Russian Translation and Cultural Approach

Why is it difficult to translate Russian language?

Many people believe that Russian translation is an easy thing and all you have to do is to change words from the Russian text into the equivalent words of the English text. However, this is not true since some phrases, if translated literally, would make no sense. Russian translation is a rather complicated process, that’s why it should be performed by experienced native speaking translators.

Russian language is spoken in Russia and in most of the other Former Soviet Union countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan etc.). Total speakers of Russian are estimated to about 285 million people, the majority living in Eastern Europe and Asia. This factor makes it one of the international languages worthwhile translating products in.

Russian translators should understand the terms and phrases which are appropriate for certain translation situations and people. The other main aspect for an English Russian translator is to understand the Russian way of thinking. Russian as well as every other language reflects the world view of the people, their behavior, stereotypes. So, you can't just learn Russian language, and understand the culture. You need to live in Russia in order to "feel" the Russian language.

Every nation has a lot of concepts and key-words to express them. For example, concepts for English culture are "sense of humor," "gentleman," "freedom," "home." For the Russian culture they are "soul," "heart," etc.

So, a professional Russian Translator has to penetrate into the Russian or English language and use those key words. This way the Russian translation will be an adequate translation for Russian or English speaking people.
Let’s point out the essential translation tips:

- Translate meaning not words!
- Rely on your wits and savvy - it can prove to be helpful when translating a difficult text.
- Ask a specialist or a native Russian speaker to proofread your translation so that it sounds natural. The way documents are organized in one country may not be understood in another.
- Never accept a project which you know is not within your abilities.
- Emulate the original style of the author, be it humorous, wordy, with colloquial or scientific language, etc.

Language nuances do matter when making a professional translation. Russian language is very rich in expressions and a good translator knows to take into consideration all this.


Inaugural translation rights fair kicks off in Ottawa (Canada)

Canada’s first-ever translation rights fair, “Expand Your Horizons,” kicks off in Ottawa Thursday night. Hosted by the Canadian Council for the Arts as part of the $5-million National Translation Program for Book Publishing, the conference and rights fair is meant to encourage a cultural exchange between publishers working in both official languages.
Representatives from nearly 70 publishing houses and agencies are expected to attend the two-day affair. “The enhanced Translation Program at the Canada Council is, in my opinion, a fabulous development allowing both English and French publishers to bring hitherto unknown stories to a much larger audience,” says Anvil Press publisher Brian Kaufman. Read More...


Best Translated Book awards longlist revealed

David Grossman, Per Petterson and Amelie Nothomb are the major names leading the fiction longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book awards, run from the University of Rochester in New York.
Award co-founder Chad Post said the longlist, which takes in authors from 19 countries writing in 12 languages, is “a testament to the number of high-quality works in translation that are making their way to American readers, thanks to a number of talented translators and exciting publishing houses”.
However, with notable exceptions – including Touch by Adania Shibli, translated from Arabic, and Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat, from Afrikaans – the list is dominated by books first written in European languages. Novelist Orhan Pamuk complained at this week’s Jaipur Literary Festival that writers in languages other than English were being marginalised, with festival director William Dalrymple observing that it was “particularly hard to get American publishing houses to take on translations”, especially those written outside the major European languages.
Almost all the books on the BTB list have come from small independent houses, such as Archipelago Books, Small Beer, New Directions, Bitter Lemon Press, and Graywolf. Read More...


Translation between the EU’s 23 official languages becomes more expensive

In the European Commission, the operating languages are English, French and German, but Commission officials will bump up against many of the other languages in the course of their daily work.
Using all those languages is a costly business. A ruling from one of the EU courts – about a machine translation service – has just made things even costlier, landing the Commission with a compensation bill of €12 million.
The Commission began in the 1970s to develop a machine translation service, known as Systran, that would help staff by translating text in a rough-and-ready fashion, for general purposes rather than for legal perfection.
Systran became a feature of office life in the Commission over the course of the next 30 years. In 1988, 4,000 pages of text were translated by the system. By 1995, the figure had risen to 160,000 pages a year. But after an adverse judgment from a European court last month, Commission officials have been ordered not to use Systran anymore.
The court said in a judgment on 16 December that the Commission had “unlawfully disclosed” the intellectual property of Systran, a French software company specialising in translation technology, when in 2003 it awarded a contract to develop the service to a different company. The court has ordered the Commission to pay €12m in compensation to Systran. The Commission is considering whether to appeal against the court’s judgment.
Analysing alternatives: A message posted on the translation department’s website says that the Commission is “analysing alternatives” to restore the service as soon as possible. Vassiliou’s spokesman said that the Commission was planning to develop a new system to replace Systran, either using in-house resources or an external supplier.
The Commission has not yet decided whether to appeal against the General Court’s decision. It has two months from the ruling to decide. The fine must be paid within three months of the verdict.
The European Commission has repeatedly stressed the important of a robust intellectual property protection regime as a way of ensuring that the EU’s innovative companies get their legitimate rewards for the products and services they develop for the global marketplace. It also wants to improve the business environment for small and medium-sized companies. One lesson of the Systran case appears to be that the Commission does not always follow the advice it gives to member states.


British businesses must invest in multiple language websites if they want to ride the wave of non-English searches

Firms are missing out on sales by failing to grasp the growth in the foreign language internet, a leading translation company has said.
Fierce competition for key English language advertising search terms and natural query results means that businesses should be smarter about how they make themselves known to overseas customers.
While up to 80pc of the web’s content is in English, the growth in number of searches is coming from those using foreign languages. Over half of all Google searches are now in a language other than English.
Searches in Arabic have jumped 2,502pc in the last decade, Russian by 1,826pc, Chinese by 1,277pc and Portuguese by 990pc, reflecting Brazil’s rise. These growth rates compare with a more pedestrian 281pc for English.
Investment bank JP Morgan predicts that US search growth will be 12pc this year but international queries up 19pc. It is forecasting that paid search revenues outside the US will rocket 25pc to $25.7bn this year. Read More...