Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Grammar Book

I'm going to Ukraine on Friday.

And don't even try to break into my house, robbers. I've got house-sitters and they're all angry former cops with complicated pasts and uncertain futures. Go break into my sister's house. She's going with me and she has a much better collection of alabaster pots and sewing supplies.

The house-sitter situation is necessary because keeping things alive at my home in July is an unrelenting job. For the last four weeks I've just been engaged in a constant loop of pot watering where I start again from the beginning the moment I finish giving a drink to the last pot. I haven't had a single break in days. I'm typing this with my toes right now. (Yes, Tami is literate).

Finding a responsible house-sitter is a challenge because it requires you to make a list of all of the people you know who have nothing going on in their lives and can easily pick up and move into your place for as long as needed, and then identify one person on that list who is reliable.

Thank God for all of those former cops.


Skylar has never been to Ukraine and I'm pretty sure he has no idea what he's about to step into. Recently he asked me if he should get online and book a Marriott in Kyiv. I laughed at him for one solid minute.

That's because this is sort of like assuming there's a Ritz Carlton in Logan Utah. And look, there's nothing wrong with Logan Utah. But there's definitely not a Ritz Carlton there.

Can I get an amen, The Suzzzzzzz?

It's been four years since I was last in Ukraine, and it's basically been that long since I last spoke Ukrainian with another human. So for the past few weeks I've been reading an old grammar book I found in my basement to hopefully jog my memory.

Skylar has been making fun of me because I've taken to speaking to Duncan in Ukrainian for practice. Joke's on him though because now Duncan is trilingual and he has developed a very strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My favorite thing about this grammar book is that the vast majority of the passages in it are incredibly depressing. Take for example this one, roughly translated, which I read two days ago:

"Olena has decided that she must not explore her dreams because instead she must take care of her grandpa. Olena's grandpa is very angry all the time. He suffered much during the War and he frequently wakes up in the night yelling. Olena's life will not get better until her sick-in-the-mind grandpa dies."

I know you think that this passage is an outlier. But it is not. They are almost ALL like this.

Sure, there are some here and there about someone choosing a good restaurant or a young woman starting her studies at the University. But those innocuous offerings are the exception, not the rule.

Another, from chapter 8:

"Peter's apartment is very warm and uncomfortable. Peter cannot open a window because the pollution outside from cars will come into his apartment and he will get lung disease. Peter is poor, so he can't go anywhere. One day if Peter gets money he may buy a car and then he can pollute someone's apartment. But it is unlikely that Peter will ever have money."

And from chapter 10:

"There are many reasons to feel sadness. All of the news is dark and it is possible that there will not be something to eat. Volodemer has very few opportunities to improve his life. His life is not better than his ancestors."

I think the most jarring thing about these passages is that each chapter contains a bunch of lessons and vocabulary words and exercises that are exactly what you would typically find in a grammar book. It will be full of phrases like "I love cake!" and "It's sunny today!" Then at the end of the chapters it has all of these longer passages that incorporate vocabulary words and lessons learned in those few pages and it's like whoever was put in charge of writing the closing thoughts is suicidal.

This dichotomy of overly polite and positive content mixed with depressing thoughts has been totally baffling to me.

Then I flipped to the About the Authors page.

The book was written by two people: a Ukrainian man and a Canadian woman.

I have a guess about who contributed what.


~It Just Gets Stranger

37 comments:

  1. Jokes on you. I’ve got a security system AND a house sitter.

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    1. Duncan counts as a security system! I think?

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  2. But can you translate " I don't want no bunny banana frog ok no way!"

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  3. Would you say Tami is a touch typist? 🤔

    I’ll show myself out.

    (I’m possibly your only reader who finds Tami amusing and notgross)

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    1. I thought I was the only one!!! Sarah, you are my new BFF. Hashtag Tami 4ever

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    2. Tami brings people together. 😍😍😍

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  4. First order of business. Find pervy Ukrainian ladies and introduce them to Skylar. (Or they'll find out you're gay through you're blog and OMG how could you not tell them in person?!?)

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  5. Amen, you're not wrong...there is NO Ritz Carlton, but there IS a Marriott, so maybe that's an amen with an amendment. I think you need to find the Ukrainian man and Canadian woman that wrote that book and interview them for the podcast. Find out if either of them rubbed off on the other.

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    1. I’m assuming they fell in love and got married but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of a murder suicide.

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  6. That grammar book sounds like "Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine" which has a really good ending, but the main character's personality is both depressing and hilarious at the same time.

