Friday, November 30, 2007

Here we go again: I'm removing Elmer's comment from the post he has made it on - and re-posting it here. Comment moderation is a pain in the ass - I keep forgetting to approve comments - but if Elmer again chooses to litter posts about my family with political discussion, I'll have to turn it back on.

This comment was posted on Marta's birthday reminder:

elmer said...

Just out of curiousity, and submitted only in the politest sense -

If you are a resident and citizen of Ukraine - why the Russian?

Why not the Ukrainian language?

8:42 AM, November 30, 2007

I'm not sure why Elmer is assuming there's no Ukrainian spoken in our family. There is.

There is also English, and, hopefully, there'll be a couple more languages in the future. Maybe I'll learn a new language together with Marta. Turkish, for example. Or French. I'd love to.

As for why I consider Elmer's 'polite curiosity' political, please have a look at this language issue discussion over at the wonderful Ukrainiana.


  1. Be it not for the distance, I would be your French teacher and appoint you to teach me proper Russian (not only spassiba and za stol).
    Honestly, I have been looking a long time for somebody likely to train me in Russian grammar : but now I have come to the conclusion that you cannot dodge coming to Russia to learn it.

    Happy Birthday (Zdniom Rajdienia, yeah!)to Marta
    Genia from Switzerland

  2. Of course it's political. Otherwise the language(s) you speak in your own home would be none of anyone's goddamn business.

    I feel like I could write a dissertation on Elmer's comments on this blog, but as with LaRussophobe, it's better to just not take the bait.

  3. Oh, and by the way,
    c днём рождения, grattis på födelsedagen, and happy birthday to Marta!

  4. Veronica, you are absolutely right to teach the young'uns new languages, because at that stage of life it is so much easier for humans to pick up new skills. As you well know, a kid's brain is a sponge at that age, and it sure as hell beats reading grammar books and trying to learn a foreign language in high school or later. I took Spanish in grade and high school, 6 years total, and I don't remember much of it. I was born and live in the US, but spoke Ukrainian first, so I remain bilingual. :) Marta has an excellent future as a UN interpreter!

  5. Veronica, you have a big chip on your shoulder.

    I asked a very straightforward question, as politely as I could.

    One of the reasons I asked it is your very own post about how Ukraine is ignored in the media, and how, even when Ukraine is written about the topic invariably contains references to Russia and overshadows Ukraine.

    One's natural expectation would be that the language that Ukrainians speak first is - Ukrainian.

    I made no comment or implication about denigrating or not teaching other languages, and I applaud any multilingual efforts anywhere.

    And, as you also know well, I asked my question because, at various times, including during the sovok union, the Ukrainian language has been suppressed.

    I did not realize that my simple, straightforward question could be interpreted as some sort of torture or terror on my part.

    I don't apologize for my question, Veronica. I put it to you in the spirit of politeness, in a civil manner, and certainly not with any intention of upsetting you or starting an argument on your part.

    I am sorry that you chose not to reciprocate.

    I see no need for an argument, or ridicule, on anyone's part here.

  6. I'll just make one more general comment:

    Look at almost any country and try saying that linguistic borders, ethnic borders and political borders are congruent. They just aren't, and they never have been in the history of the world. So to say that anyone "should" speak a particular language based on where they live or who they are is presumptuous. Reality is much more complicated than nationalists would like to make it.

  7. By the way, Veronica, out of respect for you and your family, I left my comments, and the rollicking conversation on Ukrainiana over at Ukrainiana, however one might interpret them. That's why I put my question to you the way I did.

    If you chose to bring all of that over here, and read all sorts of things into my question, that's on you.

    And, for that matter, if you want to start some rollicking conversation about language - be my guest.

  8. Perhaps your next audio reminder could be in English, Turkish or even Ukrainian.

  9. What kinda stuff is this "Marta has an excellent future as a UN interpreter!" ... would you say this if it were a boy being discussed? I doubt it.

    Heck, Marta could end up running the UN ! but the most imp. thing is that she is healthy and happy :)


  10. I suspect it is Saturday now in Russia and also Ukraine.


    I learned not to do that too early :)

  11. Stop trying to traipse on bridges that have been burned down, Elmer.

    Focus on building bridges elsewhere...


  12. I don’t see Veronica’s life in Russia as a sign of disrespect toward Ukraine.

    If I ever detected a hint of hypocrisy in her attitude, I’d be the first to raise a red flag about it.

    Veronica is not that way. She’s helping the world see Ukraine through a prism other than the one installed in the Kremlin. She’s telling the West that Ukraine is not Russia. And she’s doing that job a lot better than Kuchma, author of Ukraine Is Not Russia.

    Veronica is not Michael Averko. If you read what she writes, you’ll never ever find language like “Big Trouble in Little Russia,” or anything like that.

    Let’s not make the language issue into a HUAC hearing. Let’s not play into the hands of regionalists and communists who profit from painting Ukraine as a "nationalist" nutcase in need of Stalinist therapy.

    Let’s not make this guy’s day.

  13. "Veronica is not Michael Averko."

    Oh yeah? Ha-ha.

    Still, thank you for your kind words, Taras.


  14. Let's just say I would never ever mistake you for him. (And gender is not an issue here.)

    So, it was another way of saying Yulya is not Yanuk.