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Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.
January 31, 2014 7:11 AM   Subscribe


 


As a midwestern US person, I find countries with more than 400 years of history very mind boggling. Throw another millennium of conquest and border shifting on top, and I can't see how anything is ever accomplished without starting one civil war or another.

edit to add: (And I have a deep and profound love of history more than 3-400 years old. I'm not saying I'm provincial in a GOOD way.)
posted by DigDoug at 7:20 AM on January 31


Great until item #5 which was just insulting to the reader "I is confused, can I has music?", and has little to no bearing on the current problem/topic at hand. Also kinda of insulting with "I skipped to the bottom" which is more or less "tl;dr".

Ignoring those issues with the article, it's a pretty good explanation of what is going on for those who don't follow this kind of thing.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:24 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The part about the east-west ecological split lining up perfectly with the east-west linguistic/political split is interesting. Farmland and energy. Of course.

(Also, interesting that this is coming from the Washington Post soon after Ezra Klein announced he was leaving Wonkblog to create a new venture that would focus on context for daily news stories. Hard not to see it as a shot across the bow.)
posted by mediareport at 7:31 AM on January 31


How different are the Russian and Ukranian languages? Are they mutually intelligible? How different is Ukranian from Polish?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:33 AM on January 31


As a midwestern US person, I find countries with more than 400 years of history very mind boggling

That's the fun part about having US visitors over in your home town in Europe. "That building there is 900 years old" is great. In fact, over here in the Netherlands we have a lottery system that's older than the USA is, so it's actually always easy to wow visitors...
posted by DreamerFi at 7:35 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


How different are the Russian and Ukranian languages? Are they mutually intelligible? How different is Ukranian from Polish?

From Wikipedia, in simple percentage of shared vocabulary:

84% Belarusian
70% Polish
68% Serbian
66% Slovak
62% Russian
posted by kersplunk at 7:47 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


My Latvian friends say Ukrainians aren't as bad as Russians, they're more like Belorussians. This is slanted from a gamer perspective, may not be culturally relevant on a wider scale.
posted by roscopp at 7:52 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Great until item #5 which was just insulting to the reader "I is confused, can I has music?", and has little to no bearing on the current problem/topic at hand.

Huh. I actually appreciated it, simply because it reminded me that there's more to Ukraine than just political strife. So many times we only hear about (or read about) a country when it's in trouble, it's a gentle reminder that any country, regardless of how it's portrayed by the media, is a rich and complex tapestry of history, culture and love of living.
posted by bitteroldman at 7:54 AM on January 31 [19 favorites]


You know, the question I was actually embarrassed to ask was "Is this Vitali Klitschko really that Vitali Klitschko?" Yes, he is.
posted by hoyland at 7:55 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


i'm just shocked at how, despite all the hope of the Orange Revolution (i still have memories of the Yush-chen-ko" chants), everything pretty much went back to the way it was. I guess Egypt will see the same fate, and Libya, and Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Have the superpowers and corporations effectively and finally suppressed actual change?

Or is there an ingredient missing in all these cases.

Any modern examples of revolutions maintaining their positive momentum?
posted by bitteroldman at 8:00 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Old'n'Busted:
Great until item #5 which was just insulting to the reader "I is confused, can I has music?"
I've seen them do this before in the same type of article. I think it's meant to demonstrate that there is more to the country being discussed than just strife.
posted by charred husk at 8:13 AM on January 31


Any modern examples of revolutions maintaining their positive momentum?

Tunisia seems to be doing better.
posted by Etrigan at 8:13 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


a gentle reminder that any country, regardless of how it's portrayed by the media, is a rich and complex tapestry of history, culture and love of living.

So, Ukraine: a land of contrasts?

I joke, because, for Reasons, Ukraine makes me sad. Very sad.
20 years ago I had dinner with a Ukrainian refugee (thanks to WW2) and he spent some time extolling the benefits of Hitler's rule of Germany. I have never unpacked that conversation.
posted by Mezentian at 8:17 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I am not embarrassed to ask anything about Ukraine. Is it true that the girls there really leave the West behind?
posted by thelonius at 8:22 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


How different are the Russian and Ukranian languages? Are they mutually intelligible? How different is Ukranian from Polish?

