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Condi Rice gave a radio interview in Moscow today where she tried to speak russian and ended up in a big embarrasment:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried out her rusty Russian in a Moscow radio interview Wednesday, only to get caught out by a question on whether she might run for president.
"Da (Yes)," Rice answered in Russian, before realizing her misunderstanding and hastily adding "Nyet" (No) -- seven times.

"It's too complicated to answer!" Rice, in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, started out in English. "It is an opportunity for me to come back to Russia, a place I love very much. I love the culture and the language."

She then switched into Russian, but quickly hit trouble.

Apparently meaning to say that she would like to do her next interview in the language of her host, she chose a verb that sounded more like "to earn money" than the Russian for "to do."

Originally posted to vitor on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 08:21 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tip jar (4.00)
    Found this funny.
  •  I would like to make money in Russia(n) (none)
    Way to go Condi!
  •  I was wondering why (none)
    I have never heard her speak Russian.
  •  I told you! I told you! (none)

     O.K., somebody give me an "atta boy"!  Over the past few months I've made several comments and have gotten into several discussions on DKos about what a fake and fraud Rice was re:  "and she speaks Russian, and plays the piano!" crap.


     I was hoping it was only a matter of time til this fraud got busted, even if only on this semi-minor point.  It's still illustrative of the whole (2 dimensional) person!

     Great catch.  I would LOVE this to go to the Recommended Diaries list as Rice's getting busted OUGHT to be all over the internets and MSM.


    . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 08:50:44 AM PDT

  •  Interesting last paragraph (none)
    of story:

    "You understand it will be very difficult because I am out of practice, and in your language there are these awful cases!" she continued. "It's very difficult for us, and it is very difficult to talk without making mistakes."

  •  Rushin' around all over der place? (none)
  •  This woman may have some fooled but I'm not the (4.00)
    least bit fooled or impressed by her.  She made herself look like the fool that she is.  For all her bragging she never seems to be able to deliver.  And her claiming it's because the Russians have all the "awful cases" fits right in with blame everything and everyone else for her screwups...typical bushies.
  •  Word on the street... (4.00)
    is that her Russian is terrible. I learned from someone with Russian friends that when she appears on Russian programming, she has to have subtitles to translate the gibberish coming out of her mouth into actual Russian. All of her accomplishments are dubious, imho. I heard her piano playing years ago on "60 Minutes" before Bush's election and her appointment, and all I could think was, who is this appallingly dull woman, and why should we care? She can poke at the keys in the correct order, but she has no musicality. Having a bunch of degrees doesn't make you smart. She's a paper tiger with no genuine ability. Like everyone else in this administration, she's a total fraud.
  •  Husband (4.00)
    This is one woman who has gotten everything she has solely because of who her husband is.
  •  I'm bilingual, but (none)
    I wonder how many of the people criticizing Condi here could say the same.

    How many of you would feel comfortable going on the radio or tv, fielding questions in a foreign language, and responding to those questions in the same language?

    I used to teach university in a foreign country, get up and lecture extemporaneously for an hour or more at a time in Spanish, which I learned as an adult, but I would think twice before going on the air in Spanish. I still remember the horrifying experience of not understanding a student's question while he was taking an exam.

    It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

    by litho on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 09:58:04 AM PDT

    •  Many of us probably couldn't (none)
      But then again, many of us wouldn't be touting our 'bilingual ability' every chance we get and putting it in bold in our resumes either.

      The point isn't that she is a poor bilingual speaker - it's rather that the reality of her situation is not what she (and her fawning followers) claim it to be.

      •  Uh, huh (none)
        You see, as far as I know, Condi never claimed to be bilingual. BenGoshi over in his diary on the same subject reproduces a lot of quotes saying that she's fluent in Russian.

        Anybody with any experience in foreign language acquisition knows that fluency is a very vague term. Some folks use the word "fluent" to mean they can read the language, others when they can understand the language when spoken, still others when they can conduct simple conversations in the language. By any one of those standards, this incident shows Condi's fluency.

        Bilingualism, which to my knowledge she has never claimed, implies a much higher degree of proficiency in the language. Bilinguals can operate at high degrees of abstraction in two languages, and can express complex ideas with similar ease in both. Near-native proficiency is the highest standard, and it refers to a person who speaks a second language nearly as well as a person who grew up speaking that language.

        In my own case, I claim near-native proficiency in Spanish and fluency in both French and Portuguese. Yet my French and Portuguese are both rusty, and I would never attempt a radio interview in either one.

        It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

        by litho on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 10:16:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Presumably... (none)
          ...You're not looking to be confirmed as Secretary of State based partly on your fluency in either.

