Wednesday, February 20, 2013
So, I Married a Russian... Vol. 4 | Language
Being married to a Russian can be hilarious at times. Taras's first language was Russian, his second was German, and his third was English (hooray for the Russian school system!). Here are some funny facts about what it's like for him to have English as his third language:
> When Taras first moved to the States, he started school here as a high school freshman. Lucky for him, they offered German classes to satisfy the foreign language requirement. He says he had to read his German text books, translate the information in his head to Russian, then translate the Russian into English. It was a three step process for him to understand what he was reading. Today, he no longer practices his German and it's become a lot more rusty.
> Taras says he was drawn to math in school (he was a high school mathlete and is now an engineer) because numbers are the same in all languages.
> Taras, who was 14 and a half when his family moved, doesn't have much of an accent. I only notice it sometimes and on certain words (and more-so after he's had a couple beers). Taras's younger brother was 12 when they moved and he has no accent at all. Research says that when you are 15 your language sets, so your accent at that age in your life will stick with you. It's interesting to see the accuracy with this between Taras and his brother.
> Taras and his brother speak English to one another, but Russian to their parents. When the four of them are "talking" together I always think they're having a huge argument. But there's no argument, it's just a very loud-speaking culture. We're living with Taras's parents right now, and I really should be taking the opportunity to learn Russian (I'm admittedly failing at one of my 2013 resolutions!).
> Taras dreams in Russian. And when he talks in his sleep, it's in Russian! I was frightened the first time he spoke in his sleep - not only because I had no idea what he was saying, but also because it was LOUD. And it's not like Russian is a sexy language, like French or Italian (sorry, husband, but it's true), so there's really no redemption value when I'm woken up in the middle of the night with his Russian yelling. Good thing this isn't a regular occurrence.
> Taras still mis-pronounces a couple words, like pollen (he pronounces it like pole-in) and collar (he pronounces it like color). Just yesterday he called the bath tub a water tub, so... yeah. The pollen pronunciation really trips me up and sometimes I now say it like pole-in. Sometimes, Taras will decide he wants to say a normal word in some weird way and I have to ask if he actually knows how to say it, or if he's just joking with me... it's become a little game we play!
> Being a foreign speaker, Taras can't do any American/British accents. He can pull off a decent Italian-speak ("Mazza-reLLa!!"), but can't do Boston, or NY, of Southern accents.
Do you know anyone that speaks English as a second or third language? Any funny stories?