I had a Ukrainian acquaintance in grad school who would patiently "say things" in both Ukrainian and Russian for her English and Comp Lit grad student friends. The sound of the two languages was distinct and I don't recall there seeming to be a lot of obvious cognates in sample sentences. But, being non-ethnically-Russian, she was possibly exaggerating the differences as part of a pro-Ukraine-distinctiveness bias, I suppose. I am embarrassed to admit that before that, I hadn't really thought of Ukraine as terribly distinct from Russia (in my defense this was about the time Ukraine became independant -- it was CCP the whole time I was growing up).
posted by aught at 8:22 AM on January 31


Is it true that the girls there really leave the West behind?

Yes.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:25 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


No. Is SOVIET PROPAGANDA.

I been all around this great big world, and I seen all kinds of girls, yeah, but I couldn't wait to get back in the states
back to the cutest girls in the world.

You could travel the world, but nothing comes close to the golden coast. Once you party with us, you'll be falling in love.
posted by Mezentian at 8:35 AM on January 31


The Russian-speakers mostly live in one half of the country; the Ukrainian-speakers live in another.

This is one of the ridiculously oversimplified clichés that keeps getting repeated and making it harder for people to understand the situation. Here is an excellent explanation by Peter Pomerantsev.
posted by languagehat at 8:46 AM on January 31 [16 favorites]


Mr. Educator, my question is: Why not split the country down the middle? It's pretty obviously a bifurcated country. Give one half to Russia and make the other half an independent nation. Problem solved!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:55 AM on January 31


Regarding the music thing, the author's done it at least once before. I haven't read the Ukraine piece yet, but in the Syria article I thought it was a nice way to humanize a pretty grim situation.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:01 AM on January 31


Worked for Poland-Lithuania!
posted by Apocryphon at 9:29 AM on January 31


Mr. Educator, my question is: Why not split the country down the middle? It's pretty obviously a bifurcated country.

I want to make a Five Minutes to Belgium joke, but I can't.
Belgium is split in much the same way, and chugged on without a government fro 18 months (which, according to Wikipedia is a record -- I assume Somalia doesn't count).

I imagine, based on what I know, is that the people are have ties to their region and they really don't want to be partitioned, and even if they did that would probably be too simplistic an answer.
posted by Mezentian at 9:30 AM on January 31


How different are the Russian and Ukranian languages? Are they mutually intelligible? How different is Ukranian from Polish?

My wife and I both fluent Russian speakers (her native language), and I also speak fluent Polish. When we were going there I was certain it would be intelligible. After all, the transition form Polish to learning Russian had been a breeze.

Every time we heard Ukrainian we'd double take... "WTF? What did he say?"... It seemed like it should be intelligible, but it almost never quite was.

To me Ukrainian sounds like a Polish person suffered massive brain damage and was then coached back to semi-normal life by a Russian-speaking rehab team.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:00 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


DreamerFi: "That's the fun part about having US visitors over in your home town in Europe. "That building there is 900 years old" is great."

What's the saying? "To an American, 200 years is a long time. To a European, 200 miles is a long way."
posted by notsnot at 10:05 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


One of the very first sentences you're taught to say in Foreign Policy Community College is, 'Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.' "

It doesn't sound like a very good school if they don't understand that Russia is an empire regardless of Ukraine. It's already a vast expanse of conquered lands still populated by ethnic minorities who once ruled them.
posted by snottydick at 10:31 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


This is one of the ridiculously oversimplified clichés that keeps getting repeated and making it harder for people to understand the situation.

It's disappointing how the American media always reports everything in sectarian terms without digging deeper into the complexity of the situation. Sunni vs Shia, Russians vs Ukrainians, US vs Russia, East vs West, Christians vs Muslims, etc.

From what I understand, the uprising in Ukraine is largely independent of nationality, ethnicity, language, region or ideology. It is as if some commentators can not understand there is widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is especially surprising since we have seen so many similar instances of this populist national revolt pattern in the past five years.

I keep coming late to the game in these threads, but check out the previous two Ukraine threads for more links.