          Condi. Was.

        •  the point (none)
          is why did she advertise it so much, if she was not really comfortable with it?

          It underscores the
          from bush to bolton to condi,
          no humility ever.

        •  You know, she can probably read Russian (none)
          better than she can speak it.

          Which is how most Ph.Ds do it, unless they go out for pure immersion.

          No wonder she talks barely conversational trash.

          One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.--Bobby Kennedy

          by blksista on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 12:04:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with your sentiment. (none)
          There are endless policy issues on which to disagree and find fault with Ms. Rice.  This is just petty.
        •  To be fluent in a language... (none)
          means you can communicate in it. She can't. When you need subtitles to translate you, you are not communicating with any fluency. This is not about a couple of flubs. This is about a mangling of the language so profound as to be incomprehensible... and very, very funny.
        •  I work as an interpreter & translator (none)
          in Spanish and Portuguese but don't claim proficiency and probably never will unless I immerse myself in one of those languages for a couple of years--and that is unlikely to happen.  

          I have very rusty French and Russian that has degraded to "grunt & point."  Russian is a bit tough.  I find all the prefixes and verb aspects tougher than the cases . . . and when I hear this about Rice I just cringe.  

          Mostly because it just boggles my mind that she or her husband would even claim to speak Russian or Spanish when they seemingly have no dominion over those languages.  The cheek!  The ego!  Do they believe their own hype?

          Hey . . . I could make a perfect ass of myself on Russian radio and television, and I could also make a hash out of foreign policy, too . . . but you don't see me doing that.  

          Where do some people get off?  :-)

          Heartsick about the war? Join the Women in Black

          by rhubarb on Thu Apr 21, 2005 at 07:43:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I am bilingual too, after a fashion (none)
      I also learned a foreign language as an adult, and am painfully aware of my shortcomings in respect to native speakers.

      To remain "fluent" in your non-native language one must constantly use that language; reading, writing and conversation.  And as anyone who has studied another language knows, conversation is the most difficult, the last skill to be acquired and the first to be lost from non-use.  Not only to you have to be able to "think" in the language in order to speak in a more or less fluent manner, you have to be able to understand what your conversation partner is saying.

      Again, as students of a foreign languages know, it is a shock to hear native speakers when you have only been exposed to the words as spoken in the calm confines of the classroom - it's a living language, with accents, idioms and slang,  all tumbled in a mix, and not just a set of orderly grammar lessons and sentences repeated out loud.

      I would expect Dr. Rice to be aware of this learning process as she probably has at least reading knowledge of Russian.  She certainly should have been aware of her limitations, and had enough sense not to make a linguistic fool of herself while on a diplomatic visit.

    •  You've proved the point... (none)
      As you've said, you are bilingual and you wouldn't consider speaking on radio or TV.  She had to know that she shouldn't conduct any US business in Russian.  But she also knew that a big deal had been made about her fluency in Russian, so she went ahead and tried out her "rusty Russian" - I can only assume that she hoped that her inability to converse in Russian would be missed by the Great Unwashed.  Especially the Boss Man.   So either she didn't know that she couldn't speak Russian well enough or she was unable to admit her lack.  Kind of like being the National Security Advisor and not advising the president about threats to national security.  Maybe she's just deluded and promoted beyond her abilities in all sorts of things.  
      •  Or (none)
        maybe she's a black woman, and people have a hard time accepting that she has any real competence, nor can they get over the fact she's in a position of real power and influence.

        Little gaffes like this one, then, allow us to tell ourselves "see, she really is incompetent."

        Presto, vague feelings of racism and sexism neatly filed away!

        (Except that's it not that easy. And, in case you didn't know, she really is smart.)

        It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

        by litho on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 01:46:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I can't get over (none)
          is that she was promoted to her current position despite the fact that she was an utter failure as a National Security Advisor. Despite NUMEROUS warnings, 3,000+ lives were lost as a result of her incompetence. Her willingness to lie for Bush on the topic of WMD has led to even more deaths of both Americans and Iraqis.  

          Condi is bright, yes, I wouldn't deny her that, but her greatest tallent is knowing how to play the games that enable her to attach herself to powerful people. So she gets high marks for her ability to steadily climb the ladder, but please, other than that, tell me one thing of significance she has accomplished for the people of the United States.

          •  This is the most secretive, lying administration (none)
            ever, and we can't judge her intelligence or lack thereof based on the information they provide the public. They are lying sacks of shit, and we know that well.

            I think it's true she dropped the ball on 9-11, but considering we still don't know the real reason Bush decided to invade Iraq her performance there is still pretty an unknown.

