Saturday, October 23, 2010

When I am Not Very Crazy About Russian

Before I write this post, I want to set the record straight:  I love being and speaking Russian, am proud to have been born in Russia and love many things that have their roots in Russia.  My blog title even embeds the word Russian. OK.   But lately, I found myself being irritated more than once when I am put in Russian-speaking category by various public organizations.  Since my daughter started school, school correspondence has been coming in Russian.  I don't even understand half of those words.  Especially those terms that have been "Russianized" as they do not exist in the Russian language.  The school's automatic phone calls about certain events that go on in the district also come in Russian.  This would have not been so bad if I didn't use to work with the lady who is making these phone calls and of whom I am not very fond of.   But that's more personal.  And most recent thing is me being matched up with a Russian speaking case worker who is currently working on my kids' insurance and who acts like the she herself is financing it.    I am sure there are about 10 thousand people who could utilize her bilingualism, I am not one of them.  I don't want to come on as proud, but hear me out state workers:  I get the law that says information you send out has to be accessible to its readers, but please don't try so hard.  Just because my name is very Russian and my first language is Russian does not mean that I need your help understanding material that is written at 5th grade level! 

The truth is, I have a complicated relationship with the Russian language.  My fluency of it measures that of a 6th grader.  I love using it and strongly believe in bringing up my children bilingual.  Hearing someone educated manipulate Russian language is like music to my ears.  However, I can not hold sophisticated conversations nor articulate my point during argumentative discussions in Russian.  Thus, if I cannot use English with that person to make my point; I struggle to be convincing. 

Anyhow, I might just be a snob or I don't know.  My few faithful readers, what do you think? 
P.S. Anonymous, I welcome your honest replies :)


  1. Agreed!!!
    I like that my last name isn't russian, so people can't tell. That works untill somebody finds out that I speak it, and starts speaking it back, and their russian sucks :)

  2. Tanya, I don't ever try to hide the fact that I am Russian and don't ever hesistate to admit my heritage. What bothers me is when it is assumed that I need help understanding English!

  3. Amen sister.
    MY fluency rates at the 3rd grader's level! Reading books helped, but I prefer speaking English when discussing my bank accounts, loan, personal medical history, etc.

  4. Zhenya,
    I often wonder about this whole translating business when non is being requested by a bilingual person. It seems as though, as soon as people notice of your name being alien or foreign to their eyes and ears, a red flag is automatically put on that "strange name" of ours and all of a sudden we are subjected to wait for the next available Translator. Sometime ago, I had applied for a program of a well known organization and was looking forward to receive some more information in the mail.
    As soon as I got my long awaited mail, I took a good look and everything had been translated into my native Russian language. I began to read as though I was a second grader who was made to read unwillingly. After each paragraph I was translating everything back to the English language. Considering the fact that my last name gets easily mistaken from Chain to Chang, I found my self lucky for not receiving the mail in Chinese or other Oriental language.
    No matter what the native language is, no one deserves to be categorized in any way unless for sure it is known that there is indeed a language barrier. Lets face the facts and realize how much time and money is lost for unnecessary Translations, when the ones in need are still waiting for the next available Translator.
    - Luba Chain.

  5. I miss hearing Russian. I can understand though that being pigeonholed like this would be unnerving. I wonder if you can talk to a school counselor to reverse this bureaucratic move that has been made. I think the lady you speak of would cause me to avoid dealings with the school, which isn't really a good thing either...

  6. Lyuba, that is very funny! Hey girly, you've got a blog? Hurray!

  7. Heather, long time no talk or see! We should get together and chat in Russian :)

  8. Zhenya...I (secretly) love writing :) but wish I had lots of time on my hands to sit and write away ...the blog, yeah..I have to get it together :-/ It is far from looking appealing and interesting as yours does :)
    Hope to see you soon at Cascade Park-L.C.