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Short Forms

In response to:

Voskresit' from the May 20, 1971 issue

To the Editors:

Commenting upon Edmund Wilson’s article in your February 25 number on Tolstoy, Mr. Michael J. Valenti [Letter, May 20] seems unaware that certain Russian words ending in nie have a shorter form ‘e, preserving the meaning, though sometimes, but not necessarily, having a different meaning. The long form Voskresenie and the short ending Voskresen’e both mean Resurrection, but the latter, of a more common usage, also means Sunday, for in the Russian-Orthodox tradition, which Mr. Valenti probably does not know, every Sunday is a commemoration of the Resurrection. As to the choice of the one or the other of the two forms, it is optional. Thus, for instance, Pushkin in his poem Ya pomnyu tchudnoye mgnovenye chose the short form which suited his syllabic verse, where a number of similar short forms occur, but you will also find in dictionaries the same words with long endings; these changes also happen in other Russian endings: Marya and Mar’a both, of course, mean Mary; the short ending is merely a more popular form.

Helene Iswolsky

Emeritus Chairman of Russian Department

Seton Hill College

New York City

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