            It's possible Bush is promoting incompetence, because he's incompetent himself. When you look at his dogged determination on Social Security, that conclusion certainly does come to mind. But it's also possible the lying sack of shit has never told us the real reason he went in, and has also never told us the real reason he feels comfortable with what looks like a train wreck to any rational person.

            It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

            by litho on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 03:19:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh please. (none)
          I am a woman, and, while I am not black, I am no racist. If anything, a combination of racism and affirmative action have served Condi very well. She's a classic token. She does what she's told, and adds "color" to a very white party and administration. She's the kind of black woman racists love. People think she's smart because she doesn't use ghetto slang and she's "articulate" --  which is what uncomfortable white people say when black people are polite and non-threatening.
    •  Agree. (none)
      There is a huge gap between studying a language in an academic setting and being able to freely
      talk with native speakers.

      I'm Russian by birth and I know how much more complicated the Russian language is compared to English.  I had to learn English after coming to the US.  Given my personal experience, I'd say it's impossible to be truly fluent in any language without being 'exposed' to it for several hours a day.

      But it looks like CondiLiessa stepped on the same rake as every single neocon before her - badly overestimating one's own ability.

    •  Yes, well, the issue isn't whether it's difficult. (none)
      The issue is that the claim that she's fluent in Russian has been repeated over and over, without being refuted by her.  I can speak German  and some French and Spanish and studied Russian for four years, but I wouldn't claim to be fluent in anything but English, which happens to be my second language.
      The issue is that the people who have hijacked our government are filling top positions with incompetents.  Which is entirely consistent with they attitude towards government.
      If you don't think government service is worth much, why would you bother trying to put in good people?

      3-D Republicans=division, deceit, debt

      by hannah on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 02:10:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  True, but (none)
    not knowing the Russian for "to do"?
    •  oops (none)
      That was meant to be a response to litho.
    •  I don't know Russian (none)
      mcjoan claims to, and here's what she said over in BenGoshi's diary:

      delyat, delyat dengi (none / 1)

      Well, you use the same verb for both contexts: delyat means to do something, although to actually complete the task you have to sdelyat (goddamned Russian verbs). You just tag on the noun dengi (money) to say make money.

      Not that I'm defending her, and I'm thinking that the Russian language requirements for a PhD at the University of Denver must have been lacking some. But it's a damned tough language.

      Proud to be Unbossed. by mcjoan on Wed Apr 20th, 2005 at 17:00:24 GMT

      It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

      by litho on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 10:20:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the last thing that I'd do (none)
        Is defend a member of this administration.

        Admittedly, that "s" sound in front of delyat can be hard to hear in some Russian tongues.

        It's a darn picky language.

        Often you need to listen to the CONTEXT...the use of the word money is a giveaway...and sounds much, much different than the word for "president".

        Proud member of the Social Security google-bomb project.
        Be proud. YOU'RE A LIBERAL.

        by changingamerica on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 10:53:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  verbs people, verbs! (none)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but to do = davat (right?)

    What's the verb for to make money?  

    Proud member of the Social Security google-bomb project.
    Be proud. YOU'RE A LIBERAL.

    by changingamerica on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 10:06:32 AM PDT

  •  My wife IS Russian (4.00)
    She and her sister broke out in peals of laughter when they heard Dr. Rice on the radio.  It all sounds the same to my ears.

    I said, "What's so funny?"

    "Her RUSSIAN!" they roared.  "This is the worst Russian I have ever heard!"

    'Nuff said.

    There are three kinds of people: Those who see; those who see when they are shown; those who do not see.

    by Shadowthief on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 11:52:19 AM PDT

    •  Mine too (none)
      She reads the Russian Language news on the net religiously.  Someday I'll do an essay about "democracy on the march" in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  Something like "Neocons in the Caucusus" or "Duck Soup for Oil".  Actually, it's sad, not funny.  Power outages, food and water shortages.  Then there's the former Ukrainian minister who committed suicide by shooting himself in the head twice with broken fingers.  Oh, and the odyssey of Boris Berezofsky and his tale of the tapes.

      The Axis of Evil runs somewhere between K Street and Constitution Avenue.

      by DanielMN on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 01:11:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What I'm wondering is... (none)
      (because I haven't heard/seen the clip of Condi saying this), but was it some variety of "dyelat'/sdyelat' that Condi was trying to use to say "to make money"?  

      Yikes!  I actually think she should have said:

      "zarabatyvat'/zarabotat' deng'gi" if she wanted to say "to make money".

      Russian really is not the easiest language in the world, though and it does concern me that she never has refuted the statement that she's "fluent".

  •  Condi Rice practices her English skills (none)
    "As I was telling my husb-- ... as I was telling
    President Bush."

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