Steinbeck sums up the polyglot strengths and quirks of his friend Robert Capa with whom he spent a month in the Soviet Union, during which Capa managed to hoover up a smattering of Russian to add to all the others.  I loved his mish-mash matching of one accent to another language.

‘Now Capa was out of his element, for Capa speaks all languages except Russian. He speaks each language with the accent of another. He talks Spanish with a Hungarian accent, French with a Spanish accent, German with a French accent, English with an accent that has never been identified. But Russian he does not speak. After a month he had picked up some words of Russian, with an accent which was generally considered to be Uzbek.’

 

Source: John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal, with photographs by Robert Capa (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999 (1948)), pp. 11-12

Photo credit: Dmitry Ratushny at unsplash

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