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Author Topic: Personal observations, advice, suggestions  (Read 1656 times)

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Offline patman67

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Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« on: August 23, 2009, 09:14:55 AM »
I thought I'd just post a few observations I have made regrading the long conversations I have been having with my RW...being a voracious reader, poet, and lover of words and languages, I have noticed a few things...

But first a suggestion...perhaps we can start using the acronyms TQE or OE (The Queen's English or Oxford English) and SAE (Standard American English) when discussing the two main versions of the English language. Would save a lot of typing, and give the non-English speakers here a better reference.

It seems that most non-English speaking Europeans learn Oxford English as opposed to the American version...this brings up some minor confusion. When I suggested to my lady the we "ring in the New Year together", she had no idea what I was talking about...my guess was she thought it was a sexual innuendo (as I am American!)

One amusing one was the use of the word "store" as in "clothing store"...OE tends to use "shop"...she wasn't quite sure what I meant by "wandering through the store"...


When talking to your RW, I would highly recommend keeping a thesaurus handy...sometimes suggesting an alternate word makes it much clearer for her, especially if she's using  a dictionary herself.

BE PATIENT with her....if she is speaking English, and is not completely fluent, she is really doing something special here...it takes quite an effort. My lady has commented several times on how much she appreciates being allowed to work out what she wants to say without me interrupting. Get used to pauses, and never fail to let her know how well she's doing and how much you appreciate her efforts. Don't be patronizing, just be respectful. Remember, she is doing this for you!

If she does make a mistake, let it slide, maybe with a very gentle correction, then move on. Don't make a big deal out of it, nor should you keep bringing it up, as if it's an inside joke...you'll hurt her pride, and she'll close down on you. RWs have a wonderful sense of humor, if she laughs, fine, but a big guffaw in her ear over her mistake isn't exactly going to win her over!

Watch your colloquialisms...they are confusing, and could be disastrous. Save them for later, when you can explain what they mean. She'll enjoy them, as they are often a colorful addition to your culture, but telling her she's "cuter than a speckled pup" might come off quite badly..."come off badly" being another good example.

Don't chew gum or smoke while you're talking to her...it hinders your enunciation more than you think. And get used to speaking slower than normal...it feels weird at first, but you get used to it. Just try not to stammer in between words...all those "umms" and "ahs" will make things harder for her to understand.

Diction is key...English has so many homonyms and near-homonyms, she'll be looking for key words to comprehend what your saying, to put things in context...if you mumble over a few sounds here and there,you're making it more difficult than neccessary.

Ok, enough of my humble opinion for now. I just wanted to share a few thoughts from my admittedly limited experience. One warning for my fellow noobs...the first time she calls you "honey" in that accent, you're going to feel as if you've been hit in the head with a rather large brick...try to maintain consciousness. Consider yourself duly warned. ;D

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 10:10:05 AM »
Good observations!  Yes, when Russians learn English it is the continental European version of English. OE as well as SAE has its share of slang and idioms and even laziness in speech is a problem.

Laziness in speaking is a bigger problem that we often think. Imagine a person who is learning English struggling to figure what is meant by "Yeah, I kinda sorta wanta know bout that" when a structured "Yes, I really would like to know" would be so easily understandable.

Your example of the idiom "ring in the New Year" is excellent. When thinking of "store" to a RW who has learned English without the benefit of living in an English speaking culture, it means to "store away" something, much like boxing up the summer clothes for next year as winter approaches.

Depending on the kind and size of store, it helps to be more specific in ways she will understand by using market, shop, mall or kiosk in your description.

The word for store in Russian is spoken like "magazine" which to us is a periodical. However to her, a periodical is a "journal." To Americans a journal is a like a diary.

She may not know what a cell phone is, but certainly knows about a mobile phone, but if you want her to understand what you are saying you must speak it not as the name of an oil company, but as a "mow-bile" telephone. She'll understand that perfectly, even if she speaks only a few phrases of English.

Sometimes the SAE/OE confusion is as simple as Bis-ehn-teen versus By-zan-tine. Simple for us, but not for a nonnative speaker who learned the term Byzantine in OE. Think of how you learn Russian--carefully forming and speaking each letter and phrase from practice to perfection. When listening to native Russian speakers the first words you begin to pick up are those spoken precisely, just as you learned them.

I think that there is a danger in communicating with ladies who speak some English and it is this--we mistakenly believe that she has the ability to understand the words she speaks.

Nothing could be further from the truth in all cases. Classroom learning is no substitute for living experience and one cannot be "fluent" in a language if they've never lived in the culture of that language. Language, to be completely understood, is lived, not only spoken. Only then can one appropriately attach the title "fluent" to the practice.

When our youngest daughter was studying in a special English school in Moscow her tutor for several subjects was an teacher of English (OE) in the Moscow school system. Instead of exchanging money for her services, I taught her English for 2 hours weekly and she tutored our daughter on other subjects for 2 hours weekly. Having never lived outside the FSU, the progress this professional teacher of English made over 2 years was nothing short of astounding.

Together we studied everyday common usage but I must admit that she did learn some slang, too. No trickery involved as she knew when something was slang but it was classic at her arrival at our home to watch this 50 year old lady greet my mother in law and wife in polite language and then to turn to our daughters with a greeting of "What's up?" in a British sounding accent.  :smokin:

Offline fireeater

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 02:03:13 PM »
Mendy

You sometimes wonder how they understand some more common slang here as well

Take a sidewalk sale, could be inside the mall, or outside on a real sidewalk. Or even more confusing, it is actually a street sale since they closed down the road to traffic while it is going on, but still call it a sidewalk sale.   ::) (the later being more common in a smaller town like I was in yesterday)

Or a garage sale, (whenever I hear this I always wonder how I will get the garage into the car, it is suppose to be the other way around  ??? )  But it is what is in the garage, being sold.   :chuckle:


Or do they just see the word "sale"  and the eyes light up.   ;D


Offline workedforme

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 05:57:37 AM »
LOL on the colloquialisms. When I was with my wife and she was having her medical exams done for her visa I made the mistake of calling her my guinea pig. Seems there are not many things you can call a lady much worse than a pig. 4 or 5 bent frying pans later I was finally able to get her to understand I was not referring to her in a negative way.

Offline Fo

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2009, 07:52:45 AM »
Patman, that's me knackered! I'm going to have to learn to speak English. :chuckle:
Fly

Offline gjohnson

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2010, 04:04:17 PM »
this was really quite interesting and amusing and informative,  I'm surprised it has not gotten more attention
Gale

Offline Manny

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2010, 05:14:38 PM »
this was really quite interesting and amusing and informative,  I'm surprised it has not gotten more attention

I agree. Sometimes topics just slip under the members radar; on busy posting days for example.

Nice bump.  :nod:
please tell me where I'm being / have been 'dishonest'? 
Yes, he said that.........

Offline leeholsen

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Re: Personal observations, advice, suggestions
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2010, 12:38:14 PM »

 definitely, you have to watch it. when i was seeing my first russian woman in Houston years ago now, it was halarious.

 she never got my sense of humor and corrected me once saying that i just told this one waitress at the now closed russian bear that i wanted to have her sexually. fortunately i take pride is not being an ugly american as much as possible and allowed her to correct me.

 
Eat 'em up Houston Cougars !


 

 

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