Also, ominously, the president has just called in sick. Way to show leadership during a national crisis!

BBC links from today:

'Tortured' Ukraine activist Dmytro Bulatov on wanted list

Ukraine opposition activist says he was tortured

Ukraine unrest: Life as normal outside Kiev protest camp

Ukraine unrest: Scepticism over Yanukovych illness
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:38 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The unknown captors cut off Dmytro Bulatov's ear?!?!
posted by oceanjesse at 10:59 AM on January 31


It's disappointing how the American media always reports everything in sectarian terms without digging deeper into the complexity of the situation.

Absent white hats and black hats, how are you going to sell intervention?
posted by IndigoJones at 11:03 AM on January 31


Mr. Educator, my question is: Why not split the country down the middle? It's pretty obviously a bifurcated country. Give one half to Russia and make the other half an independent nation. Problem solved!

That would be like splitting the USA into two countries based on red states and blue states - lots of areas are in practice purple.

20 years ago I had dinner with a Ukrainian refugee (thanks to WW2) and he spent some time extolling the benefits of Hitler's rule of Germany. I have never unpacked that conversation.

The enemy of my enemy...
posted by kersplunk at 11:06 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


From what I understand, the uprising in Ukraine is largely independent of nationality, ethnicity, language, region or ideology.

I'm no expert, but this seems exactly wrong. The events in Ukraine are very much about a divide of language and culture, not a widespread dissatisfaction.

After reading the article... I used to have a lot of admiration for Catherine the Great, for coming to a foreign country as a teenage girl and rising to the very top. But the more I learn about her rule, the more awful she seems.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:18 AM on January 31


One of my friends is from Kyiv, but from what I can tell, she speaks Russian with her mother and other relatives, not Ukrainian. When I asked her, she said that the two languages were essentially the same to her. Take that as you will. (I am not sure of her parent's ethnicities, although I do know she has a lot of relatives in the Crimea or near it).
posted by Hactar at 11:25 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad this article was posted because I went from being woefully ignorant about the situation to being only mostly ignorant and now having more resources to delve further.

(I liked the music, personally. I thought it was lovely and played into the themes the article was describing.)
posted by chatongriffes at 11:42 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Russian and Ukranian are different enough that "Russian with a Ukranian accent" is a different animal than Ukranian. I'm a native Russian speaker, and Ukranian is barely intelligible to me if I am spoken to as if I am a particularly dim toddler and the person speaking doesn't use words that are only found in Ukranian.

Listening to two native speakers have a conversation, the vocabulary overlap doesn't really help, because the pronunciation of the words is different enough that I can't actually keep up. But it is definitely closer to Russian than Polish. I can read and get the general gist of what's going on in a Ukranian newspaper; I can only read a Polish one phonetically and grasp maybe a couple of words here or there.

Also, because of Russification, I've never actually met a Ukranian speaker who also didn't speak completely fluent Russian.

To me Ukrainian sounds like a Polish person suffered massive brain damage and was then coached back to semi-normal life by a Russian-speaking rehab team.

The first time I heard people speaking Slovak, I thought I was having a stroke. For some reason, all the syllables were pronounced in a way I could easily understand (unlike Ukranian) but none of the words made a lick of sense.
posted by griphus at 11:56 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


The unknown captors cut off Dmytro Bulatov's ear?!?!

You know, I've met many eastern Europeans who took pride in being closer to cases where people "went there" than the average American. This is the former USSR. They got there. A lot.

Though I'm still mystified by how this facet of life can be presented as an implicit critique of the US and EU.
posted by ocschwar at 11:57 AM on January 31


When I asked her, she said that the two languages were essentially the same to her.

It's a little difficult to explain, but the ways in which Russian and Ukranian are different can make that true for someone who is fluent in both, but not for someone who only speaks one of the two.
posted by griphus at 11:58 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The more I think of it, are there any languages similar enough to English in the way the Slavic languages are similar? Assuming I don't immediately recognize any non-Russian letters, I can be maybe two sentences into a Wikipedia entry in Ukranian or Bulgarian before I realize I'm not reading Russian, for instance (although that stems from recognizing the fact that I have a shitty vocabulary in Russian and just assuming I'm reading past words I don't know.) I can't think of any language that could happen with with the English language.
posted by griphus at 12:02 PM on January 31


I'm no expert, but this seems exactly wrong. The events in Ukraine are very much about a divide of language and culture, not a widespread dissatisfaction.

