23 January 2004

A Language Freak Wandering in Siberia

If you feel the need to follow an ever farther outlier, check out this blog by pf, a language freak wandering through Siberia on his own.
Oddly, Russia is the only country I've been in where you can't find manaiacal Australian tourists scurrying out wherever you step. In Europe, you can't find a town so small but it's got an Australian (or, if you'll pardon the expression, a New Zealander) in it, or having just left it, or on the way to it. Here, though, I haven't met a single antipodean, curiously. Though a couple Indian billionaires in April stayed in the hotel I stayed at in Suntar. I was called upon to verify their English, which I pronounced to be competent, but clearly not that of a native speaker. All marvelled at my deductive powers, for indeed, the Indians had been born in India, and not, as appearances might lead to believe, in any other country.

Americans do occur up here, though. There's one, I don't know if I mentioned him, who lived on Kamchatka for a year in high school, and now is studying Japanese (Japanese!) at Yakut State U. (Yakut State!) for a year. There was another who came to a village near Suntar, I wasn't clear on which, and stayed for two years, or maybe three, hung around the local museum a lot, and then went home, where she turned into a doctor of anthropology. Everybody still remembers her, and, shaking their heads, say, "We've lived with this museum all our lives, and she comes here, looks at it for a couple years, writes some stuff down, and gets a doctorate!" She married a local, and took him home with her, where he now makes Sakha (Yakut) jewelry in North Carolina. I'm sure you can track him down, there's probably not many Sakha (Yakut) jewellers in North Carolina. He's got his own wall, with pictures of him, and a special cabinet for pictures of his brothers, local jewellers, and a picture of his father, touchingly hung next to a photocopy of his death certificate.
Hat tip: languagehat

No comments: