Made Me Cry – Misha

Moscow 1980 – Farewell, Misha (Flash)

In Soviet Russia the good things were very good.

In Soviet Russia the big things were BIG.

Yesterday i saw a child walking with a big colorful balloon and imagined him flying to the sky. And it reminded me of Misha – the mascot of 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Very few of the people who grew up in the Soviet Union won’t at least shed a tear when seeing the finishing ceremony of that olympiad. Its high point was “saying goodbye to Misha”, as he was released into the sky holding onto colorful balloons to the sounds of a sad farewell song. Everybody in Russia remembers the song. More than this, this is The Great Unifying Moment of post-Stalin Russia, comparable to 9/11 and Kennedy assassination.

So watch this movie. Don’t miss Misha himself shedding a tear at 0:47.

If this movie doesn’t make you cry, then you’ll never really understand anything about Russia.

Here’s the song. Lyrics – Nikolai Dobronravov, music – Aleksandra Pakhmutova. My translation is lousy, but i tried to make it rhyme; improvements are welcome. Website of the authors with links to music files is here: До свиданья, Москва.

На трибунах становится тише…
Тает быстрое время чудес.
До свиданья, наш ласковый Миша,
Возвращайся в свой сказочный лес.
Не грусти, улыбнись на прощанье,
Вспоминай эти дни, вспоминай…
Пожелай исполненья желаний,
Новой встречи нам всем пожелай.

Пожелаем друг другу успеха,
И добра, и любви без конца…
Олимпийское звонкое эхо
Остаётся в стихах и в сердцах.
До свиданья, Москва, до свиданья!
Олимпийская сказка, прощай!
Пожелай исполненья желаний,
Новой встречи друзьям пожелай.

Расстаются друзья.
Остаётся в сердце нежность…
Будем песню беречь.
До свиданья, до новых встреч.

The stadium stands are getting quiet…
Time of miracles is melting away.
Farewell to you, our tender Misha,
Go back home to your wood of fairy tales.
Don’t be sad, give a smile before the parting,
And recall these good days, please recall…
Wish us all the fulfillment of wishes,
Wish a new meeting soon to us all.

So let’s wish lots of luck to each other,
Let’s wish kindness and love with no end,
Bright and clear echo of the Olympics
Will forever be cherished and sang.
Farewell to you, Moscow, farewell,
Farewell, the Olympic fairy tale,
Wish us all the fulfillment of wishes,
Wish a new meeting soon to us all.

Friends are coming apart,
Tenderness stays in the heart…
We shall cherish the song.
Farewell, we shall meet again.


Like this I feel

Talking about Hebraisms in English … I just received a lovely email:

if a user is use BPE than after 3 month he will contact us ( once per life ) to get a license

“Is use” should be “is using” and “than” should be “then”, but the best part is “once per life”.

I am not mocking the person who wrote it. It is wrong to demand that everyone would know English; English is not inherently better or more important than any other language. Contrariwise: I think that email between speakers of one language should be written in that language and not in English, unless there’s a very good reason for that; thus – ideally – Hebrew speakers should write email in Hebrew, and so there would be no reason to make mistakes.

This is just a nice example of a Hebraism. Or maybe not even a Hebraism, but just a non-Anglicism. I somehow understood what the guy meant by “once per life”; I am not sure that everyone would understand it.

Mother Tongue

HLA says on my new Hebrew blog: “It must be noted that it is much more fun for me to read in Hebrew.”

I’m glad to optimize for fun (PDF file).

But it must be noted, that it is not easier for me to read in Hebrew than it is in English. And it is not easier for me to read in Russian than in Hebrew or in English. I can read these three pretty much equally well. And it’s not necessarily good.

I hardly have a mother tongue.

Russian is probably still the best shot if i have to name my mother tongue. When i made my contribution to English Speech Accent Archive (requires QuickTime for audio), i was classified as a Russian speaker; it was academic, but rather artificial. When i speak Hebrew i sometimes makes funny mistakes, Russianisms; being a linguist i become aware of them, but a moment too late. The most common such mistake must be saying phrases such as “We went with my my friend to a movie.” It usually means “I went with a friend to a movie” – two people. In Russian it is perfectly correct to say it – Мы ходили с другом в кино, but in Hebrew and English it is weird. Occasionally i say “да, я, но” instead of “yes, i, but”.

But then i also have occasional Hebraisms slipping into my Russian and English speech and Anglicisms slipping into Hebrew and Russian.

When i read texts about politics and and news in Russian, it feels differently. I can say that it feels more lively and expressive, but i can’t say that it’s easier.

So i hardly have any mother tongue.

Which is probably not that good.