Rabu, 26 Januari 2011

Let mi spik from may khart, in Inglish.

According to an article I read in The Guardian last week the Russian government has decided that Russian officials must speak a foreign language by 2020. The reason behind this is that recently Russians have had a few embarrassing slip ups with their foreign languages, most famously the speech by sports minister Vitaly Mutko for Russia’s World Cup bid in Zurich

Now, let mi spik from may khart, in Inglish: this got me thinking about how when learning a foreign language you have to be prepared to be laughed at (although not necessarily by thousands over the internet!) Just like Mutko I have had some very embarrassing moments because of my lack of language skills, so I thought I’d share some of the funniest with you.

The first language struggle I had was when I lived in Petrozavodsk at the end of my first year in university. The woman I lived with asked me what we do for children’s birthday parties in England. I wanted to tell her about bouncy castles but obviously my limited vocabulary didn’t quite stretch to knowing how to say that in Russian! In the end I started jumping up and down in her kitchen pointing to the floor shouting “BIG BALLOON!” I still don’t think she knows what I meant!

In my year in Moscow there were many MANY language slip ups which I have already blogged about, but I’ll share with you my favourite again: the flour/fly incident. At the beginning of my year living in Moscow I asked my flat mate if we had a fly in the cupboard. I wanted to know if we had flour in the cupboard, fly = mykha, flour = myka. She still finds this hilarious!

Even in England I’m still embarrassing myself with my Russian slip ups…
Recently I met up with a Russian friend to practise my Russian and I was telling her about the time I spent in Petrozavodsk. I told her that I saw a bear outside the State University; I meant to say I saw Medvedev, the President of Russia. Bear = medved.


Selasa, 04 Januari 2011

Zigazig AH!

Hi/ Привет!

So at the moment it’s my Christmas holiday from university and I’m feeling pretty low. Over the last two weeks some major things have happened to me and have left me feeling completely unmotivated about my degree. I can’t find the energy or drive to do any of my work. However this blog is not some kind of self indulgent rant about my life – it is a self indulgent rant about my love of Russia! So I’m not going to get into what is going on in my life but I AM going to use this post to try and motivate myself again!

Throughout the four years of my degree I have never been in a lesson where I have felt that I actually fully understood the topic and/or what was going on! University has mainly taught me that although I have some knowledge on subjects I can never be bothered to ever become an expert on anything! Until this year when I learnt I am an EXPERT at pretending I know things.

This year one of my modules is about security and politics in Russia and Eurasia; a topic I know very little about. The module is different to others in that it isn’t taught with a lecture then a seminar; it’s all done in group work. At the beginning of each 2 hour session we are assigned a task and at the end of the lesson we have to present it. Normally the task is to write a briefing paper, press release or an answer to a radio news correspondent. Now I know very little about for example, political events in Kyrgyzstan (in fact it took me three attempts to correctly spell Kyrgyzstan) BUT if I am asked to write a press release about it I can totally pretend that I am an expert. As a journalist in the making I am brilliant at saying lots of things without actually saying anything at all.

So basically I love this lesson because people actually seem to think I know what I’m talking about! A few weeks ago I had my proudest moment at university to date… and it was all down to the Spice Girls. Before I explain it, please watch this short video to reacquaint yourselves (don’t pretend you don’t all love it!) with the musical genius that is, Wannabe…

We were given the task of making a story board to a music video to describe EU-Russia relations and were given a choice of songs or we could think of our own. My friend Toby (Toby Eccleshall that is – I know he wants to make sure it is all over the internet that he LOVES the Spice Girls) jokingly suggested that we should do Wannabe by the Spice Girls. As I immediately started reciting the lyrics (I am a long time proud fan) we realised that actually they really worked! So here is our storyboard describing EU-Russian relations, to the lyrics of Wannabe:

We decided to have the EU and Russia as a couple who had recently split up and then saw each other in a bar. I don’t want this blog to go on forever so I’m not going to explain each scene… but here’s the gist of it!...

The boy is Russia (shown by everyone’s favourite Russian stereotype – the mullet haircut) and the girl was the EU. The song begins with the lyrics I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want so in this scene the EU and Russia are shouting what they want from each other. Then we move onto those well known lines If you want my future forget my past in which we show Russia throwing his hammer and sickle into the bin. Another chorus of I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want is shown through Russia asking the EU for security. Later the lines If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends are depicted through the EU bringing on her friend Georgia. The lines If you really bug me then I’ll say goodbye are portrayed by Russia turning off a Baltika (Russian beer) tap in the bar symbolizing the Russian oil taps. Then comes the rap which was quite hard to fit in with the subject Em in the place became Moscow’s influence over the EU, we got G like MC was Georgia (although I don’t know how this is relevant… I think I just wanted to get the rap in somehow!) and finally that lyrical GENIUS of slam your body down zigazig ah showed the EU re-evaluating her relationship with Russia.


After our group presented this the whole class were crying with laughter and I think it is the one time that I can honestly say I remember all the information I learnt in a lesson. Give me a pop music reference and I will learn!

So thank you Mel C, Geri, Victoria, Emma, Mel B (…and Toby).