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Hmoob! And my Russian Studies...

atm

Today I made a quick stop at an ATM in DC and noticed a new language on the screen - Hmoob! What's this? I had no idea. I came home, googled it and discovered it's an Asian language spoken by a sect of people scattered in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Americans, we're not known to be linguists, though language study is required in both high school and university. At my high school the only options were French and Spanish. The choice was easy for me because I don't like the French language and don't consider it romantic at all. There's no appeal for me when a man speaks French - to my ears it sounds very pretentious and effeminate. So I studied Spanish in both high school and university, but rarely use it and am not fluent. Language - it's a very touchy subject for some people.

For Americans there's no real incentive to learn another language except for the intellectual pursuit of study, or a unique job in another part of the world. I frequently attend conferences with lawyers from all over the globe and the common language among all of us is English. It's the international language and in this way Americans are very spoiled. I've never denied this, even in my first Russian post where many attacked me for suggesting that English language signs should be displayed in main cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. I don't make the rules of the world, I simply live in it and for business English is the common thread. And tourism, well it's big business and a major source of income for many countries, including America. Notice the Russian language option on the ATM? :)

1. A few years ago I started studying Russian, mainly because I had a crush on a Russian speaking guy. That infatuation quickly passed but I kept studying in anticipation for my Ukraine trip. My friend's father didn't speak English and I was staying in their home during the trip. Personally, I think it's rude to stay in someone's home and not learn basic phrases in their native language. So I learned how to introduce myself, say hello, goodbye, thank you and other common phrases. When I returned from Ukraine, I enrolled in official classes and studied the language for six months. My instructor was great, a beautiful Ukrainian woman and there were about eight students in the class. Here's one of my lessons:

photo (13)

2. In class the first objective was to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. Then we started reading Cyrillic words which are very similar to the English equivalent. At the end of each lesson, we wrote sentences putting all the words together. Each lesson built on the other, with repetition of vocabulary.

photo (17)

3. I'm a very visual person, so I have hundreds of flash cards with Russian words that I would flip through at night when sitting on the couch. Continually seeing phrases and words over and over again, it's the only way I could retain the information. Our study book also had an audio component where you could listen to a native speaker pronounce the words.

photo (18)

Everything was fine at first. I learned the Cyrillic alphabet very quickly and had no problem with pronunciation of short words or phrases. But then lessons became more complicated with introduction of gender for nouns (male, female, neuter!!), tenses and longer words. I lost focus because I didn't have enough time to devote to studying, and I was only doing it for fun. Russian plays absolutely no role in my current business life as a lawyer. If I decide to take this blog more seriously and continue writing on a mostly Russian platform, then there will be more incentive for me to focus on mastering the language.

4. I can still say basic phrases in Russian, read it okay, but cannot construct or formulate complex sentences in the language. For me, it's a very difficult language to learn. But anytime I need a good laugh I pick up this book - "Dirty Russian" - given to me by a friend. It teaches you all kinds of useful information. For instance, how to pick up or seduce a man or woman in Russian, how to buy drugs in Russian and how to win a profanity war. Some of the Chapters in the book are "Party Russian," "Angry Russian," "Horny Russian" and "Sporty Russian." When I show it to native speakers they find it very amusing.

396047_407337925968174_492372219_n

I'm always amazed at Europeans and others who speak multiple languages. In some ways, America is too accommodating. Many immigrants working in public restaurants or other service jobs barely speak English. It's totally unacceptable. I'm one of the most immigrant friendly Americans you will ever meet, but if you're working in the service industry you must speak the native language. No exceptions.

My readers - most of you are very intelligent and your command of the English language is exceptional. Sometimes people will apologize for their poor English in comments when in fact it is almost perfect. Never hesitate to communicate with me for fear of bad English. I'll probably understand you fine and, if not, I'll ask for clarification.

What other languages do you speak? And did you find English a difficult language to learn?

Comments

( 243 comments — Leave a comment )
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gallon
Jun. 2nd, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
Russian, Ukrainian, English, German, a bit of Spanish.

Basic English grammar seems fairly simple, but then it falls to a number of small cases which are still necessary for a good level of English.

