02 February, 2011

Short circuit

I'm on a Russian kick again. It's haunting me so much that lately I've been listening to language lesson tracks on my iPod on my daily walks with the dog. They're really helping and at least during that hour it's as if a door opens in my head and the Russian comes flooding out.

I must be quite a spectacle-- walking along briskly, muttering to myself with wild hair and a distracted look on my face. Today I was going through drills with Serge, who was asking: "How long has he been in Moscow?" "три года (Three years)." "How long have you been in Moscow?" "пять лет (5 years)".

Suddenly I realized that two men were standing in front of me, petting D. One of them was moving his lips. I ripped out one of my earbuds: "Wie bitte?" (I beg your pardon?)

In my left ear I heard him say: "Wie alt ist Ihr Hund?" (How old is your dog?) just as Serge was shouting into my right: "Cколько лет Катя уже живёт в Москве?" ( How long has Katya already lived in Moscow?)

I smiled brightly and said: "Семь лет." (7 years.)

They looked at me strangely.

"Oh sorry. Zeven." (which is 7 in Dutch.)

"Was? Sieben?! Sieben was? Monate?" (What? Seven? Seven what? Months?)

"Nee." (Dutch.)

Sieben Wochen? Nein, doch? (Seven weeks?! Can't be right!)

"Nein. Sieben... Sieben... Hmm. Ans! Nee. Jahr! Wow. Севодня geht mir Deutsch niet gut." (I can't even begin to explain that one. Mix of 5 languages, completely mangled-- about the effect you'd get if you crossed a Great Dane with Chihuahua.)

By this time they're smiling and nodding and backing away from me. It wouldn't have surprised me if smoke had been coming out of my ears. I waved goodbye to them and finished my walk. This time without Serge...


Goofball said...

you didn't even say Autostrade? how disappointing

Betsy said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chuckle. My husband's English is bastardized from speaking German still. I remember we were talking about Germany one day and he didn't hear me properly and said 'bitte?"
BTW, our driveway is now a 40 foot long 4-6 inch thick sheet of ice with no thaw in sight. sigh. But we have power!
Lisa in Indy

Goofball said...

By the way, I saw the word "autostrade" in a newspaper yesterday so I wondered to which degree it is actually dialect.

Ha there you have it: it's in the VanDale, it is an official & correct Dutch word. Pooohooo .

Autostrade autostrade autostrade autostrade autostrade autostrade :)

Betsy said...

Doesn't do you a lick of good if nobody outside of Van Dale recognizes it! ;-D

Goofball said...

Hey, with that last remark you ignore 6 million of Flemish who use it on a daily basis

Betsy said...

And myself, actually. I know that word too. :-) I just wanted to get you riled up... Did it work? :-)