Sunday, 5 July 2015

Russian Language 101 and out of the mouths of babes!

      So I should be doing my homework but I feel a little guilty for not writing, well writing enough! I am still going to school and the teachers are still refraining from corporal punishment. But only just. A little frustration is becoming evident as the test date looms on the horizon. It isn’t like I haven’t been trying, but the reality of learning a difficult language in three months is settling in. I think some of it may perhaps be a little transference as students study English in school and can identify it but really haven’t had the opportunity to practice so it gets lost like the Algebra I was forced to learn. I have two new translators, David, who is ten and his sister Barbie.

    Barbie was helping me with my homework the other day. Reading the sentence words in Russian and constructing them into a proper sentence and then telling me what it meant in English. I should point out at this junction she is five.
So the irony was not lost on me that this admittedly brilliant little girl was much more proficient in Russian translation than me. She can read and in some cases guess an unfamiliar word like Vodka and Burrito.
Her brother David is extremely talented as well. He provided a concert of sorts when we were invited to dinner. He is a gifted violinist and treated me to a beautiful Irish song that was kind of fast and technical. His command of English is splendid as well and he can translate concepts easily.  He enjoys asking questions like every ten-year-old boy and practicing English. It is fun to glimpse the world through his questions and help him hone his advanced language skills. What is difficult for their Mother is finding a teacher capable of keeping up with them in this little village, as the locals call it.
Anapa is not a village, and this village reference is a little tongue in cheek. It is like many resort cities in Canada, busy playgrounds with short time residents bothering long term ones. Like our resort playgrounds, it is hard to find advanced educational options.  Their Mother Tatiana is a beautiful, happy individual and a joy to be around. She wants the best for her children and understands the advantage of being multilingual. I find consolation in the way she speaks as it reminds me of the difficulty we “with time under our feet” have learning and trying different language skills. Tatiana speaks English very well and culturally understands Canadian humor and jest so I have a little outlet now for some jokes.

    We all went down to the beach the other day and went for a swim in the Black Sea. Most of the conversations were conducted in English and it was fun to see the looks on the other people around us. It was quite obvious they were very amazed at the spectacle.  Two fellow beachgoers even bid us farewell in English when they left. A clear sign of acceptance and respect, and I responded in Russian.
As we started walking up the hill, Barbie was reading signs to me. A group of twenty-something aged girls were walking a small distance ahead of us and slowed to listen. Barbie was reading a sign that contained the word doma, or house, and another word she didn’t know but knew how to say. Slightly frustrated with this word and me, she repeated it, in a tone we men know well. The one that says, “I might have forgotten, but you should know this.” She continued a little louder, bringing chuckles from the group of girls. “Burrito” she repeated with a cute little accent that is usually missing when she speaks English she understands. The hint of an accent provided the clue I needed to get the word. “Ah!” I said. “The House of Burritos.” “Nyet!” She replied in Russian. “Burrito House!” She said in English and then continued in both languages explaining the missing “The” and the non-plural sentence order. Finished she asked; “what is a Burrito?” Bringing more laughter from the group of listening kids as she asked it using both English and Russian words. I explained this tasty Mexican dish as she nodded her understanding and a few of the girls listening looked back in disbelief.

I have been also testing Russian customer service. I busted both of the screens on my YotaPhone 2 and had to wait to get back to Russia to send it in for service. Lianna, my wonderful sister, took the phone back to Moscow after a fantastic visit in an attempt to get a quote from YotaPhone for its repair. We are still waiting. It has only been ten days and while I know it will cost me money to fix as I dropped it, I don’t know how much yet. We couldn’t do this in Anapa as they don’t have a service center here. In fact, I saw more actual YotaPhones overseas than I have here in Anapa. Locals here ask me why I bought this phone and not an iPhone 6. When I explain that I think, it is a better phone they look in disbelief. I usually have to enlist the translation skills of Inga as I attempt the convince them. Russians seem to suffer from the idea that things made in the country are not as good as things made out of the country. This is simply untrue and I don’t mind attempting to change this mindset.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I wanted to comment on my own blog. Yes Rudy I know it is like licking your own nutz. But. I wanted the timeframes to be obvious and not edit this blog as it has already been seen by so many. So the final word from YotaPhone is buy a new phone. Replacing the two screens will take three weeks and save me 100 euros over buying a new one. So it seems my Russian family and friends were correct. I should have bought an Iphone. The dual screens that make the Yotaphone unique and more functional are its Achilles heel. The large glass surfaces provide structural integrity to each other so when I broke the rear display it allowed the front display to twist and break easily. Yotaphone seems to want to profit twice off their customer base. Or they expect us to believe they went to market with a product they are getting less than 100 euros per unit sold. The later doesn't seem likely, but then again neither is treating their customer base this way seem a good idea. So since I have received no answer past send it in and wait or buy a new one I am left to come to my own conclusions. The North American launch of the product is soon so I wanted this to be searchable in English so that consumers have an idea what they are getting into. No doubt a budding market of fixers will spring up to handle this flaw and profit from it here in Russia as this is how things work over here. Sad really that Yotaphone missed the shot, they won at CES and then failed in Customer Service. I really wanted this Russian company to do well and prove they could compete in an open market. It was in truth a source of pride for me. Why else would I have put my money where my mouth was and buy this phone the day it was released in Moscow? I was leaving the country and could have bought a six without the sanctions tariffs? The market penetration is poor in Russia and Anapa, a rich seaside resort doesn't have a distributor. Heads up North America GREAT PHONE VERY VERY BAD SERVICE!