Can you find one example of a divide in the society as articulated in the current political crisis based on language or culture? Besides hand-waving analyses by Western commentators? From my reading, the supposed language and/or cultural divide -- to the extent that there is one -- does not split the protesters and/or the government in any identifiable way.

Also, the unrest is in fact widespread and not limited to Kiev. See this map. This is what happens when you pass oppressive laws saying people can't protest, etc., and send out state or quasi-state thugs to brutalize the opposition. People get angry (and angry *not* on the basis of a linguistic or cultural divide).
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 12:04 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


We had a Ukrainian exchange student at my high school. Allegedly, the best way to tick him off would be to call him Russian.

The more I think of it, are there any languages similar enough to English in the way the Slavic languages are similar?

Well...there's Scots and for a better "I almost understand, it seems like it's English, but it isn't...." there are the Frisian languages.
posted by Atreides at 12:07 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]




The complexity of the situation.... who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?
posted by Mister Bijou at 12:14 PM on January 31


re: torture, Tales of brutality emerge from Ukraine - "Conflict takes a dark turn amid alleged torture of protesters" (Ukraine Political Crisis)

there's more to Ukraine than just political strife

To me Ukrainian sounds like a Polish person suffered massive brain damage and was then coached back to semi-normal life by a Russian-speaking rehab team.

"Stanislaw Lem was born in Lwow, Poland (presently Lvov, Ukraine) to a family of a wealthy laryngologist..."
posted by kliuless at 12:34 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


are there any languages similar enough to English in the way the Slavic languages are similar?

Well...there's Scots and for a better "I almost understand, it seems like it's English, but it isn't...." there are the Frisian languages.

For those who want to see, you can try wikipedia in Frisian or Scots.
posted by fings at 12:55 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Assuming I don't immediately recognize any non-Russian letters, I can be maybe two sentences into a Wikipedia entry in Ukranian or Bulgarian before I realize I'm not reading Russian, for instance (although that stems from recognizing the fact that I have a shitty vocabulary in Russian and just assuming I'm reading past words I don't know.) I can't think of any language that could happen with with the English language.

I feel like similarity between the languages isn't necessarily the driving factor. For me, English vs not-English is much more apparent than A vs B for pretty much any A and B I have exposure to. I definitely found I wouldn't always pick up on a switch between Danish and German (when spoken--they look really different), which admittedly have a fair number of similarities. But there's a scene in Joyeux Noël where Daniel Brühl's character starts speaking French and I flat out did not notice for a sentence or two. It was bizarre. I eventually had this jarring thought of "Wait, that word was wrong. That's French not German. Crap, he's been speaking French."
posted by hoyland at 1:06 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]




> But the more I learn about her rule, the more awful she seems.

Why do you say that? Obviously she wasn't a saint, but find me the ruler of an empire who was (and I don't mean Byzantine emperors canonized for supporting the Church!). She was a product of the Enlightenment who genuinely wanted to continue Peter's modernization and make Russia more of a European country, but got blindsided by the Pugachov revolt and the French Revolution (sort of like LBJ and Vietnam). The more I read about her, the more impressed I am with her; for all her faults, she was probably the best ruler Russia had. (Side note: It's striking that Russia was ruled for most of the eighteenth century by women, and generally pretty well; when her abominable son Paul banned female rule, things started really going to hell in a handbasket. Causation or mere correlation? You be the judge!) Anyway, I recommend Isabel de Madariaga's Russia in the Age of Catherine the Great and (tentatively—I haven't read it yet, but it got good reviews and she certainly knows the subject) Catherine the Great: A Short History.

> When I asked her, she said that the two languages were essentially the same to her.

