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August 8th, 2006

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Oh, Alexander Lipson, how we loved your stick-figure Russian textbooks and your finest creation...

Yes, this is an actual textbook we used when learning Russian in high school. One unit involved the story of Superman. Sorta.


1. Over the city flies a small figure.
2. "What is it?"
3. "Is it a bird?"
4. "Is it a plane?"
5. "No, no, no! It is not a bird..." "Not a plane..."
6. "but SUPERMAN!"
7. The inhabitants of the city wave to their friend (and shout:)
8. "THANK GOD! We can live calmly,"
9. "knowing that YOU are flying over us."
10. Who is this Superman? Where is he from? And why does he fly over the city?

11. Very far from our world was the planet Krypton.
12. There lived one well-known soothsayer.*
*that is, a man who predicts, what will be tomorrow, etc.
13. That soothsayer used to predict catastrophes.
14. Sometimes he predicted serious catastrophes.
15. Sometimes he predicted not very serious catastrophes.
16. Once he predicted a very serious catastrophe.
17. "Tomorrow there will be a very serious catastrophe."
19. "Tomorrow DARK FORCES will destroy our planet!"
20. The inhabitants of the planet all began to shake from fear... "My God!" "What a catastrophe! That's very bad!"
21. ...knowing, that tomorrow would be the end of the world. "Tomorrow will be the END OF THE WORLD!"

22. The father of Superman (that is, Superboy) found out about this.
23. In the evening in Superboy's house, his father and mother were sitting and talking...
24. "Dear, why are you shaking from fear?"
25. "A soothsayer predicted that tomorrow DARK FORCES will destroy our planet."
26. "What will become of our dear SON?"
27. (idea!) "Dear, I have a very good plan." "???"
28. "Boy, I'm going to build a little super-rocket, which will carry you to another planet."
29. "To what kind of planet?"
30. "To a strange, wild planet." "! ? ! ? ! ! !" "? ! ? ? ! !"
31. "What is this planet called?" "This planet is called 'Earth'."
32. "Where is it located?"
33. "Very far from our world."
34. "What kind of people live thre?"
35. "There live weak, pitiful, and insignificant people."
36. "What will I become there?"

37. "You will become the strongest person that strange, wild planet."
38. "What will I do on that planet?"
39. "You will fight..."
40. for [peace] for [brotherhood] for [happiness] for [friendship] for [truth] and for [the American way of life]
41. "Oh my!"
42. BATZ! BOOM! TRAM TARARAM! BATZ! BOOM! BOOM! While DARK FORCES were destroying the planet Krypton...
43. "Farewell, Mama! Farewell, Papa! Farewell, Krypton! Farewell, Laika! *" "Bon voyage!" "RAV! RAV!"
*Laika - beloved dog of Superboy
44. BATZ! BOOM! Superboy's father and mother burst out crying from grief, knowing that he is flying to Earth forever...


And don't think for a moment I translated this all off the top of my head, because I'm not that good anymore. I totally stole some translation text for a lot of the stuff I forgot.

(15 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
BTW - was looking at my high school yearbook the other day and found quite a nice note from you, written partly in Russian. I can still sound out the letters, but have no idea what it meant :-)
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 03:32 am (UTC)
Heh. It was probably something A. random, B. wacky, C. involving hedgehogs, or D. all of the above.
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC)
A little bit of A, definitely B, C actually was No Homework Man instead of hedgehogs.
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
Wait... You know my friend David R., don't you?
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC)
As in M. Dave? Certainly do! Well, haven't heard from him in like 15 years, but yeah...
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 03:53 am (UTC)
I had forgotten that until you posted the Russian comic.

I haven't seen him in ages, either, but he's living in the Amherst area again, so my mom sends me updates. I guess they just had their 3 kid. Which is just strange to me. I mean, MY having kids is ok, but thinking of friends from when I was growing up having children is just too odd.
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 03:17 am (UTC)
I had the boring soviet-produced textbooks. I envied those who had learned from this one. We only heard stories!

I still know how to say "construction worker", "Comrade", "Young Communist", and "Crane operator."
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 04:45 am (UTC)
Russian for Everybody? Totally. I thought i had it made when we got to the stewardesses and the cigarettes, but it was really just more of the same.

Man, remember when Mother went on vacation? Ha! Poor Father! But what a laugh riot. :|

[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
ha, that's the one. I had the tapes and still like to make fun of the lady's voice.

"Rasshin forrr Evrrybuddy. Lessen One. Reapit."
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
That brings back memories. Scary memories. Jude's daughter, who was knee high when I started in Russian class is almost as tall as I am now. And in college.

Anyway, those sections were always more fun than the weird ALM dialogues.
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
There have been occasions when I am (usually inebriated) explaining to someone that Russian is the sexiest language around and that almost anything said in Russian will be incredibly sexy.

To prove this point, I recite ALM's "My First Plane Flight" monologue ("By Andrei") and, once the collective sexiness in the room has subsided, dutifully translate it. It's funny how you can take sentences such as "I check my bags. I hear the announcer say 'Attention! Attention! The flight to Leningrad is in ten minutes!'" and really do something with it.
Date:August 9th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, baby, board me!

(I should have tried this with my Russian teacher.)
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC)


Is my new favorite sound effect. TRAM TARARAM is catchy too.

I am impressed that a Russian-language textbook would find it needful for you to learn how to say "the American way." Then again, I suppose it fits into the whole Cold War propaganda machine.

Kak skazat "Supes hates Commies" po-Russki?
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)


Actually the textbook really was classic 70s Russian kultur, in spite of the americanski obraz jizhni. In other sections, we learned about shockworkers ("What do shockworkers do? They work in factories. How do they work? With enthusiasm. What do they do in parks? They think about life. About what life? Life in factories. That's what shockworkers do!")

Meanwhile, bezdelniki (loafers) steal pencils from work and conduct themselves badly in parks (by stomping on the flowers.) Yes, comrade, that's what bezdelniki do!

Also great is this footnote about being uncultured:
Beating one's wife, talking loudly during a concert, dropping candy wrappers, blowing one's nose with the fingers, are all "uncultured." A sign in the Gorky Park of Culture and Rest in Moscow reads: "Rest Culturally, Comrades!"
[User Picture]
Date:August 9th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
I. Need. This. Book.

I've been wanting to brush up my Russian, but the books I have just don't hold my attention. I'm not going to Russia; the conversations aren't relevant. This, this looks interesting.

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