Daily Prompt: Enroll


So one day I decided to realise my dream and learn Russian. Already as a teenager the strange alphabet fascinated me. I always had a thing for other languages, the more exotic the better. In the meanwhile school days were over, the adventurous years had arrived and becoming a family lady put an end to all my intentions of becoming an expert in the Russian language or any language..

One day I was a working woman, left with a family of more or less independent people and so I embarked on a life of enrollment realising my dreams. My first evening in the class to learn Russian was full of enthusiasts as myself. We all had visions of understanding Mr. Gorbatschov on the TV news. He was then the chief in Russia, allowing his people to again have bananas in their stores, after years of cucumbers and tomatoes. There were 12 of us, in the second evening it was allready just 10 and so it dwindled over the months. When the first course of 8 weeks was finished we were six. The men were the first to go. Many thought it would be a quick dive through the cyrillic alphabet and with a little practice we would all be talking the basics of Russian to each other.

Unfortunately Russian is not an European language. You can always find someone to help out in French, German or Italian conversation, but Russian? Perhaps there was a person in the village that had a bartered bride somewhere that they got in a mail order catalogue. Strange things happened in the eighties. The world was getting smaller and all those strange Soviet socialist republics now had names like Moldavia, Ukraine, Lettland etc. etc. The wanted to breathe the air of Europe  with their new mail order partners.

So this would be the only opportunity to practice your newly acquired language, forget it. Most of the newly arrived Russian speakers were more interested in learning the local language to melt in and be accepted.  I persevered, I learnt Russian for 10-12 years. Gorbatschov was long gone, and via Jeltzin and a couple of others a guy called Putin was slowly edging in on it all. What difference did it make? They all spoke Russian, although Putin was a sly one. He spoke english as well a German, so the TV interviews were no longer so much in Russian.

Was it worth the hours spent  at home practicing Как поживаешь in speech and writing? For me it was. At the age of 71 I can still do it, not perfectly. We all get older, even my russian teacher, who was actually a czech, is now 71 years old. We were all middle aged ladies with a longing to do it. The bartered brides have long got their Swiss passports and might go home to the old country for a holiday, although it is mostly their old country relatives that visit here.

I no longer enroll so much. I tried Arabic but discovered that the language as such has so many variations the Algerians do not understand the Moroccans who do not understand the Egyptians. Everyone understands the gulf states, but that would be like speaking Oxford english daily. Chinese? no interest in a language with a word “sher” which has approximately 200 meanings according to how you pronounce it.

My mum always said I should learn to speak “proper” english before learning all that foreign stuff and she knew what she was talking about. She was a cockney, 200%.

Quayside Leningrad

Photo:  visit Leningrad in 1964 – a school cruise. The Russians watched our ship as we walked down to the dock. In the good old communist days they trusted no-one.

Daily Prompt: Enroll

19 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Enroll

  1. Wow! Impressed with your language skills. I’m living in Kazakhstan and having difficulty learning the language. I can read Russian. But I’m finding speaking it very difficult. I’ll get there In the end, I’m sure xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am now out of practice with my russian as I do not have many opportunities to use it. I can still read and write it, but I have a limited vocabulary. Kazakhstan seems to share many languages. That must be very difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Russian is the language most spoken in Astana. The president just announced that they will stop using the cryllic alphabet and change to Latin alphabet. A mammoth task. Every shop sign, road sign, text books, computer keyboards etc etc has to be changed

        Liked by 1 person

        • That really sounds like a big job and I do not really see the point. Once you grip the basics of cyrillic it is not really difficult and there are also a few letters which I find are not possible to transfer into the latin alphabet. I have an online russian course on my iPad where I can convert into the Russian keyboard.


          • I agree. I can speak Greek, a lot of the letters are similar or the same as Greek. So I found it very easy to learn. The president says it will make them the same as more modern countries if they change to the modern alphabet??

            Liked by 1 person

  2. You are a master in “another language”! How many Cockney girls become fluent in Switzerdeutsch! 🙂

    I studied Chinese. It’s a pretty amazing language since all the different spoken dialects write it the same way. Added bonus; no verb tenses. I liked it very much and no one in China expected me to pronounce anything right seeing as I was a foreign devil and therefore not very bright. They were happy I was trying. Last time I was in CH I was very happy to discover that I could understand the train announcements though none of them said “Mrs. Anglo-Swiss is waiting by the front door” which would have been very helpful since my phone wasn’t working… French I found impossible to spell but OK to speak and listen to. I like Italian best but my Italian is probably some form of Universal Romance Language since it’s mixed with Spanish and French so badly. I like learning (learning?) languages because even when you are not a master they are still a key to other worlds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a few of us in Switzerland from London with swiss husbands that have a command of cockney and Schwyzertütsch. One actually comes from Shoreditch, in the east end of London. We have only every met online, as she lives in the french part of Switzerland now.
      I was in hospital last week with a patient that worked for the Internatonal Red cross “IKRK” and spemt time in many strange places. She was also into languages, hindi, russian, urdo and some chinese: a fascinating person and we got on well togeher. Russian has too many verb tenses and two sorts of verbs which no foreigner would ever really get the hang of. I love Italian. If you do not know the word, say it in english with an a or o at the end and italianify the accent. It always works. I hear French every day somewhere in Switzerland, so you just get used to it.


  3. I envy anyone who is good with languages. I can understand rudimentary Hebrew, some French and most versions of English. Garry, bad hearing and all, understands much more. I don’t have an “ear” for it, but I love the sounds of other languages. Music!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Languages were always a bit of a thing with me, the more exotic the better. Also dialects interest me. Switzerland as at least 100 different dialects and I understand most of them.


  4. first of all, I want to tell you how glad am I to see you back blogging with your usual enthusiasm I love to learn languages.At the beginning is like decoding a hieroglyph, discovering a new world. I tried to learn basque and I was doing pretty well But I had to interrupt my courses due to family matters. I probably soon will try again. Is an interesting language.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love studying other languages. They are like jigsaw puzzles you have to put together in the right order. 🙂 I admire your long efforts with Russian. I do try to learn a few words in the local language before I travel. Egyptian Arabic was my last effort and the staff on the Nile and Lake Nasser cruise boats were very tolerant (and amused) of my attempts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In my days of taking holidays in far flung places I always did a crash course at home of the language before going there. It makes things so much more interesting when you realise what is going on around you. I think Egyptian Arabic isvmostly understood in most Arabic speaking countries.

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