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Better than a club over the head, anyway.
Wed Oct 25, 2017 20:25

Be happy for the birth of the saint. Tatiana paused a moment over the last word, which she had rarely heard in English, before associating it with svyatoi and remembering another very important occasion which she needed to tell them about, as it partially honored them at home and very much honored her. That, however, would have to wait, as right now, she was squinting at the Chinese and wondering if it was really possible that she should someday read them. Compared to Chinese, learning the Roman alphabet had been the work of a day – though in fact she had learned it over the course of a week and a half, some years ago, with a lot of tedious copying until it was beaten into her head.

It was obvious from Dorian’s appearance that some of his ancestors were from Asia, but it had not occurred to Tatiana when she proposed their little alliance that she and Jehan might get to learn some Chinese, too. She thought Papa was going to be astonished and pleased with her – he had expected her English to improve as she lived among the English, but she was sure he had not even expected her to improve her French, never mind pick up a smidgen of Chinese. China was a neighbor of sorts, and Papa went there sometimes, but Tatiana didn’t think Papa even spoke Chinese, so he wouldn’t expect that, and would probably laugh and call her umnaya doch’ - ‘clever daughter.’ She liked that, as she knew it wasn’t just teasing – Papa really did approve of her most of the time.

“Eh – is – not quite,” she said, not showing off her best English skills as she tried to think of two things at once when Dorian asked about New Year’s at home. “We - day-number is different. For us, Rozhdestvo - Noël, you say; it means…like ‘birth,’ more,” she added; they might have recognized the sound from ‘happy day of birth,’ the first Russian she had ever taught Dorian, but best, it seemed, to clarify “– but for us, Rozhdestvo in your January. But before that, we have - the new year that new style,” said Tatiana, constructing her sentence awkwardly in an attempt to make it comprehensible. “That is your New Year. Then our New Year after Rozhdestvo., and we have Tatiana Day.” She smiled as she assumed they thought she was perhaps the vainest person in the world for a moment. “Anton Petrovich said you do not know Tatiana Day. It – the – honor of Tat'yana Rimskaya, the first Svyataya Tat’yana.. Honor of all students on Tatiana Day, and my nameday. You say twelve – we say twenty-five, January. I have cake then, and share with brothers and sisters – this year, share with you,” she added generously. It did not occur to her that as the kitchens probably did not expect to produce a cake for Tatiana Day; every other kitchen she had ever been near when the occasion rolled around had produced cake, so she expected cake as a matter of course.

“New Year very important. S novym godom – happy new year,” she concluded more laconically.

Tatiana was initially puzzled by Dorian’s desire to learn to be impolite in Russian, though his explanation did help a bit. “You said ‘u vas est' litso obez'yany,” she commented. “That is monkey-face. Meathead - myasnaya golova.. Eh….” The problem was not that Tatiana was unversed in the art of the insult in Russian – Mama said she was too sharp-tongued for her own good sometimes - but rather that she wasn’t sure how to translate some insults into English at all. “Others - durak, dryan’…though I am in trouble if I name Katya durak. Means…not smart. Oh - gadkyi, or urodlivyi, there you go. I do not know them in English, but I say to Nastasia when we argued.” In fairness, Anastasiya had called Tatiana stupid before that, knowing perfectly well that Tatiana was not, so Tatiana had felt perfectly comfortable throwing back that Anastasiya was monstrously ugly and beastly, though Mama had scolded her anyway. Tatiana knew, after all, that she was not stupid – and she also knew that while her cousin was not hideous, she was not as pretty as Tatiana. These were also things that Nastya knew, and Tatiana knew she knew them, and so it had, according to Mama, been very unkind of her, no matter what or who had started it, and she ought to try to do better and be better than others when they insulted her. Tatiana, for her part, preferred Dorian’s idea of how to handle an obnoxious situation.

“I would say how insult in French,” she sighed, “but Mama knows the French. Better to learn more insulty in English. Anton Petrovich wouldn’t teach me that,” she added crossly, still annoyed with her tutor months later for that. It was an essential communications skill!

  • Club of Tongues (tag Tatya)Dorian, Wed Oct 25 06:12
    Dorian finished transliterating what Tatya had just said and dotted a neat fullstop at the end of the phrase ‘schastlivogo Rozhdestva.’ Above it, the sentence was written in Tatya’s neat Cyrillic. He ... more
    • Better than a club over the head, anyway. — Tatiana, Wed Oct 25 20:25
      • Which I might get for using theseDorian, Wed Nov 1 04:53
        “Perhaps for Christmas, I get the calendar. And then, when we come back, you can add the Russian calendars too,” Dorian smiled. He couldn’t quite picture when all the festivities Tatiana mentioned... more
        • Have you considered taking up sprinting?Tatiana, Wed Nov 1 10:37
          “Will I,” said Tatiana to the suggestion of putting together calendars, though she suspected the Russian calendar was going to be easier to understand than the Chinese one for reasons other than... more
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