Wim’s “fresh” new name

What’s often funny if you go abroad if how your name is pronounced. Luckily I’m blessed with a very international name (apart from its spelling – Sofie) that doesn’t lend itself to many mispronunciations. Wim is not so fortunate, however, and is very often called like the cleaning product “Vim” here. 🙂 This is because the letter w doesn’t exist in Russian. Written in Cyrillic letters, his name really is Вим, which transcribes as Vim. So his name is not only mispronounced, it’s also very often misspelled in e-mails he receives!


By the way, we’re still looking for baby names for our little boy that’s on the way! To avoid any misunderstanding, mispronunciation or misspelling, we’re looking for a quite international name that can easily be understood by Russians and other nationalities. Any suggestions?


Finding Dutch in unexpected places

As a Dutch speaker (spoken by only about 23 million people), it’s always strange if you run into your native language abroad. Especially in a non-EU country!

We’ve already found Dutch on the packaging of quite some products here, most of which were non-food products, unfortunately. (Figuring out the ingredients of a food product is still a challenge!) But one of the funniest instances must have been in the Decathlon store the other day:


Cyrillic italics

Just when you think you finally master the Cyrillic alphabet, there come the italics!

Cyrillic italics are similar to the handwritten Cyrillic alphabet. And quite different from the regular letters!

Some highlights:

Cyrillic italics highlights

Confusing, right?!

And how about this?

Russian italics 2

It is pronounced as “lishili lilii”.

Russian italics

Apart from the first and last letter I have no idea how this is supposed to be pronounced… I’ve rather chosen the picture for the comment that’s included. 😉

Learning Russian and the consequences for my shopping list

During our visit in Yaroslavl a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that people who spoke fluent English were rare. This gave me an extra push to finally start learning Russian. So now, every day when I’m driving to and from work (which is only 20km but can take up to 1 hour!), I put on my Michel Thomas Russian CDs.

The Michel Thomas method is great. You hear a native speaker teach 2 students, who get plenty of exercises to practice what they’re taught. You don’t have to study or memorise anything as there’s a lot of repetition throughout the course. You just go with the flow, listen to the teacher and participate in the exercises. And that’s it!

The teacher even gives you tips to remember words by associating them to funny images. For понимать (pronounced ponimat’, meaning understand), for example, she proposes the image of a pony who sits on a mat and sadly says “I don’t understand!” 🙂 And she always calls хочу (meaning I want, pronounced hachoo), “the sneezing word”. 🙂

The downside of the method, however, is that there’s no written practice. So even after I proudly finished the Foundation course and enthusiastically started the Advanced course, I’m still having difficulties reading – and even more writing – the Cyrillic alphabet. To get some exercise, I’ve now started to write my shopping list in Cyrillic letters! Here’s what that looks like (i.e. Dutch transcribed in Cyrillic letters):


Any idea what we’re buying this week? 😉