February 4, 2011

The Easy Ones

Origin of Character
  • Middle English caracter, from Latin character mark, distinctive quality
  • From Greek charaktēr
  • From charassein to scratch, engrave; perhaps akin to Lithuanian žerti to scratch


Learning a new language is challenging. I love to learn new ones and I think that I do an okay job of it. Studying music has certainly helped with hearing the nuances of speaking different languages. Not that this means that I pronounce things properly, just that I am very aware when I do not.

Which, when speaking Russian, occurs frequently.

Learning Spanish was very natural for me; I learned quickly and spoke fairly fluently...or at least I did when I was living in Spain. While traveling around Europe I found that I could read and/or understand other languages fairly easily as well. Mostly this was because they are similar. My success should also be attributed to the fact that I just hear them and can repeat them well. Again, this is due to the whole listening/music thing.

Or at least that is what I think.

Russian is very different. It sounds completely...well, foreign...and it feels drastically different in your mouth. I rather like all of the consonants smashed up against one another. There are very few similarities between the words in Russian and English; I found many more between Spanish and English.

One of the most...Oh, no, I couldn't possibly learn that...facets of the Russian language is the fact that it does not use our alphabet. In addition to sounding completely different, the letters look like nothing we've ever used.

Or they look just like ours but they sound nothing like any of our letters.

Or they look like one of our letters but sound like yet another of our letters.

Or, and here's the nice part, they look and sound exactly like our letters.

I thought I would take a few days to share with you the Russian alphabet. It is a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet (derived from Greek) and contains thirty three characters.

To keep your introduction to Russian simple, I thought I would start with those letters that look and sound just like ours:

  • A - AH as in saw
  • K - K as in keep
  • M - M as in Mom
  • O - OH as in oat; AH as in Off
  • T - T as in tie

There you have it; five letters that look and sound exactly as they would in English. Tomorrow I'll show you some more. You'll be "reading" Russian in no time...though you may have no clue what it says...

Join the club; we all start out that way!

1 comment:

Anna said...

my friend whose husband is russian, has a child's toy at their house to teach their alphabet. It blows my mind. you certainly have your work cut out for you!