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DaveUK1965
11-10-2003, 12:13
Is fluency in Russian every possible for a non - native speaker ?

I don`t think so. My fumbling attempts to learn Russian, coupled with the complexity of the language and the amount of slang are beginning to convince me that it`d take a lifetime to GET fluent. ;-)))))

Leo
11-10-2003, 13:39
Fluency IS possible, I talked to people who were quite good at it but they started learning Russian when they were around 20 or younger.

stefania2003
12-10-2003, 01:12
It's true. I don't know if you'd call me fluent (although I have worked as an interpreter) but I started speaking (albeit badly) Russian when I was about 9 I believe. But my grammatical mistakes even now I think are lamentable:(

DaveUK1965
12-10-2003, 01:25
I know, Stefania - I`m at the stage now where I can SEE the problem. ;-) I mean, my Russian is nothing - "Goosey goosey" is about my upper limit.... and I can catch the drift of a Russian language newspaper.

But. On the telly come Russian speakers, and I can make 80% of it out, given time... funny, I can understand womens` accents easier than men`s..... and then along comes a word which I semi- recognise but has been mangled beyond recognition by some weird grammatical rule and I just think "Eh ??? " ;-))))))))

Supposedly - I get told - Russian is not more convoluted to pick up than German. But. I speak German. And French. Understand Dutch. And whilst I completely LOVE the Russian language, Lordy, what a headache it is to learn it properly. ;-)))))))))) Well, my solution is to put cards up in the newsagents around here looking for Russian speakers for conversation practice..... come back in about 20 years, folks, I may have a clue what I`m doing. ;-)))))))))

DaveUK1965
12-10-2003, 14:15
Funnily enough, a big problem for me is that of pronunciation..... rolled R is impossible for us Brits and I tend to convert zh to z automatically, with, er, interesting results. ;-)))))

I tend to find that there are certain people whose accents I can understand easily (Putin is one) and that women are generally easier to understand than men. And I absolutely LOVE the Russian way of making themselves understood to foreigners - speak faster and louder - there used to be a joke that anyone could understand English so long as you spoke it with enough force and conviction..... seems to have translated into Russian, too. ;-)))

The great one I find is when you don`t understand a specific word - the usual thing that happens is that the speaker repeats the word over and over again on its` own in the belief that repetition brings comprehension. They look SO surprised when that doesn`t work...... ;-))))))))))

Jet
12-10-2003, 14:19
Fluency is possible, but u have to study very hard.

Rainbow
12-10-2003, 14:59
Originally posted by DaveUK1965
Funnily enough, a big problem for me is that of pronunciation..... rolled R is impossible for us Brits and I tend to convert zh to z automatically, with, er, interesting results. ;-)))))

Come on! I've seen a number of Brits capable of pronuncing not only rolling R, but many other weird sounds for the westeners. On the topic: Few years ago I was invited to a party in Harrow. A lot of people of differet nationalities, background, etc. I laid my eye on one pretty girl speaking Russian. I came up to her and asked if she fancied a drink. She did and we started a chat. In Russian. After 1 hour I asked where she was from and she said: "From London". I was taken aback completely. It turned out to be that she was native Brit speaking perfect Russian (with no even slightest accent) with no Russian ancestry. And it took her only 3 years to achieve that level of fluency whilst she was studying at Voronezh Uni. So, in my humble opinion, it's just a matter of determination and (of course!) motivation.

Maine Surfer
12-10-2003, 20:05
A few years back I met a Peace Corp volunteer from California working in Rostov-on-Don. He spoke perfect Russian with very slight accent. Russians thought he was native when they heard him speak. He told me he had attended UCLA's 2 year special Russian language program or something like that prior to coming to Russia. There they practiced intensely 8 hours a day 5 days a week. The best way to learn a language correctly is to study it with a good professional instructor as there a few techniques out there that make learning so much easier (for example, speak to a mic connected to a stereo with headphones so you could hear yourself, or record it on tape and hear and analyze it later ), and of course, to practice with native speakers.
I have also talked to security personnel in the US embassy in Moscow, and would swear they were native Russian speakers (and they weren't), they were so good! So it it possible to be fluent in Russian. Cheers