Like griphus said, this is only because she spoke them both fluently. The same might be true of someone who grew up speaking both Spanish and Italian; that doesn't mean they're practically identical, just close enough that you can fit their patterns onto each other.
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


I have strong opinions on the whole Euromaidan business, but I still haven't fully thought them through enough to post them in public... However I can contribute to the linguistic derail:

I speak Ukrainian- I can read Russian, I can understand Polish. However it also really depends on when you learned Ukrainian; I learned it from my grandparents who emigrated in the 1930's and from Soviet era cartoons- that means that my vocabulary is very archaic (and much more formal) with apparently a hilarious American accent- it takes a few days of being around constant Ukrainian for that to wear off, and for me to actually use slang. I remember visiting ukraine as a teenager, in the early 2000's and feeling utterly lost in Kiev, where there was a larger population of Russians vs. being able to get around easily in L'viv in the East; that however has changed with the 5-7yrs of intense "ukrainianization" they had in the late 90's- 2000's.

To me, Russian sound harsh, like someone is yelling at me, while Polish sounds slurred/like they eat half their words and full of j's and w's. I certainly understand more Russian than Russian speakers understand Ukrainian. (ie if I talk to my mom on the phone, I've had Russian colleagues tell me that they have no idea what I said, but I understand about 90% of their conversation)
posted by larthegreat at 1:59 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Why do you say that? Obviously she wasn't a saint, but find me the ruler of an empire who was (and I don't mean Byzantine emperors canonized for supporting the Church!).

Well, because so much of her The Greatness had to do with conquering other countries, rather than improving the lives of her citizens. And most of her liberalism seemed to be only relative to her; she liked corresponding with French philosophers, but had no interest in letting other Russians read French philosophers. I mean, it's impressive that she started so powerless and became so powerful, but I have trouble coming up with any positive achievements, just a lot of conquest that still causes problems today. But! I also haven't done a lot of reading about her rule, so maybe there's more to her than conquest?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:44 PM on January 31


Ukrainian police beat people they believe are being bussed to an anti-government demonstration, only to discover later that they are pro-government protesters. Brutality and incompetence!
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:00 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamar_of_Georgia

Howzat?
posted by ocschwar at 3:13 PM on January 31




The other thing to keep in mind is that under Soviet rule, Ukrainian was not taught in the schools, so the people grew up during that era learned Russian, and were exposed to a constant, Russification of the language. From what I hear, a lot of that is still going on today. So listening to a pre-Soviet Ukrainian speak the language is very different from listening to a younger person speak it today. I'm far from fluent in it, but even I can hear the difference.

Somebody I know who does speak it fluently, says she can basically understand most Slavic languages. Polish, no problem. Russian is fine (although I think a bit harder). She even catches herself watching the Macedonian news program that gets run once in a blue moon over here, and says she can make out most of it.
posted by sardonyx at 4:05 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


It doesn't sound like a very good school if they don't understand that Russia is an empire regardless of Ukraine.

The context is foreign policy. The point is that without Ukraine, Russia is much weaker as a state in its relations with other states. Almost all of Russia's modern history (since at least Catherine the Great, but more properly since Peter the Great) is about its relationship with, or in opposition to, Europe generally. Even the conquest of Siberia was in its way about Europe (Russia had to go east because it could not go west). The wealth of Ukraine (1/9 the PPP of Russia) may not add that much in strictly numbers terms to that of Russia, but its position in between Russia and the EU makes it strategically valuable that its leverage is many times its worth in people, territory, or even natural resources.

Put in historical-context terms, Russia with Ukraine is a Russia that is still the empire of old, but Russia without Ukraine is a Russia that was so weakened it could not hold onto a territory that had been under its sovereignty for three centuries.

This isn't to diminish the situation of Russia proper and its conquered peoples, but the statement does sort of drop them out of the strategic equation, so one can understand your concern. But surely you recognize that if these conquered lands have any shot at real autonomy, it's only if Ukraine is permanently peeled out of the Russian orbit.

