Being in a Foreign Country, and being spoiled, by having so many people at Heidelberg Center speaking American English, makes it extremely difficult to learn the Russian Language. However, once I leave Heidelberg Center, I am immersed within The Russian Language and Culture as I venture into areas of Simferopol where they are not accustomed to the American Language, and especially American English spoken with a soft southern Texas drawl. Yes, even in America, once I cross the Texas Border, people have difficulty understanding Texans.
My Japanese has a very distinctive Texas accent, and my Spanish Tex-Mex is absolute "Gringo", although I really try imitating a pure Mexican Accent. Therefore, I really wanted to speak Russian as one born in Russia.
Communicating with the Russian people by speaking a few of their words, and drawing with a notepad, plus demonstrating with pantomime will carry a person only so far. Therefore, after learning how to say "hello," "how are you," and goodbye," the next Russian words I learned how to say were "toilet paper." Being a Texas Gentleman, there are some things that should not be drawn upon a notebook, Scratchpad, or demonstrated by pantomime.
Along came my friend Slice, a College Student, at The Crimean-American University. Slice was taking English courses, and wanted to know how to properly pronounce American English words, and I wanted to learn Russian and learn how to speak Russian as precisely as possible. We have helped each other immensely. He now says "sheets" instead of #Ł%#!?$#, and I no longer receive puzzled, glassy eyed, responses whenever I speak Russian.
I continued to improve my pronunciation of the Russian Language, and after I said, "You have beautiful boots" in Russian, Slice remarked, "Wow, you sound like you were born in Russia!" Feeling very confident the next morning, while waiting for the Mini-Bus into City Center, a Lady walked up to the bus stop, wearing a gorgeous pair of black and gold, spiked high-heel, boots.
I spoke in my perfect Russian, "You have beautiful boots!" Her eyes danced, and her whole face beamed, as she replied, "Thank you very much." During my bus ride into City Center, two more Ladies were wearing those beautiful spiked heel Russian Boots, and I received the same smiling, grateful responses to my compliments.
The very next day, Slice and I were riding on the Mini-Bus, and a Lady entered the bus, wearing a beautiful trimmed fur coat, and sat down across from us. My "You have beautiful boots" phrase worked so perfectly, I'd decided to try my "You have a beautiful Coat" Phrase. I spoke to the Lady, and she enterained a very curious expression upon her pretty face as Slice burst out laughing.
"Why are you laughing," I asked Slice. Slice was still giggling, and chortling, as he replied, "You just told the lady she has a beautiful cat!!!" Well, shucks, I have difficulty pronouncing "coat" in Russian, and now I will need to wait until I meet a lady with a beautiful cat. There are many times when "communicating" our thoughts is difficult.
Joe K. Roberts