Adventures in the Russian language!

Imagine the scenario. I am out walking with my Russian wife. We go to the park to feed the ducks on the lake. I think to myself, “The ducks are swimming on the lake”. I think I know all the words for this sentence; I will try to impress my wife with how clever I am! Now comes the mental gymnastics. Let me see. Duck. That is утка. The plural of which is утки. There is no definite article in Russian so “The ducks” is Утки. Now for “are swimming”. There is no present tense of “to be” in Russian, so all I need is the word for swimming. I know that “to swim” is Плавать. So which conjugation do I need? I suppose it is “they”, which is плавают. So now I have “the ducks are swimming”: Утки плавают. Now I need the word for “on”. Is it B or на? I think B means inside, so I guess it must be на. Now which case is it? I need to add the word for lake. Is anyone doing anything to anything else? Is it instrumental or dative, should it have an y on the end? The last time I tried to say anything about the ducks I was supposed to say Уткy. Is this that kind of sentence? Well, it has a preposition in front of it so perhaps it is supposed to be in the prepositional case. So I will try my luck with озере, which has a prepositional case ending. So now I have constructed my sentence: Утки плавают на озере. It is time to try it out on the expert! Turning to my wife I say, listen to this. Slowly and deliberately I say: Ootkey Plav-eye-oot nah oz- er-yeah. As she is attuned to the Russian pronunciation of a two-year old, she understands me and tells me I have got it right! Do I get a sweety for that! If I tried it out on any other Russian they would think that I was speaking gobbedly gook. I remember listening to my two year old grand-daughter when she was learning to speak and I couldn’t understand a word, but her mother understood it completely and interpreted it for me. The normal rhythm of speech in any language is staccato. Does listening to slow speech help or hinder language acquisition?


A very interesting adventure!..
I had the same adventure when I started learning English.
It’s simple in Russian: Я покупаю рубашку, but in English it can be: I buy a shirt or I’m buying a shirt
In Russian: Я купил рубашку, but in English: I’ve bought a short or I bought a shirt or even I had bought a shirt (before I went to the station), or: I have been buying a shirt for 40 minutes.
Every language has its own diffilculties. Of course, every native speaker doesn’t do all this thinking before to say. He speaks automatically and in the most cases correctly because this ‘program’ he/she has in the brain from the childhood.
And the most important thing - to set and to run such a program of the target language in our brain - then we needn’t to think too difficult and too long before speaking correctly.
What about a slow speech - I believe such speech can be useful at the beginning for the better adaptation, but then we have to go to the normal speech.
I don’t think that the slow speech helps a lot for the better pronunciation - besides the word pronuinciation, the phrase patterns and the phrase accent are of more importance for the language acquisition.

It is a very beautiful adventure. I think that when we fall in love with a person we can also fall in love with her language. I imagine, first, it’s a long relationship and intense time , energy, you do not know why, sometimes it’s frusting sometimes it’s very existing : read, listen, write and and finaly become fluent. How to master any language? I supose it is all this.

It is a very interesting adventure which reminds me the Mark Twain’s essay ‘The Awful German Language’.

How much are you oriented on listening? Did you spend more time learning the grammar or listening to the audio in the focus language?
If you spent a lot of time doing grammar exercises, you will construct the sentences slowly but more correctly. On the other hand if you spent a lot of time listening, you will probably construct the sentences more automatically and naturally.
We need to get help from grammar because it takes too much time to acquire the feeling for language by listening rather than understanding the rules.
It’s no problem if it’s comfortable for you to speak slowly, later your speed will increase. I have noticed such progress during conversations with one of my American students. Hes speed increases every months but he has a very strong grammar knowledge.

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I used the above example of how not to speak Russian! And because I thought you might find it amusing. I have been concentrating on listening to normal Russian speech and of talking along with the audio, while reading the text. I particularly like singing along to Russian songs, which I think gives me a feel of how elision takes place in Russian. I agree with evgueny that slow speech does not help pronunciation, but in the beginning may aid in comprehension.

Nice story.