The things we Israeli translators take for granted…

I suspect there isn't a single Israeli, no matter of what descent or ethnic community, who does not recognize Russian when he or she hears it spoken. Wherever we go, we hear Russian olim conversing with each other; on the bus, at the supermarket, in line for the post office or the doctor. You don't have to be a linguist to recognize the sound of the language. But what about, say, Rumanian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, or Serbo-Croatian …? Some people would go "Pshaw! Obviously! How can you confuse them? Each has such a distinctive sound!" Others may shrug – "they all sound more or less the same to me." But I'm sure no one would think for a moment that those languages are the same, or at least so similar that any speaker of one would automatically understand speakers of the other.

"I was surprised to learn," says the university-educated American heroine of this novel I'm reading (not exactly of my free will) "that the Romanian language is not similar to Russian at all, despite the proximity of the two countries."



Shira said...

It amazes me every time, but people are remarkably ignorant. Your example is even more curious because people would not assume that of France and Germany even though they share a border.
Then again I was speaking Hebrew once in front of a cashier and she asked me if I was speaking French... you'd think they'd know better in Ontario.

Anonymous said...

Can't decide who's dumber: the author or the character.

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