DaveUK1965
12-10-2003, 20:08
Cheers indeed, folks. ;-)))))))))) Well, wonder what I`m doing for the next 10 years, then ? ;-))))))))))))))

kniga
12-10-2003, 20:32
I define fluency in Russian or any other language that point the student of a foreign language reaches when the native speaker stops listening to how he speaks and starts listening to what he is saying. Fluency in Russian is possible, but not if the considerable task Russian is to learn is approached casually. Russian is more difficult for a native speaker of English to learn than, say, Spanish, because of the complexity of its grammar. But anyone with the proper motivation, determination and time should be able to reach an acceptable level of fluency in six months to a year, especially here in Moscow where one is inundated by the language in everyday life. If you can't do it here, you can't do it anywhere. Fluency should not be confused with speaking the language perfectly or without any accent. Fluency means being able to speak the language reasonably well, flowingly and comfortably. No one speaks a language perfectly, not even one's mother tongue. English speakers often aim for this lofty, unobtainable goal which then becomes both an impediment and excuse not to work towards an acceptable level of fluency for enjoyment in speaking the language. Keep at it with the right attitude and you will get there!

Jet
12-10-2003, 20:37
Well, guys, you don't need total fluency, those you mentioned were among few very talented. For an average person it is enough to be able to 1) undersatand what people are saying (writing), 2) make yourself understood on various subjects. The acsent is not that important.

If you somehow want to place somebody you are talking to into a nationality group, just watch how they are dressed, sit, behave, use body language etc. You can always pick a non-Russian or non-American etc

DaveUK1965
12-10-2003, 20:41
Interesting stuff, Kniga ! Funny, but I DO consider myself "fluent" in English... then I go up to Newcastle and hear "Wor hoos is ahad" - "The house is on fire" - or, here in Lancashire, "Thee thous them as thous thee" - "You pay respect to people who respect you" and despite the fact that I seem to have swallowed a dictionary........ I suppose I`m not "fluent" in my own native language at all in all it`s local variations and inflections. As you so correctly put it, impossible goal. ;-))

But. Because I`m at a level of extreme proficiency in English, I define that as being "fluent" and then want to attain the same level of expertise in Russian... you must be right there, it`s impossible. ;-)))))

Interesting definition of "fluent" - yes, you`re right - let`s try for "practically fluent" - fluent in everyday use. ;-))) Thanks !!

PS - no, still no good, I can`t roll my "R"`s. ;-))))) Local accent gets in the way. ;-)))))

DaveUK1965
12-10-2003, 20:44
"If you somehow want to place somebody you are talking to into a nationality group, just watch how they are dressed, sit, behave, use body language etc. You can always pick a non-Russian or non-American etc"

Too true, Jet Li. You just KNOW. ;-)))))

I was in Volgograd in an elevator - a girl got in - and I KNEW she was English. Must have been body language.

At a bus stop in Germany, my fiancee KNEW there was a group of Russians across the street - just by looking at them. Amazing, ain`t it - "non verbal communication."

Perhaps I could try for fluency in that ? The "R"`s are easier.... ;-)))

Hermione
12-10-2003, 20:50
Originally posted by Jet Li
Fluency is possible, but u have to study very hard.
words of wisdom! sound like my grandfather!!
Dave, i assure you, half (if not more) of Russians have bad broblems with fluent proper Russian as well;) :)

Jet
12-10-2003, 20:59
yeap, Gorbachev for example spoke bad Russian, I think it was called perestroyka. No, really, his expressions were shameful. Even Putin is haveing problems with eloquancy. The real speaker is Bill Clinton, or any good colledge professor was that matter.

DaveUK1965
12-10-2003, 21:38
"yeap, Gorbachev for example spoke bad Russian, I think it was called perestroyka."

:-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) Thanks, Jet Li, I laughed myself stupid at that one. ;-)))))))))))))))))))

kniga
12-10-2003, 22:27
DaveUK1965,

Cockney English, the Scot's particular version of English (50% unintelligible to Americans, only 25 % unintelligible to Brits), Irish brogue, Aussie slang and my own American South's dialect of English (you'd love it...no r's to roll, they completely disappear! "War" is pronounced "Wa-wuh") leave native speakers of standard English baffled and lost. However, one can attain fluency in these offshoot versions of English, too. The point I wanted to make with Russian is that if you study standard Russian (Moscow dialect seems to be the standard) and ignore street slang, criminal dialect (blat) and Ukrainian dusted proverbs, you can attain fluency that I think you correctly identify as "practical fluency". At the end of the day, the ojective in learning another language is being able to understand it and to make oneself understood in it. Rid yourself of the hesitancy in speaking brought about generally by the desire not to make a mistake and you will find your fluency advancing by yards, not inches. In other words, just charge ahead and say what you want to say as best you can and enjoy your conversations in Russian. As opposed to us Anglo-Saxons, the Russians are unfailingly kind, patient and helpful to anyone who makes a genuine effort to speak their language (the perennially unhappy ladies in the metro booths excepted).

natalia_apple
13-10-2003, 01:41
Originally posted by Rainbow
Come on! I've seen a number of Brits capable of pronuncing not only rolling R, but many other weird sounds for the westeners.

