Victory, thy name is Cloud!

So I just finished, for the first time ever, reading a book in Russian. Garri Potter i Uznik Azkabana. Five hundred and seven pages.

Oh. My. Gawd.

It took me a week, what in English would take two days. (Excuse me in advance if this blog is littered with idiomatically clumsy sentences—reading this much Russian has had a noticeable effect on my spoken English too.)

I haven’t read an English language book all week—a long time for me. Russian print is swirling around in my head; I can’t walk down the street without finding myself absent-mindedly repeating some word or another—sometimes without knowing for sure if it’s a real word or one I’ve just made up. It’s incredible and …*sigh* 🙂

The funny thing is that the achievement is made more amazing not only by the idioms and expressions and words I seem to have effortlessly picked up and integrated (erratically) into my speech—and Lord knows there’s bunches of words that bounced OFF my head too—but rather by this one tiny, almost ridiculous realization which has swooped me into euphoria.  Namely:

I know two words for cloud.


I know, it seems useless. After all, I am no meteorologist. I am no weather reporter. I am no sky-gazer.

But two words! This is victory indeed! Because it provides—flexibility. *sighs happily* Flexibility is power, I have decided. I can choose among words…or in this case, between words. I can be the master of my own nuances!

I am on cloud two, I tell you!

It occurs to me I also know now two words for werewolf. I typically discuss neither clouds nor werewolves at length, but I sense integration of both into my daily conversation for at least a while.

Russian: “Hello, Ruth. How are you?”
Ruth: “I am well. Is that a cloud (1)? I am a werewolf (1)”
Russian: “Uh, are you pointing at the pavement?”
Ruth: “Clouds (2) are different in America. Are you also a werewolf (2)?

Good times. Ah, and I now have five words for interrupt. Several ways to describe smirks, bitter smiles, glinting eyes, exploding with fury, exchanging glances, examining things… Precautions. Invisibility Cloaks. Wiping one’s tears/sweat. Aiming one’s wand… Yes, several ways of aiming weapons, assuming all weapons are wielded similarly to wands… 🙂

Life, fellow English speakers, is GRAND!  🙂  But now I must bid you adieu, for I have two clouds to gaze at. 🙂


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
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14 Responses to Victory, thy name is Cloud!

  1. ralfast says:

    Prisoner of Azkhaban in Russian? Meh, I prefer it in the original language, Klingon, I mean Her Majesty’s English.


    • sputnitsa says:

      I must say that reading in English is significantly less draining 🙂

      I just started The Order of the Phoenix this morning. The style is so very different that I find myself wanting to check out the two books in English–to compare their styles. I very much like this new style… 🙂

  2. Beth says:

    If Uznik Azkabana is 507 pages…how long is Order of the Phoenix? Enjoy the challenge! I came thisclose to buying The BFG in Italian (called Il GGG) but chickened out.

    Thought of you while in Edinburgh. I passed the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the first couple of books. 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      Very cool!!! 🙂 🙂

      Oh, Order of the Phoenix is 826 pages. 🙂 Now I’m listening AND reading, which adds a whole new dimension to learning, I’ll tell you that!!! 🙂 As for BFG–sounds delicious! 🙂 You might as well get it for the future, right? 🙂

      • Beth says:

        That’s a great way to do things–listen and read! I wonder if I could find the Divine Comedy on CD…

        I definitely plan on it! I think I may have to read Pinocchio in Italian for my Italian class this year. It will be interesting. 😀

        • sputnitsa says:

          Holy moly–that’s some serious listening/reading you’re planning for Italian!!! Dante’s so beautiful and so dense and masterful lyrically. Poetry’s quite a way in 🙂

          Pinocchio sounds fun! And the original version too! Fantastic 🙂 🙂 🙂

          Btw, I just about blew my brains out listening to so much Russian today. I got so wiped, I managed to convince myself that if I took a nap with the Russian audiobook still on, I would via osmosis still be gaining. And that probably it was a very promising and intelligent experiment I should undertake. Heh. Right.

          🙂 One thing I do notice is that the longer I subject myself to it, the more my brain catches and pieces together. When I read in shorter spurts, I don’t pick up on the connections as easily. Uh…that said, I’m not sure the word “easy” applies. My head is still complaining grumpily to me. 🙂 🙂

          Good luck!!

  3. Congrats on finishing your first Russian novel. Awesomeness.

    And, this post totally cracked me up. Clouds and werewolves, indeed. It’s the same with me and German. I’ll forget or mix-up very important words, but remember absolutely perfectly, unimportant words like Knoblauch (garlic).

    Really! How imperative is it to know the word for garlic in a foreign language? Unless, I suppose vamps are banging at your door…

    • sputnitsa says:

      Knoblauch. Shame, sounds like the perfect surname for a villain. 🙂

      Hm…. 🙂

      Well, since you practically BEGGED me for it: chesnok. That’s garlic in Russian for ya! 🙂 чеснок


  4. Beth says:

    Hehe, my Italian isn’t really good enough for such an undertaking.

    Exposure is everything (as I’m sure you know). While I didn’t pick up much vocabulary while in Italy (only the sort that makes one’s grandmother blush, and that was from a five year old at a soccer match), my pronunciation is much better.

    And the unimportant words are the most fun.

  5. Kasia says:

    Didst thou receive a postcard from myself? ;p If so, are you game? 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      I did, and I love it and YES, we’re ON! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Want to get you one from the Village. The Village is the best… 🙂 So I am finding something worthwhile 🙂 Brill idea 🙂

      *hugs* 🙂

  6. Abby says:

    Once I read manga in Chinese. It took me SO LONG. I could understand basic things like “What are you doing?” and “Hi!” but when they had these long, profound bits of dialogue, I was lost.

    • sputnitsa says:

      Yup, it takes so much longer. I have to remind myself of how many years I’ve been reading English. It would be unrealistic to expect the same skill in reading a foreign language–at least straight away 🙂 But it’s funny to think of reading as a skilll, per se 🙂

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