My Long and Winding Way. A Shorter Version :-) 2


long_and_winding_way

I guess it’s about time I started writing something in English here. I began to write this post yesterday, September 30, 2015, the International Translators Day! For those of you who don’t know what I do most of the time—I translate stuff. I interpret, too, but only occasionaly.

How did I become a translator? It’s all about my passion for the English language that I’ve had since I was a kid. And still do. Those of you who know how to read Ukrainian can read my story here. For those who don’t, here is a shorter version.

When I was like six I developed this idea that speaking a language that nobody could understand would be really cool. So I kept begging my mom to get me a book. I didn’t know what book—so my mom got me a dictionary. And I started to learn words. I didn’t have a clue how to pronounce them, so I just read them… well, in some weird way a seven-year-old-Soviet-kid could come up with on his own. It was no English—that’s for sure. Yet, I reached my goal—nobody understood a word! And that was cool! At least for me. At least for now.

Later on, in a couple of years, my mom gave me a book in English thinking I was fluent enough to read real stuff. The book was “Read and Speak English.” I don’t have the book now but I found its picture online:

read_and_speak

Back then, I thought the book was great due to one simple fact—it was mostly in English. Those who remember Soviet times forty years back can confirm that getting a book in a foreign language in a province (we lived in a small community in Belarus back then) was not easy. I could even recognize some words. I’d been ‘studying’ by a dictionary—remember? I still can recite the beginning of a tongue twister from that book:

Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said, ‘This butter’s bitter’…

If you know how to read Ukrainian you can go here and see how I pronounced those words. The rest shouldn’t bother because my pronunciation was quite funny boring.

I could hardly wait for my getting to the fourth grade where they would start teaching English. Yet later, I did not always excel in English. In school you have things that distract you from your hobbies, like friends, games and stuff like that. I boosted my English only in the seventh grade when I got a teach-yourself kind of book and read it from cover to cover two or three times doing all excercises and assignments. Still further down the road, I read a good book on English tenses which really made a difference—I finally figured out what all those tenses meant and when I should use them (At least, this is what I thought). But all this knowledge was too bookish, you know. I had nobody to hear real English from except for multiple records of the Beatles and numerous tapes of Metallica and other bands. I remember sitting for hours trying to figure out what ‘I ain’t got nothing but love, babe’ meant—no dictionaries in my possesion had any of those ain’ts, gonnas, gottas, gotchas, I’mmas etc. And I had no real native speaker to talk to and see if he could understand me.

Until finally I heard that a group of volunteers or missionaries of some kind came to town. I ran to the place and FINALLY I had a chance to speak with a real American! (My heart was pounding like crazy). And he even understood me! Well, sort of. Funny expressions kept appearing on his face when he was trying to figure our what on earth I was talking about. I concluded that much of what I had learnt in school and on my own was not applicable in real life.

In a couple of years—I was in college—I read an ad on a bus stop saying that native English speakers (Americans) were teaching English classes with the Bible as a textbook. I didn’t care much about the Bible back then. What I really cared about was that NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS ARE IN TOWN! Yay! I started to attend the classes and my English jet started to climb really high. It is in this class that I met, among other good people, professor Roger Kovaciny whose post you’ve had a chance (or may want) to read. These classes not only considerably improved my English but also changed my life. Which is a topic for another post.

So this is my little story.

One more thing. I know that my English is far from being perfect and I may have poor choice of words and expressions. And that is another reason I have written this post and am going to write some more of them in English. I would really appreciate if you guys (and gals ), especially my friends who are native speakers, could help me improve my English by telling me where I make mistakes or sound funny and advise me on any improper use of the language in general.

unpossible

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