First off, Happy New Year! And now, on with our regularly scheduled post, the first in what will doubtless be a series drawn from Kornei Chukovsky‘s Diary, 1901-1969 (see my Xmas post); I’ve just started it, and I’ve already hit a couple of entries I want to share [Russian below the cut]. From February 20, 1909 (Chukovsky’s son Nikolai, or Kolya, is about five, his daughter Lidia, or Lida, about two):
I’m surrounded by Ukrainian books and, oddly enough, as I read them I start thinking in Ukrainian. And what’s even odder, when I’ve been reading all day I dream in Ukrainian. And even odder than that: the Ukrainian verse I knew as a child but have completely and utterly forgotten—pushed into the background by Blok and Bryusov—is surfacing, coming back to me…. And even odder than that: I feel a sort of Ukrainian naïveté, artlessness welling up in me—in my mood, my spirit. So not only does the soul create language; language (in part) creates the soul.
Lida put on Kolya’s brown coat today and refused to take it off, even inside. It’s odd: her language is developing in an entirely different way from Kolya’s. Kolya creates his own words, but retains only a few of them; he increases his vocabulary gradually. Lida can pronounce all words more or less properly and has an enormous vocabulary, but they are not so much words as their shadows. That is because she doesn’t create them; she merely reports what she hears.
And from July 15, 1910: