Selasa, 11 Februari 2014

The difference between you and You.

Another language themed blog for you.

At my job we currently have some visitors from Russia. This means a, that I get to practise my Russian and b, that I am reminded how abysmal my Russian is. I MUST try to keep it up more inbetween Russian visits/visitors.
Now, speaking Russian in a work situation has led to a new question about the complex Russian language... When should I say you and when should I say You?!

Or, explained better... Just like the French 'tu' and 'vous', Russian has a familiar and formal version of the word 'you'.

My understanding was always: if you are a family member or friend of a person you can address them using the informal 'ты' (tee) and if someone is simply an acquaintance, a colleague or older than you (and not a family member) you use the formal 'вы' (vee).

This leads me to a dilemma. I now consider my colleagues as friends but as they are my colleagues (and older than me *hides before they say I called them old*) should I ты (tee) or вы (vee) them?! 

"We're friends... but colleagues. HOW TO ADDRESS EACH OTHER IN RUSSIAN?!?!" The cast of Friend's laugh through their language pain. Maybe.

I decided to ask my Russian colleagues... And of course got 3 different answers:

"You should ALWAYS use 'вы' [vee] if someone is older than you. Even if you are best friends."

"At work you should address them with 'вы' [vee] but if you are friends you can say 'ты' [tee] outside of work."

"You can say 'ты' [tee] to anyone in any context if you are friends. But if you are unsure you should always use 'вы' [vee]."

Hmmm. Well, that was little to no help. I think I shall just stick to my own rule which is:

Say 'вы' (vee) until your friends are so embarrassed for you that they tell you the ты (tee) and вы (vee) rule again for the millionth time to explain that you can most definitely address them with ты.

Senin, 03 Februari 2014

A Very Russian Proposal

Should I start this blog with an apology that I haven't written in over a year? Maybe. But then I'd sound a bit like a broken record.

Although I've left it over a year to reignite my love of this blog... My love for most things Russia has never faded! I've not quite managed to move back to Russia yet... But I have managed to go and blag myself a job where I get to use my Russian and get to visit Russia at least once a year! Huzzah!

I'm still open to moving back to Russia sometime... But before that can happen I have one major life event to get out of the way... A wedding! Yes, Damien decided that he can put up with me for the rest of his life and popped the question! And he did it in a very Russian way...

Last August we spent a few weeks in Russia visiting friends. I loved showing him the places I've lived and visited and introducing him to my Russian friends! We visited St Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, and Moscow. Моя Москва (Maya Moskva) :)

This was the first time I've been back to Moscow since finishing my year abroad. It was weird being there as a tourist without a Russian student card... I had to pay full price everywhere! It's also an eye opener being there in August, tourist season. We had to queue for EVERYTHING! It took us 2 hours to queue for the Kremlin! I'd rather visit in February when it's -20 and get straight in! Impatient...

Anyway, the first place I wanted to take Damien was, of course, Red Square. This was the last place I went on my year abroad to say goodbye to the city.

So I wanted it to be the first place I took Damien to introduce him to my city! As we approached Red Square I realised half of it was closed. Standard. They were preparing for a concert. So we had a walk around near St Basils and then sat down facing the beautiful ice cream cone cathedral! Until a flock of birds came near us, I freaked out (I'm scared of birds...yeah, I know, it's weird) and we had to move up a few metres... Meaning Damien had to shove the ring he had just got out back into his pocket without me seeing (he did).

So, sat back down in a bird free spot, Damien turned to me and said,

"Сара, ты будешь выйти за меня замуж? (Sara, ti boodyesh vitiy za myenya zamoozh?)... Or, in English Will you marry me?" Googletranslate working its almost correct magic.

And presented me with a ring! 

I said "Да!" (Da!)

At which point Damien produced a padlock, on which he had written 'Дэмьен и Сара' (Damien and Sarah). Any of you who have read my earlier Russian wedding blog will remember that in Russia brides and grooms attach a padlock to a bridge on their wedding day. I don't know what we'll do with ours yet but it will have an appearance at the wedding!

So, pleasantries over, hugs given and photos taken (I am becoming quite good at the 'selfie'... so down with the kids), I then proceeded to tell Damien how sexist his proposal was.

In Russian, the verb for a man to marry is жениться (zhyenitsya) which literally means 'to find a wife', the verb for a woman to marry is выйти замуж (viyti zamoozh) which literally means 'to go behind a man'. So what Damien had asked me literally meant "Will you go behind me as a wife?" The answer to that is a firm Нет (nyet).

But I will go alongside him through life, as his wife.

So, this was a rather mushy blog... but an update on my life and a lesson in a Russian verb all in one!

Watch this space for the next one... I'll try not to make you wait another 12 months.