Sunday, November 30, 2008

Me talk pretty one day

today i had the longest conversation in Russian that i have ever had. and it was with a complete stranger in the metro. there was a little old Russian lady - i will call her "babushka", which in Russian means, "grandma" - in the metro sitting next to me and as we came to a stop, she turned to me and asked,

какой станция : "Which station is this?"
это черная речка : "It's Chornaya Retchka (Black Creek)
(babushka smiles and nods to thank me)

and i assumed this would be the end of our "chat", as this is the average length of most of my attempts at Russian. (especially with strangers) but! ...she continued.
and i bolstered myself for some intense listening and concentrating, because now the train was moving again, and i was not only having to concentrate hard on a foreign language, but it was really loud, to boot. here follows our conversation. (and i apologize to anyone who can read Russian because spelling is not my strong point.)

(babushka motions toward the book I'm reading - obviously written in English - and asks...)

babushka: ты читаешь? (You're reading?)
me: да. (yes.)

(i can't remember exactly how she phrased this next question, but basically she wants to know where i am from)

me: я американский, но я живу в санкт петербург : i am American, but i live in St. Petersburg.

babushka: ты говориш по русский? (you speak Russian?)
me: чуть чуть (a little)
babushka pats me on the arm and laughs)

babushka: сколько лет? (how old are you?)
me: тридцатъ один (31 years.)

(then babushka corrects me, because she has asked how long i have lived in St. Petersburg, not how old i am.)

babushka: нет здесъ. сколько лет? : no, here. how many years?
одна года. : oh, about one year.

babushka: нравитсья : do you like it?
me: да. хорошо. (yes, it's good.) (what else could i say?)

(she asks me something else, but i don't understand the question.)
me: извините. я не понимаю (sorry/pardon me, i don't understand.)

(she asks again and motions toward my book, but i still don't get it, and apologize again. she smiles knowingly, laughs and pats my arm again. then we got back to sitting quietly and waiting for our stops.)

my stop came up first, so i got up to leave.

me: очен приятна. до свидания (it's nice to meet you. goodbye.)
(she smiles)
babushka: до свидания (goodbye.)

and there you have it. maybe someday i will speak Russian well enough that little chats like this won't seem like such a victory. but for now, i am going to savor it and bask in the glory that is called learning a new language.

1 comment:

emma said...