Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Learning Russian has been

an interesting experience for a friend of mine. He works part time in the local indie bookshop. He is also a creative writing student at university. He already speaks French and has been to French Polynesia. He has just spent six weeks in Russia, in the city of Omsk.
Yesterday he was back in the bookshop and assured me he had indeed had a "marvellous" time. I have no doubt he did. He is the sort of person who makes the most of everything. Mind you he did end up being too busy enjoying the experience to keep up the blog so the rest of us were left wondering what it was like!
It is, we both agreed, the best way to learn something about a language and the people who speak it. You need to be involved.
I wonder how I would get on. My Russian is limited to about three words. It is not a language I have ever needed to know much about.
It is a bit the same with science. Science has a language, or languages, of its own. I know what might be called "Basic Science" but I do not know the specialist languages.  I used to have a low level capacity to speak "Statistics" but apart from a couple of very basic "phrases" the language has now advanced to a level where I would be lost. There is "Medicine" of course. We all speak some of that along with "Anatomy" and "Physiology". It is all a bit at the level of the traveller's phrase book - and, sometimes, about as useful.
And there are other everyday languages that I barely speak too. There is "Motor Car". My nephews speak fluent "Car". They know a specialised dialect there, "Go-Kart". My father speaks fluent "Gardening" and the more specialised "Organic-Gardening". He also speaks the arcane "Conjuring and Magic". I barely understand these things. There is "Sport". I can recognise some of the basic vocabulary but I cannot hold a conversation in "Sport".  Ah, "Music"? No. I know the almost Mediaeval version of "Music" they call "Baroque" but it is far from fluent.
There are so many other "languages" out there too. I really cannot claim to speak any of them. Yesterday though I was listening to another member of the bookshop knitting group explain to someone how to crochet.  She was patient and her instructions were clear. The person she was teaching looked up suddenly and said,  "It's like a whole new language." 
It is - and it is exciting.


jeanfromcornwall said...

In listing the languages, you left out Dog. We've recently adopted a rescued dog who is very fearful, and has had very little interaction with humans. We told the rescue people that we speak dog, and we are gradually helping her to learn human. Cat is another language altogether!

catdownunder said...

ooops! :-)