Plotno! Plotno!

I’m watching Russian craft videos on YouTube and learning Russian as a side effect. плотно (plotno) with a nice, strong plosive P and a rich, dark L, is my new favourite word. It means ‘press’.

I can just imagine myself going up to random Russians and saying ‘Plotno! Plotno!‘ at them for no reason beyond the pleasure of saying the word. Which reminds me of something that happened on a school trip to France when I was, I think, 13.

At the school I attended, pupils always stood up when a member of staff entered the room unless said member of staff indicated otherwise. It was supposed to be a mark of respect, but I imagine it must have been most distracting for any poor teacher trying to teach a lesson and being interrupted by a colleague.

Anyway, our French classes went like this: teacher came in; kids stood up.

Teacher: Bonjour, mes enfants.
Kids in unison: Bonjour, madame.
Teacher: Comment ça va?
Kids: Ça va bien, merci. Et vous?
Teacher: Très bien. Asseyez-vous.

Always. Every class. Without fail. Some sort of catechism that we repeated with no thought for the meaning of the words.

So then there’s the school trip to Calais and my little group — four or five of us — manage to get ourselves lost. We know where we’re meant to be; just not where we are. So we stop a friendly looking woman with a view to asking her for directions.

Us: Bonjour, madame.
Her: Bonjour, mes enfants.
Us: Comment ça va?
Her: Ça va bien, merci. Et vous?
Us: Très bien. Asseyez-vous.

Yup, five or so confused English kids, in chorus, told a hapless French woman to sit down. In the middle of the street. In the rain.

So going up to unsuspecting Russians and yelling ‘Plotno! Plotno!‘ at them is really quite in character for me 🙂


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