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Beginning Russian

Arbitrary Russian text

No I don’t know what that means. Why do you ask?

Some of you might not know that one of my hobbies has long been languages.

Like most Canadians, I grew up with at least a modicum of bilingualism (that’s right – I’m a Deschampsย and I also speak English! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Then in high school I had the option to take German… which I didn’t do. What I did take was a bit of Russian, as we were hoping to go on an exchange to the Soviet Union (yes I’m old shuddup shuddup). Then I got to university, where I took Greek (yay!), Latin (argh!), and eventually wound up teaching myself Old & Middle English, Old French, Old Norse, some literary Chinese and a certain amount of Moeso-Gothic one particularly boring afternoon. In short, I collect languages.

(I came back to German because it was necessary for a Classics degree, and my German TA was the spitting image of Debbie Harry. Mmmmmmm.)

So for no good or convincing reason, I’ve started studying Russian again. I’ve got some books (chiefly the Penguin Russian course, thanks Julie!) and some audio courses, and I’m enjoying every ย minute of it. It’s aย hard language. I mean, I’m down with inflected languages, and different script systems, but Russian has some evil complexity that I just love. (Prepositions without vowels? Right on!)

So today I’ve made myself a schedule, a syllabus of sorts, to try to keep myself on track with this adventure. It’s ambitious, but so is the whole endeavour, so why not, right? I’m looking forward to reading some Russian stories (maybe not Zamyatin and Solzhenitsyn just yet) and watching Russian movies (yay depressing death-filled apocalypses!) in the original sometime soon.

PS note to self: when switching the keyboard to Russian, remember to switch it back to English before editing the metadata for a post :S

20 responses on “Beginning Russian

  1. Ben Deschamps

    And I don’t know who the hell Russian Circles are – presumably a band? – but Facebook can stop trying to autocomplete “Russian” to their name any day now. There are other things Russian in the world than random bands paying for our attention.

  2. Eliza Wyatt

    Good luck, Ben! The hardest part about languages for me has always been the long-term dedication. Keep to your schedule! I’ll be cheering for you.

  3. Chris Merle

    My favorite Russian word is ???????? which means roughly ostentatious bad taste. Think velvet Elvis painting.

    If you’ve studied Greek and Latin Russian will be a breeze. I’ve forgotten most of my Russian but my pronunciation is excellent.

    ? ?????? ??????? ??-??????.

  4. Anna Margulis Bradley

    If you ever want to chat in Russian let me know. Meanwhile, i recommend cartoons as an AWESOME way to help learn a language. simple subject matter, small vocab quantity and clear pronunciation ๐Ÿ™‚ also a lot of repetition.

  5. Anna Margulis Bradley

    Ben Deschamps – ? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ??????. better sentence construction, and pravda is truth, so doesn’t work colloquially there (i not truth speak russian yet” not so much)

  6. Anna Margulis Bradley

    yeah well true. translit.ru only goes so far for my spelling (work machine, not so much for foreign keyboard addon). yes pravda is also sometimes really, but it just doesn’t work like that in this sentence. it is too literal for it. (ne pravda means falsehood, lie, not truth, rather then “not really” as an adjective type)

  7. Ben Deschamps

    (re: spelling: due to space considerations I didn’t manage to bring my dictionary on this tour, but I think I’m going to buy a better one anyway; but the one at the back of the Penguin Russian course, while frustrating, fortunately had ???. My spelling in most languages is very good… in Russian, it’s ghastly)

  8. Julie Besco Cross

    I’ve found in lots of occasions where the ? is used instead of the correct ?, and it doesnt seem to bother anyone who actually speaks the language, but it annoys the crap out of me. As do cyrillic italics.

  9. Ben Deschamps

    Speaking of annoying the crap out of me: trying to get WordPress to do Unicode properly. For some reason I can use Unicode in the editor, but when it posts it to the DB it changes any non-Latin characters to ????? and saves it that way. Even though all the settings are correct. Grrr.

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