Friday, July 30, 2010

How long before I challenge former KGB to a wrestling match?

The little blue icon rests on my computer dashboard. Unassuming and slightly charming, I have discovered the true extent of its menace.

I look away, but it calls after me: "Come back! There is still so much to learn."

I read crime stories, rapes and murders, to stave off its terrorizing presence. Each day, I tremble and avoid its derision. Paul eggs me on: You can do it, you can ...

Learn Russian.

The program I bought into doesn't use translation, which means I am thrown into the language feet first. The characters frighten me. They look vaguely extraterrestrial and evidently alpha-numeric.

"What sort of a sound does a '3' make?" I ask him. "And that thing that looks like pi?"

"You mean, the thing that looks like a tent?"

"No, not a tent. Like an Aztec pyramid crossed with pi."

When I first told Paul I'd be interested in taking classes, he looked at me skeptically: "You don't have to do it, you know that." I responded defensively. Of course, I do. I love languages and, like my parents before me, I believe it's important to be able to converse with your spouse in their native tongue.

Oh, I am fortune's fool!

Unlike, say, French or Spanish (the former which I am steadily losing, and the latter I dabbled in during university), Russian is like an amalgamation of the above, but further complicated with German parallels.

Sein oder Nichtsein, that is the Frage.

Okay, so it's really not that bad. I'm in a hyperbolic mood. I have a theory that the way to genuinely comprehend someone is to speak their language. To paraphrase Bismarck, nations are built with iron and blood, but words are their DNA. Coded within colloquialisms are the guarded logic of a society and sentiments are not easily translatable.

Paul, while not as enthusiastic, is feeling the pressure from his family (mother, father, grandma) to learn Mandarin Chinese. Seems ironic because his bilingualism was what he tried to impress me with when we first met.

That is, until I told him I spoke four.

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