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  7. Also, last night I definitely dreamt that I went to a Strangerville reunion/party and talked to so many fellow Strangers and it was so fun I didn't want to wake up and go to work.

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    1. I really think this will happen someday.

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    2. This really needs to be planned. I nominate Amy and Sarah as co-chairs.

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  8. I read this post first thing this morning, but then I had to wait until I got on my computer because POSSIBLE CENSORSHIP against phone typed comments, but also POSSIBLE TECHNOLOGY HATES ME and anyway, are you all so tired of hearing me complain about how I can't comment from my phone anymore? Wah wah wah.

    What I really came here to say is this: For the very, very, very, very, very, very VERY first time EVER I actually really need to know if you made those up or if they are legit, actual samples from the book. Most of the time I am happy floating along believing every word you say, and I do here too, but I need you to confirm that that belief is well founded.

    DID YOU MAKE THOSE UP? You can't make this stuff up, truth is stranger than fiction, blah blah blah.

    PLEASE reassure me!

    Also, my four year old has starting rebelling against getting her hair braided. Since my children each have hair that rivals Rapunzel's, braids are a must. I have started bribing her with my phone to accomplish this chore, and she asks to "look at pictures of that puppy." And to be clear, she means Duncan. Please give him extra snacks for making the braids possible with no tears.

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    1. Your daughter has good taste.

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    2. I confess that I was too lazy to get the book and fish out the examples I wanted to share so my translations are a little off of memory, but yes--I did read those examples recently. And yes, I have a very good memory for written word, so those really are very close.

      Also, Duncan punkin will be so happy to know he is helping children everywhere. This year he's doing the Year of Service so he'll be glad to know this.

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    3. I’m glad to hear someone else has had trouble posting comments from their phone because some of mine haven’t shown up recently and the idea that Eli would be censoring me is just too horrible to bear!

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  9. Where's the picture of Tami dressed like a 1950's secretary taking your dictation?

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    Replies
    1. You're dead to me Bethany.

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    2. YES YES YES my new bff Rachel and I need to see this photo YESTERDAY.

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  10. You know there's 2 Starwood hotels in Kiev, right? And an Intercontinental, a Fairwood, a Hilton... tons of big hotels there!

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  11. "There are many reasons to feel sadness. All of the news is dark and it is possible that there will not be something to eat. Volodemer has very few opportunities to improve his life. His life is not better than his ancestors."

    This defines my life at the moment.

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    1. Nicole that's depressing, there are also many reasons to feel happiness. Don't let negativity define your life. Flip the script, change your perspective, and focus on the good. There is always something you can make better, even if it's just your own attitude in a situation where you don't have a lot of control. You're here (so you obviously still have your sense of humore) and you're not alone.

      And, side tangent, why are we expected to have a better life than our ancestors? Especially if our ancestors had a good life. And yes I realize that the definition of a good life changes from person to person, but still.

      Also, did anyone else read Volodemer as Voldemort?

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    2. Yes! I read it as Voldemort too!

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  12. My favorite Ukrainian language translation moment came when I asked a new friend I met in Kharkiv about the national anthem. She said, "Let me think. How do I translate this? It's something like 'We're not dead yet.'"

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    1. I nearly mentioned the National Anthem as a good example . . .

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    2. Now we NEED a full literal translation of that song ASAP. As well as a video with interpretive dance.

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  13. Am I the only one who read Volodemer as Voldemort at first? Haha

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  14. I have an excellent house sitter that I share with my neighbors. We can travel worry free!

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  15. Ukraine is not yet dead, nor its glory and freedom,

    Luck will still smile on us brother-Ukrainians.

    Our enemies will die, as the dew does in the sunshine,

    and we, too, brothers, we'll live happily in our land.


    We'll not spare either our souls or bodies to get freedom

    and we'll prove that we brothers are of Kozak kin.

    (repeat previous two lines)

    source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/n/nationalanthemlyrics/ukrainenationalanthemlyrics.html

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    1. He is not yet dead, no need to go to bed!

      *wanders off humming Spamalot music*

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  16. I feel like there needs to be a naked bath house story from this trip. We haven't had one of those in awhile :)

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  17. Talk about a cliff hanger Eli! Who did you get to house sit??

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  18. "Skylar has been making fun of me because I've taken to speaking to Duncan in Ukrainian for practice. Joke's on him though because now Duncan is trilingual and he has developed a very strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ." 😂😂😂

    Seriously, my foreign BoM and PMG vocab is awesome but then someone comments on the weather and it takes me five minutes to come up with something coherent.

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