taelle: (Default)
" I thought I was coming to Russia’s second city, but now think it is better described as Europe’s fourth city." - UK's Consul General in Saint Petersburg. I can't help wondering which are the first three, by his count.

Actually, I've been thinking about accents. For anyone dealing with English as much as I do the importance of accents for Englishpeople is fairly notable (am I the only person in the universe who thought the accents in Life on Mars sounded rather lovely?) But as for accents in Russian... I do have rather a tin ear, as I've been repeatedly told by my phonetics instructors at the uni, but still. ... I remember being trained out of the local accent in primary school - "No, you don't pronounce it in this uncultured way, you pronounce it [like they do it in Moscow]". Which is especially funny in view of eternal argument of 'we're not the capital any more, but we're more cultured than Moscow - we're the _cultural_ capital'. And now I am not even sure there's much of the local accent, phonetics-wise (tin ear, as I said; perhaps to a trained observer my speech would be instantly identifiable).

There's still vocabulary arguments, the more common the differing words, the more active the argument. 'They're using their quaint way of calling it X instead of Y as it properly is' (actual article critiquing St. Petersburg translators), and eternal joking arguments with Moscow friends about how I keep calling types of bread incorrectly. ... I don't know if it's still accent or not; I clearly wasted my uni education.

However, my bank happens to have series of ads with pairs of words of the 'lift-elevator' or 'apartment-flat' type and the slogan 'Two capitals, one bank'. There are banners with these ads on the railway station from where the trains to Moscow go, and I walk along the platform sometimes, checking what words they used.

... and I don't know the point of it (I also don't know what my accent would sound to a native English speaker. I have the pronounciation of a bookish child who learned her words by sight, I have far more practice writing than I do speaking, and, naturally, I mix English and American words (I mostly spell English, though - that's the way I've been taught).

Apropos of nothing, some people are now trying to convince me that there were witch trials in USA in early 20th century, only they can't remember where or the exact date, I can't find anything on my own and I don't particularly trust those particular people (well, in the accuracy of statements; I do not believe they'd steal my silverware or something).


* * *

Jun. 29th, 2010 07:39 pm
taelle: (Default)
I am probably a deeply weird person, belonging to one culture but knowing enough of a different one to be able to get jokes and allusions and stuff. But I feel even weirder when I seem to get more of another culture than someone belonging to it.

I'm reading a mystery, and a character in 1997 says how she went to an old people's home to visit a hundred-year-old lady.

"She might not know you,” said Betsy. “You know how old people get confused about modern events but remember old ones clearly? Well, Dorothy is losing old stuff, too. She said that her son never went to Omaha and was both shot and drowned by a Dutchman.”

I mean, I got what Dorothy meant at once; perhaps the writer made Betsy a bit too stupid for plot reasons? Or do I just know history better than an average USAian?

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