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January 28, 2004 by AK

Weather and languages

A hearty snowfall, and a good grand thaw: a recipe for disaster in Moscow. That is, the city is all afloat. That’s the view out of my window. Then, on Sunday night, Act Three: the frost is back, happy Monday morning! That’s what our weather people say, and their good-guess rate is 40%. But I digress, as usual.

Now that our daughter has turned three, it is time to think about raising her bi- or, better yet, multilingual. We have only spoken Russian to her: she is not an early talker, and it is common knowledge (or a common misconception) that children start talking even later when exposed to more than one language. Now, however, it is time to take advantage of her early age to have her acquire a few more languages painlessly (it may be a pain for us, but we can take it). What I do not know yet is the best method for doing so, and would be grateful for hints.

I consider our girl has pretty much mastered the vernacular; her vocabulary is decent and growing, and she is comfortable with long, polysyllabic words. But nobody’s perfect: she keeps making a few curious mistakes:

1. Wrong verb suffixes (radovaesh’sya instead of raduesh’sya); her conjugation and perfect/imperfect choices are fine, though.

2. Wrong stresses (lilI vodU) where stress changes with inflection or conjugation.

3. Genitive instead of prepositional: (na) ruchkov, mis-formed genitive of ruchka, instead of (na) ruchkakh.

4. [Added later] Difficulty picking the right form of accusative of the two, for animate and inanimate objects. E.g., of camels in a drawing: Ty vidish’ eti verblyudy? instead of Ty vidish’ etikh verblyudov?. She would probably have no problem if the camels were real (she has already seen them, in Egypt and in the zoo).

They’re all lovely, aren’t they? I hope Russian learners will appreciate them.


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