Russia is our fatherland

P. Smirnovsky’s A Textbook of Russian Grammar is obviously a book that should be written, even if P. Smirnovsky is unable to undertake the task because he is dead, or possibly never lived. This week’s “Author, Author” competition in the back of the TLS, where you have to identify the sources of quotations, has a perfect phrase of his:

“An oak is a tree. A rose is a flower. A deer is an animal. A sparrow is a bird. Russia is our fatherland. Death is inevitable.”

Google only quotes the phrase above, because it is used as an epigraph for one of Nabokov’s stories, so I suspected at first that it might all be made up. But further research revealed I have libelled Smirnovsky. He did live, and is remembered in the Reserve Room of the Modern and Mediaeval languages Library of Cambridge University:

Main Author: Smirnovskiĭ, P.V.
Title: Uchebnik russkoĭ grammatiki. (vol. 1).
Published: Moskva, 1898.
Format: Book

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One Response to Russia is our fatherland

  1. Rupert says:

    The consistently stimulating Languagehat blog covered this in July – I suspect this might be where the TLS competition found inspiration. This is the first English reference I know. Languagehat got it from a Russian blog.

    Languagehat and the Russian blog include links to images from the book itself – the example given is one of a series demonstrating noun gender variations. “This makes me very happy” says Languagehat.



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