Today, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is what is called "Cheesefare Sunday." This means that today was the last day to eat dairy products until Easter. Last Sunday was "Meatfare Sunday," so meat is already off our tables.
But today is also Day One of my campaign to learn Russian during Lent. I was busy at Church all day long. We had Divine Liturgy (Mass), followed by a brunch/fundraiser, and then "Forgiveness Vespers," a special service to formally begin Great Lent.
My job at this event has for many years been to serve shots of vodka to the attendees. As I served it, I heard Russians say to me:
I think I had previously learned that is how you say "Thank you" in Russian, but it was contextualized nicely today.
As my job continued, I heard someone say:
Большое спасибо (Balshoye spaseeba)
The linguist in me knows this must be the intensifier, "Thank you very much."
When, upon delivering vodka to another table I heard:
Спасибо Большое (Spaseeba balshoye),
I deduced that the positioning of the adverb was not important.
And look, I don't even know enough right now to know if it even is an adverb. Maybe it's an adjective. I'll pick this up as I go.
My priest and I were going upstairs from the event to get ready for the "Forgiveness Vespers" and I asked him a question.
I had heard him, the week prior, when giving a woman Communion, use the wrong name when saying, 'The Handmaiden of God [Name] Receives the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
When he said the wrong name, she corrected him. I then clearly heard him say:
Извини меня (Izveenee menya)
And I assumed that he had said "Forgive me." The "Forgiveness Vespers" involve asking people for forgiveness if we have offended or sinned against anyone.
So I asked him, "Is the way to say 'Forgive me' in Russian 'Izveenee menya'?"
He answered, "No, that is how you say 'Excuse me'. 'Forgive me' is 'Прости меня (Prastee menya)'."
When I got home from this long day of Church, I burned a CD that I will be listening to on my commute. It includes the first few chapters of three different Russian language programs I will be studying from.
I also filled out Phase One of my vocabulary lists for Russian and read out loud those words.
Week One begins. Lent begins. A week from now, I must be competent in Phase One and ready to move into Phase Two....