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. . .


Jeanette said...


I have a similar shelf...but unfortunately no cans of YA-zik.'re telling me that if I stack all these books, tapes, CDs dictionaries, flash cards, and downloaded Russian language programs around me as I sleep, the fluency won't be absorbed into my pores and come out my mouth? I mean - you are saying I actually have to TRY? Nevas-mozhna!

Eileen said...

Hey Jeanette, yes can you believe it. Language acquisition has become so interesting - just remembering back to how we learned English. I'm betting you *love* English grammar. Da? Me too! And I keep telling myself, if I had been born Russian, I'd love Russian grammar too. Maybe next time you'll pick up a can of language, eh? ;)