Challenges of Translating from Russian

translating from russian

Translating between two languages presents its challenges. That is why even with technological advancements, purely machine translation can’t approach professional translation, especially for essential documents and communication. Translating from Russian into the English language is no exception. English translation of Russian words does not necessarily mean the context is interpreted correctly. So is translating from Russian to English. In this article, we will discuss six of the most interesting challenges of Russian-to-English translation and how to overcome these challenges.

Interesting Challenges in Russian Translation

There are myriad challenges in translating from Russian. Among most other languages, Russian is “built differently” from English. Aside from the primary difficulties in Muscovite Russian, there are further nuances when we go into regional differences. However, for most translation services dealing with how to translate Russian to English, here are six of the most interesting:

Russian Equivalent of English Tenses

In the English language, there are twelve tenses to express the exact time. On the other hand, the Russian language only has three tenses. The Russian language uses “aspect” to define exactly how the action is performed. In the simplest terms, the “aspect” describes if an action was completed, done for a specific purpose, repeated, and many more. Though subtle differences in “tenses” in the English sense can be translated using phrasal verbs, translators must select from many subtleties to pinpoint the exact meaning to preserve the context.

Word Order in Russian is Very Different

One of the most striking differences between English and Russian is word order. Emphasis is an important nuance that differentiates the Russian language from other languages. However, both English and Russian have the same basic word order, subject-verb-object. But in Russian, the emphasis can be changed from being a neutral statement by changing the word order. For instance, the statement “Он любит её” (“he loves her”), which is neutral, is different from the statement “Её он любит/Он её любит,” (closest English equivalent: It is she that he loves), which is no longer neutral where the emphasis becomes “she.”

The Russian Language Has More Dimunitives than English

Another nuance that sets the Russian language apart from most other languages is its number of nuances. If you read Dostoevsky or Tolstoi, or even in daily conversations, the number of diminutives can be overwhelming for English speakers trying to learn Russian. Certain diminutives are easy to translate, specifically people’s names in a neutral sense. However, when taking levels of affection or treatment of a specific person into consideration, the English translation might sound awkward as a result. For instance, a person referring to a certain Sasha might call him or her “little Sasha,” while another might refer to him or her as “Sasha-Pie.” In this case, each instance should be taken into context.

The Russian Language Has Further Degrees of Superlatives

Professional translators should approach superlatives with the most caution because the Russian grammatical form differs from the English language in this aspect, leading to some mistranslations or untrue statements regarding the degree of the subject’s scale. In English, what passes as “est” typically refers to the “most” of something. However, in Russian, there are two types of superlatives, namely “soft” and “hard.” “Hard” superlatives can directly translate to the English equivalent of superlatives. On the other hand, “soft” superlatives in Russian have many forms. For instance, some forms may mean being amongst the most or being among the most impressive.

Nothing vs. Nothing: Ничего и нечего

Though the difference between the two words is one letter, in English, they directly translate into “nothing.” In the simplest terms, “нечего” means the absence of something, while “ничего” typically refers to the absence of something specific. However, there are subtle differences across different situations to get the exact context during translations.

Russian Has Different Punctuation Rules

The rules of punctuation in Russian are different from English. For instance, the placement of commas is essential in the Russian language, with specific rules for its use and what situation. In English, the comma between the subordinate and the dominant parts of the sentence does not necessarily require a comma. Quotation marks in Russian are also used differently than in English. In Russian, formal names of businesses and organizations are enclosed in quotation marks, while in English, they are not. For professional translators, it is important that they need to keep in mind translating punctuation as well as the words.

How to Overcome These Obstacles and Challenges?

Professional translators should follow specific basic rules to avoid translation problems and achieve translation from Russian while preserving the context:

  • Translate the meaning, not the words.
  • Ask the assistance of a native speaker to proofread your translation.
  • Rely on your savvy and wit, especially when translating works of literature.
  • Immerse yourself in Russian culture to develop your skills properly.
  • Call AFLS to ensure you can translate from Russian to English as accurately as possible.

Conclusion: Overcoming Translation from the Russian Language is Possible and Fun

As businesses explore a wider market, translating from Russian to Russian is an issue businesses can’t ignore. Like the Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese languages, Russian is a widely-spoken language in regions with promising growth. By understanding these nuances in the Russian language, translators can achieve the accuracy of professional translators. However, to ensure accuracy, especially when translating key documents, you need reliable help with decades of experience accurately translating from Russian. We provide various services that can meet and exceed your expectations in translating from Russian through Remote InterpretingIn-person interpretingOn-site interpretingCertified document translation, and book translation, among others. For more details, call us at (844) 813-4242.

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