Monday, September 28, 2009

The Baffling of a Boston Butcher

Shortly after her move from Russia to Massachusetts, Lydmila went shopping in the meat department and said to the butcher, I'll take 2 kilos of that language, please.

You want What?

And she was confused about how he could be confused.

See, Lydmila was thinking in Russian but speaking English. The Russian word, язык -- pronounced YA-zik -- means physical tongue. It also means language or spoken tongue. And tongue is what she wanted to buy. And that's what she told the butcher. Or so she thought.

Oh, what an adventure is language learning.

Speaking of adventure, here's a peek at my Russian language books. Oh there's more. . . there's lots more. Years back, I thought that buying language books would make me fluent. Oh, you mean purchasing the books is not enough?

Eventually I realized that these books have to be opened. And devoured. I learned that language is acquired not merely by . . . what is it? There's a word for that. . . it's right here. On the tip of my. . . tongue. I truly just thought of it: osmosis. That's it. The info in such books is not acquired simply by walking past them 267 times a day and hoping for osmosis.

Let's zoom on in for a close-up. See the two cans serving as bookends? Those are cans of beef язык. The perfect thing for a shelf of books about the Russian tongue.

How about you, dear blog reader. Have you had special adventures of walking into a store and asking for something in a second language? And only you knew what you were talking about? Please share. No need to bite your tongue. . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We Wall Rock You! Oh yes we well!

Greetings from Kiev, Ukraine. How about some local graffiti, mis-spellings and all. Thought you might enjoy this salute to the music group Queen.

Oh, and then along the sidewalk, this throw-back to Soviet days caught my eye. See that hammer and sickle?

Let's zoom on in closer. . .

Now there's a paradigm shift for you. Think the Red Skins might be interested in a new logo?

Graffiti in a language other than ones own can get a little tricky. Various obscenities mis-spelled can be almost funny. And I'll spare you any of that. Have to admit though that if I were tempted to scrawl on local walls - please rest assured that I have no such plans - the message would probably end up being obscene at least to the grammatical purist.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello from Kiev

Greetings from Kiev, Ukraine! I've been here a week already with another week to go, waiting for my visa back into Russia. This is not my first visit to Kiev. But it is my first time to come here for visa renewal although it will likely be my last. And that's another topic entirely, not for the faint of heart. Welcome to the latest round of the visa game. Speaking of fun and games. . .

There's not much more entertaining than hanging out the balcony window videotaping passersby. I jest of course but it does provide some reasonably dramatic footage for learning to edit video. And that is one of my big projects for these two weeks: editing video.

Oh, I'm so pleased to have gotten quite a bit done. Granted, I'm in the learning mode on this, but the results are respectable enough for the purposes at hand. Visit YouTube (search Eileena110) to see all 25 videos which include Christian songs for children in Russian, spiritual songs from last summer's Christian Singing School and performances from out talent show on the closing evening there in Donetsk, Ukraine. Oh, and there's so much more to come. . .

Monday, September 07, 2009

Soviet Russian Pins on the Street

In Rostov-on-Don, a lady sets up shop a couple hours each weekday and sells these lapel pins. My impression is that during Soviet times, such pins were to a Russian what t-shirts are to Americans. Besides being fun to wear, they're a handy way of showing a bit of where we have been and what we've done. One website says that years ago, trading pins on the street was a popular pastime, apparently they were traded much like baseball cards.

This lady - Olga is her name, as I recall - has collected these pins from various estate sales. Looking at her pin collection is like walking through Soviet history. Say, care to join me for a closer look? (Click photos to enlarge.)

Most of these pins are related to the Olympic games. Several are especially interesting. Let's zoom on in closer.

A couple of these pins catch my eye. In the upper right is a red and gold pin that says CSSR 25. I was pretty proud of myself - for a few minutes, anyway - for deciding that was for the 25th anniversary of the USSR. Except it can't be: For one thing, USSR in Russian is spelled CCCP and besides that 1945 - in small print - was not the 25th anniversary of the USSR. Oh well. This is when I turn to my local experts. And there are many. Starting with the lady who is selling these. Here's betting she knows exactly the story behind that pin.

Another interesting pin lower right, silver with Roman numerals XXII. That would be for the 22nd Olympic games in Moscow in 1980. Remember when the US boycotted those games? (Boy we showed them a thing or two, didn't we? haha)

Another interesting pin is top center and says PRESS, in English, of course. The matching pin to the left says International Exhibition and seems to involve oil - power - and agriculture, I'm guessing. Maybe the engineers among us would have an idea. Again, I'll get the pin seller lady would know exactly the story behind those pins.

Anybody have a major interest in such pins? No promises here, but I can get them really quite inexpensively.