All that said, there are interesting reasons why the EU is pressing this matter now and questionable temporary political motives of the parties involved, even without counting Russia and Putin. The flip side of respecting national identity, of course, is the spectre of nationalism.
posted by dhartung at 4:52 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Ukraine Opposition in Diplomatic Push After Deadly Kiev Protests
Ukraine’s opposition leaders attend a conference in Germany today to drum up western support as the government ratchets up the rhetoric at home.
...
“The opposition came to Munich to discuss something like a Marshall Plan for Ukraine,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, head of the Batkivshchyna party, told reporters yesterday, referring to the U.S. aid deal for west Europe after World War Two. “It should be a kind of package of political and economic aid to help stop the violence, investigate crimes against the people, punish those responsible for bloodshed and restore economic growth.”
...
Sergei Glazyev, an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, yesterday reiterated claims the West is meddling in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs ... Yanukovych “faces a creeping coup, and since he’s the guarantor of Ukraine’s constitution, security and integrity, the president has no choice: either he defends Ukrainian statehood and suppresses rebellion provoked and financed by external powers, or he risks losing power,” he said.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:27 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


The more I think of it, are there any languages similar enough to English in the way the Slavic languages are similar?

Dutch?
posted by acb at 5:28 PM on January 31


The more I think of it, are there any languages similar enough to English in the way the Slavic languages are similar?

Not any more, probably. I really couldn't pick up on any words in that Frisian Wikipedia than I would have been able to in German. Maybe Middle English would have been like that with it's Frisian High/Late Middle Ages equivalents.
posted by spaltavian at 5:38 PM on January 31


acb: " Dutch?"

I can kinda sorta limp through Dutch, but I'm relying on German to do it, not English. (Similarly, I can just about read the Frisian Wikipedia, kind of triangulating from Danish and German. If I had to read Frisian or some reason, I'd probably pick it up pretty readily, but English isn't helping a whole lot.)
posted by hoyland at 5:42 PM on January 31


I've watched Dutch TV shows inadvertently (Bitches in particular) and it's taken me a few minutes to realise they weren't in English. Dutch is like a perfect cross between English and German to hear - it sounds like English but not quite, and is entirely incomprehensible once you actually start listening. I imagine Russian and Ukrainian are similar.
posted by goo at 6:45 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Why not split the country down the middle? It's pretty obviously a bifurcated country. Give one half to Russia and make the other half an independent nation.

If you just glance at the map illustrating the differences, it seems more clear cut. But if you read what the colors mean, it tells a different story. The darkest blue, for instance, is the area with the highest population of Russian speakers. Which is to say, that's where 50% of the population speaks Russian as a native language. So the problem at this point is wherever this area is part of, only half of the population will share a native language. (And part of the Eastern half of the country has only 20-30% native Russian speakers.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:59 PM on January 31




From the linked FP article: "Cossacks, of course, have a very mixed reputation in Eastern Europe. Elsewhere, they are better known as the hated dispensers of vigilante justice and perpetrators of pogroms."
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:21 PM on January 31




As a precis of the situation, an idiot's guide to a large event in a foreign country, I found the article fine. Not designed for people who want all the nuances, especially pointed out by question 9 being the tl;dr version, just an overview for people who know enough that there's been large protests in Ukraine but caught on too late to actually know why.

And like his article about Syria, the point with a link to some local music to reinforce that the country isn't just a bunch of foreigners being loud and violent (something the newsmedia can reduce it to with footage of protests without much background) is, I think, a good one. If you didn't need an idiot's guide, good for you for being informed, but then the article isn't written to tell you anything.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:57 PM on January 31


I'd actually suggest that spoken Jamaican Creole or other English creole languages approaches most closely what Griphus had in mind.
posted by frimble at 6:46 AM on February 1


An analysis of the various political factions on the street in Ukraine
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:09 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]






I've watched Dutch TV shows inadvertently (Bitches in particular) and it's taken me a few minutes to realise they weren't in English. Dutch is like a perfect cross between English and German to hear - it sounds like English but not quite, and is entirely incomprehensible once you actually start listening.

I have noticed this too when listening to someone speak in Dutch. I tried to explain this to a very nice tourist from the Netherlands who we met in the common room of a B&B last fall in Islay and he looked at me like I was a crazy person. Then the host poured us all a wee dram and the crazy was forgotten.
posted by aught at 8:59 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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