Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The mystery of the "padej"

When I moved up to the advanced class, the teacher started talking some object conjugation or another. I’d heard about these things, but knew nothing. She explained that the thing we were talking about was the Raditilny Padej. This didn’t do any more for me than it probably does for you. In fact, if you know Russian you could still be confused because the word I’m talking about probably can’t even be written with the Latin alphabet. It involves a letter named after a beetle, a letter with six legs and requiring an inordinate amount of ink.

As soon as she said “Raditilny Padej” everybody else nodded knowingly and prepared to move ahead. Not me. Seeing my confusion, the teacher handed me a chart that said something about each of the six padej’s discovered so far. I’ve been carrying that chart around for almost two weeks now, and it’s almost as opaque to me today as it was then. We refer to it in class, and I can occasionally pick something useful from it.

I’ve been through my textbooks, hoping to find something involving an orderly layout and enough English to let me get a grasp on this concept or set of concepts. Ha! Fat chance!

Today I came to class and asked my Finnish classmate who speaks decent Russian and excellent English if he could explain the concept. He showed me a book he’d bought in a local bookstore that actually explained it. I think I have to buy one.

Fortunately, both my teacher and my tutor have decided to backfill on the concept, so maybe I’ll make some progress before my month is up. I still have high hopes. And I have a huge mountain of homework about mastering one little part of this tricky chart.

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