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I frequently hear “Oh! You speak a lot of languages!” even when the speaker knows more languages than I do. Is it because they don’t expect a native English speaker to know any languages other than English, or because Russian and Swedish are so exotic that if you know them to any degree it is automatically assumed that you must know the “normal” foreign languages like French and Spanish as well?  I don’t, though I’ve taken a staggering two semesters of French. And my Swedish is crap. And Russian is a lifelong project. No, I don’t speak a lot of languages.

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Another thing I did the weekend before last is visit the Moomin exhibtion they were having at Gostiniy Dvor. As an exhibition there wasn’t much to speak of – big posters of the Moomin comic strip in Russian translation and a few display cases of Moomin merchandise, none of which was actually on sale, but the guest book was quite touching, and I photographed many pages of it. Here are two of my favorites: 

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“Hi Moomin – Hi Bear”, written in “Albanski” (Wikipedia calls it “Preved“, perhaps to be more politically correct), what Russian internet users call the intentional misspelling of words for comic effect, an interesting phenomenon. “Hello Bear” (Preved medved) was one of the original Albanski catchphrases.

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“Thank you to the Jansson family for our happy childhood!”

As international students, Kostia and I often find ourselves among speakers of other Slavic languages – Polish, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, even Macedonian and Bulgarian. We have a fun time comparing Russian words to their counterparts in other Slavic languages, but our language of conversation is always English, as it’s usually our only common language. Sometimes it seems silly to speak English among people whose native languages are so much closer to one another than any of them are to English.

Enter Slovio, the artificial simplified pan-Slavic language. If you’ve ever studied a Slavic language, you should be able to understand what’s written on this website. It’s like Russian without all that nasty grammar! While I don’t think it’s a replacement for learning a “natural” language properly, it is nice to think that we don’t have to use English to speak to Czechs and Poles.

Sxto es Slovio? Slovio es novju mezxunarodju jazika ktor razumijut cxtirsto milion ludis na celoju zemla. Slovio mozxete upotrebit dla gvorenie so cxtirsto milion slavju Ludis ot Praga do Vladivostok; ot Sankt Peterburg cxerez Varsxava do Varna; ot Sredzemju Morie i ot Severju Morie do Tihju Okean. Slovio imajt prostju, logikju gramatia i Slovio es idealju jazika dla dnesju ludis. Ucxijte Slovio tper!

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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