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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Your Pronunciation Offends My Ears

( Today's blog owes it's title to Barbara our Russian 1A teacher who was unimpressed with how I said the days of the week in Russian)

My dialogue partner is an imbecile. I do not want to come across like a Goth girl who dreams of working in a mortuary and keeps vials of chihuahua blood by her bedside table so she can use it to write mean things about everyone she has ever met but there is no denying the fact that my dialogue partner has a single-digit IQ.

We are up to the stage in Russian 1A where we have to write a simple exchange between two people. I thought it'd be neat to forego the traditional 'Hello person! Nice to meet you. What is your name?'-type dialogues and instead have a chance meeting between an accident-prone tourist and a foul-tempered Russian. We'd cover greetings (when the tourist opens a box of lobsters that attack him and a nearby Muscovite), directions (the Russian furiously trying to explain where the hospital is so he can re-attach his fingers), sums ('You owe me 50,000 roubles clumsy stranger!') and goodbyes ('Never foul me with your presence again!'). Simple non?

I begin to write down the word "eezveeneetye", an all-purpose word that can mean 'excuse me' (for when you want a waiter's attention or just pushing past someone in a movie theatre) or 'I'm sorry' (for when you drop a cement block on somebody's foot), in Cyrillic script when the half-wit dialogue partner asks me questions that make me seriously doubt his understanding of not just Russian, but English as well.

Half-Wit Dialogue Partner: What's that symbol mean?
Me (thinking that my horrible handwriting may be confusing him): Oh, it's just an Eekratkoyeh.
Half-Wit Dialogue Partner: Really? (Pause) What an Eekratkoyeh?
(Note: We are 5 weeks into an 8 week Russian course. By the third lesson everyone should know how to read and write the language)
Me:....it's just one of the Russian verbs.
(Another Pause)
Half-Wit Dialogue Partner: Why is there a squiggly thing on top of it?

He then starts making suggestions like we should ask each others' names or we should ask each other what time it is. I glare at him. 'You know what the situation is right? These are two people who don't want anything to do with each other. They just want to get to the hospital and leave each other alone.'
'Listen Garfunkel, you just let me write this sucker. Go to the corner and play with matches for a while.'

He shuffles off, leaving me in peace as I try to find the Russian phrase for :'Maybe they can attach a hook where your hand used to be.'

This monkey's gone to heaven,


Blogger Yawn said...

Perhaps your partner is from out of town. Like Mobile, Alabama. Or Lynchburg, Mississippi.

(Sorry to use your blog to take a potshot at Rebel states.)

1:28 pm  
Blogger Fatman said...

Hm. I'm inclined to agree. I'd say that his brain was weakened by an over-consumption of D-Grade moonshine and slowly eroding due the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that he contracted from his daily intake of squirrel brains. This may lead us to conclude that he was born in a shack in Dropjaw, Idaho but let us not be too hasty.

4:16 pm  

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