I have always wondered - how is russian 'вид глагола' grammar category percieved by foreigners. I know that it somewhat resembles indefinite and perfect tenses, but still)

P. S. This Dirty Russian page is hilarious. Guess I'm going to get it and have fun reading))

Edited at 2013-06-02 11:40 pm (UTC)
xpo_xpo_xpo
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
Japanese has even honorific forms!
You will use different verbs saying about someone waiting for someone, someone waiting for teacher or teacher waiting for someone.
(no subject) - gallon - Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Here is the example :) - xpo_xpo_xpo - Jun. 4th, 2013 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here is the example :) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 4th, 2013 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here is the example :) - lev_kuzminsky - Jun. 25th, 2013 12:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here is the example :) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 25th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 27th, 2014 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Here there be examples :) - lev_kuzminsky - Dec. 6th, 2014 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gallon - Jun. 6th, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 6th, 2013 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
thou should? - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - plushevii_zaits - Jun. 30th, 2013 03:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 30th, 2013 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
:) - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
sdtsdt
Jun. 2nd, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC)
Русский, I'm trying lern English. Biggest problem is vocabulary:
phrasal verbs
and many things to need remember for correct speak

Edited at 2013-06-02 11:22 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:29 pm (UTC)
Good luck! I hope my English language blog will help you. If you have questions about English language, fell free to ask me. I will try to help.
(no subject) - sdtsdt - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dmitri_blinov - Mar. 21st, 2015 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 22nd, 2015 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
'I' in cursive - dmitri_blinov - Mar. 24th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 'I' in cursive - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 24th, 2015 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 'I' in cursive - dmitri_blinov - Mar. 25th, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
new_forester
Jun. 3rd, 2013 12:16 am (UTC)
Well, I speak Russian, English and some French.
I totally agree with you on the non-English speaking immigrants. They irritate me. Every time I meet one, I say, "Hey, you know what? I could master English almost to native level fluency. Yeah, it took years and years of work and the work is still ongoing (the current phase is learning the "child speak" with my now 5 y.o. daughter). Now, if I could do it, so can you." This is what I tell them.
smart_brand
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:13 am (UTC)
а зачем им о этом говорить, если они не понимают того, что вы говорите. Ну и ваш native level fluency тоже требует некоторой коррекции. Хотя, может, я и ошибаюсь: "she did not spoke"
(no subject) - new_forester - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smart_brand - Jun. 3rd, 2013 11:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - new_forester - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smart_brand - Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - new_forester - Jun. 3rd, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smart_brand - Jun. 3rd, 2013 11:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - new_forester - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jun. 3rd, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 4th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC) - Expand
wojzeh
Jun. 3rd, 2013 01:52 am (UTC)
That's why many opted for Canada... As I did, for example.
new_forester
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
Canada is a bilingual country, the US is not.
My mom knows one English teacher, - xpo_xpo_xpo - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: My mom knows one English teacher, - new_forester - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wojzeh - Jun. 3rd, 2013 01:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wojzeh - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
timsparrow
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
Russian, English, some Czech, very basic German.
I totally agree with you on immigrants - they MUST be able to speak the official language of the country they move to, at least on the basic level.
xpo_xpo_xpo
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:36 am (UTC)
Ё is not always stressed :)
There is a word амёбиаз (amoebiasis).
Re: Ё is not always stressed :) - new_forester - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ipona_mat - Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Фёкла - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ё is not always stressed :) - wormball - Feb. 3rd, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
whiteeye
Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
I know Russian as my native language and English as I need to know it due to my business life. If I didn't need it in my business life I wouldn't study it add I hard. As Russia is similar to America in some way: if you don't need in foreign language in general you don't learn it.
I had studied French for 1 year but then I moved to another school and had to give it up.
English is not very difficult language for learning, especially in comparison with Russian, but still you need more practice to know it at a quite good level. And one of the most difficult things is to understand native speakers:)))
new_forester
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:58 am (UTC)
The difference between Russian and English is that pretty much anything that is worth reading is either written in English or translated into it, whereas if one only speaks Russian, one is only able to read a small fraction of what is out there. This is especially important for science literature which is almost exclusively written in English.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jun. 3rd, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whiteeye - Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 7th, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whiteeye - Jun. 7th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whiteeye - Jun. 8th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 8th, 2013 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
ypolozov
Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:32 am (UTC)
+1 This Dirty Russian page is hilarious!
And your remarks on the scanned papers are very interesting!
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:37 pm (UTC)
My Ukrainian friend once showed me his English lesson books and I found it interesting. So I thought readers might like to see how foreigners learn Russian. Yes, the Dirty Russian book is great. You should order it. :))
obscene language - dmitri_blinov - Mar. 24th, 2015 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
The Russian Language - dmitri_blinov - Mar. 24th, 2015 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
onkel_hans
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:06 am (UTC)
My favorite language manual is The Joys of Yinglish by Leo Calvin Rosten. It is based on the greatest collection of Jewish jokes.

