Collecting episodes, bits, and other peculiar miscellanea, which belong to the project now called “Vicissitudes of Using English (…) in the Experience of a Non-Native Speaker”
Few things are weirder than the spelling of the word “weird.”
People around abruptly start learning Russian. Everything goes as planned; that’s my secret KGB mission after all, with which I infiltrated this helpless country.
Name Taxonomies: Russian Names
Russian names consist of three names: first name, second name, and patronymic name. This third name is derived from father’s name. My father’s name is Alexander therefore my patronymic name is Alexandrovna, whereas my brother’s patronymic name is Alexandrovich.
In Russia, I am Vasilina Alexandrovna in official settings.
Needless to say, patronymic name is dropped in day-to-day interactions of those who know each other well, unless it’s used humorously, in a gentle, light, teasing manner.
It is unthinkable to speak to a teacher using her name without the patronymic, not to mention such a crime against propriety as to abbreviate her name. No Lizas whatsoever but Elizaveta Mikhailovna, please, and thank you.
I regret that English, and, therefore, a big part of the American culture is devoid of such a simple and effective instrument of creating and maintaining distance, as well as of expressing additional gradations of respect.
Untranslatable Words: Dosada
Untranslatable Russian word, dosada. It’s subdued anger. One of the shades of anger anyway. Hard to describe. Annoyance. Annoyed anger maybe. Also the cause of such anger.
Suddenly, reading English text, I feel like my eyes rest from the Cyrillic which which I occupied them today. How can one watch these ridiculous Cyrillic letters and perceive them as one’s native alphabet, is beyond me for a second. Not this ridiculous script, not these “щ,“ ”ш,“ “ч,“ “я,“ “э,“ “й,“ “ъ,“ “ы,” and other peculiar violations of sight and perhaps even other senses, like touch.
Иногда так хочется, чтобы слово было таковым и в английском. Почему бы английскому не иметь слова “лоск”, например? Losk. Звучит очень по-английски.
What linguists like to do, is that they like to take a sentence, the more absurd the better, and to analyze shit out of it. Like, “Unicorns drink abmrosia,” and voilà, thirty pages of excited petite-font exercises.
Numbers look so seraphically Cyrillic. They gaze at you with their big Cyrillic eyes out of the Latin-lettered hot mess of a text.
“She is a terrible actor… Actress. Her acting was sub-porn” (overheard at UT)
Pretty much enthralled by the notion of sub-porn. I don’t think anyone has problematized it. How does it differ from erotica? How is that not porn but sub-porn, is there any way to discern between the two? Is there any other porn somewhere there, like over-porn and quasi-porn? So many questions.
Linguists in their natural habitat
A: Why does the Queen say “we“ about herself? How is that correct in the modern English?
B: I don’t know but she is the English Queen and therefore what she speaks is English.
The first day, and I already have a student complimenting me on my accent. Uh, dude…
Were it not for the lost by my people, and won by your folk, the Cold War, who knows: maybe this evening I could have read poems and fragments, written by you in your brilliant, exceptionally fluent, maddeningly sensual Russian.