Voices from Russia

Thursday, 20 August 2015

20 August 2015. Another Peek into the Secret Lab… Or, How I Make Sausages in This Crazy Shop

00 Viktor Ivanov. No Matter What It Looks Like... The Enemy is Treacherous. 1945

No Matter What It Looks Like… The Enemy is Treacherous!

Viktor Ivanov



Let’s take another romp through Translation Land. Враг коварен… будь на-чеху! Literally, Враг коварен is “The Enemy is treacherous”… that’s easy enough. However, будь на-чеху is a bit trickier. It sounded familiar to me, so, I pulled out the old Russian dictionary (I keep it handy, I have no illusions about my abilities). Ah… чехол, a “carrying case”, a “casing”… so будь на-чеху would be “whatever the exterior”. Now, how do we “English” that to bring it home in an idiomatic and straightforward way? The literal “The enemy is treacherous… whatever the exterior” is not quite how one would say it in English and be as punchy as it is in Russian. Often, Russian is “backwards” grammatically as compared to English… so, I flipped the phrases over…”Whatever the exterior… The enemy is treacherous”… that’s better, but it’s still not as direct as it should be. Therefore, I went for “No matter what it looks like… The enemy is treacherous”.

Oh, the machine translation was “The enemy is treacherous… Whether on-Tomas!” You can always tell those who rely on these, can’t you? Be good… after all, the proof is in the how “good it tastes”, isn’t it? Have a care…



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