"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

i understand / je comprend / я понимаю

"Are you bilingual?"

Tends to be the first question asked when people find out we're moving to Montréal. 

I've started answering in the affirmative. "Yes," I say. "But the thing is, the languages I speak are English and Russian."

Which is a vast overstatement. Still, I've worked really hard over the years to be able to read, write and speak a bit of Russian, and it's the language to which my brain defaults when I try to think outside of English. The people in the part of Ukraine where I visit speak predominantly Russian, so that's what I've learned. 

I'm going there again in just a few weeks, and have been promising myself that as soon as I was done school I would delve hardcore back into my Russian studies. Of course I didn't anticipate that on the afternoon of the morning that I handed in my last paper I would be calling my District Sup to let him know that I might be moving to la belle province, where French matters much more than Russian. 

So I've downloaded Duolingo and it turns out my high school brain DID retain some French after all. (And you mocked me for my A+ grades.... *shakes fist*) Duolingo doesn't have Russian, sadly, so I have a different app for that. 

So. I've come to a decision. 

It's the only reasonable option.

I've got a good start in both French and Russian, so... 

I'm going for trilingual. That's all there is to it. Wish me luck!

À demain. 

До завтра. 

5 comments:

Diane H. said...

I know exactly what you mean about defaulting to your first 2nd language. When we were in Spain I kept speaking French.

On the good side, I've found French-Canadians are super used to people speaking bad French with English accents and constructions, and they're very forgiving, so you can get to actual communication quickly. On the down side, the French-Canadian expressions can be impossible to figure out. My favorite is "chanter la pomme", literally "to sing the apple", which means to flirt.

Patti said...

You know Diane, I actually paused and thought a few weeks ago, really concentrated, on saying "Hi" in French. "Privyet!!!" I said confidently with a big smile, to a visitor from France. She looked at me oddly, of course, since despite my intent, I STILL greeted her in Russian.

*facepalm*

And hey!!! Is it just me, or is this suddenly the closest we cousins will have EVER lived to one another in our ENTIRE LIVES? Same province and everything!

Diane H. said...

I KNOW! Once you get to Montreal it will be the closest I've lived to anyone in the close branches of the family tree since I left home to go to University. Once you're settled you'll need to come and "weekend" in the Eastern Townships at our place. Of course I know you work weekends so we'll have to "weekend" on a Wednesday.

Jade Kenyamanyara said...

Go Patti! I'm convinced you can do anything ;) Learning a new language is so challenging but so rewarding at the same time. :) All the best!

Jade Kenyamanyara said...

Go Patti! I'm convinced you can do anything ;) Learning a new language is so challenging but so rewarding at the same time. :) All the best!