Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Preview (meanings and connotations)

Words have meanings, but just as important are their connotations. 

Connotation is about situations in which a given word is used, feelings and associations which that word evokes in the hearer.

For example if I say 'victory' the meaning is clear: to win a battle or defeat an enemy. However, depending on the language and context, a particular victory may be in mind. In Russia, for example, VE Day 1945 is the immediate association.

Some words have a strong resonance, conjuring up clear images and carrying a lot of weight, while other words have less connotation and simply denote a given object. Compare for example 'home' (a lot connotational 'weight') and 'house' (much less connotational 'weight').

Mastering a foreign language is not just about understanding and communicating meaning; it is also about grasping connotation, being able to 'see things from inside' and ideally being able to pass that on in speech and writing.

There is a particular concept which I am trying to translate into Russian at the moment which is captured in English by words and phrases such as: sneak preview, anticipation, glimpse. I want to communicate the notion of perceiving something ahead of time with a view to fully apprehending it in the future. (The particular event I have in mind is the Transfiguration of Jesus which is a preview of his later resurrection and glory.)

What words and phrases are available in Russian to communicate this idea?

The notion of pre-, in advance is communicated by the prefix 'пред-'
  • предвидеть means to know in advance, to predict. Предвидение is foresight. 
  • предвкушать = to pretaste. Предвкушение is to enjoy something in advance. 
  • предвещать = to pre-communicate. Предвестник = harbinger. E.g. a sparrow is a harbinger of spring. Предвестие is an omen or premonition (with superstitious or occult connotations). 
  • предварительный просмотр = preview (eg in Microsoft Office to see what a document will look like before it is printed)
  • Предшественник = precursor in the sense of an ancestor (personal or impersonal). Предшествовать is to go before or to precede.  
  • Предварить события means опередить события, to do something in advance or even to 'jump the gun'. 
  • The modern equivalent of the Biblical предупредить is опередить. Предупредить now means to warn in modern Russian.  
Заблаговременный means сделанный заранее, предварительно. 

However I am still struggling to find a word which captures the meaning and has the requisite connotation/s. 


  1. Интересно.
    И про "предупредить" верное замечание. В старом смысле сейчас действительно редко используется.

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