Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Russians know how to Use Their Words

I am not referring to any peace treaty or anything historical at all for that matter. That's not my area of expertise.
However, in my Chekhov class, a guy gave a presentation on the Russian Language. He said that there are all these little intricacies to the syntax of their sentences, and letters that can be added here or there that can entirely change the meaning of a sentence.

(This guy looks like he is itching for some good conversation. Or that he has some celebrity gossip)

You add something like a "shk" at the end of a name basically just called the person an a-hole. Or you ad a "anya" at the end, and you called them "my darling." I'm not correct at all about these added letters but you get the point.
Basically, he was letting us know that we very well could have misinterpreted the entire meaning of most of the stories we have read in this class. All because of a WORD. But, it's true, if I were to realize now that one character was calling the other one an SOB at the end of every paragraph, it would certainly change things for me.
But are Words this important in real life? I must think they are because i'm an aspiring writer, and i've brought my "writeriness" to my real life a lot. My guy has pointed this out many a time, like when i'll be crying, andt it will be stormy and raining outside and i'll say "look at this goddamn pathetic fallacy." *pathetic fallacy is the notion that nature sympathizes with our human emotions.

It's times like these when my guy will just turn his palms up and go, "okay..what?" or "you like to write life"
(i scrunch up my nose at him and glare but secretly take it as a complement)

He and I...we get in the occasional tiff. And we both see therapists so we are know....the "communicative type" (said in the voice of the guy from the Clear-Eyes commercials) Don't get me wrong, i think it's great, I just want my readers to know that my nose isn't up in the air when I say that. I hear my therapist talking out of my mouth all the time and can't help but just laugh.
The point is, the guy and me, we can talk our way out of any argument. We can explain any bad feeling into non-existence.
"I thought when you did this, it meant this, so that's why I did that thing after that pissed you off."
"Oooooh. I get it. Ok, lets kiss and make up now."
We can be all puffed up and in fumes and then, piece by piece, strip away all the confusion. And that's great. Really, I think it's great.
And I said that to the guy once. And he said, "Ya, it is. But we shouldn't need words so much."
*GASP* I was one very offended aspiring writer.
But he said sometimes a feeling should be enough. A feeling can carry you through something. That we don't always need these explanations--if we feel the other one is trustworthy, loyal, whatever...we should come out of these things just fine without all these words.

What do all you bloggers think about that?


  1. I tend to be quiet anyway - as a speaker AND a writer, though I have my moments. Your guy has a point, and maybe someday when you've been together long enough, the two of you will get there. But I kind of like the method you're using right now. It's too bad more people can't do that.

    As for the Russian thing - a former co-worker adopted a boy from Ukraine. I wanted to try to make him feel 'at home,' so I tried to learn some phrases in Russian. He just sat there and shook his head at me and laughed. I have no idea what I said to the poor kid.

  2. Ah, Chekhov...a master in propequerianism...his works are complex enough as it is...add what you've just said and I'm gonna have to rethink. How lucky you are to be studying him!

    As for the speaking:feeling ratio I must say that people sometimes speak without thinking just to speak. And others listen but project what they want to hear. I think its amazing that you and your boyfriend are so on the same wavelength that speech is constructive.

    There needs to be a balance. To not weigh down meanings with too many words but also to not be stingy with love words. And of course to add ACTIONS cause yes, in emergency situations - toi coin a cliche - actions speak louder than words.

    I can't tell you what is right for you because the balance varies from couple to couple.

  3. I am very lucky to have such insightful women willing to share your wisdom with me, and just caring what a young blogging gal is thinking :) thank you for your comments!

  4. Interesting and enlightening post.
    "Words are the source of all misunderstanding." This quote is from the original translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "Little Prince."
    The "new and improved" (sarcasm intended) translation states "Language is the source of all misunderstanding."
    Frankly, I prefer the original translation. Interesting how different people perceived very different meanings.

  5. Words can sometimes get in the way (and that comes from a perspiring writer too!) Some people actually used words to BLOCK communication, especially in personal relationships. I am sometimes guilty of this, though now more aware, and on the lookout for this sneaky little practice. (this due to all the groups I have been in - as client and as therapist.)
    What would we do without words, though?
    'Writeriness' - I like it.