Russian Brooklyn is kitsch, a bazaar, restaurants of the second premium category, quarrelsome elderly women with old-fashioned hairstyles, crawling in front of the line, gopniks with high-cheekbones, freckled faces, shod in Nike ... Alisa Ksenevich, Belarusian, who left for New York several years ago , wrote a book about this city and talks about life in the USA on her blog.
Songs of Mikhail Shufutinsky and Irina Allegrova sound from the windows of Russian restaurants. Pensioners gossip near fruit stalls, interspersed with American interjections like “you know” and “Okay”, Alice writes on tut.by. In cheap grocery stores, instead of panini and donuts, they sell borsch in plastic pails and pasties.
It seems that people here are stuck in a kind of timelessness, having failed to enter the two thousandth, to integrate into American society. It's hard to believe that at a distance of 40 minutes from here - Manhattan, another world, the rhythm of life, another crowd.
More than a dozen Russian newspapers are published in Brooklyn. They cost a penny and are distributed through Russian stores. They look like they were typeset 15 years ago. The pages are overloaded with advertisements for lawyers and gynecologists. Several spreads are devoted to private advertisements: “Looking for a job as a nurse”, “Selling bed linen from Russia” (in the US there is a problem finding duvet covers, there are only 2 sheets and pillowcases in bed linen sets), “Looking for roommate” and so on.
What I did not expect to see at all was the section with announcements about dating.
I really didn’t think that somewhere else this was going on!
Ads are designed in the same style. Most likely, the editor with the makings of a professional matchmaker worked here. It’s hard for me to believe that people give out such pearls themselves:
"If you are a single man under 65, drive a car, know a computer, call a nice woman for joy."
“A good woman - you can't take your eyes off! Real beauty never retires. So I was left alone, 66, me and the driver, me and the bull, me and the woman and the man. I want to be a woman at 80! ”.
“The spitting image of Carmen, oriental beauty, 26. A girl in bloom, smart as an assistant to the president, a lady-smile, dreams of a serious case of switching from black to white.”
“A bald woman with magical energy is looking for a short, nonsmoking friend with a car and a computer for joy, up to 60 years old.”
“Sweet, cozy, homely, 62, late love shines for her. A wealthy widow, she hears all the smells of life. For leisure - a good friend. "
“Married, only on paper, 45, American, rich and generous, will meet a woman for meetings and parting. Any level of English ”.
On the subject: What women look like in thirty in New York
“She looks like a person who has a Cause to put her life on. 32/166, doctor. A complete set of happiness is in front of you. "
“Businessman, 49, American. Everything that I dreamed about has come true. Interested in meeting a beautiful woman 35-42 years old. If you want to have a good friend for your leisure - call! ”.
“Super guy, 30, banker. Handsome, talented, successful. New York is part of his life and his DNA. Quite a status husband. "
“Sunny man. Fate is a mistake, I lived in a way that cannot be lived. 56/170, arranged, working, for a long time without housing and material problems. She was stately, bright, noisy, all with a twist ... I decided to break the romance with loneliness ”.
The language of Russian Americans with its "tickets", "buildings", "payments", "landlords", "ishurens", "loyers" often becomes a reason for ridicule, although its speakers themselves may not realize that they are deprived of the lexical stock and the ability to fully and competently express their thoughts in their native language.
According to the authority in the world of psycholinguistics Valery Belyanin, intonation is the first thing that is lost in emigration.
Then separate foreign-language inclusions appear, it is easier to say a short phrase in a foreign language than in a native one. The principle of saving mental effort has not been canceled. Most people try their best to make their lives easier. Including simplifying thinking. In general, a native speaker loses approximately 5% information per year. Of course, everything is very relative and depends on the age of the person, his environment, memory, how much he needs this language.
Children of Russian Americans admit: "We think like adults, but we speak like children."
Moreover, they themselves are sure that words like “macrowave”, “loer”, “skedule” are Russian words, because they heard their parents insert such words into speech, or read them in advertisements of local newspapers.
When asked what language is their native language, they answer differently: “English”, “Russian”, “Russian and English”.
There is even a special term for the difficulties of transition from one language to another - bilingual schizophrenia. When the speaker is not aware of what language he speaks, and goes astray from one to another.
English, which we are taught in school, is very far from the lively American speech.
Instead of "autumn" (autumn) they say "fall", instead of "wait" - "hold on", instead of "please" they use the phrases "Would you ..." and "Could you ...".
If Americans want to ask something again, they say: “What” s that? ”. The question "What?" considered rude. It's the same with imperatives. They do not say: “go”, “do”, “take away”. They ask: “Do you wanna clean this coffee-machine?” (“Would you like to clean this coffee machine?”). It is clear that such requests can only be answered in the affirmative, especially if they come from restaurant managers, but with the illusion of choice and assignment it is more pleasant to fulfill.
The phrases familiar to us, such as “Close the door,” “Pass the oil,” sound like an order to freedom-loving Americans. They even ask their own children: “Brush your teeth, please,” and not “March, brush your teeth and sleep!”. This is how myths about powerful Russian women, rude Russian men and harsh Russian government are born.
We are not accustomed to asking for forgiveness and giving thanks in such numbers as the Americans do.
To test this in practice, take a ride on the subway during rush hour. Making your way to the exit, you will hear “Sorry!” Ten times, as if it were not you who were pushing people and stepping on their feet. Apologies are always two-sided, regardless of who is right and who is wrong.
Politeness, it seems to me, can be explained by the fact that American women sound a couple tones above Slavic women. In men, the voices are like voices, and in women they are thin, squeaky, shrill, unctuous ...
I remember I was shocked when, when I met a former classmate in New York, I heard her speak. At school she had a low, hoarse voice. Ten years later, the same girl spoke in a very loud and high voice.
Slavs and Americans have a fundamentally different intonation. They have much more voice modulations than we do, and they occur in a higher register. We, the Slavs, for Americans sound either very aggressively, or apathetically displeased, our typical intonations are perceived in this way by the American ear.
In addition, if you think about it, etiquette forms require such - unnatural - voice. When we try to be nice, polite, welcoming, intonation creeps up. Watch the girls at the time of their flirting with the opposite sex, and you will understand how Americans sound!