Sunsets and Languages

Sunday, October 24th, 2004


Two Completely Unrelated Topics Rolled Into One Post

Yesterday as we left chow and went up around the corner ahead of the JDAM Palace, I looked back down towards Mosul itself and the river. There is a bluff that I sometimes look at, though usually the air quality is so crap it’s hard to see anything. Today was different, however. It was about 5:30, maybe 5:45. I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Shades of red, yellow, and orange filtered through the clouds. In fact this is probably the only time so far I recall noticing any sort of wonderful sunset or sunrise in Iraq. I hurried back to get my camera, but it faded out as we went back. We’re talking only 5-10 minutes here, but that was enough. No shots. It wouldn’t have come out anyway, I’m sure. I do need to read the manual on my camera again. Another interesting visual item, which I would certainly hesitate to describe as stunning, is the smoky mist that usually happens down in the fields below our hill. I am not sure exactly what the cause is. It may be some kind of smoke pot putting out bug-killin’ aerosol. It usually happens about the same time of evening, and sort of lingers lazily over the fields at about 100 ft elevation. Doesn’t really seem to drift much, and eventually disperses.

I have been going through an intermediate Russian reader. I do pretty good, and can understand most everything going on. I misread one chapter heading. It read “Tanya Protests” in reference to some poor girl who’s family lets her do all the work and never helps. Eventually she takes off (in this chapter, where she “protests”), and the family realizes the error of their ways, blah blah. Anyway, I keep seeing the heading as “Tanya Prostitutka” for some reason. Protestuyet is the word for protest, so you can see the basis on this one. It recalls to mind when Guli and I watched “Brigada.” This was a popular series in Russia about 4 friends who ended up being mafia guys. At one point they are leaning on some businessman, and refer to having his “secretutka” make them some coffee. I didn’t catch this at first. It had to be explained to me. The guy combined secretar with prostitutka – the meaning of both of those words should be fairly obvious. I found this so amusing, that for the rest of our trip I continually referenced it. A driver became chaufferitutka, a doctor (vrach) would be vrachitutka, a maid (slyzhanka) is a slyzhitutka…damn I love to make up and combine words. Smile Russian is a little different in that while in English we like to make up acronyms, they prefer to abbreviate. Moscow Bank becomes MosBank, well you know…there’s a bunch of others, only I suddenly don’t feel like explaining them. It gets too wordy. You get the point. Anyways, I respect that because I have always liked to express my creatocity by creatulating new words. If I don’t know the Russian word for something, I might be able to make something up, or by reading the word literally, figure it out. For example, a windowsill is a podokonnik. A nik is a thing or person that does something, okno is a window (some knowledge of grammar and spelling changes is appropriate in this case), and pod implies being under something. Therefore, the literal meaning is “the thing under the window” or…windowsill! I really like that word. I have a lot of other examples but I won’t bore you with them right now, on account of I can’t quite recall any specific ones. Of course my favorite word is “doctoprimachatelnosti” but that one is pretty hard to suss out. Languages are neat things. I made a pun once when I was taking a test. I needed to define nadaest, only I couldn’t remember what it meant. So I made a joke instead. Since nada means “needs to, is necessary” and est means “to eat”, I wrote in “when I am hungry, I need to eat.” Of course this was wrong, and I knew it, but was hoping to get some humor points. Didn’t work out that way. Nadaest means to get bored, by the way. Which is what happened to me and this topic. Bye now.

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