Power Phrases Lesson #1
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Let me give you a little history about how I came across what I believe to be the most useful of all Russian phrases.
I love the Russian language. It’s more poetic than English, more beautiful than French, and can be as aggressive sounding as German. And it’s compact, meaning it can say a whole lot with very few words. And it’s just…
I got into it in 2004, teaching myself from a variety of books and CDs I bought. Why? Well, I’m a very independent guy and wanted to visit the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and didn’t want some tour guide telling me how long I could stand in front of Rembrandt’s masterpieces. If that meant learning enough Russian to rent an apartment and hail a cab, then so be it.
And then a funny thing happened.
I fell in love.
With the language, I mean.
I know what you were thinking. And yes, I fell in love with the women, too. Let’s put that right out there, right at the start. The women here are incredible, and I won’t pretend I wasn’t motivated by the affect my speaking Russian had on them. (I say “here” because I moved to Sevastopol, Ukraine in May 2008.)
But this blog is NOT about the women.
It’s about the system I created to help me learn Russian
. The problem I was having was this:
I just couldn’t remember the words. They were these alien sounds which had no connection in my mind to their actual meaning. That was one problem.
The other problem was pronounciation. I know, I know you should listen to native speakers
…but that wasn’t helping me. I needed to hear an American pronounce them, but I found no such tapes. So I used my ear. I’m a professional guitar teacher by trade, with a good ear to transcribe the sounds myself. And that is what’s doubly cool (I think, anyway!) about my system for learning Russian:
It helps you remember the word in Russian, and helps you pronounce it.
As you’ll see, the system uses stories which contain within them the sound of the Russian word, and it’s meaning.
That’s it. Memorable sentences. Sometimes whole stories, sometimes just a quick phrase. Like this:
In America, trains are poised to make a comeback.
The Russian word for train (as in, Amtrak and railroads, not “to prepare for a mission”) is поезд, which sounds very much like the word “poised” in English. The main difference is that there’s a bit less of an ‘ee’ sound in the Russian word. (If you listen to yourself say the word ‘poised’ slowly, there’s a clear ‘ee’ sound. That ee sound becomes more of an ‘eh’ sound.)
Still, even if you say poised, you’ll be understood. And that’s all we care about. We will never speak without an accent, and it doesn’t matter — neither will they. I know Russians who’ve been living in the U.S. for twenty years, and though they speak English fluently, they still have a thick accent!
Heck, what does it even mean anymore, to speak English without an accent? Which is the true pronounciation? Brooklyn? Boston? Kentucky? Texas? Maine? London? Austrailian? South African? As long as we are understood, that’s what’s important.
But getting back to the system:
If you want to learn Russian, and are wondering what Russian word you should learn first. I suggest…
The most useful Russian phrase: May I. Have a look at the first video and you’ll see just how useful it can be.
In the first video, yo’�ll see that I make a promise: If you watch each video, and make the flashcards as I describe (and study them a bit each day), YOU — WILL – LEARN — RUSSIAN.
Isn’t that encouraging? Aren’t you psyched?! I am! I’m excited for you, because learning Russian is good for your brain, good for your self-esteem, and good for your love life. (Even if your partner speaks English, you can still talk to him or her in Russian and it will be very sexy!)
So no more reading! Please watch the first vid!
Cheers from Sevastopol!