Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Language Barrier, Part II

When we were walking away from Cookie Monter’s stall one time, I mentioned to Briullov that I loved practicing the genitive case there.

“What do you mean?” he said. (You are probably also saying this.)

But you mean different things. Your question first – you have to change the way the noun sounds when you’re saying “of X” instead of just X. (And not using it correctly sounds non-standard, much as it is non-standard English to say: “She am an independent woman” or “You makes the meatloaf now.”)

So I can say “I want an apple.” [Mne khochetsia iabloko] or “I want two apples” [Mne khochetsia dva iabloka] or “five apples” [piat’ iablok]. (This might have been a bad example; with numbers, like in French, you say Number word + “of X”).

Sluchai poluchenia Barackom Obama premii “Nobel Peace Prize” kazhetsia shutkoi mnozhestvu mira potomu, shto vozhd’ Ameriki uchastvuet v dvukh voinakh. I wrote that in the ridiculous literary style I talked about yesterday to give that many examples of genitive. And because it’s not as stuffy in Russian as it is in the translation [The occasion of the acceptance of the Nobel Peace prize by Barack Obama seems like a joke to the rest of the world because the leader of America is engaged in two wars.]

Briullov’s question, now: his version is more a “How so?”

“Because you can always throw whichever cookie you want into the genitive! Like today: I got dve pianoi vishni and vosem’ kartoshek.” [2 drunken cherries and 8 potatoes. Both pastries, not fruit/vegetables. And this I bought to last me a week, just so you don’t think I’m a pig.]

“Oh. I don’t do that, I say it like all the Russians do…”

Touché, Monsieur. Touché.

You see, kids, you can either go about the genitive the crazy person way that I do it to see if I can make myself understood and practice at the same time, or you can do it the real way, which goes like this: Mne, pozhaluista, dve shtuchki “Pianaya vishnia” i vosem’ shtuk “Kartoshka.” [ordering exactly what I got before.] Only this time the only thing put in the genitive is the word “thing.”

Boring. Let’s fight!

Continued in Part III tomorrow


Sasha said...

Fantasy Briullov is an arrogant jerk.

"I say it the way the Russians do."?!!

The only time I remember being that mean is when a certain Russian lady told me that little boys ALWAYS play with miniature soldiers while little girls play house. "No, that's wrong. I don't believe that."


Andrew said...

You interpreted a different tone on your own voice than I remembered.

Besides: "If that's what you think, why don't you just do it?" ahahaha