To know French is as useful as to wear a necktie. It is nice and practical. I like wearing ties from my high school years.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:13 pm (UTC)
In the legal field, there are tons of Jews. It's not a stereotype but a fact. My boss has the book "The Yiddish Dictionary" in his office. :)
(no subject) - onkel_hans - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
trzp
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:06 am (UTC)
Какой интересный у вас почерк!
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
Спасибо! :)
trol_lya_lya
Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Умничка!
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:14 pm (UTC)
:))
fesma94
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
What other languages do you speak? And did you find English a difficult language to learn? (c)
Russian (native),English,Hebrew
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
I once dated a Jewish guy. A real Jew, where all the kids in the family spoke and wrote Hebrew. The only phrases I remember from this relationship are "Shalom" and "Mah Shlomecha?"
(no subject) - onkel_hans - Jun. 3rd, 2013 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Jun. 3rd, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 26th, 2014 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 26th, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 27th, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 03:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 27th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 27th, 2014 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 08:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 27th, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 27th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 27th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Connie Francis - onkel_hans - Sep. 27th, 2014 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
anna_potapov
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
After about 10 years (!!!) of learning English at school and at university I ended up with....elementary level :) So, I was pretty sure that it's hard to learn it or I just was hopeless in studying foreign languages. Then, two years ago, when I decided to try to learn it one more time and went to English school, I realized that they were school and university programs which were not able to teach students to speak English. I've read somewhere that "russian students are only able to be silent in English" and have to agree with this statement. All we did at school and university was read and translate, and learn Grammar rules. We practically didn't speak! :)
Now I can say that it's still not easy for me to learn English and I definitely need much more practice with native speakers, but I love process of learning so much :)

Edited at 2013-06-03 08:16 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:43 pm (UTC)
Anna, your English is almost always perfect! Reading is always easier than speaking and writing in a foreign language, at least to me.
(no subject) - anna_potapov - Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onkel_hans - Jun. 3rd, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onkel_hans - Jun. 3rd, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onkel_hans - Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sic! - oslushnik_olexy - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Sic! - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 26th, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:21 am (UTC)
I speak only in Russian and English. I know three Spanish words. But I don't see any problem to learn another language. It depends on motivation.

And think any language is difficult and interesting!
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:43 pm (UTC)
Motivation is the key factor. It takes a lot of time and discipline, but I do believe it's much harder to learn foreign languages as an adult.
(no subject) - llueve - Jun. 3rd, 2013 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
sovi4ka
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:25 am (UTC)
I study English. I love this language but I need to improve it every day. As for me -th, -er sounds are more difficult to say it correctly.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:15 pm (UTC)
Good luck with your English studies!
julegg
Jun. 3rd, 2013 05:50 am (UTC)
Now I study German, although it would be necessary to tighten English.
Also, picture 3
12 - двенадцать - it would be better to say dve-nad-zat
2 - dvah, not doo-vah.
peacetraveler22
Jun. 3rd, 2013 02:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I would always listen to the audio and then write the English translation as I heard it. Sometimes it seems I added extra syllables to Russian words (like doo-vah rather than dvah). Maybe this is why natives never understand me when I speak Russian. :))
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