Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Land Of Confusion

My first few days in Azerbaijan were slightly confusing due to a couple of factors. Firstly they are in the middle of a currency change whereby old and new notes are being used interchangeably. To make matters particularly confusing, instead of doing the standard "chop a few zeros off" they have instead divided by 5000, making conversion an exercise in arithmetic. So when buying a doner kebab the other day I gave a 1 manat note and got 1000 manats back in change. But I'm beginning to get on top of things. The other source of discombobulation is language. In Azerbaijan, especially in Baku, you're just as likely to hear Russian as Azeri. Now I don't speak either, but Czech is similar to Russian and Azeri has many loanwords from Persian. And then there's always the trusted traveller standby of English. So my first efforts at communication were a hopeless mish-mash of all three languages. However I have come to the conclusion that Czech, with a dodgy Russian accent, is the best way forward. Not only because it seems (sort of) to be working, but also trying to learn Russian will help me in the other Caucasian countries, whereas Azeri won't.

1 comment:

Yann said...

I remember that you already tried to speak Czech in Slovenia when we were looking for a youth hostel at midnight. And you asked the waiter in McDonalds but unfortunately he couldn't understand any word of your strange dialect. Or when we wanted to buy on a sunday morning (very early) some tickets to Dubrovnic, and it was the only day in the week, whereby no train goes to Croatia....
You said Slovenian and Czech languages should be quite similar and it would be no matter for you to read the train timetables...

I'm sorry, Erik, but I think your Czech Speech could only be understand in Czech Republic...
I wonder why you don't try speak at first in English!