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Hi, guys

In Russia there's a special verb that describes the process of eating sunflower seeds, and all Russian-English dictionaries seem to implacably insist that the English equivalent of this word is "nibble", but in more accurate, English-English dictionaries, all the meanings of "nibble" have nothing to do with eating sundlower seeds.

Cutting to the chace, my question is:

1. Is it natural to say "He's nibbling sunflower seeds".

2. What would you more likely say instead of "He's eating sunflower seeds" (maybe he's cracking sunflower seeds) in everyday, casual speech.

Thanks !
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'Nibble' has to do with how we eat many things, including sunflower seeds; of course, there is no special word used for the consumption of only sunflower seeds.

1. Is it natural to say "He's nibbling sunflower seeds".-- Yes

2. What would you more likely say instead of "He's eating sunflower seeds" (maybe he's cracking sunflower seeds) in everyday, casual speech.-- 'He's nibbling sunflower seeds.' 'He's munching on sunflower seeds.' Not 'cracking'-- that comes before eating them for most people.
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Hi, MM

Thank you for answering on such short notice !
I thought that idea that there was a specific verb for eating sunflower seeds was interesting -- it prompted me to dig out my Russian-English and English-Russian dictionaries. It seems that the same verb (my transliteration skills are hopelessly out of practice, but it's something like "gryzt' ") is used for biting one's fingernails.

I agree that "nibble" is a bad translation -- usually in English, "nibble" means to eat something slowly by taking many very small bites. A mouse nibbles a piece of cheese. You can't take many small bites of a sunflower seed. I would not say "he's nibbling sunflower seeds."

So my question is this -- what else is the Russian verb used for, besides sunflowers and fingernails?
Hi,

You're learning Russian ? How nice ! )) I happen to be a native speaker of it.

You're definitely on the right track thinking that we use the verb "gryzt" for fingernails and for sunflowerseeds. But this verb is versatile, it can be applied to a number of things - you can "gryzt" your desk (if you're a mouse) or a slice of bread that has hardened and so on (in short, everything that is solid, hard).

That said, there is a very special verb, that has only one application (to my knowledge, which is not much) - realting to sunflowers: "luzgat". You can "luzgat" sunfolwer seeds only, and nothing else. So, if one says "lugzat", the image of sunflowers should be conjured up in your mind at once !

Good luck in Russian ! ))
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MrPernickety all the meanings of "nibble" have nothing to do with eating sundlower seeds.
Nibble works for me. The common thread is the busyness of the front teeth, the continuous ingestion of small quantities, and the constant proximity of the supply to the mouth.

It would not apply to eating shelled nuts from a dish.

I think of the squirrel busy over my head, sending down a constant flurry of shucks and refuse.
Actually, I studied Russian many years ago and have forgotten most of it. It seems to me that the Englsih equaivalent of some of the meanings of "gryzt" would be "to gnaw" -- (the "g" is silent) -- but not for sunflower seeds, only for things that are hard and have to be worn down slowly by repeated scraping of the teeth.

Is 'luzgat" really used only for sunflower seeds? It's not in my dictionary, but "luzga" is translated as "husks". Would you also use it for other seeds or nuts that have to be cracked open one by one? Pistachios? Pinion (pine) nuts?
Is luzgat' used only for sunflowers seeds? Right off the bat, yes, I would use this word only for them and nothing else (e.g. never for things like nuts, peanuts, walnuts and such). I took pains to look the word up in Google, and here is what I found: http://mirslovarei.com/content_oje/Luzgat-21237.html . What surprised me is that the definition given at that site also includes small nuts (oreshki), which is unnatural and strange to me, e.g. I would never say "Ia luzgay oreshki" - that usage would be out of place. Maybe someone else does say things like that, tastes differ )))

For "nuts" I would say this: "Ia em/koly oreshki" - I'm eating/cracking nuts.

The reason why sunflower seeds are so special that we have a special verb for it is beyond my comprehension, alas.
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Щёлкать семечки, when we speak about eating sunflower seeds we can also say, "sholkats semechki" in Russia.