Power of a good story, power of a good copy

One of the unexpected side effects of my moving to the US has been that Stephen King’s books started making much more sense. Most of the cultural information there is implicit, and is not easily transferable without disrupting the flow of narrative, so, understandably, sometimes the stories translated into Russian feel somewhat abstract. And so, as I’ve started regularly adding his books to my reading list, I came to encounter the mystery Russian phrases in 11/22/63.

Most of the issues are not something even the briefest check by a native speaker could not fix, for instance, agreement in gender or an unnatural turn of phrase. My favorite (because it took me a while to figure out what was so strange about it) was a swearword in Russian, were Cyrillic characters were kept “as is”, so that English speakers, blissfully unaware of differences between Latin and Cyrillic, would get a very interesting notion of how this word is supposed to be pronounced.

Of course, it would be nice if these issues were taken care of during editing process. Still, they will not dissuade me from reading further books by King: as annoying to a Russian-speaker as they are, these linguistic glitches do not affect the main purpose of the book – to tell a good story.

‘Speaking Russian’ to customers won’t be enough, you have to speak good Russian

However, if the main purpose of the text is to persuade and convince, then readers will be less tolerant of clunky/hard to comprehend/badly written texts and will choose to forgo the painful reading experience. In other words, “speaking Russian” to customers won’t be enough, it’ll have to be in good Russian.

In the following articles I will present examples of (sometimes easily avoidable) issues in translation into Russian and suggestions on how to overcome them.

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Ekaterina Howard, Pinwheel Translations

English to Russian and German to Russian translator working with business, marketing and real estate materials. ATA and CATI member.