Let’s Go in Russian: Poshli

August 17th, 2009 by Mark Leave a reply »

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Power Phrases Lesson #26
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Strangely, ‘poshli’ (which means ‘let’s go’ or ‘let’s head out’ in Russian) is actually the past tense of the verb meaning “To head off on foot.” In other words, ‘poshli’ literally means, “We (or they) headed off on foot.” How can a word which is in the past tense indicate the desire to head off somewhere now?

Literal translations are often strange, until you fill in what must be the missing words. Here, for example, the missing words must be something like: “I want us to do what must be done so that we will have ‘headed off on foot.’”

We do this all the time, after all, in English. For example, when you are talking about eating and say, “I feel like a hamburger,” (which could easily be taken as a strange thing to say), we understand that the missing word is, “having”, as in, “I feel like HAVING a hamburger.”

Still, it’s important to translate things as literally as possible. Yes, it’s good to know that ‘poshli’ is the *equivalent* of the English phrase, “Let’s go!” but it’s also vital to know that, super-literally, it means, “We/They headed off on foot.” Otherwise, future phrases with the word ‘poshli’ won’t make much sense if understood only as ‘Let’s go.’ (Did they poshli, or go in a car?)

So, on your flashcards, try writing the super-literal meaning as well. It’s a bit more work, but very beneficial in the long run.

Good luck!

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