Russian Word of the Day: Откладывать-put away, postpone


This weeks theme, just to remind, is words of the same root.  So today we take our ‘put’ verb, класть and give it a prefix and we get a new meaning.

от-off, клад-put

Being a language nerd, I get excited by weird things like prefixes.  Russian prefixes are especially fun and orderly.  I intend to have an entire week dedicated to words with my favorite prefixes.  Again, only a language nerd has ‘favorite prefixes’.

So today our prefix is от which means off or away from.

Откладывать can mean put something away or to set aside:

“На «черный день» откладывают лишь четверть россиян. Все остальные живут от зарплаты до зарплаты”

“Only a fourth of Russians put money aside for a rainy day (lit. a black day).  The rest live from paycheck to paycheck.”

The other form of откладывать that you might see is in the phrase откладывать на потом which can be translated as ‘to procrastinate’.  Which you find a lot in Russia.

When I was trying to get signed up for classes at Moscow State I went in the first week in August thinking I would get things squared away before I left to Ukraine for a few weeks.  When I walked in the quiet office and said I was there to get the documents and do all the things I needed to get ready for my classes that began on September 1, they looked at me like I had antennae growing out of my head.  They said to me,

“Зачем вы хотите сделать все так долго заранее?”

“Why do you want to do everything so far in advance?”

Far in advance? I wanted to come get signed up the day I arrived back in June, but I put it off.  They then instructed me to come back on September 1st, that they would help me do everything then. So I came back on September 1st, the day I was also supposed to start classes and it was ABSOLUTE CHAOS! All the students were running around like crazy people trying to get all the necessary documents, fees paid, signatures, stamps, etc. And what’s more, we had a week deadline to get all of this accomplished.  I was so mad.

In America there is a saying: “не откладывай на завтра то, что можно сделать сегодня”

“Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today”

But I think maybe this got mixed up in translation because I swear in Russia they’ve changed the saying to go :

“Не сделай сегодня то, что можно откладывать на завтра”.

“Don’t do today what you can put off til tomorrow.”

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