Blog: Language of Tolstoy
Simon Warburton | 27 August 2010
I've spent a large proportion of this week trying to get through to a certain Russian car company with varying degrees of success.
A large part of the calls have been attempting to talk to the media relations department, but the operator doesn't speak English and I don't speak Russian.
A quick bash at Google language tools comes up with a romanised version of media as 'sredstva massovoi informatsii.' The only bit of that I could understand was informatsii, so I repeated this several times in what my colleagues said was becoming an increasing attempt at a Russian accent.
In fact, kind souls that they are, they insisted I was sounding like the Russian meerkat from the UK's sensationally successful TV ad for car insurance that has been running for quite some time.
Now Russian is the language of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, et al and a beautiful-sounding language at that, so far be it from me to ruin it. Needless to say, all I got for my 'informatsii' effort, was a 'niet, Russki,' response.
It's late Friday afternoon before a UK bank holiday - US Labor Day - on Monday - so I'll just continue the meerkat theme a bit longer.
Andrey Arshavin is a mighty fine footballer for Arsenal in London, but his team-mates have decided to nickname him 'meerkat' for his Russian accent - a fact the UK's redoubtable The Sun newspaper couldn't resist picking up.
Whereas your average English footballer is fluent in at least three languages - although English doesn't appear to be one of them.