Thursday, August 30, 2012

From Russia with Love

When I was in college, I took Russian to fulfill my foreign language requirement.  In fact, my college transcripts say that I attended "МГУ" (pronounced "Em- Gay- Oo"), which would stand for Moscow State University.

I did not go to Moscow State University.

I wanted to go to МГУ, but alas, I missed a lot of class and my teacher wouldn't give me the recommendation to be an exchange student, and I graduated as a surprise that semester anyway, which was kind of fine with me because I learned that I had to get an assload of vaccinations and stuff to go, and that was a point in my life where my fear of needles overpowered good sense. Little did I know that many years later, I would be allowing doctors to stick needles in my face.

Anyway, my choice of Russian, instead of a standard foreign language, like Spanish or French, was on account of the book "A Clockwork Orange," and also because the challenge of having to learn  a new alphabet appealed to me. I had tried to teach myself Russian my senior year of high school, but I was reading from a book and it had no pronunciation guide, so I didn't learn much.

Despite having taken about 2 solid years of Russian (over many semesters), while I can still read cyrillic, I can only remember how to say a few phrases/words and none of them are very helpful, unless I ever find myself writing bad Russian airport porn.

Here is the Russian and the phonetics for you, just in case you want to look it up yourself!
здравствуйте - zdravstvuyte - Hello
Извините за беспокойства - Izvinite za bespokoystva - Sorry for the trouble (said when one calls a wrong number)
Какой большой чемодан!  - Kakoy bolʹshoy chemodan!- What a big suitcase!
Да, это очень большой!  - Da, eto ochenʹ bolʹshoy!- Yes, it is very big!
Я хочу твой большой чемодан! - Ya khochu t'voy bol'shoy chemodan!- I want your big suitcase!
четыре! chetyre!

Just as an aside, this porn script has been a running joke since I was in college, when my classmates and I, who had a crush on our teacher, would go to lunch and laugh about having to talk about his BIG suitcase repeatedly.


  1. Hehehh. A lot cleaner than german porn...

  2. Holy crap! I took Russian in college too, for all the same reasons. Crazy. Totally unemployable and crazy. But it's so fun to write. Maybe one day I'll have opportunity to discuss large luggage in Moscow and then I'll be set. This post pleases me.

    1. I also had the problem that all of my notes for other classes, from then on were in half English half Cyrillic. When writing in cursive, d's turned into g's, r's into p's, etc. Did you experience that fun?

    2. Yes, yes, yes! And I worked as a personal assistant for a while right after college in an area where people had a lot of Russian sounding names (mostly Polish, actually) but I would write them in cyrillc by mistake and my boss would be so confused when she got her messages!

  3. I enjoy Russian, it is a favorite. I can sound proper names and pick out a few words in movies and teleBision. Cool. I am very far from fluent ...

  4. I think this BRAP series should continue, and you have to get the narwhale and llama in there too somehow without XXX-ing it up. Challenge issued!

  5. My aunt took Russian in college and did actually get to go to Russia, at the time still the USSR, as an exchange student. She ended up playing the Russian equivalent to quarters with Soviet soldiers and swallowed a Russian coin. She caught some random non lethal form of Hepatitis from the coin and they almost didn't let her leave the country for it. My grandfather had to pull in all his leftover favors from being in the military to get her home again. See the things you avoided by not going to Russia?!

    I want to learn Russian for purposes of playing a character at faire and being tired of actual Russian speakers calling me out on my great accent with nothing to back it up. All I know how to say is very dirty and inappropriate for a family friendly faire.

  6. I also took Russian as a freshman in college... one semester was enough for me, though. Sooo long ago. Now, I would kinda like to learn Slovenian. But in reality, I have a hard enough time speaking American (er... English. whatev').


  7. I dated a Russian for two months, and tried to learn his native tongue to impress his mother. I got frustrated and gave up in less than a day.


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