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Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba Started conversation Mar 5, 2015
I saw your post about the troubles in Russia, I might have seen a few of the news blurbs, but did not think about you personally. I have had a couple Russian nationals working for me over the years. I could share a few amusing stories about both.
The first one was a very intelligent young man who came from Kiev. He was shocked when I gave him a set of plans for the local Air Force Base. He was even more amazed when I had to select a crew to go on base to correct some minor problems and I included him in my team. This was before 2001 when access was much more informal than it is today.
The second was a refugee from Azerbaijan. I remember one day he told me about how sad and terrifying it was to see his home town in flames.
One day, I remember, I had a dozen things to do. One was a few simple changes our customer had asked to be made on one of his drawings. I marked a copy with all the changes I needed to have him make and he came back with a long list about how they should be changed in a different way. He was probably correct, but none of the changes he wanted were that important, and I just wanted to get the job into fabrication.
I was a bit busy and annoyed so I said 'Raymond, please don't exasperate me!'
I knew the extent of his knowledge of English and that he would have no idea what that word meant
He, of course, replied 'I do not know this word'
I carefully wrote out the word on a 'post-it' note and gave it to him saying look it up in your English - Russian dictionary.
I watched him flip the pages until he found the entry.
I saw his face fall as he said 'This is not good!'
For the rest of the time he worked for me he had a note stating 'Don't Exasperate' taped to his drawing board.
I can't solve Soviet politics for you, but I thought this might give you a
Sol Posted Mar 5, 2015
Oh thanks FS!
It's pretty grim all round. Nemtsov's death was particularly shocking though - he's been a fixture of politics since I lived there. Of course, when I lived their he had his feet firmly under the table.
But obviously it is good to be reminded that individual people are not total barstewards. Great stories!
How are you?
Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba Posted Mar 6, 2015
I am well enough, just getting over a round of cold and sniffles, but that goes with this time of year
I thought you might enjoy my stories, a couple more, both about the young man from Kiev;
One day he was working on a drawing (that's what I do) and it called for a screw in a lead shield. I do not understand, he said, you can lead a band, or a parade - but haw can you lead a screw?
I had to explain how some totally different words can have the same spelling, but have different meanings and pronunciations. I pulled my 50,000 word dictionary from my desk to show him what I was telling him was true.
'So many words! Why do you need so many words?'
I did not tell him about the OED
I remember he worked for me when Robin William's 'Moscow on the Hudson' film came out. It depicted the ex-pat Russian community of New York City. After watching he asked me if this kind of thing was true. I assured him that such things existed and he quit to go north, he did ask for his job back a few months later.
Sol Posted Mar 11, 2015
My students were just moaning about that very aspect of English last lesson. That and prepositions. On the other hand, no pigging cases, which are my bete noire in Russian. Every noun must have a different ending, depending on who is doing what to whom and where and with...
Did you give him the job back?
Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba Posted Mar 20, 2015
Were they complaining about the number of words, or the homonyms? I could understand both.
Yes I did get him his job back, but I had to put myself on the line for him with the bosses.
The only language I have studied at any length is Spanish. We were only taught 'present tense'. I remember my teacher's horror when, the second lesson we had, contained a past perfect phase. Just learn it for the quiz and then forget about it she advised. Each noun has six endings, me, you familiar, you formal, us, they and them (although the last was considered archaic).
I did once hold a 45 minute conversation, almost totally in Spanish, and I found counting a necessary skill in post Mariel Miami.
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