Why is it that (1) after living most of my life in a country where almost half of the population speaks Russian and (2) being exposed to the culture to the level where I can actually familiarise myself with it, I am willing to pay to be taught Russian again?
The answer’s quite simple – you don’t really know the Russian language until you start to feel it. That’s the most amazing thing about it; Russian gives you so much more than just a new vocabulary. This language with three genders, four conjugations and three tenses with two aspects (imperfective and perfective) has much more to offer.
The Russian language is so rich that I think stating that each word has a lot of synonyms is quite an underestimation. Synonyms in Russian never mean the exact same thing because each word comes with ‘something more’ and this something more is connotation that makes you ‘feel’ the words. I am not talking about standard phrases you would learn as a tourist. It is about reading to explore out and speaking to express.
For example, take Russian word ‘тоска’ (toska – often called the most amazing word in Russian) which can be translated as ‘yearning’, ‘anguish’, ‘melancholy’, ‘depression’, ‘longing for’ etc. when in actual fact this Russian word includes all of these emotions and is a state of soul rather than just a feeling; you can’t help yourself, but to feel sad, heartbroken and in pain when thinking about it.
There is a reason why so many Russian authors like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Pushkin could start the so-called Russian Fever in the 20th century with so many of their works being translated into English. It caused a kind of sensation amongst its readers as they unearthed a completely new world that they had not known before. This only proves the fact that there is something special about this language and it has been fuelling attempts to recreate the same feeling in other languages.
And there you go; once you learn this among other words, you start to feel the language. I have great respect for all of those who can call themselves Russian linguists as, for me, it seems like a never-ending journey to the point where I can actually be able to say, ‘I’m fluent in Russian’. So, while I’m still stating I can only speak Russian, I can safely say that it is one of – if not the only – language that has a soul on its own.