This article tells the story of Caroline, a customer who came across a fascinating aspect of the Russian language through using Pen4Pals.com.
Caroline has always been interested in learning new languages, and started with those she was taught at school: French, German and Spanish. However, earlier this year she decided she wanted to become more adventurous with her language learning, and try a language which was completely different from English in terms of its alphabet, tone and grammar. She chose Russian!
She started with some DVDs and a phrase book, laboriously transcribing words and phrases and practising them by herself. But she wasn’t having a lot of success, and couldn’t develop a real “feel” for the language. That’s when she did some research and came across Pen4Pals.com.
According to Caroline, this site has allowed her learning of Russian to progress at a much faster rate, and in a much more enjoyable way. She has met many native Russian speakers, whose English ranges from the beginner-level to fluent. But she has learned something new from each one, and would like to share a particular area of interest that she discovered on Pen4Pals.com: Russian idioms.
An idiom is a commonly used phrase that has a figurative, rather than a literal, meaning. Idioms are used all the time in English: “You need to pull your socks up.” “I’ve bent over backwards to do this.” “There’s no point crying over spilt milk.” Most likely, we have all spoken these words at some time: we do not actually mean that we bent over backwards to do something, or that milk has been spilled. Idioms are linguistic “short cuts” that allow us to express ourselves more generally, or more succinctly.
Mastering idioms is important when learning a language. Of course, a solid knowledge of spelling, grammar and pronunciation is essential, but if your grasp of the language never developed beyond mere functional communication, then you would have difficulty in fully engaging with a native speaker. Even worse, you might completely misunderstand what they mean in a given situation!
Here are a few interesting Russian idioms that Caroline has come across through talking to her new Russian friends via Pen4Pals.com.
“A million roubles on a small plate with a blue border” is the Russian equivalent of “Having your cake and eating it.”
“It’s like getting milk from a goat” is probably closest to the English expression “It’s like getting blood from a stone.”
“Look out for underwater rocks” means “Watch out for unexpected problems.”
And finally, “Go and chase the wind in the field” equates to “Take a hike!”
Caroline discovered these idioms and more through Pen4Pals.com, and is confident she will learn many more intriguing things about the Russian language as she continues to visit the site. Using Pen4Pals.com to meet native Russian speakers has made the language come alive for her: she credits the exciting, thriving community with inspiring a love of Russian and can’t wait to meet even more Russian friends online!