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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

About Different Tongues (a bit à la manière de Gogol)

Sviata Vecheria in Canada
no copyright infringement intended

Once I came to Philadelphia for some business. I took the El up to Frankford. There was a bus I had to take further, a ride of about half an hour or so. The bus station was just near a cemetery wall. I got in. There was only the driver, an old Afro-American guy. He closed the door and started the vehicle. At the next stop, a large group of old guys, maybe twenty to thirty, got in, filling the bus, and began talking loudly each one with all others, in Russian. And that day I realized that in order to learn good Russian you need to go to Philadelphia.

I already knew by that time that the finest German in spoken in Prague, and the best Czech, in Vienna. So it goes.

What I didn't know was where would be the perfect place to learn Ukrainian. Is it more like Russian or more like Polish? Good question. For native speakers of Russian it looks like Polish, while for native speakers of Polish it sounds like Russian. Actually, it depends on what part of the Dnieper you live. On one part the vocabulary is mixed with Russian a lot. On the other part, well, the mix is made rather with Polish. The thing is that, besides the Russian and Polish influences, this language has also words of its own.

And I found out today that in order to learn Ukrainian (not Russian, not Polish, just Ukrainian), you should come to Canada.





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