Thursday, March 11, 2010

Russian Update, or In my opinion, we don’t have time and will be late

In my opinion, we don't have time and will be late

People tell me my Russian is getting good, but it still has a lot of gaps in it. I can watch movies and sitcoms pretty easily, but the History Channel or National Geographic still trips me up quite a bit. I can understand a basic newspaper, but most children's books are still full of unfamiliar words. However, I still find myself amused at certain parts of the language. Perhaps these only interest me, but here are some interesting words Russian has.

The first word is the verb "opozdat." That means "to be late." In English to express the same idea, we need an adjective and the form of the word "to be." But Russia has its own word for it. Why did you late? If you don't hurry, you will late. He always lates. Personally, I try never opozdat. And I think it's funny that in our culture that is super-sensitive to being late, we never evolved a verb for it. (Or is possessing the quality of lateness more shameful than committing the act of lateness?)

Another time verb that Russia has and we don't, is "uspit." It means to have time for something. I never realized how cumbersome, "to have time" is. And who are we to possess time in the first place? In Russian, I oo-spei-you, you, oo-spei-ish, we oo-spei-im. Or maybe you did not uspel, and you ended up opozdal.

They also have multiple words for "and." One is the regular "and" that you would use in a list. As in, "I am going to buy beets, cabbage, and(1) potatoes." But the other one is used to change the subject of a conversation. "How are you? I'm good, and(2) you?"

And(2) something I can't stop saying is "po-mo-e-moo," which means "in my opinion." Something about the way those syllables arrange themselves is really amusing. Probably because I'm saying moo twice.

Po-mo-e-moo, mu nye u-spei-im i mu opozdaem. Or is maybe its actually, po-mo-e-moo, mu nye u-speviam i mu budem opozdavaet. (I don't know if I'll ever grasp all the situations for perfective and imperfective verbs.) I just checked with my counterpart, it's actually variation 3: Po-mo-e-moo, mu nye u-speviam i mu opozdaem.

Michael Hotard
+7 777 323 8192
Peace Corps Volunteer - Kazakhstan

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