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The Swedish Ski Games are coming up this weekend and I’ve volunteered as an “attachĂ©”, a go-between for the organizing office and a national team. They try to assign people to their home countries if possible, so I’ve got the US team. But since everyone in Sweden speaks English and the team is pretty self-sufficient, they don’t really need me to do anything, so it seems that my role is to wear this groovy orange jacket and attend the games for free.

Anyway, on Monday, when I introduced myself to the US team leader, he asked me if I was from the British Isles. I know that the way I speak English has changed a bit since I started teaching English as a foreign language – sometimes I try to pronounce “t”s like “t”s and not like “d”s (butter not budder) so my students understand me better, and I’ve tried to make my Upstate NY/Midwestern Standard vowels a little less nasal, ’cause that just sounds bad – but I didn’t think I sounded FOREIGN.

The really amusing thing is that earlier the same day I was introduced to a guy from Ukraine, and he thought I was Russian at first. I still make plenty of grammar mistakes in Russian, but I can fool people with my pronunciation if the conversation is short and we stick to the pleasantries. So now I’ve got an accent in English but not in Russian. :-)


They say the present continuous tense will disappear from international English. I think it already has. Yesterday I was looking at a bulletin board in the international students’ dormitory and there were two notes tacked up next to one another:

“I sell my bike”


“I look for my watch”

I’m not trying to make fun of anyone; I really respect everyone around here for functioning fluently in a language that is not their mother tongue. It’s just that sometimes it’s mildly amusing for a native English speaker. Either one of these messages would not be particularly funny in isolation, but in juxtaposition, they are.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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