If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?
If I could wake up and speak ANY language, I think it would be Russian. Perhaps it’s because the Olympics are going on and I just saw an ad with Russian curler, Anna Sidorova, but in fact, I’ve been fascinated with Russia and it’s (complex) history for a long time.
When I was 10 years old, my family decided to host a Belarusian kid named Vitaly for 6 weeks for a couple of summers. To be honest, I don’t think I was very nice to him. I was 10 and didn’t understand him. The funny thing is to this day, I still remember 3 Russian words that he taught me: дурак (fool or dummy), глупый (stupid) and я тебя люблю (I love you). (Of course, I remember a few other simple words like yes and no and thank you, but those are the stranger words that stick in my head.)
Fast forward 10 years. Another reason I’m interested in learning Russian is the culture. It’s so different from Canada, yet it has produced many of the my favourite classical composers: Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. Thanks to an influential History of Russian Music course that I took with Dr. Ross Osmun at Bishop’s, I have such a bigger appreciation and fascination with the Russian culture. I was especially enthralled by how many of these musicians not only had to fight to survive under extremely tough conditions but used double meaning words and music to appease their rulers (so they wouldn’t be killed) yet express themselves musically so the peasant folk would like appreciate it!
Because of all this, Russia the country, is definitely a place I want to visit and learning the language will definitely explain a lot of the mysteries in this complex country.
Plus on a side note, they seem to like Canadians. Even Putin is willing to put his arm around my buddy, Dave!