Learning Ukrainian by osmosis

June 20, 2014 :: 6:35 PM

suzy-q ukie fest, 2009

Alternatively, I could’ve titled this “How I’ve learned to embrace alcoholism”

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love music, so one of the ways I’ve been learning Ukie is by listening to Ukrainian music (ska/punk/rock). Listening / learning goes a little like this:

First listen: OH! I REALLY LIKE THIS BEAT!

Second listen: Wait. I think I understand that… something, something, something LOVE! Something about reading. Birds?

And so on and so forth until I feel confident in matching the sounds and can sing along.

The newest band I’ve been listening to, TIK, is one of the headliners at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival. (Which I will be attending and hopefully conversing mostly in Ukrainian. It’s good to have goals.)

Anyhoo, my first listen to “АЛКО голізм” went something like this:

OH. FUCK. Are they saying what I think they’re saying?

My second listen went like this:

OH. FUCKING. FUCK. That’s fucking catchy as fuck. Fuck.

My third listen went something like this:

Drink. Water. Alcohol. Where. Here. People. Alcoholism. Hand. Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! There is not. Alcoholic. Vodka and beer. Drink. Yes (so?). You cannot. I want to live. You need to drink. Alcoholism. Hand. Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! I do not know who is and I do not know who. No drink. Morning. Day. Soviets. Communism. Alcoholism.

OH. FUCKING. FUCK. *dies*

So. Yeah. Not only do I know more than I thought I did, but… I’ve become the walking definition of irony.

The girl whose parents both died from complications due to alcoholism’s favourite song is about drinking. With a chorus that’s basically Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!

Seeing how my translation is rudimentary at best, I think I got the wrong idea. The band’s name is an abbreviation of the Ukrainian phrase “Тверезість і культура” which means “Sobriety and Culture”, and Google (and Bing) translate also make me think my original thoughts are wrong.

Either way, give it a listen. Let me know what you think.


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