give a start

Irina   Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:26 am GMT
i've come across this sentence in the test: "What a start they gave!" could someone please tell me if "to give a start" has some figurative meaning? cause i need to translate it and i don't quite know how... the whole sentence doesn't seem to make much sense to me. the direct translation sounds weird in Russian...
Guest   Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:38 am GMT
A stare?
Candy   Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:27 am GMT
I assume it means that the people in question were shocked about something. 'To give a start' means the physical movement of your body when something surprises you very much: for example, if someone jumps out in front of you and shouts 'boo', or if you get some news that shocks you.
Guest   Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:48 am GMT
To startle.
Stan   Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:29 pm GMT
<< the whole sentence doesn't seem to make much sense to me. >>

Think of this sentence "what a woman she is!." It certainly won't make sense if it doesn't have a figurative meaning.

"What a start they gave!" - I'm sure I've heard that during the olympics (commentaries), I guess it means an exciting start.
Irina   Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:41 pm GMT
can this phrase possibly mean something like "to get frightened"?
Ant_222   Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:16 pm GMT
Maybe to give a start means not only to take fright but also to put to flight? It can be translated almost literally to «Дать дёру [Dat' deru]»

Where did you get that test case from? Why is this single question so important? Why not ask your teacher?

Yeah, I have met some really strange Russian English techers. As I still remember, one of them translated «The curtains are drawn» as «Занавески разрисованы [Zanaveski razrisovany]» — «The curtains are covered with drawings»! Ha-ha-ha!

I hope that's not the case for you...
Ant_222   Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:24 pm GMT
As you see, there may be more than one correct translation, highly depending on the context, which is usually lacking in tests. So, the problem is how to guess which context is implied and, thus, decide which traslation is expected from you.
Irina   Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:06 pm GMT

hahaha, that's a funny example... was it your teacher or did you just hear the story? his students must have had so much fun at his classes. really funny, thanx:)

now to the point, i have absolutely no idea what kind of translation is expected from me:) the thing is that i'm doing this test for a friend of mine (therefore, i can't consult a teacher). i've already graduated and, thank God, don't have to pass any more english tests like that!
the task is a bit weird, i'm supposed to put the right word order to make it sound like an exclamatory sentense and then translate it. there are other sentenses there, but those are ok: "what a nice voice that was!" and "what marvellous weather we have today!"
i could have translated it like "kak prekrasno oni nachali" or something like that... but i suspected this sentense meant something slightly different...
what is your suggestion?
Ant_222   Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:02 pm GMT
Yes, that was my teacher at MEPHI! I always turned her lessons into chaotic discussions, involving many students, so that she could not make us do what she had planned for the lesson. As soon as I disagreed with something, she began to argue, and the discussion enthrolled all the students in an avalanche-like way. She is one of very few teachers that never break discussions off. And I am very obliged for that.

Once I took ill, and when I recovered and came to an English lesson, she said: «Oh! Anton have returned! We have got customed to you so much, that we felt bored without you.»

As to the test, well, I don't know. Personally I would choose your latest version: «How well they began!»
Irina   Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:44 pm GMT
Thank you, Anton.
Uriel   Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:02 am GMT
<<can this phrase possibly mean something like "to get frightened"? >>

Startled would be how I would read that sentence, regardless of the lack of context. It would take a lot of wrangling to make me think that it referred to beginning something.
Johnathan Mark   Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:08 am GMT
To an American such as myself, the sentence "what a start they gave" sounds archaic in any context. Perhaps to the Brits its not the same?
Uriel   Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:13 am GMT
I would never phrase it that wya myself, but I would know what it meant.
Jacek   Tue May 16, 2006 11:01 am GMT
I'm quite sure that "give a start" means "make a movement, 'cause you're afraid of somthing". Acctually, the work "start" in this case is a noun, but I really hard to find this word in dictionary. Even Collins didn't include this meaning in his database. In the Callan Method they've already used the word "start" in the meaning of "movement" and it's use in the sentense which show how people react caught doing something by surprise.
Of course, somody compere this statement to the statement "what a women she was" and I think this is also corrent, but the correct translation depends of the rest.
Ah, by the way, look here