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Friday, 17 February 2017

Learning THE OTHER Russian

I learned the hard way some bad words in Russian. But to start from my background. In Croatia it is very common whenever a foreigner comes and asks you if you can teach him few words in Croatian that you will start with, Hi, How are you?,  but really fast you transition to some not so nice words in Croatian. Actually it is a way to make people know that you accept them and you want them to be a part of your friends list. Croatian, in that respect is very rich. I think it is because we are really open and this is the easiest and fastest way to get rid of your frustration with - never ending paperwork, politics and lets not forget, traffic problems.

Now in Russia, I found people are very polite. Unless you catch them by surprise. They really don't want to tell you any bad words and if you find one by chance and tell it to them they blush, turn their heads away and don't want to confirm if you said it ok or it is completely wrong. So, after some time here I was very interested to know some phrases. At least to be aware if someone said it to me and not to look like a dumb foreigner.

I did have some luck. The catch is that you have to listen carefully to your friend, especially when she is talking to a plumber, delivery service or post office. So one day I had coffee with my friend and as she was discussing delivery for her washing machine and went of the phone after trying to schedule delivery time for at least fifteen minutes, her frustration finally came out and I had one word. Now, because this blog is nice, and I am still not sure if this Russian word composition is bad or really bad I will just put it in brackets with some dots (B.... M...)! The reason why I don't know is because when I tested it with few of my Russian friends, some didn't react and some nearly fainted.

The biggest breakthrough for me was when another friend, this time Estonian. They seem to be more open, although she will probably kill me now. Sent me a link to a popular Russian summer song (Leningrad - Exponat). Now my Russian this summer was not that good that I could understand all the words. And I was just too lazy to check the translation. I liked the song soo much I downloaded it as a ringtone. I was so proud to have a Russian song ring every time, in metro, in post office, in school. I wanted to show how I assimilated well. After this song was my ringtone for some time, I would say at least few weeks, I really got interested what it actually says in the song. Who better to ask than my Russian teacher. Poor lady, she is a teacher at university and a part of the well educated old Russian school. When I played it to her she nearly fainted and said she could not understand but will let me know next time. She really sped out of my apartment barely saying goodbye. Now I was a bit worried. Finally I found good girls at my dancing school who were willing to translate it.

What they explained is that this song is really popular but it has two versions, polite one and not so polite one. Of course I, the stupid foreigner, had the bad version on my phone. And than it started coming back to me. There were some strange looks in metro but the worst looks I got at school. I could really just imagine what the other parents and teachers thought about me. I removed song and decide not to test any more Russian songs without knowing proper translation first. And in relation to trying to get bad Russian words I have to wait to go and drink with my Estonian so I would get the words in controlled and familiar place not to come out as a dumb foreigner blond, again.

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