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Russian to English (Dostoevsky): Just need a shoulder to cry on...
Thread poster: Elaine Freeland
Elaine Freeland
Local time: 13:02
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 25, 2003

... because I came across an English translation of Dostoevsky\'s Poor Folk on the Net and planned to have a ball reading parallel texts with a cup of tea... you know. Leaving out the translator\'s name (it\'s _his_ translation of it all over the Net on all library sites), on average every 10th-15th sentence of his version totally contradicts Dostoevsky\'s text!



Just one example so you know what I mean:



Russian (that\'s Dostoevsky) -- about the flowers the heroine received, Chapter 2:



Ôåäîðà íå íàðàäóåòñÿ; ó íàñ òåïåðü ñëîâíî ðàé â êîìíàòå, - ÷èñòî, ñâåòëî!



(Meaning that the heroine\'s servant Thedora is also overjoyed beyond measure about having the flowers in the room)



Translation:



Unfortunately, Thedora, who, with her sweeping and polishing, makes a perfect sanctuary of my room, is not over pleased at the arrangement.



And that\'s not just one case, but I\'ve lost count of crass misreadings like this one! Anybody out here to protect poor bugger Dostoevsky?



In fact, all English translations of the Russian literature I ever laid my hands on contained at the very least one or two mistakes of the above kind. The funniest one I\'ll never forget:



In a short story published by Penguin, the hero says to the heroine:



\"Âîçüìè òàì, íà ñòîëå, ñîãðååøüñÿ.\" -- sort of, \"_It\'s_ on the table, help yourself, you need to get warm.\"



Every native Russian speaker knows that the hero can speak so about only one thing -- a vodka bottle! Especially as the whole story was about his adventures with that very vodka bottle. The translator stayed on the safe side, tho\'. His version read:



\"The dinner\'s on the table, help yourself.\"



G-r-r-r!!! Don\'t those \"translators\" have peer evaluation or consultants or whoever? Penguin can\'t afford one? Dostoevsky doesn\'t deserve one?



Sorry... I already feel a bit better...



[ This Message was edited byn2003-01-25 23:20]



[ This Message was edited byn2003-01-25 23:24]

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-26 08:54]


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Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 19:02
English
+ ...
A friend suffered worse... Jan 26, 2003


Son of a leading writer, he became better in French than his writer. He translated most of the 20th century\'s big names in French until one day he had the misfortune to tell his publisher that his father has mistranslated every 18th aand 19th century French classic he had ever touched. The result, he added, was beautiful to read, but clearly wasn\'t Hugo, Sévigné, Rousseau and whoever.

He then found himself up to ears in emotionally painful retranslations of these works; the experience took him to the verge of insanity.

However he is much better now.





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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:02
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Oh dear... Jan 26, 2003

I once read an allegedly authoritative translation of a Chekhov play in which \"Äîðîãîé ìîé\" (my dear fellow, my dear chap)- one man speaking to another - was consistently translated as \"My dear\". If one man addresses another in English in this way it says something about the sexual orientation of at least one of them which Chekhov certainly did not intend.

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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:02
English to German
+ ...
Ýòî ïîçîð, âîîáùå! Jan 26, 2003

Ëàäíî òàì, â îäíîì-äâóõ ìåñòàõ. Íî ýòî æå èçâðàùàåò áóêâàëüíî âóñü ñìûñë. Ñòîèëî áû ñîîáùèòü òåì ëáäÿì, êîòîðûå ðàçìåñòèëè òàêóþ õðåí... íà ñâîåì ñàéòå. Õîòü ïðîñâåòèòå èõ...

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zmejka  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:02
Russian to English
+ ...
where did you find this masterpiece?... Mar 11, 2003

Elaine, was it on a site or in a book or where where where? %))

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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:02
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
To Jack Mar 14, 2003

I wouldn\'t agree with you on this Jack. In a modern context that might indeed sound odd in English, but not necessarily in a 19th century work. If you\'ve read Oliver Twist, for example, Fagin refers to Oliver and indeed to Bill Sykes as \'My dear\'. If Bill had taken this as a come-on I suspect Fagin would have been in trouble.





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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:02
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Fagin was a special case Mar 14, 2003

...a creepy, slimy sort of underworld low-life who had his own peculiar speech characteristics. I don\'t think you would find people of comparable social class to those in the Chekhov play addressing each other in this way (except perhaps Oscar Wilde and Boysie).

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