Your Russian primer

But you should not have an impression of superficiality at the sight of the resolute pragmatism of the German-Russian military dictionary. The German soldier was in fact willing to master a grammatically correct Russian speech when the prolongation of the Blitzkrieg offered occasion for that. And German book publishing provided him with a proper Russian primer. And they did it well, for the purpose of the study of the Russian language, as we know it from our childhood Russian primer, is the promotion of the friendship between nations.

Georg Thier, Dein erstes Russisches Buch, Твоя первая русская книга, Chapter 21: The Lager/Camp
В лагере живут пленные. Лагерь находится в деревне. Я вижу забор из проволоки. Пленные работают: первый колет топором дрова, второй и третий пилой пилят бревно, четвертый курит. Калитка открыта. * Солдат стоит у будки, он часовой и имеет ружье. Если пленные будут бежать, солдат будет стрелять. Пленных взяли в плен в пятницу. Они в лагере живут три месяца и пять дней. Сегодня двадцать пленных работают на фабрике, а десять в лесу. Пленные обедают в двенадцать часов. Где взяли в плен пленных? Я не знаю. Пленные говорят по-немецки? Нет, пленные не говорят по-немецки. Этот пленный больной? Да, он больной.
- Кто сегодня болен?
- Сегодня больны Никитин и Рубашкин, они лежат в бараке.
- Кто сегодня работает в кухне?
- В кухне сегодня работают десять человек: пять русских, четыре белорусса и один украинец.
- Десять человек сегодня должны работать в поле, двадцать пять человек должны работать на фабрике.


В школе сто мальчиков и сто девочек, всего двести вместе. Двести плюс сто будет триста. Триста километров плюс сто километров будет четыреста. Двести солдат плюс триста солдат будет пятьсот. Пятьсот марок плюс сто марок будет шестьсот марок. Восемьсот мину
с сто будет семьсот. Шестьсот коров плюс триста будет девятьсот. Девятьсот пленных плюс сто будет тысяча. На поле сто две лошади. В доме двести двадцать семь дверей. В деревне триста шестьдесят девять домов. На северном фронте тысяча семьсот пятьдесят два солдата, а на восточном фронте шесть тысяч четыреста двацать пять солдатю. В городе три миллиона жителей. Когда вы родились? Я родился в тысяча девятьсот двадцать первом году, а моя сестра родилась в девятьсот двадцать втором году. Который теперь год? Теперь идет тысяча девятьсот сорок второй год.

In the lager live prisoners. The lager is in the forest. I see the wire fence. The prisoners work: the first one is chopping wood with an axe, the second and the third are sawing a trunk with a saw, the fourth one is smoking. The door of the fence is open. * A soldier is standing at the fence. He is a guard and he has a weapon. If the prisoners will run away, the soldier will shoot. The prisoners were captured on Friday. They spend three months and five days in the lager. Today twenty prisoners work in the factory and ten in the forest. The prisoners have lunch at twelve o’clock. Where did they catch the prisoners? I don’t know. Do the prisoners speak German? No, the prisoners do not speak German. Is this prisoner sick? Yes, he is sick.
– Who is sick today?
– Nikitin and Rubashkin are sick today, they are lying in the barrack.
– Who is working in the kitchen today?
– Ten people are working in the kitchen today: five Russians, four Belorussians and an Ukrainian.
– Today ten people have to work in the field, and fifty-one people have to work in the factory.

In the school there are a hundred boys and a hundred girls, it is two hundred altogether. Two hundred and hundred is three hundred. Three hundred kilometer and hundred kilometer are four hundred. Two hundred soldiers and three hundred soldiers are five hundred. Five hundred stamps and hundred stamps are six hundred stamps. Eight hundred minus one hundred is seven hundred. Six hundred cows and three hundred are nine hundred. Nine hundred prisoners and a hundred are a thousand. On the field there are a hundred and two horses. In the house there are two hundred twenty seven doors. In the village there are three hundred sixty nine houses. On the Northern front there are a thousand seven hundred fifty two soldiers, and on the Eastern front there are six thousand four hundred twenty five soldiers. The city has three millions of inhabitants. When were you born? I was born in nineteen twenty one, and my sister was born in nineteen twenty two. What year is now? Now it is nineteen forty two.

Georg Thier, Dein erstes Russisches Buch, Твоя первая русская книга, cover

7 comentarios:

cantueso dijo...

I have been trying to learn Russian, too. I was able to decipher "An Honest Thief", but I would have liked to read some Russian fairy tales, and there I didn't get very far.

I wonder whether some older civiliztions have a larger vocabulary than industrial nations where everything, also the language, is being streamlined by the media.

Studiolum dijo...

Yes, I think that older civilizations, including not-really-industrialized-and-westernized Russia, do have a different taxonomy, which must be learned, together with the culture. I have deeply experienced it in Persian.

cantueso dijo...

As to the taxonomy: yes, I know. Typically, in Spanish there are many different names for thistles. The thistles also have nick names. And I found out soon enough that in Russian I must understand the names and prestige of different kinds of fur. -- But I wondered about hundreds of expressions and sayings that become first unintelligible and then void when nature recedes from daily life, aas for example:

In Russian fairy tales, there is a little hut on chicken feet, and you address it saying:

"Izbushka, izbushka!" (meaning little hut)

"Little hut, little hut!
Facing the woods with your back to the street :
Turn around!"

So the little hut turns around and you can talk to it. As soon as I learned about internet, I tried to find out, and here it showed up in Finland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sami_Storehouse.jpg

I still don't know why it turns its back to the street, unless it simply prefers to be left alone. However, modern Russian children would no longer understand the chicken feet either. They would assume it is nothing really , an author's caprice, a curiosity.

Studiolum dijo...

Yes, this motif is also well known in the folk tales of Hungarians and other peoples from the steppe; we call it “kacsalábon forgó ház/vár” (a house/castle turning on a duck’s foot: always on one foot, in contrast to the Sami storehouse on the picture). According to Hungarian ethnographers, this is an inheritance from our pre-Christian shaman cult, where the duck’s foot is an axis mundi, carrying (usually high in the heavens) the palace of the spirits. The shaman / the protagonist of the folk tale must climb up there in order to ask for their favor, and he usually stops the turning of the foot or lets the house/palace, which is typically turned off the road, turn towards himself, with a magic rhyme similar to the above one. According to the ethnographers, Russian folk tales took the motif from the peoples of the steppe.

Anónimo dijo...

what's funny, in polish language it's too, called "chatka na kurzej nóżce", connected usually with living place of "Baba Jaga", presumed to be of pre-slavic origin...

Anónimo dijo...

Notice the very prominent stress mark in the primer's Russian text, since Russian word stress is both important and unpredictable.

Studiolum dijo...

Yes, this is how words were accented also in our elementary school Russian textbooks in the 1970s.