THE PERKS OF BEING BILINGUAL IN AMERICA

Being bilingual is generally looked at as a positive thing. Employers’ interests are peeked and not only that but you can listen in on people’s conversations while they’re talking shit at the supermarket thinking no one around them can understand what they’re saying. Now I’ve lived in ‘Murica for long enough to consider myself an American. However, I am just as American as I am Russian since that is where I was born and raised. We’re not going to get into the intricate details of my stand on “important” things as we are all aware that Ignorance is not only Bliss but also happens to be a close neighbor of Russia. Whether it has to do with politics or anything else really, Russians are the first ones to pile up on the line that serves bitching and complaining with a side of “I want nothing to do about it”, often paired with a veracious, full bodied “If it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care”. Even so, I think my Russianness and I bring plenty of flair to the table, so leaving vodka and bears on unicycles behind, I’d like to share the following perks of being bilingual in America.

PROPER EDUMACATION – Being bilingual allows you to actually learn the English language instead of half assing it your entire life because you’re used to spelling it like you hear it. Let me tell you, there’s no such thing as “Can you spell that?” or “Can you use it in a sentence?” in Russian. You just know. You just know because the Education System in Russia kicks America’s Education System’s ass. Virtually of course, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter since America’s Education System is considered number one and Russian Education isn’t even considered. In Russia, Chemistry is a mandatory subject from the 8th grade, as well as all the other subjects. Here in America we have Study Hall, a bunch of silly electives and basically the same, slightly accelerated material year after year mixed in with so very educational, skill-developing Blongo Ball Game filled gym classes. But hey! Those ESL classes I had to take provided me with the gift of knowing the difference between ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ as well as ‘two’, ‘too’ and ‘to’. It gets really fun when you start seeing things like Train RACK instead of Train Wreck and my personal favorite Lack Toast & Tolerant instead of lactose intolerant… I mean, tack toast & tolerant? Are you tolerant to the lack of toast in your life and therefore cannot consume any milk related products? I can’t even imagine what goes on through these people’s heads. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no English professor and my spelling too suffers sometimes, as well as my punctuation, but with Logic as my sidekick at least I am able to avoid the disasters.

NEW & EXCITING STUFF – They can teach you grammar, but you gotta hit the streets to learn the slang. You see, while you were mastering the difference between two and too, a whole ton of slang was being developed, and as you’re now catching up on that slang, a whole bunch of new slang is being created so you’re pretty much constantly behind on The Slang. But since it’s somewhat impossible for you to just sit down and learn ALL slang at once, you might as well embrace the fact that there will be a constant flow of new and exciting words and phrases. Like the other day, I learned a very interesting one – Butter face. I’ve heard it in passing once or twice before, and of course it’s been around for years and everyone knows what it means, but how many of us have ever questioned where it came from or how it came about? Now I’m a curious human being so I started wondering… Butter face… Why is it Butter and not Mayo for instance? Why not anchovy aioli or garlic spread? If someone had garlic spread all over their face, I’d certainly find it unattractive.. Why does it have to be butter? Sure, it’s smooth and it slips right off your tongue… But there has to be a deeper meaning to the Butter Face debacle. My research didn’t take long. I asked one person. And of course after the quick “What are you, stupid?” followed by “No, I’m Russian” exchange, my friend was kind enough to explain that it means that literally everything on a girl is hot BUT HER FACE. Butter face! Now I know most of you will not be able to relate to my fascination as it is probably not news to you, but I was pretty excited. Although, I have to point out that even things that are funny and awesome are often masked by the incident of poor grammar. Some asshole probably heard another asshole say “she’s hot, but her face, maaaan” about some girl.. Decided to repeat it in a broken telephone sort of way and passed it on to other people the way that HE heard it, and that’s how the term was born. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, until someone tells me otherwise.

EXCUSES FOR DAYS – Much like with slang, I often find myself in situations where I stumble upon something that I just haven’t ever had the chance to come across before no matter how common it is to an American that was born here.. And my not knowing what that item or expression is will put people in such a predicament where even the ‘deer in headlights’ description is too mild to depict the look on their faces. It’s pretty easy to make them snap out of it though. I call it the Adorable Route. Basically if you’re ever in a situation where you’ve said something stupid or didn’t understand something obvious, act cute and innocent and insert something childish like “your face” into your response.

  • “What, do you live under a stone?”
  • “Your face lives under a stone! I live in a house thankyouverymuch. (Pouts)”
  • “Bahahahaha, you’re adorable!”
  • “Yes, yes, thank you, I’ve been told.”

It works almost anywhere and almost every time. Almost. The other day, I was part of the conversation in regards to Father’s Day Dinner and I didn’t know what corn on the cob was. Obviously I knew the corn part, but the COB part escaped me. Mainly because I don’t eat corn pretty much ever and the only time I encounter it is when I pass cans of it in the supermarket, so there was no reason for me to ever encounter how it grows or what its “body parts” are called. Either way that excuse didn’t fly and there was no escaping that one via The Adorable Route. That’s okay though, once I changed the subject to bacon and sausages, everyone quickly forgot about my strange illiteracy on the “corn on the cob” subject.

So as you can see, there’s plenty of fun to be had on what seems to be a flat surface. Next time you hear an American say “Irregardless”,  or use ‘lose’ instead of ‘loose’ and vice versa, you can chuckle to yourself smugly.. Or call them a dumbass, whichever works best. And remember, just because you don’t know a certain word, it doesn’t make you a dumbass. You’re from a different country, it’s okay. Well, unless you’re a dumbass from a different country that is. Some things can’t be changed even with the best of Edumacation. Bilingualism can only work as an excuse if executed properly. Take that in your butter face and smoke it!

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