Leonid Soroka: a person, who does not know the language of a country, where he / she lives, is always under pressure

Within the project “It is cool being a translator” our translation bureau communicated with Leonid Soroka, who told about the importance of learning a foreign language, shared his experience of Hebrew learning and gave advices to all, who is interested in this language.

1. How do you think what meaning do the foreign languages have for those who go abroad for permanent residence to this or that country?

It is a rhetorical question. It means that there is only one decisive answer – the critical one. So, you can easily ask “How important is ability to swim for a person thrown to water deeper that his height”? Surely, aground such a person will not die. And the emigrant on small works, surrounded by his/her language ghetto, working for copecks he / she will not die. But this emigrant will stay aground.

2. Experience shows that motivation is the most important thing to succeed in language learning. What motivation did you have to learn Hebrew?

Motivation, or speaking in Russian, the reason (s) was the wish not to drop out of the profession. This is first. Even being a journalist, who is being published in Russian press, it is impossible not to know the language of a country, which is spoken by the majority of and by all main mass media. And at the very everyday level a person, who does not know the language of a country, where he / she lives, is always under pressure because of inferiority complex, because this person sometimes does not understand the basic things, and this things in fevered imagination of an emigrant become real unconquerable.

3. Everyone knows that while learning a foreign language everyone uses different method to improve the comprehensibility of the material. What methods did you use?

One of the main methods is the method of so called immersion into surroundings. The constant “intrusion” into even very primitive from the very beginning dialogues with local population, listening to radio and TV on the language you learn, even despite the fact, that, again, from the very beginning you will not understand a lot. But if at the same time a person is working with dictionaries, so by one centimeter, by two centimeters you go ahead, and first you will understand separate words, then you will understand phrases, and so step by step you will start to understand the text as a whole.

4. You learned Hebrew in Israel. And what advices can you give those who learns Hebrew in Ukraine?

As I did not learn Hebrew out of Israel, I will not be able to give proper advices. But in general I can say, that if you started to learn Hebrew by books out of the country, do not be afraid of the imaginary difficulties. In real life a lot of grammar nuances will not be used and the language itself is not so difficult as it is described.

5. You are the author of very interesting ironic rhymes. Who were your advisors and teachers that helped you to open and to develop your talent? And in general what does the word “literature” means to you today?

My first advisors and teachers were well known children’s writers Efim Chepovetskiy and Vadim Orlov. Later – writers from Moscow Valentine Berestov and Lev Ozerov. They did not give any advices or instructions. They simply showed what was good, and beat for the bad things. And they also advised to learn from everyone – from classics and from contemporaries.

The word “literature” I think today means the same as yesterday. And will mean tomorrow – art, done by word. Despite the painting, performed by artist, it is the most compact type of art, available for everyone. But, unfortunately, the least asked for.


6. Some of your books were translated from Russian. How do you think, from the point of view of the writer, how important is the role of the translator for the success of writer and his works in another country?

Well, I am not the author who is translated here and there. But the popularity of the book, translated and published in Ukraine, is also the result of work of the talented poet-translator Ivan Andrusiak. It revealed that we are very closer with him not only at the personal level, but also at the creative level.

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