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At the beginning of December, I had a discussion with a friend about "fate" and "destiny". Many times these words are used interchangeably. However, they are not the same, and in fact you can believe in one and not the other. Fate - it is like a set order of events, something unavoidable or inevitable, and often with pessimistic overtones. All humans share the same fate - death, and possibly rebirth, depending on your beliefs.

Yet our destinies are different. Destiny - not preset, and arguably within your control on some level. We can change it, or others can come along and be the catalyst for our destiny to be altered.

The topic arose when I began to think about people in my life, those with whom I've allowed myself to get close outside of my family. Ex-boyfriends, friends, even some minor acquaintances, or brief exchanges with people on the street or during travels. Each teaching some lesson, a few of them quite painful, yet opening the pathway forward to another person or cornerstone in life...So, I would say you can choose your own destiny, but not your own fate. This is the main difference, at least to me.

Yesterday, I saw the film "Passengers", and there was an interesting line spoken by Jennifer Lawrence's charcter Aurora - "we are all passengers...we go where fate carries us." Something to think about as we head into 2017...Happy New Year! :)

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word

Do you know what it is? I notice it frequently in comments, and communications with foreign friends. Even the most intelligent and proficient speakers of English as a second language often spell the term wrong. The word is "DEFINITELY", and the most common error is to spell it "definAtely", where an "a" is used instead of an "i". Phonetically, this makes sense, and even native English speakers periodically spell the word wrong.

I was reminded of this today when I began to read a post about studying English via Skype lessons. The blogger mentioned all kinds of tenses - present perfect progressive, past perfect, past perfect simple. I must have learned these tenses in school over 20 years ago, but what the hell do they mean? :) I don't even think about them now as a native English speaker, although the tenses are self-explanatory if you contemplate the basic essence of the words. When I studied Russian for a short time, I wasn't concerned about proper grammar or spelling, because the goal was simply to be able to speak basic phrases during travels and communicate with locals in their native tongue. Some things that still confuse me about Russian:Read more... )
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tonguetwister

I've whined many times about the difficulty of the Russian language. Very long words, often difficult to pronounce. Recently, I started learning basic Georgian phrases for the journey - hello, goodbye, thanks, my name is, how much?, nice to meet you...This language is comprised of many harsh and unusual sounds for a native English speaker, and it's even more challenging to grasp than Russian. Almost any ounce of foreign vocabulary I know is useless for learning Georgian. For instance, if you know English, many Spanish words aren't so hard to comprehend, and even French to some extent. This perception is based solely on my travels in France, and daily communications with native Spanish speakers in my immigration work and life in Northern Virginia, where we have a huge population from Central America. In fact, whites have been the minority in my region for many years.

I'm not concerned about perfection or grammar when learning these languages, just the spoken element so I can try to communicate with locals a bit in their native language. I think it's very important, and you should always make an effort to learn standard, universal phrases when visiting a foreign country.

I always considered English to be a simplistic language, comprised of much shorter basic terms - "hi", "bye," no gender distinctions, etc. Then, I remembered this meme someone sent me a few months ago. Who can understand it? I believe it's an excellent test of English proficiency and comprehension skills. Maybe you can share it with your children or friends who are learning the language for some fun. :)

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The reason can be summed up in one word - "защищающихся." The English transliteration is something like this - "Zashtsheyeshtshauoushtsheyekhsua." No other explanation is necessary. :)) To read about my Russian language classes and see my impressive Cyrillic handwriting, look here. This birthday greeting was created for one of my Russian friends a few years ago. Can you understand my Russian? :)

Actually I stopped studying Russian because I became unfocused and didn't have time to work as a lawyer, maintain this blog, and be a linguistic scholar. It's a very difficult language for a native English speaker to learn, and it serves absolutely no purpose in my professional or personal life. All of my Russian friends in the U.S. and abroad speak English very well, and I know enough basic Russian phrases to exchange pleasantries with strangers during my visits to the country. English - the international language for tourism in most parts of the world and in my profession as a lawyer. The same for science and medicine, no matter how many times people try to argue with me about this fact or the need for English signs in Moscow. "Let them learn Russian and Cyrillic!," the most common response when I complain about the lack of English language tourism infrastructure in the country. Do you really think it's necessary for a foreigner to learn a language when they're spending only one week of their entire life in the country where it's spoken?  I don't, although it will certainly make your life easier if you take a few hours to at least memorize the Cyrillic alphabet, which isn't that hard to master. Happy Sunday to all! :)

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Yesterday was a rare occasion when I actually met with a Russian lawyer in my office. She arrived and I greeted her with "Привет, Очень приятно." She gave me a very strange look, as if I had insulted her. I thought this meant "Hello, nice to meet you." Is it wrong? What's the proper greeting for business meetings in Russia? Shaking hands is normal?

I immediately switched back to English because her reaction confused me. I don't really understand why people become so annoyed with mistakes when a person is speaking in their non-native language, whether it be in a business or social situation. I'm constantly communicating with foreign lawyers with less than perfect English skills, and I appreciate their efforts to speak to me in their second tongue. I never correct their minor mistakes, because it's almost always possible to understand what someone is trying to say or convey to you, even in horribly broken English. Same with my readers here. Please never hesitate to write me comments or messages for fear of bad English. I will understand, I promise! :)

I'm certain this Russian lawyer must have understood what I was trying to say, even if I didn't use the proper phrases. I probably used a casual greeting rather than formal, maybe that was my mistake. Do you communicate with business colleagues in a language other than Russian? Do you feel confident doing so?
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atm

Today I made a quick stop at an ATM in DC and noticed a new language on the screen - Hmoob! What's this? I had no idea. I came home, googled it and discovered it's an Asian language spoken by a sect of people scattered in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Americans, we're not known to be linguists, though language study is required in both high school and university. At my high school the only options were French and Spanish. The choice was easy for me because I don't like the French language and don't consider it romantic at all. There's no appeal for me when a man speaks French - to my ears it sounds very pretentious and effeminate. So I studied Spanish in both high school and university, but rarely use it and am not fluent. Language - it's a very touchy subject for some people.Read more... )

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