Learning Russian in Russia

Very well, so here I am after a somewhat 2-3 months break making myself write another episode. Hopefully this text will come to life in the next 30 minutes or so, because now I am a very busy adult doing things adult people do, such as going to work and bingeing on Netflix afterwards.

Alrighty then, let's talk about the marvelous world of Russian language, blyat'.

How were the first Russian classes? 


Well, might be useful to mention here again that when I got to Belgorod I already knew some Russian. I could read the Russian alphabet and could survive in a groceries store, but there were colleagues in my class that didn't know Russian at all, so they all had to survive using mimics (trips to the hairdresser were specially funny back then.)

Resultado de imagem para soviet grocery store
Funny fact: Did you know that in some Russian stores (specially those that still live in the Soviet Union) you cannot take the item yourself? You have to ask a clerk to get it from the shelf for you and you might have to pay for items separately if they are in different sections of the store.


Of course, we started by learning the Russian alphabet first, and it seemed so easy when the teacher started with "A", then "B", then she said "V", followed by "Gh*", "D" "Ye", "Yo", and we shouted "Dafuq?". As you can see, the Russian Alphabet is very different from Latin alphabets. Some letters have double sounds, such as the "ё", which sounds as "yo", or the "ц", which sounds like "ts". And don't get me started on Russian cursive. I'll talk about that some other day.

Resultado de imagem para russian alphabet
No, that is not an H, and that is not a P, and that is not a X and that is totally not an R. 

And that was just the beginning, of course! There are so many ways in which Russian is different from Romance languages and English as well. It is not for beginners, truly. During the next few weeks we were practicing the phonetics of the Russian alphabet and saying some simple things like "Это Дом" (Eta Dom) which means "This is a house". If you are attentive you have noticed that there are 2 words missing in the Russian equivalent. Well, that is because they don't use the verb "To be" in the present nor have articles. Yup, you read that right.

How does one survive without articles?


For some non-native Russian speakers this can be very hard to understand. How exactly do you differentiate between, let's say "The house" and "A house". Well, believe it or not, you don't need articles to survive! You have been carrying them for nothing in your language all this time! Of course, it might sound weird, but give it a try: Instead of saying "This is the house I told you about", you can say "This house I told you about", it is still different from "I told you about this house" and "I told you about house", so even though the three sentences sound very weird in English, the 3 of them still give you a different information.

Ok, the short answer is context. You just need context.

Resultado de imagem para soviet teacher
"Honor and Glory to the Soviet Teacher!" or she will beat you with those flowers until you learn how to pronounce the "Ы"


What other surprises await us in the wonderful world of Russian Language?


Cases. D-e-c-l-e-n-s-i-o-n c-a-s-e-s.


What are declension cases? 


You don't want to know, trust me.

Pleeeaaase?


OK, you asked for it. Don't tell me you didn't ask for it in the comments. So, in English we have the words "I", "She", and "He". But you don't always say "I" in every phrase, right? If you do, there's something wrong with your English. Don't look at me like that. Sometimes you need to change the pronouns to "Me", "Her" and "Him" in order for a phrase to make sense.

Now imagine this for every fucking word. 5 times. Five fucking times, ёпта. And I am not talking about only verb conjugation or the declension of pronouns here, I am talking about all words. The Russian language has 6 declension cases. Each one is used for a specific purpose, but to keep things simple, I will just say that the ending of the word determine its position as actor or object.


A simple example is the frase "Это пицца" (Eta pizza), which means "This is a pizza". In order to say "I want pizza", you need to change the ending of the word, like in here: "Я хочу пиццу" (Ya hachú pizzu). I have just showed you two cases, there are 6 of them, and each of them has their own complications, and I am glad to talk about all of them right n-

Please don't 



Ok, I won't. So this episode is probably a bit boring, specially for those who don't like learning languages or don't have interest in linguistics. Still, it's my blog, so I will talk about whatever boring topic I want, not aiming for record views anyway, so...
Resultado de imagem para russian declension chart
This is actually a simplified table. You might think I am joking. I. Am. Not.


I would like to give some special thanks to those who told me I should keep writing. Sometimes I get discouraged, specially with everything else happening around me, but it's nice to know that people actually find my blog funny and interesting. Yeah, some people find me funny, can you believe it?

*The letter "Г" can be translated as "G", but it always sounds like the "g" in "gift", so in order to avoid misunderstandings (and irritate linguists and the like), I write it as "gh" when it is by itself.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Racism in Russia, or How to Not Rent an Apartment

What to see in Moscow when you get tired of walking on the Red Square

The Roommate from Hell - Part 1