Bruce Bucknell, Her Majesty’s Ambassador, says that he understands the Belarusian language better than Russian.
Mr Bucknell is keeping a blog. “The problem with Russian is that the pronunciation of vowels is slightly different when they aren’t stressed. This is an especial problem with the letter “o”, which – to my English ears – sounds more like a short “a” when unstressed. In this respect, Belarusian is more straightforward than Russian. The pronunciation is clearer thanks to the more sparing use of the letter “o”. I know that when you see it, you stress it. But that doesn’t help if there is no “o”, for example as in транспарт (transport),” he describes his experience of styding Russian.
The Ambassador confesses that sometimes he uses visual aids to improve pronunciation of the Russian texts of speeches and talks that he gives.
According to Mr Bucknell, foreign languages are a particular interest to the Foreign Secretary who has made language learnig a priority for British diplomats, and re-established a language centre in the main Foreign Office in London.