I'm so ashamed to admit that being a native Russian I absolutely CAN'T pronounce the rolling R the correct Russian way

Rainbow
13-10-2003, 04:54
Originally posted by natalia_apple
I'm so ashamed to admit that being a native Russian I absolutely CAN'T pronounce the rolling R the correct Russian way Nothing's lost. Yet. Keep on trying.:D

natalia_apple
13-10-2003, 04:57
thanks for at least not calling me an idiot, or an indecent Russian girl

Rainbow
13-10-2003, 05:02
Originally posted by natalia_apple
thanks for at least not calling me an idiot, or an indecent Russian girl I never did. I just quoted a saying. And it was your fault in taking it onto your account. :) So you consider yourself a decent one? How d'ya know? :confused:

natalia_apple
13-10-2003, 05:13
I'm too bad to be indecent

Rainbow
13-10-2003, 05:15
Originally posted by natalia_apple
I'm too bad to be indecent How come?

natalia_apple
13-10-2003, 05:19
nature didn't give me huge watermelons of breasts....

but the main point is it didn't give me the skill to be indecent...

natalia_apple
13-10-2003, 05:54
now I again can see how admitting that I don't have huge watermelons revolts a guy...

well, then I'll look for a someone to talk to, a friend, or someone who could become something more in another place...

this threade is dedicated to the Russian language

so, my point was that mispronouncing Russian R is not a big deal, as there are Russians who mispronounce it, and I'm one of them

spice
13-10-2003, 11:15
Nobody in the world can pronounce the alphabets fully correect! so you dont have to worry about anything!

And what people consider as watermelons are also not so important, if the person only looks at the woman as a woman!

If this was ur problem then it could be the problem of so many millions in this world!

"Dont worry be happy"

natalia_apple
13-10-2003, 16:18
thank you spice

spice
14-10-2003, 13:56
Hi Natalia,
I like to be in reality and avoid illusion! I have very good friends and all my friends are very good to me too!we have no differentiation immaterial however they look!

The most important is friendship!

have a nice day!

Intourist
14-10-2003, 17:40
Originally posted by kniga
I define fluency in Russian or any other language that point the student of a foreign language reaches when the native speaker stops listening to how he speaks and starts listening to what he is saying. Fluency in Russian is possible, but not if the considerable task Russian is to learn is approached casually. Russian is more difficult for a native speaker of English to learn than, say, Spanish, because of the complexity of its grammar. But anyone with the proper motivation, determination and time should be able to reach an acceptable level of fluency in six months to a year, especially here in Moscow where one is inundated by the language in everyday life. If you can't do it here, you can't do it anywhere. Fluency should not be confused with speaking the language perfectly or without any accent. Fluency means being able to speak the language reasonably well, flowingly and comfortably. No one speaks a language perfectly, not even one's mother tongue. English speakers often aim for this lofty, unobtainable goal which then becomes both an impediment and excuse not to work towards an acceptable level of fluency for enjoyment in speaking the language. Keep at it with the right attitude and you will get there!

Kniga, VERY well said. I completely agree on everything except in regards to the difficulty in comparison to other languages. Before I took up Russian in school, I had studied French for some ten years and never had it "click". Russian, afterwards, just seemed logical to me, and the rest, as they say, is history. Granted this strongly depends on how the language is taught, but I would say that difficulty is not an absolute, but rather more dependent on the individual.

I also think that Kniga touched on a point that wasn't picked up as much as it should have been in a fluency thread, and that's submersion. I think "practical" or true native fluency (if there is such a thing) requires being in the country where that language is spoken. And it's not in order to lose an accent, but understand the difference between written and spoken aspects.

Allenson
14-10-2003, 23:17
I'd like to add too!

Dave I think you're at a place I've been many times - I call it the "plateau". You make good progress for a while and then it just seems to stop. You have to push on and it will get better again after a while (could never find out why) Maybe your brain just needs a little time to catch up and expand - that's my excuse anyway :)

The first time I lived here I tried very hard to go with the full-on "proper" Russian accent and I've managed to get very damn close - close enough for me to get passed off for native in short conversations - but most of my friends say that the slight accent is actually charming, so I don't worry about it anymore.

kniga said it right - the main thing is to understand and be understood - the rest is unimportant in the long run.