Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Belarus Entry #2 - Tongue Twisters For All

One of the members of our Belarus team is a student in the Talbot School of Theology-Kyiv Extension M.A. program (website within months) that the rest of the members of our team are responsible for running. For a class coming up in December he has chosen to read the War Rule, a collection of Qumran texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Before our trip, I overheard this brother trying to name his assignment to another professor at our seminary. He first tried in Russian but the professor was unfamiliar with the texts. So the student then named the assignment in English, but the professor could not understand him. He tried about 5 times to say "War Rule," but that's really hard to say for someone whose main language has no "w" sound and rolls its "r"s instead of dragging them out. It was a tongue twister, for sure.

But while we were in Belarus, the four of us had an extended discussion about why "War Rule" is so difficult to say and decided to see how we could make it even more difficult. Granted, our final result is pretty meaningless, but it's pretty hard for even an English-speaking tongue. So, try this out 10 times fast ...

"The role of the real world rural war rule"

But so as not to pick solely on my Slavic-tongued fellows, I have to mention the name of the conference we were attending in Belarus. The organization is acronymed, "EAAA," which, conveniently works in both English and Russian. In English, it stands for the Euro-Asian Accreditation Association. Easy, right? In Russian it reads, "Евро-азиатская Аккредитационная Ассоциация." That likely doesn't mean much to you, so here's the transliteration ...

"Yevro-aziatskaya Akkreditatsionaya Associatsiya"

It's certainly not impossible to say but, in the middle of a sentence, combined with all of the necessary declensions and often surrounded by words that are just as difficult to say, it doesn't always roll off the tongue. Even one of the conference speakers mentioned how difficult it was to say, and he was a Russian-speaker! So, while I certainly topped the charts in mispronounced Russian words during our 5-day trip, I could pronounce sensical and nonsensical English words and phrases with relative ease. In the end, such discussions helped to balance out our respective embarrassment, as well as bringing some much needed levity to a conference whose main focus was that perennial thriller, academic institution accreditation standards.

1 comment:

Gypmar said...

"...that perennial thriller, academic institution accreditation standards."

That made me laugh.