Intercultural Assimilation / Too Much “Caffiene” for Pinhead = Tangent Filled Ramblings

24Sep06

There is no direct translation of “ok” and “have fun” in Russian. Improper translations sound off, and even sexual at times. Basically there’s no way of saying these things in Russian. At first I thought this was because in Russia nobody is ok, and nobody is having fun, so they wouldn’t need corresponding words. I always remember it as a pretty muddy and melancholy place, so it seemed plausible that nobody there was experiencing contentment or wishing a fun time upon someone.

For the first time ever, I may be wrong. I now think that the absence of these phrases from the language may be a result of the culture’s acknowledgement of the insignificance of such trivialities.
You may not be aware of it, but western countries stress the importance of appearances over truth. The following rant examines the two phrases and draws conclusions far beyond the scope of my knowledge

People will often ask how you’ve been. They generally have no intention of hearing anything meaningful, and you have no intention of conveying anything of the sort. So you say “ok”. You express nothing. In Russia, if someone asks how you’re doing, it’s not a passing remark and it would usually require a more elaborate and revealing response. It is not asked for the sake of asking it, rather to actually communicate with people. You wouldn’t see endless kisses and “I love you”s manifesting themselves in Myspace comments written by anyone brought up in this society. That’s why I’ve waged my war on pleasantries, I suppose. Though I like to think I do things of my own accord and I’m not swayed by things I can’t take credit for like country of birth’.
As a concluding statement, you may wish “fun” upon your fellow human. Although this can convey something, it’s become a phrase selected at random from a category called “parting statements” in your mind. As such it is entirely meaningless. Although, if you don’t utter it automatically, it can mean that you would hope that the person has a jolly time in doing whatever it is you were just talking about. (Often your statement will correspond to an activity freshly mentioned as part of the parting statement of your converser; in other words, a sugar-coated excuse to escape the conversation, often because you are a boring twit.) This duel of pointlessness is the norm. It’s what’s said. So much so that it loses all meaning. I am reminded of captain Brannigan’s classic remark

“Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah…That’s whatever you were talking about for you” upon tuning out entirely during a rant by Nixon’s head.

It’s like we have a toolbox of pre-prepared statements which we exchange. I thought human interaction would be about more than this. I saw this exemplified the other day, in my own behaviour, when, as a parting remark, I said “it was nice meeting you” to an old friend. It was like I had reached for the wrong toolbox (in my amazing analogy), and grabbed the one marked “parting remarks to new people” instead. Fortunately for me, he didn’t notice this little blunder but instead though it was a joke (and laughed heartedly, might I add), and has probably made a shrine to my hilarity since. Back to the topic at hand: In Russia the focus is less on “fun” and “being pleasant”, so this phrase doesn’t exist, and sounds somewhat seedy when I try to translate it.

So there you have it; some insight on cultural differences, from someone painfully insightful. Past cultural differences it would seem, things have changed since I’ve been there. It appears Russia is suffering a case of “westerndom” (Dom dom dom), where it becomes inconceivably cool to mimic all things related to English and English speaking countries. It’s a terrible illness, it kills off language, custom, and anything unique about a country. “So” has been incorporated as a pimple on the Russian language’s ass, often used by imbecile youths. Incidentally, it’s spelt “coy”. Even though we already have a word to that effect, it’s proof that the language is being not upgraded but soiled by English. It’s unnecessary, and if Russians think western culture is so cool, then….I should move back there and be worshipped for the appearance-obsessed consumer whore that I’ve become.
That wasn’t the note I wanted to end on. The recent amalgamation of cultures is an abomination of nature, and I am remarkable for having noticed it.



One Response to “Intercultural Assimilation / Too Much “Caffiene” for Pinhead = Tangent Filled Ramblings”

  1. 1 David

    You’re humorous and blatant. It entertains me.


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