Russian is impossible to teach because all the words are extremely long and most have the ы sound. To understand what it sounds like, take the vowel in “big” and just your lower jaw out while making the sound as strong as possible. Horrible, eh?

Klara now asks, “how do you say that in Russian?”, but loses interest when she hears that the simplest English words sound like an endless jumble of a million ы-containing syllables. Take, for instance, the word toes. Do you know what it is in Russian? Пальцы ног. How crazy is it? And this is without commonly used diminutive suffixes.

What a stupid language.

10 thoughts on “Ы

  1. Have you started disliking, even hating, Russian after discovering the destroyed Ukrainian culture and language? You have once written about reading about the destroyed Ukrainian culture in an university library, iirc.

    Ukrainian has more ы – sounds than Russian, but you probably don’t hate it.

    Is it because of Russian continuing colonialism concerning Ukraine?

    I understand your blog is where you post your opinions and feelings, so I usually don’t comment on those posts.

    Usually people love their mother-tongue which is to me a completely different issue from loving Russia as a country or its policies.

    In my case, I love the language and feel some part of me will be erased if I marry a not-Russian speaking Israeli Jew and will have to conduct my entire life in Hebrew alone. It is saddening to me, as if the first part of my life never existed.

    As far as languages go, I love Russian, then English and only then Hebrew.
    Of course, what is last above becomes first if we discuss nationalism. 🙂


    1. I spent the first year of my life in a small Ukrainian-speaking village with family members who spoke only Ukrainian. So I can’t say I discovered it. It was always there.

      Russian language produced very little valuable literature, which is my main beef about it. And zero valuable ideas. The entirety of the lauded 19th-century literature is a pale, slavish copy of talented foreigners.

      Euskera (the Basque language) is also ugly as fuck. But it produced incredible literature, and that makes it worthwhile to me.

      Who is the great writer of the Russian literature writing today? Just one name. Is there anybody who deserves to be remembered a hundred years from now? Obviously, not.

      As for the language used with your significant other, yes, it’s definitely an issue. It’s precisely why I started teaching Russian to my daughter. N and I speak Russian to each other, and she’s hating it because she feels excluded. But if we switch to English, which we considered, this would dramatically change the balance within our relationship as a couple. My spoken English is a lot more developed and fast than his. And it’s not going to work.


      1. \ As for the language used with your significant other, yes, it’s definitely an issue.

        For you the issue seems to be fundamentally different. Had N’s English been as good as yours, you wouldn’t probably have been against dumping Russian altogether.

        I obviously don’t have any problem speaking Hebrew – just want to be able to speak Russian at home too.


        1. It’s great to be with somebody of the same generational and cultural background. I recently mentioned this soviet cartoon about the little mammoth who lost his mommy, and N immediately remembered and we discussed our different responses to the cartoon. And it’s a ton of stuff like that. Plus, there are cultural differences. For instance, I love Hispanic culture, but me and a Hispanic man could never happen even for two dates, let alone for something more serious. People don’t talk enough about the many and complex problems in intercultural relationships, unfortunately.


  2. // Klara now asks, “how do you say that in Russian?”, but loses interest when

    … she feels how you feel about the language.


    1. She doesn’t hate it like she does Spanish, at least. 🙂 Because Russian isn’t competing for my love.

      It’s s funny because she yells “No Spanish, mommy!” like I yell “no English!” in the classroom.


  3. “Пальцы ног”
    Do you always use the second word? In Polish it’s even longer ‘palce u nóg’ (there’s also palce u stóp or palce stopy) but most of the time people just use palce (singular palec) and only add the second part if its ambiguous (for those who don’t know a slavic language palec, pl palce means digit and is used for both fingers and toes.


      1. Except that it sounds exactly like tows (the problem of English is that so many everyday crucial words sound like other words).
        It’s also why native speakers often write ‘tow the line’ when it should be ‘toe the line’…


        1. Yes, I already ran into problems with spring, which is both a verb and a noun. Klara kind of ridiculed me for using the word in its two different meanings. There is nothing like a contemptuous snort from a two-year-old. 🙂


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