Friday, August 22, 2008

August narrowly escapes Marina's low opinion

Anya has started coming to the coffee shop in the morning occasionally to pray Morning Prayer with me, and of course it's much easier for her if we pray from her Russian Orthodox, Russian-language prayer book rather than my Book of Common Prayer. It's easier for her even though the Orthodox, being notoriously conservative, keep their prayer services in what Anya calls "pure" Russian but which is of course simply the liturgy frozen in the archaic Russian that once upon a time was common speech but now is preserved only in church.

So I've decided I need to learn some of the important prayers in Russian, or Old Slavonic, or whatever the correct term for "church" Russian is. And the obvious place to start is Molitva Gospodnya, that is, the Lord's Prayer. So, since I periodically have to sit and wait for a couple of minutes while my laptop processes trade information, I wrote it up on the whiteboard in my office, in my careful Russian cursive handwriting, so that while I sit and wait I can practice:

So my Russian co-worker Marina comes into my office to ask a question, glances at the board, and does a double-take. I explain why I have the Lord's Prayer up on my whiteboard in church Russian, and then we go back to discussing fees and ledger accounts, and having gotten what she needed, Marina goes next door to talk to Karl.

A few minutes later Project Manager August comes into my office, and as we're standing there talking, Marina sticks her head in the door and says, pointing at the whiteboard, "Hey, August, can you read that?"

August stares at it for five seconds or so, clearly trying to figure out whether anybody's handwriting can really be as villianously illegible as mine appears to be, until it dawns on him that it's in Russian. He chuckles and says, "Nope, it's beyond me."

Marina generously excuses him: "That's not surprising -- it's a relic."

Which left me wondering, given that her excuse seemed to be based on the fact that the prayer was writting in archaic Russian: if it had been in modern Russian, would she have expected him to be able to read it? ;-)


At 8:29 PM, Blogger Butch said...

I think you've got an extra comma on line 3. :-)

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like a bee..

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hope all is going well. I have been calling your old cell phone but it seems you have switch it off or cancel it.

Either way, let me know what's the best way to reach you.

Vonda says hello.


At 9:17 PM, Blogger Ken Pierce said...

Edgar, my cell phone is 832.643.8820.

I was just telling somebody the other day about you and about what a delightful couple you and Vonda are. Tell her hello for me. I miss you guys.

[clears throat; searches for way to dial back down the unmanly sentimentality] Bastard.

At 12:25 AM, Blogger Jeremiah Taluzek said...

Church Slavonic is not actually Russian at all--it is a South Slavic language (like Bulgarian and Serbian), whereas Russian is an East Slavic language. It was mututally intelligible with Old Russian, when St. Vladimir converted his population to Orthodox Christianity. Now Russian has developed a considerable amount, but Church Slavonic has stayed relatively the same (more or less). But anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of Russian can understand Church Slavonic.


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