Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Let's Speak Russian Correctly

Let's Speak Russian Correctly
Weather -- Clear, warming, high occasional clouds
Temp -- 43F at 11:30 pm Wind -- Calm

I would not recognize the signs, but the missionaries tell me that there are signs in the Metro cars encouraging people to speak Russian properly. The signs read, "Let's speak Russian correctly", and give the reader some examples of words often mispronounced or misused. The sign then gives the proper pronunciation or usage and encourages the reader to be more respectful of the mother tongue and take the time to speak properly.

This is an example of the pride Russians take in their language and an indication of how seriously they take it. On the other hand, I have found that my friends here are very tolerant with the missionaries and myself when we try to speak Russian. I think there is a strong pride in being able to speak Russian at all and particularly to speak it properly.

Today we took the McCauleys on a shopping tour to several markets and a mall. Yulia, the 20-something accountant came with us along with President Yuri Gushchin, our driver. Yulia is a terrific young lady, beautiful in appearance and spirit. We love her and will miss her a lot.

While waiting in the checkout line we were all saying "привет" (previet) and "здравствуйте" (zdrasfitya) which are all forms of "hello". Yulia turned to me and quite seriously said, " The baby does not speak Russian yet". You and I would say, "The baby does not speak yet", but for her it was important that the baby did not speak Russian yet.

I love this genuine interest and pride in speaking their language and doing so properly. As I tell Sister Cindy all of the time, "Words have meaning" and we need to use them properly. I am so sick of "thingey" and "stuff" and "way" (as in way cool). I even heard an elder at English Club teaching the conjugation of the word "way" as in "It is way cold", "Yesterday it was wayer cold" and "Tomorrow will be the wayest cold ever". Things have names, words have proper uses, meaning comes from agreed usage, and they all contribute to communication.

Thanks to whoever put up the signs and to the effort it promotes. That was way cool.
What a country.

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