Here's how to learn Russian with a funny cartoon. And here's something you may not even realize: new words and idioms enter your subconscious while laughing.
No matter how old a person is, when learning a foreign language, everyone goes through the same experiences as in childhood. What do all kids like the most (after ice cream and computer games)? Right, cartoons! If you are in the process of studying Russian, why not try the animated television series Маша и медведь (Masha and the Bear)? It's about the adventures of a mischievous little girl and a patient, kind bear.
Why just this one? Let's look:
- Each story is short (7 minutes), so you won't get bored.
- There are no long sentences. Even a beginner should be able to get the meaning.
- It's funny. Really funny!
- Those with a higher level of Russian will find a lot of idioms and useful words widely used in modern speech.
I'll show you, in this example, how your work with this cartoon serial can be managed. First, read all phrases and try to translate them. Then, watch the cartoon, and check if you understood everything. After that, you may read the comments which I've prepared for you.
Маша and Каша
Давненько не брала я в руки шашек!
Эй, вратарь, готовься к бою!
Ура! Ещё гол! Два ноль в пользу наших. Гол! Гол! Три ноль в пользу наших.
Мишка, мы наигрались. Есть хотим.
Ой, это чо? Каша что ли? Фу. Нееее…я и вкусней накашеварю.
Ух ты, вот это каша!
Мишка, я все оттерла. Есть хочу.
Чо опять?! А ничего другого нету?
Ох, и заварила я кашу!
You can find an episode of the cartoon here.
First of all, what's kasha? I'd translate it as a mash. The dictionary gives such variants as:
- каша - (кушанье из вареной крупы) hot / cooked cereal; porridge; kasha
- жидкая каша — gruel
- манная каша — cooked semolina; cream of wheat
- гречневая каша — boiled buckwheat, kasha
- рисовая каша — cream of rice
- овсяная каша — porridge
The word kasha originated in American English from Jewish immigrants, and was mostly used in talking about whole roasted buckwheat. In Slavic Europe, kasha was one of the oldest known dishes. It could be made from any cereal: wheat or oats, barley, buckwheat, millet or rye.
It is no coincidence that in many Russian fairy tales, songs and proverbs, one finds kasha. They say about a stubborn person: "You never make kasha with him.” Kasha was a necessary part of everyday life and also a feast. A Russian proverb says: «Щи да каша – пища наша» (Schi and kasha are our meal). At present, the diversity of cookery coming into our lives with the globalization process has diminished the role of this traditional dish.
Давненько не брала я в руки шашек! - In fact, it is a long time since last I had the checkers in my hand! (This is a game of words. In Russian, шашки - the checkers - also means the plural of shashka (sabre).
Эй, вратарь, готовься к бою! - Hey, goalkeeper, prepare for battle! This is the first line from the famous sport march of Dunaievsky, where the goalkeeper is compared with a watch on the border. Every Russian has heard this song hundreds of times. Here you can find the text of this song, if you're curious. The film where this song appeared was filmed in 1936. It's the story of a simple guy who works in a kolkhoz, carrying watermelons on the boats. Thanks to the watermelons, he is told that he could become a good goalkeeper and play football.
Ура! Ещё гол! Два ноль в пользу наших. Гол! Гол! Три ноль в пользу наших. - Hurray! One more goal! Two to zero for us. Goal! Goal! Three to zero for us.
Мишка, мы наигрались. Есть хотим. - Bear, we've played enough. We are hungry.
Ой, это чо? Каша что ли? Фу. Нееее…я и вкусней накашеварю. - Oh, and what's this? Mash or something? Ugh. Nooooo ... I'll cook a better one. (Kasha has always been one of the main Russian dishes; that's why this word is often used in idioms. Накашеварю (кашеварить – to cook not only kasha but anything).
Ух ты, вот это каша! - Wow, what a kasha! But the same time it can mean: What a mess!
Мишка, я все оттерла. Есть хочу. - Bear, I've cleaned everything. I'm hungry.
Чо опять?! А ничего другого нету? - Why again?! Haven't we got anything else? (Чо is the informal form of Что? (What?) For a long time it was considered poorly to use it, but now one can hear it everywhere.
Ох, и заварила я кашу! - Oh, and I've made such a mess! (Заварить кашу - it means stir up trouble, make a mess. For example, it's possible to say: Ну, и заварил он кашу! — Hasn't he made a mess of it? or He has made a fine mess of it!
Hero image from www.volganet.ru (CC BY-SA 3.0), cropped and color corrected.