicated because we don't have a universal term like "one" that can be used in any impersonal case.
Often we would put a verb for plural third person (они) without a noun/pronoun or use passive voice. We may also use modal verbs or constructions with "someone" and other pronouns alike.
Thus "One does not do that" can be:
1. "Так не делают / так не поступают" ([they] don't do that)
2. "Так не делается" (it's not done like that)
3. "Не следует/не нужно так делать" (this should not be done)

In clauses we often use "тот, кто" (he, who) or just "кто" (who). "Кто хочет, может пойти со мной" (anyone who wishes may come with me)
Great! Thanks!

freakyzoid

4 years ago