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“Nyet,” he answered, and then directed me to a location three cars back, where I eventually found our assigned seat.
Leaving Saint Petersburg for Moscow recently, I needed to determine whether our train tickets were for an assigned seat in a specific car, or if it was open seating. I can maneuver my way around most Russian situations.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know the word for “assigned,” or even a close approximation for “open seating.”“Nyet,” he answered. Before long, though, I'll come across some roadblock—like, say, "roadblock"—try to translate it literally from English—road block ... — fail, and have to admit to myself and the Russians around me that I'm only semifluent at best.
"If they do have to use it, they may cut short a conversation so as not to have to show openly how far the attrition has progressed." Eventually I’d take the linguistic back seat, allowing others around me to talk as I nodded politely along. My opinion is “da.”This vocab-delimited apathy led to some uncomfortable outcomes.
Touring a church with a family friend, I asked what a certain icon represented. “I don’t know, I’m not a believer,” I said, without thinking about how many complicated sentences of explanation this admission would prompt.“What do you mean?! “Surely you don’t think the earth was created from nothing?
It’s easier for kids to learn languages because their brains are more plastic—they have a great number of connections between neurons.
People who begin learning a language as children usually reach a higher level of proficiency than those who start as adults.The more the students were asked to repeat the Spanish words, the more difficulty they had generating the corresponding English labels for the objects." That is to say, the better I became at English, the more my brain suppressed the Russian inside me.This trip would be the first time I spoke exclusively Russian for multiple days, or spoke the language at length to people who aren't related to me.In 1989 my parents packed two suitcases, renounced their Soviet citizenship, and took me to Leningrad’s Pulkovo Airport for my first plane ride. For a journalist, it's certainly an interesting time to be in Russia.We were bound, eventually, for a new life in the U. My grandma, though perfectly healthy, is 83 and “waiting for death,” as she likes to remind us.(Sorry, tsaritsa.)I can break down the ensuing things that went wrong into roughly three Rumsfeldian categories: 1) Words I did not know that I did not know.2) Words I knew I did not know, and would never remember.3) Words I did not know, and would later remember, but it wouldn’t matter anyway.Research shows that trying to remember words in a foreign language improves brain function because it exercises things like task-switching and working memory.Before I left, I tried to find comfort in the fact that though my speech is now shaky, I understand Russian perfectly, which is true, and by telling myself that “everyone there speaks English these days.” That part is false.I arrived at Pulkovo Airport two weeks ago with my boyfriend Rich, who is as American as an apple pie baked into the shape of a baseball and then fired out of a concealed handgun.He and I waltzed through passport check with nary a raised eyebrow from the control officers.I ordered us a cab to the hotel entirely in Russian, and as a result was feeling pretty much like the Queen of Russia.