Initially, I thought I would write about how much of a space cadet I can be and tie that in with false memory, and my inability to properly reiterate just about any story. However, after reviewing some posts, you all helped me feel insanely normal, thank you. So I have decided, seeing as I happened to have attended a rather intensive military language course, I might write about that. So, nu-ladna (anyways, okay..).
My first intended assignment was to be a Russian linguist, didn’t happen, I don’t know any secrets, so no worries with breaking any crazy laws. I did complete the year long course however. And if you have had the chance to take a year of a language, you can appreciate how challenging that really is. This is a tiny bit different, its a college, we learned history, writing, grammar, so on, but it was all in Russian, we were not permitted to speak English, classes were 8 hours, and usually around 4 hours of homework that was designed for you to not be able to finish, but if you left a blank it was moosoar (garbage). It was a lot, but it was really putting us in the same spot we were in as children. Need a bathroom break? You had better pay attention to what Gaspasha (Ma’am, term of respect) says before she leaves.
In my group of other Russian linguist-to-be’s we caught on quick, learned jokes, watched movies, and found a whole new world and culture. So naturally we want to share it. We watch a funny youtube clip, and even if you don’t know Russian, they use “SO MANY COGNATES” you’ll get it. It was always very frustrating that they couldn’t catch the cognates. How did you not hear the blatant English words in this foreign language? So when our lesson went over Speech perception, specifically segmentation, I felt pretty silly. If you don’t know the grammar, you don’t know the adjectival endings, you don’t know anything about the language, how would you possibly know that the word ‘pause’ which is pronounced with a heavy Russian accent and slurred through with whatever was being said is actually your English ‘pause’.
Learning languages is a difficult task, for just about anyone. So it astounds me that children are so able to pick up so many at once, and I was tasked to learn one additional language at twenty-one years old, and it was a struggle. I did it, but I dedicated a year of my life to it, no hours of play time, and cartoons, no playdates. But their little brains are just more open to the possibility that ‘Nala’ (my pup) can be a sobka and a dog. We are all still capable of this, it just takes more persistence to add in that additional wiring to whats already there.
So, my year in an intensive military language program left me fluent in Russian, I still mix up my words, sometimes I have a hard time putting my Russian thought into English because Russian had a much better word or phrase. Never in learning Spanish, French, or German in a traditional classroom setting had I learned so much. I love language, I love culture. And I hope those of you with families keep those languages alive, for your family, your history, and your health.