Thursday, July 26, 2012

Learning the Cyrillic alphabet and the joy of the Russian language!

This is my friend and colleague Natlya Yurkova and her son, Sergey.  So... those names are 'transliterated' as I understand it.  That means I just used the english alphabet to make them sound correct when pronounced.  But, more on that in a minute. 

Natalya was my first Altai friend and has been an inspiration to me in many ways.. She makes me want to learn to speak Russian!! Natalya is an amazing English speaker, and speaks other languages as well, but she also has a voice that, when she speaks Russian, its so rich and beautiful to the ear (after a while - at first it sounds a bit like you cant imagine putting all those consonant sounds together, but those are our english speaking ears talking!).

So my daughters and I have several 'how to' books. I find the 'Everything Russian' book with CD really helpful. I also have a set of famous Russian short stories that help me learn culture but are in English on one page and on the opposing page are Russian.  In that way I can go back and forth when I am trying to learn prepositions and connecting words.  Another thing that is really helpful are childrens first learn russian books.  The write a sentence, the alter it a bit, so the subject becomes the object in a sentence, and as the reader, once I figure out the words, I can see the way endings change as a result of the role of the word in the sentence.  It also helps that I have listened to the language a bit and can get a sense of how things should sound when spoken.  If memory serves me now, there are 33 characters in the Cyrillic alphabet, many sound and look like English letters, many look like English letters, or numbers, but have different sounds.  Some of the characters look like they belong on fraternity houses:-) and those are the really fun ones.  I have a colleague at Paul Smiths (David you know who you are) that confided to me that he uses the Cyrillic alphabet when he wants to transliterate English words to write in a code no one can understand!! I love it.
 My girls can count to 10, speak several imporant words and phrases of politeness in the language and use some greetings. Natalia is a great cook and I am teaching my girls to say 'Ochen vokoosno' (transliterated, since I dont have a Cyrillic keyboard - 'Very Delicious!!) I am beginning to work on simple sentences and we each have a notebook that we add to each week.  I have to say, I really enjoy it and Im pretty impressed with how my girls are working and learning!

I have to share some of the ways my daughters and I talk about the letters in the Cyrillic alphabet. Not intended to be at all insulting, we refer to the Russian letter for our 'D' sound, as the 'squatting little man', one of the 'ch' sounds looks like the way I write my number 4's (not like that but more open at the top) and so we refer to that as the 'four'.  One looks like a squarely written upper case W with a tail  ....... and so on, but we are able now to sound things out..

Well, enough about that, but suffice it to say we are working to be ready to be polite guests with a few important things to get us started and hoping for some good learning while we are in the Altai!!

1 comment:

  1. Study abroad will really help students to learn new cultures and meet new people along the way. Thanks for sharing this post!