Sprache | Language - Part 4

posted by usha on 2006/02/28 12:46

[ Sprache | Language ]

A really hilarious story is to be read at TOL. Aris Jansons wirtes about a Latvian textbook which is used in Russian schools to teach the sutdents the obligatory state language Latvian.

The textbook, for schools where teaching is done in Russian, is sold out. Maybe it’s just an excellent teaching tool, or maybe its popularity lies in its somewhat racy approach to learning the state language, with tales of lascivious old men and hemp-smoking teenagers.

The Social Democratic Workers Party (LSDSP) issued a statement about the book to the media: "After acquainting ourselves with the textbook’s content we came to suspect it was either a bad joke or a deliberate perversion of the Latvian language."

Anyone who knows the language will notice that the textbook is full of strange words that seem to come from Russian slang and have been "Latvianized". These include butterbrods (from the Russian buterbrod meaning sandwich), prikols (from the Russian prikol meaning literary prank or a dose of drugs in slang), mammushka (from the Russian diminutive for mother but used as a contemptuous term for a woman), or simply the Russian exclamation davai, which, depending on the situation, means "come on" or "do it".

What stands behind all the delayed excitement - the textbook has originally been released in 2004 - are most probably the parliamentary elections in October.


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