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Перевести на русский Перевести на русский

Word's worth

Published: February 6, 2009 (Issue # 1446)


Hey, all you translators out there — ever notice that the people writing about translation are mostly people who have never translated a word in their lives?

I can’t figure it out. A dance critic may never have danced Giselle, but he knows something about the art of dance.

Translation theorists don’t seem to have ever tried rendering a text into another language. In fact, they might tell you — in the words of one memorable theorist — “the text doesn’t exist at all.” Try telling that to your client.

Translation theory gets screwy on the subject of “translatable” and “untranslatable” words. Since there are no exact equivalencies between languages, nothing is really translatable.

And since it’s all relative anyway, nothing is really untranslatable. Oh, right. Tell that to a translator who has spent the afternoon on one word that defies translation.

Take, for example, the lovely word откос. If you are buying new windows for your Russian apartment, you will be offered the service of отделка откосов — finishing work on the something-or-others. You flip open your dictionary and find that откос is a slope, which doesn’t fit. Then you open specialized dictionaries and find jamb and reveal.

Then you open your English architectural dictionaries and read definitions like “the outer side of a window frame.”

Then you smoke three cigarettes trying to envision the outer side of a window frame.

By now you have figured out that in deep-set Russian windows, откос is the inner wall stretching vertically from the sill to the top of the window enclosure and horizontally from the window to the room wall.

You have also realized that the windows in your U.S. home don’t have any откос because the walls are a measly five centimeters thick and the windows are set flush into them.

In desperation, you start calling English-speaking friends who might know something about architecture.

By this time the sun has set, you’re not taking calls from your client, and it’s time for another cigarette run (and since it’s after 5 p.m., make that a cigarette and booze run). Finally, you decide that whatever an English-speaking architect would call откос, a nonspecialist would call it the “inner wall of a recessed window.”

You hate it, but you have just calculated that, due to one word, you are now earning 14 cents an hour for this translation. You type it in, attach the translation to an e-mail, and hit “send.”

And then you curse translation theorists down to the 12th generation.

Then you fantasize about making one of those theorists translate your window company text.

— Michele A. Berdy





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Jan. 25


Get out your running shoes for the 46th International Road of Life Marathon. Dedicated to the end of the blockade, three runs are offered — 5, 21 and 42 kilometer runs — starting in different places outside the city. Busses leave from 13/1 Arsenalnaya Naberezhny at 8 a.m. but check complete details and registration fees on www.newrunners.ru/race/doroga-zhizni-2015



If you are planning a wedding, head over to the Azimut Hotel, 43/1 Lermontovsky Prospekt from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day includes live music, free dance classes and vendors selling wedding dresses, accessories, cakes and services to help make your special day perfect. Admission is free.



Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.







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