If you walk down the streets of Moscow window-shopping, you might get the mistaken idea that vagabond wear is all the rage. After all, window after window has signs in it that read ;HOBO’, ‘HOBO’, ‘HOBO’. But no, ‘HOBO’ in Cyrillic alphabet is pronounced ‘novo’, meaning–you guessed it–’new’. Seems they got as many words from Greek as we did, though Latin usually gets the credit. They usually get it straight from the Greek, though ‘novo/hobo’ may be the exception.

Once I cracked the code for Greek Alphabet, words just starting popping out at me as I walked up and down the streets of Athens. every dual language street-sign a little Rosetta Stone, one way in which you can truly ‘pick up’ a foreign language, despite grandiose claims by some language learners about their abilities to absorb language like a new sponge. Such claims typically fall into one of the 3-B categories: bluff, bluster, or pure BS. I’ve busted a few.

Written language is purer, mathematical equations without all the torch and twang, personalities and politics. It works with Russian, too, though it seems the alphabet that Cyril and his brother what’s-his-name so methodically codified gets progressively more complex and difficult in direct proportion to the distance from the Greek source. I hope to master Old Church Slavonic one day, about the same time as Cakchikel.

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