A Little Spitting to Resolve Your New Year
- By Michele A. Berdy
- Dec. 19 2008 00:00
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As the nerve-wracking and depressing year of 2008 completes its dreadful downward arc, it's time to top it off with that humiliating end-of-year tradition: the New Year's resolution list. Every year when I write these, I feel like an errant schoolgirl standing in front of all my classmates and teachers, wearing a dunce hat and saying over and over again: Больше не буду ... (I won't do it anymore.) But they say confession is good for the soul. Here goes:
1. Больше не буду ныть по поводу непонятных мне правил словосочетания (I'm not going to whine anymore about rules of word combination that I don't understand). I think one of the hardest things to master in Russian is a sense of what words go together. Learning what verb fits a certain context or what adjective "sounds right" with a noun is something that comes with time and experience. Or a native-speaker editor who red-pens your paragraphs. In 2009, I vow to regard a completely rewritten paragraph as a wonderful learning experience.
2. Больше не буду писать рубрику, когда болею гриппом (I will no longer write my column when I've got the flu). As my temperature rises, so does my tendency to make stupid mistakes. In 2009, I resolve to get my temperature close to normal before I hit the keyboard.
3. Больше не буду спорить с заказчиками по поводу моих переводов (I'm not going to argue with clients about my translations anymore). I'm going to take the sound advice of an older, wiser and more experienced translator: Соглашайтесь с любыми поправками, а затем снимайте свою фамилию (Agree with any and all corrections and then take your name off the translation).
4. Больше не буду паниковать (I'm not going to panic anymore). In 2009, I'm not going to freak out when the world economy takes a nose dive and wipes out my pension, or when visa regulations change yet again, or when the tax payment I made got lost in the Russian treasury or when my e-mail server randomly sends incoming and outgoing messages into the great inbox in the sky. In 2009, I'm going to adopt my Russian friends' attitude: Наплевать! И это пройдёт (Don't worry; literally, spit on it! This too shall pass).
5. Больше не буду обижаться, когда меня зовут тупым пиндосом (I will no longer get offended when I'm called a dumb yank). Yes, it gets tiresome explaining that we Americans don't eat puppies for breakfast, that Protestants are Christians, that we love our parents and children, and that we do, in fact, have "настоящие друзья" (real friends). But in 2009, I'm going to regard my newly cultivated explanatory abilities as excellent training for a possible mid-life career change. If the Foreign Service won't take me, maybe a public relations firm will snap me up. I mean, who else understands the Electoral College?
6. Больше не буду задавать вопрос: Куда делись деньги? (I'm no longer going to ask the question: Where did the money go?) Throughout the economic crisis, I've been asking that question of everyone on both sides of the Atlantic, and no one has the answer. I'm going to stop making myself crazy and accept that for all intents and purposes: Денег нет (The money is gone).
7. Больше не буду ныть, жаловаться, скулить, стонать или плакаться (I will no longer whine, complain, squawk, moan or fret). In 2009, I'm going to maintain a good attitude. No more hand-wringing over incorrect word order in Russian sentences. No more screaming at newscasters. No more wailing when I click on Bloomberg.com.
Because my Russian friends are right: И это пройдёт (This too shall pass).
Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.