Speaking a second langauge is not like riding a bicycle. You still recognize words here and there, but active understanding and usage requires practice, practice, practice.
After hearing about her arrival in Moscow, I had wondered whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was going to use a translator, in spite of the fact that she speaks Russian. Looks as though she should have used one.
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.Actually, this makes me feel better. I used to speak fairly decent Russian as well. (Cases! ARRGGHH!!!) Now I only remember enough to tell you how плохой my язык is. (I can still leave you pretty well cussed-out, however.)
"Da (Yes)," Rice answered in Russian, before realizing her misunderstanding and hastily adding "Nyet" (No) -- seven times. [SNIP]
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."
"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."
Perhaps it’s time for a refresher course; for both of us, but for the SOS especially. A shot of vodka before class helps; believe me.
(Thanks to Boi from Troy)