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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
Let's do something else, I thought, it doesn't always have to be Russian and Russia. So I went to the Tutankhamun exhibition here in Brussels. Does the exhibition start with the Rosetta stone. Well, a replica of the Rosetta stone actually because the whole exhibition was made up of replicas but they compensate this by bringing it all very gripping so the exhibition is definitely worth a visit. But for the original Rosetta stone you will have to go to the British Museum in London.

Anyway, thanks to the Rosetta stone, only found in 1799, they finally managed to decipher the hieroglyphs. Because the same text was inscribed three times on this stone: in hieroglyphs, in the demotic or Egyptian script and in the Ancient Greek script. The latter was still known in 1799 and so they managed to 'crack the code'. Fascinating, isn't it?
Hieroglyphic alphabet decoder

So, with the hieroglyphic alphabet decoder (another hebbeding), you can manage to read f.i. the names Cleopatra and Ptolemy. An eagle stands for an A, a lion for an L, etc.

And isn't this what we do when we study Russian? Transposing the Cyrillic alphabet to our Latin one: a 'p' is an 'r', an 'н' reads as an 'n'. That's what I love most about Russian, the deciphering. Back to where we started...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Russian children's books - Моя первая книга о ...

Among my trophies from Saint Petersburg is a children's book Моя первая книга о России.
Russian children's book
bought in Belgium

I had already bought a few children's books in a Russian shop here in Belgium. They had this most adorable, slightly outdated look. Somehow I thought the supermarket was just offering its stock from the '60s. Reminding me of the Tiny books I devoured as a kid.
Note 1: Tiny, aka Martine in French, Debbie in English;
Note 2: I was NOT born in the '60s, I repeat: NOT born in the '60s; it's just that the series went on for ages, even my daughters are reading Tiny now.

Tiny helps mother (1963)

But no no, the style is still 'in'. Proof is my newly acquainted book. Printed in 2011.

I bought it in the Prisma supermarket right next to our hotel in Saint Petersburg. For 158p 40коп! If I want to piss off my classmates, I can just take this book and show off :-) The only thing I regret myself is that I did not buy more of these books. Because Моя первая книга ... is a series, so you have it also on dinosaurs, history, art, animals, the cosmos,...

Моя первая книга ... is what we call in Dutch a 'hebbeding' (meaning: thing to have, which is exactly what it has to express - 'I WANT THIS!' and on top of that, it sounds very cute, which is rare for Dutch words). Admire and enjoy!

Моя первая книга о России
Inner page of Моя первая книга о России

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saint Petersburg - the do's and don'ts

- go to Saint Petersburg: this city is a pearl!
- leave the center of Saint Petersburg and go to Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo,...
- go during the White Nights (although Saint Petersburg during winter has probably also its charms)
- make a boat trip in the evening
- try Russian food
- go to a ballet
- go to the Russian museum, not only to the Hermitage (Russian museum = Russian art)
- go to Cafe Singer if you love books

- underestimate the distances; Saint Petersburg is a city of almost 5 million inhabitants (compared to 11 million inhabitants in my country (!) Belgium)
- go to Peterhof on 12 June, Russia day
- think the customs and passport control people will make sure you get back the correct forms
- shout at the customs and passport control people
- leave your keys in your suitcase in case your suitcase doesn't arrive
- think your tickets for the ballet will be delivered in your hotel in time even if you ordered a month in advance

The test and the teacher
I've just done my written test. It wasn't perfect, but it will do. I didn't study enough, that's for sure. But it is also about priorities and it is good enough as it is. Next week, we will have the oral test. And the week after, the traditional end-of-schoolyear dinner. It will also be a bit of a farewell dinner for our teacher, who shared our concerns and silly jokes for the last four years with a lot of patience and laughter. Thank you, dear teacher, if you read this :-)

We are all a bit worried about next year, as we will have a native speaker as a teacher then. But she joined us to Saint Petersburg and she speaks Dutch as well so if the worst comes to the worst, she can translate. Although, I remember from the years where I studied for my teacher certificate (about 20 years ago, aargh, time goes quick), that you should teach without translating - yeah right! I never became a teacher by the way and maybe views have changed over those past 20 years.

Anyway, now that my test is over, I feel relax. Time for a good glass of wine and to put my feet up and hang in the sofa....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saint Petersburg - the highlights

The colour code

Green = Hermitage

Yellow = Russian museum

Blue = Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin)

Up in the sky

Church of the Savior on Blood

Peter and Paul Fortress


Peterhof on Russia day (12 June)

Where do I know you from?
(should do a photography course...)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saint Petersburg here I come... or not?

Illness is in the house. With this domino effect, probably known to most parents: daughter 1... tok... daughter 2... tok... mummy (= me, more or less better by now)... Let's hope daddy will stay in good health as he is supposed to take care of the daughters the coming days.

Taken this into account, the current objective is: leave my motherly guilt feelings behind tomorrow morning on Brussels airport, not my luggage! (*)

(*) For those not living in Belgium: this country is not only known for its chocolates, but also for its strikes - specialty: public transport - right at this moment, the company taking care of the luggage handling on Brussels airport is on strike.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My daughters' wishlist

Next week, I will be in Saint Petersburg already. Time to read a bit in travel guides. Time also to explain to my daughters that I will be away for a few days. The oldest (5 years old) understands. We leaf through the travel guide together and she declares the colored onions of the Church of the Savior on Blood beautiful. She is also intrigued by the fountains of Peterhof. The youngest (3 years old) is still unaware but she agrees with her sister on the wishlist: matryoshka dolls in all sorts of colours and at least one of these typical Russian dolls. I'll take an extra bag with me...