adversative conjunction "a"

Why do we use this case here? And this verb? What rule should I use here?
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adversative conjunction "a"

Postby lamaneur » Nov 6th, 16, 12:44


I have a question about the meaning of the adversative conjunction "a" in the Russian proverb :
Не верь лошади в поле, а жене в доме
found in Tolstoi book "Kreutzer sonata".
In an English translation of that book, I found this rendering of the proverb :
Don't trust a horse in the field, nor a woman in the house
However, some oher people with whom we were discussing that translation do not agree that the conjunction "a" can be rendered by "nor" in that sentence. It should mark an opposition, and they would understand something like :
Don't trust a horse in the field, but you can trust only a woman in the house.

What do Russian speakers understand with this proverb?

Thank you in advance.

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Re: adversative conjunction "a"

Postby Teacher RedKalinka » Nov 18th, 16, 15:41

Hi lamaneur :)

The English translation was correct:
Don't trust a horse in the field, nor a woman in the house.

Basicly, the character from Tolstoy's novel wanted to say the following: "women are like horses, from the very beginning you have to make them understand who is the master in the house".

The conjunction "a" is used in this sentence only because the horse is in the field and the woman is in the house, so there is some kind of opposition there and it would be incorrect to use the conjunction "и". However, it could be grammatically correct to use "ни":
Не верь ни лошади в поле, ни жене в доме.

By the way, this proverb is not used in Russian any more, because it sounds very disrespectful to women, as you can imagine :)

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