Как живут ударники?
Ударники живут хорошо.
How do shock-workers live?
Shock-workers live well.
It continues “Where do they work? They work in factories. How do they work? They work with enthusiasm. What do they do in parks? In parks they think about life. About what life? About life in factories. That’s how shock-workers live!” The chapter continues with a discussion of бездельники, or loafers: “How do loafers live? At work they steal pencils. In parks they conduct themselves badly. Yes, comrades. That is how loafers live!” In later chapters there are choruses of male concrete-workers (“Our plant is a concrete plant. Our brigade is a concrete one. Our plant is a concrete plant. And our task is concrete. Concrete, concrete, concrete, concrete…”) and discussions of philosophy (“What is life? What are people? I want to know what life is.”). I suspect I would have learned more in college if I’d had this wacky text, except that its first edition came out in 1974, a couple years after I graduated. And in case you’re thinking it’s amusing but impractical, read what John has to say:
I respond well to linguistic approaches such as the one Lipson pioneered for Russian. Thank Bog I used Lipson’s books for 2 years, I really, really understand the structure of Russian in ways that those who learned from Soviet sponsored texbooks do not. His choice of vocabulary was pretty weird, though. I learned the word for “concrete mixer” before I learned the word for “airplane”, for instance, because one of the dialogues we had to memorize concerned a lazy construction worker. Lo and behold when I got to the USSR I wound up working on a construction site. Full of lazy (and drunk) construction workers. Working on – you guessed it – the betonomeshalka.
And what other textbook will teach you how to say “Comrade director, nobody loves me. Nobody understands me. I’m alone. I’m alone”?