30 June 2005

Postcards from Minsk: Ploscha Peramogi (Victory roundabout)

Плошча Перамогi

This monument commemerates the Belarussians who gave their lives in WWII. There's also an eternal flame here.

29 June 2005

That's bunk!

One of my blogging colleagues directed me to a news story about the fact that President Putin had taken the New England Patriots owner's SuperBowl ring, put it in his pocket, and never gave it back.

As I check the story again this evening, MSNBC has "corrected" it to state that the football team owner decided to give Putin the ring after Putin has admired it. Oh really?


Dave's Gallery: Belarus

David Goodwin has a nice photo album of his trip to Belarus.


27 June 2005

Perhaps I'm not worthy of being a true Language Learner

For several days since reading blogchik's post, I have been wondering if I am a bad language learner. Or a bad Russian language learner, more specifically.

Last October, when I had a close encounter with a native Russian speaker, we came across this sound

I had been pronouncing it as a "short" American English i, knowing full well that it was an incorrect pronunciation, but not knowing how to fix it. The native Russian speaker corrected me, pronounced several example words containing the sound, and tried to describe its place of articulation TO NO AVAIL. I never could get it right, so we moved on. AND THAT WAS OKAY TO ME. Honestly, I may never have to use this language, so I just want a basic understanding. If I don't master this particularly Russian sound, it is alright with me... or so I thought, until I came across this note from blogchik. She takes pride in being able to pronounce it correctly, it sounds as if she has worked for ages to master the sound. It gives me the impression of being a sort of coming of age for Russian learners. Is it like mastering the French /ʀ/? (Only to discover that they don't pronounce a uvular R in Provence anyway?)

At this point, I will not be able to master the ы because I don't have regular access to native speakers. However, I cannot stop wondering if perhaps I should give more consideration to my strong American accent.


Another Russian-learning blogger

She's just getting started, so be sure to stop by her blog and give her some support!

Still muddling through the Russian alphabet. If I don't get a handle on it, I'll never get into the fun part: grammar.
Grammar? What's that?


26 June 2005

My first Russian movie

I finally made it to the public library on Saturday to borrow some International films. I found Solaris on DVD, as recommended by skarr (on my 31 May comments). The library also had The Thief and Stalker, but these two are on VHS, so I borrowed only the DVD film.

I watched this very long movie this afternoon. The weather was hot and muggy, so it was a good day to lay around and watch movies.

I would estimate that less than half of the movie has dialog. The rest of the time is filled with cinematic scenes. After about 30 minutes, I realized that I could switch to the English commentary during the dialog-less scenes. This was a great help to me because I needed help trying to figure out what I was supposed to be understanding from the film. Even if the film had been in English, it would have been over my head. Nevertheless, this was not an exerise in cinema appreciation for me; it was an exercise in listening to real Russian language.

I think that I understood about every 30th word. Each time that I heard something I recognized, was QUITE excited. It has been a surprise to me that I can pick out individual words so easily. While I was learning French, it was terribly difficult to differentiate individual words because I was not accustomed to a vowel dominant language. Russian, as far as my beginner's ear can tell, is a consonant dominant language. I think for this reason, I was able to pick out one or two familiar words from an entire dialog.

I will note this exercise as a mild success.


25 June 2005

Postcards from Minsk: The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit

Святадухаўскi Кафедральны Сабор


23 June 2005

Blog survey! Be a participant

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

20 June 2005

Suspended from eBay he is!

Yesterday I received an email from the Canadian guy from whom I accidentally bought the previous-edition Pimsleur mp3 files.
In his email he asked if I was happy with my purchase. Also, he informed me that he was now suspended from eBay, but then he tried to sell me Rosetta Stone levels 1 & 2 for $50.

Since he had asked, I replied that I was not happy with the purchase because it was the previous edition of Pimsleur. I also informed him that I already own Rosetta Stone that I have bought from a very reputable online store, TwinSuns Online.

He hasn't responded to my email.


17 June 2005

Pimsleur guilt (again??)

So I bought these used Pimsleur CDs from a guy in Canada via eBay. He was pretty quick about shipping, but when the envelope arrived, it was way too light for a bunch of CDs.

Well, it turns out that they're not exactly "used" but more like "pirated." It's a bunch of mp3 files, not uniformly named (!!), shoved on 3 disks named: My_Disk, My_Disk, and My_Disk.

Now I feel very guilty. This self-instructed foreign language acquisition is nothing if not guilt-bearing distress and shame.

What could I do but take a listen to my next lesson, Unit 19 of Level 1?


So, I wasted a bunch of money, gave it to a pirater, and I am still stuck listening to the cassette version from my public library. Foiled again!


16 June 2005

UniLang Wiki

I just discovered this wiki with lots of cool bits and pieces of beginning Russian. It looks like a very well established site with lots of information.


Not knowing is such bliss

I was startled when reading this sentence on blogchik:

At me there is not of the money.

because I realized that it is a sentence I have learned from Pimsleur.
У меня нет денег.

The reason that this English sentence caught my eye is that I didn't immediately recognize it by its "exact grammatical" translation from Russian, as blogchik provided. In fact, I don't know the grammar of the Russian sentence at all. The only thing I know is that
I don't have any money = У меня нет денег.

Thanks to Pimsleur I don't have to keep up with genitive, dative, blah blah blah.


15 June 2005

More news on Belarus

Straight from the mouths of blokes:

Belarus, has just introduced a new bill which it would seem is going to be accepted
And that reminds me, we need another Postcard from Minsk on the blog.


14 June 2005

I have been taking a summer vacation

I have been taking a vacation from my Russian lessons. I know, I know, 30 minutes a day, blah, blah.
I intend to load my new Pimsleur lessons on my computer tomorrow so that I can start my lessons again....

08 June 2005

Various ramblings

Last night I was on the phone with my Minsky friend when I had to admit that I haven't worked on my Russian lessons in quite a while.
I did, however, receive my Pimsleur level 3 lessons in the mail yesterday. I had to pay a Canadian guy a fair amount of USD to obtain these bootleg copies. I'm not happy about it. I was trying to decide whether or not to send them back and ask for a refund.
As you may know, I got the levels 1 and 2 from the library. The nice lady at the library told me that they didn't have level 3 and they wouldn't be getting it because it is so expensive.