Voices from Russia

Sunday, 11 March 2018

11 March 2018. It’s How You Say It That Counts…

Filed under: cultural — 01varvara @ 00.00
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Писать is a dual-meaning word in Russian. It depends on which syllable you stress. If it’s писать (stressed syllable in bold), it means “to write”. If it’s писать, it means “to pee”. That’s QUITE a difference. In English, we have dual-meaning words and phrases that trip up foreigners. I remember a local market owned by two Greek brothers over 30 years ago. They painted on the side of the building, in BIG BOLD letters:

YOU CAN’T BEAT OUR MEAT!

That became grist for the jocular, as the phrase is slightly scatological… meaning “to play with our (male) genitalia”. The poor guys didn’t realise that and became the laughing-stock of the town. I can assure you that I’m WRITING now and not PEEING (I know what syllable to stress)…

BMD

Sunday, 17 December 2017

From the Russian Web… РУССКАЯ ЦИТАТА ДНЯ “Сделайте сегодня разгрузочный день. Не грузите себя!” RUSSIAN QUOTE OF THE DAY “Make Today an Unloading Day. Don’t Stuff Yourself!”

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An “unloading day”* is a day when we rest and do nothing. It’s also when we don’t eat heavy and greasy food, such as fat meat, candies, pies, and cakes.

  • Literal translation of разгрузочный день… no equivalent in formal or colloquial English

Rina Zenyuk is an architect in Minsk who has the avocation of doing “blue cat” pictures…

BMD

Sunday, 7 August 2016

7 August 2016. Adventures in Translation Land… Y’all Come and Be Welcome!

00 russia ukha fish soup 070816

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Literally, “Милости прошу к нашему шалашу!” means “Ask grace upon our humble hut”, or more idiomatically, “Welcome to our humble abode!” This is idiomatic colloquial Russian at its best. It’s always informal and jocular, usually used as a cheerful invitation to share a meal. In English, the direct equivalents would be “Y’all come and be welcome”, “The door’s open wide, do step inside”, and “Sit a spell and take a load off your feet”. Translation is an art, not a science… it’s NEVER boring…

One last thing… the image is a pot of Ukha… the famous Russian fish soup, best made with freshly-caught fish from one’s own hand over a fire at camp at the lakeside in the shade…

BMD

Saturday, 9 July 2016

9 July 2016. Further Adventures in Translation Land

00 putin russia soda 070716

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The literal translation of Не лей колу в рот! Выпей бабушкин компот! is “Don’t put cola in your mouth! Drink Grandma’s Compote!” is just jangly and no damned good as a catchy jingle (as it is in Russian). Therefore, my Englishing of this sentiment is:

Don’t drink cola; it’s bad.

It just drags you down!

Drink Baba’s Kompot, it’s cool.

You can beat the whole town!

That, I think, expresses exactly what the original poster had in mind. THAT’S what translation is all about… getting the essential idea from one language into another… yes, sometimes things do “get lost in translation”, and the brevity of this was one such…

BMD

Update 22.15 9 July 2016:

A friend sent me the following:

Don’t drink cola; it just drags you down!

Drink Baba’s Kompot; it’s the best in town!

Why didn’t I think of that one? God has blessed me with friends, not with money… which makes me very rich, indeed…

BMD

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