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Весь до ниточки промок

+1 vote

I'm working on translating a poem written by Agniya Barto. I've translated the first three lines, but I'm having problems with the last one. Here is the poem in full:

Зайку бросила хозяйка,—
Под дождём остался зайка.
Со скамейки слезть не мог,
Весь до ниточки промок.
With regard to the last line, here is where I'm at so far:
Весь = whole/all
до ниточки = to the thread
до = to/until
ниточка = thread
промок = I think this means some form of being wet (although I can't figure our whether this is a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.)
So when I put this all together, I take it "Весь до ниточки промок" means something like "all (the bunny's) thread was wet," but I wouldn't bet $5 on it. Can anyone out there help?
EXTRA CREDIT: This poem is about a bunny, зайка, which is a femine noun. Why, then, does this poem use verbs conjugated for a masculine noun (i.e., остался and мог)?


asked May 23, 2014 by robdavis54 (190 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
"Промокнуть до нитки" is a set phrase with the meaning of "to soak to the bone", "not to have a dry thread on". Literally "to soak to the (last) thread".

Промок is a past masculine form of the verb "промокнуть".

"Зайка" is a word that can be either feminine or masculine. Here it is masculine because it is a diminutive from "заяц" (hare/bunny), which is masculine (a toy hare/bunny is implied). Therefore the verbs related to зайка all are in masculine form: остался, мог, промок.
answered May 23, 2014 by it-ogo (18,220 points)
Russian is my first language. I am amateur linguist and enjoy formulating and explaining the mechanisms of language as it helps to understand the ways of thinking. You are welcome.
Okay, so now I'm working on the poem "слон." Check out the following line:

Сонный мишка лёг в кровать

The word мишка appears to be feminine because it ends in an -a; however, the adjective and verb are treating it as a masculine noun. Is this similar to what you mentioned earlier in the thread?
Мишка is always masculine. Ending -a does not guarantee the noun is feminine. Мишка is a diminutive from медведь (masculine) and means "teddy bear" or from Михаил, that is male only first name.
Okay. It has taken me some time, but I think I'm starting to get what you are saying. For example, the words папа, дядя, and Саша all represent masculine nouns (even though they end in -a). So "Sleepy Sasha" would be "Сонный Саша" not "Сонная Саша," right?
Yes. But Саша can be either masculine or feminine as it is a male (Александр) or female (Александра) name. Male name is more common though.