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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Know What You're Saying...

From February of 2013, just because...

“Maryna, baby, tell Pearl what “OMG” means.”

Maryna, a dark-eyed and sophisticated √©migr√© from Kiev, a woman who delights in letting neither your glass nor your stomach go empty, turns to me.  “I know what it mean, “OMG”,” she says.  “It mean “wow”.”

Mike smiles.  We are in for the night, dedicated to an evening of drinking and storytelling in their basement.  The winter rages outside, and inside, I pull a blanket around my legs and lift my wine glass to my lips.

“Well,” I say, “it kinda does.”

Mike kisses her on the cheek.  “What about “TGIF”?”

She frowns at him.  She suspects, rightly, that he’s playing with her.  “It mean “weekend”.”  She tops off my glass of wine, our third bottle of the evening.  “I don’t care what you say,” she says, “I know it mean weekend.”

Language is a difficult thing.

At one time, I had hung around quite a large crowd of Russians; and through many nights and weekends, I had picked up snippets of language.

Or I thought I had.

 Maryna smiles at my Russian.  “Pearl,” she says, encouragingly.  “Mike, leesen to Pearl.  She speak very good Russian.”

“Di me pepilenska,” I say, holding out my hand.

Maryna laughs with delight.  “You ask for ashtray, yes?  Ees pepilnitsa.  Peh-pil-neet-sah.”

My mouth drops.  “Peh-pil-neet-sah? But I’ve been saying peh-pil-enska for years!”

“Yes, yes!” she says, laughing.  “And ees very cute.  Like baby.  Very cute.”  She takes a drink.  “Say more.”

I pat the couch next to me.  “Idi soodah.”

Maryna claps her hands.  “Very good.  Now what you theenk you say?”

“I said “sit here”.”

She shakes her head.  “It mean “come over here”.”

A memory slides into place, past the wine, and a thought occurs to me.  “How do you say “man”?”

“Man?  Ees muzcheena.”

“Mooz-cheen-ah?  Well what is “mah-cheen-ah” then?”

“Macheena?  Macheena is machine.”

I take a drink.  “I dated a man for a while, a Russian man.  I called him my big, handsome macheena.”

She laughs.  “You call heem beeg handsome machine!  I theenk he love that!” 

Maryna stands, heads for the stairs.  “I am going to keetchen,” she says.  “Maybe we eat a leetle.  I breeng down tray.”

“Spasibo,” I say to her. 

“No,” she says, smiling.  “Thank you.”


joeh said...

Mrs. C works at a ballroom dance studio owned by a Russian. He often forgets and speaks to her in Russian.

She speaks nod and smile.

joeh said...

Oh...fun post. We often make fun of others attempt to speak out language and forget our own inability to speak theirs.

vanilla said...

Pearl: the guru of multilingualism.

Pearl said...

I just love the idiosyncrasies of language/culture. :-)

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
Me too Pearl...and this is just about the very first post of yours I ever read!!! Thank you, dhanyavad, spasibo, grusse danke, grazie.... you name it, I'm grateful. YAM xx

jenny_o said...

You write accents so well, Pearl. It's not easy to write them so that it's easy to read them. Love Maryna posts.

Elephant's Child said...

You and Maryna speak the universal language of friendship - and food. And drink. Which is the same, whatever the accent. And better than cute.

NotesFromAbroad said...

She got that right, you are very cute, like baby.

Chicken said...

Idi Soodah, Pearl! I have wine, too.

River said...

Spasibo, you breeng smile to me.

Slamdunk said...

You are a natural Russian writer! I can fake Spanish, but most of it is police jargon related to putting your beer on the car and keeping your hands where i can see them.

Rose L said...

You provide her with a thousand laughs! Better to leave them laughing than angry!!

Out on the prairie said...

Made me think of going to a party of Serbs the other day and trying to use my Russian/Czech around them.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Thank you this was great as usual

Daisy said...

Spasibo for this post, Pearl. I enjoyed it. :)