Have you finished reading?

(Thursday 22nd September 2011, written same day)
There are no pictures today, and I’m afraid the weather feels like it is changing.
To my surprise, I did pretty well with yesterday’s homework. I was all about the differences between “Seeing, Watching, Hearing and Listening”, with a bit of the present and the past thrown in. It’s reasonably reassuring. I’m making progress. I can ready stuff (from the text book) reasonably well now. I still feel awkward when speaking and naturally listening can be a bit of a challenge. If it’s a recording, often I can work things out after a couple of hearings, but of course the real world doesn’t work like that.
Today’s lessons were a review of what happens to a word when it is the “object” of the sentence. The rules are complicated: it all depends on whether it is singular or plural, masculine, feminine or neuter and whether it is animate or inanimate. Some really strange things happen, not the least of which is that a corpse is animate! How I hate grammar! Then I listened to a recording of some drippy teenage go on about her crush on a rock-star. At least, thank goodness, the rock-star and the band are fictitious. At least, I hope they are.
Then came something, which although awkward, does make a kind of sense. If said “I read ‘War and Peace’ last night”, could you be sure what I meant? If I said “I stopped reading ‘War and Peace’ last night”, would you know if I had finished the book? Russian has a simple way round this ambiguity. The language technicians call it “Perfective” and “Imperfective”. It’s a pain, but useful.
After lunch I did some of did some of my homework, and then it was off to “The museum of the USSR”. This was housed in what would have been a shared flat. It was very interesting and for me emphasised how things have changed. I bought my first souvenirs. Anybody want a fridge magnet of Lenin? I resisted the temptation to buy Stalin!
After that it was back to the school to watch a Soviet comedy titled “The diamond arm”. It was about diamond smugglers, and actually really funny. I can smell dinner cooking, then I have to finish my homework.
Since writing this, I’ve learned that at the time the film was produced (in Soviet times), it was actually legal for Russians to import diamonds and gold INTO Russia (though I doubt they would have had the money). This adds a further layer of irony to the film.

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