5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When You Translate Russian
Knowing how to translate Russian accurately is challenging. The Russian language differs immensely from English in almost every area, including its alphabet, vocabulary, and grammar. These discrepancies make it hard to translate Russian to English or vice versa. Even companies offering professional Russian translation services can produce substandard translations if not properly skilled.
Poorly translated materials are, at best, frustrating to read or listen to. At worst, these translation mistakes could reflect sloppiness or lack of respect for the audience, make the business lose credibility, or give the reader an unreliable information source. This can lead to confusion, destroyed brand reputations, legal disputes, or health consequences.
In this article, we discuss the top five common Russian translation mistakes. We also give you tips on how to avoid these common errors next time you translate Russian documents.
1. Translating Disregarding Russian Context
Russian has about 200,000 words compared to an astounding 1,000,000 words in English. When you translate Russian, understanding context is therefore crucial. Many Russian words have multiple meanings when used in different contexts, and understanding these intricacies is critical in avoiding mistranslation. Choose the wrong context, and your translation won’t sound right.
For example, the Russian word “Вариант” can be translated into the English language as both “option” and “variant.” Translators will have to choose the most appropriate word that fits the context. A sentence such as “I have many variants for Russian translation services providers” doesn’t sound right – the right word in this context is “options.”
There are a lot of other words like this in Russian, and the way you use them depends on the context of the sentence. When you translate Russian, pay attention to the context rather than the individual words to make sure the correct version is chosen.
2. Overlooking Word Endings
The Russian language is infamous for its six cases: nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, prepositional, and instrumental. As all good Russian translation services providers know, these cases show the function of a noun in the sentence. Each case is reflected by changing the specific word endings. As a result, Russian nouns have many variations.
To make matters worse, these cases allow a more flexible sentence structure than in English. Unlike the English language, which often follows the (subject + verb + object) structure, Russian words can be placed in different orders to form a sentence. Here is an example that translates to “I like singing in the bathroom”:
- “Я люблю петь в ванной”
- “Люблю я петь в ванной”
- “В ванной петь люблю я”
- “Я петь в ванной люблю”
- “Петь люблю я в ванной”
These examples show that you can essentially put the words in almost any order and not be grammatically incorrect. However, this flexibility offered by Russian words is a mixed blessing. When you translate Russian, it is vital to ensure each noun ending is chosen correctly since the meaning of the entire sentence could change!
3. Translating Word for Word
We have just explained how the Russian language has a flexible sentence structure; each variation might change the tone, style, and tone. Therefore, translating word-for-word in the exact order is a rookie mistake, and it’s a dead giveaway that the translators don’t have an idea of what they are doing. The text won’t sound fluent or natural.
This mistake is common when using Russian translation services from computer tools like Google Translate. Machines cannot conjugate sentences correctly when they translate Russian, only rendering one word at a time. To avoid this issue, work with professional human translators. Qualified linguists learn the best processes to avoid these errors as part of their training.
4. Using Incorrect Words
Another common mistake when people translate Russian is to misuse vocabulary. Certain words cannot be translated from Russian to English, which makes it difficult to convey the same message or specific feelings across multiple languages.
For instance, there is no English equivalent for the Russian word “Tosca.” This word expresses a negative feeling best translated to “depression” or “melancholy.” However, these words don’t communicate the depth of hunger or unhappiness you can feel for no reason, which is conversed through the word “Tosca”. There is no true English equivalent.
The same thing can also be said of translating English to Russian. For instance, you cannot translate “Holy Grail” into Russian. It is better to leave the original term rather than create a confusing translated equivalent. This is especially important for a legal translation where clarity is imperative; professional Russian translation services are essential to avoid miscommunication and legal disputes.
5. “Masculine” and “Feminine” Words
The English language is simple because all nouns are gender-neutral, except for those that refer to an animal with a specific gender, like a buck and a doe. However, all Russian nouns are one of three genders – masculine, feminine, or neuter.
Mistakes often arise if the agency offering Russian translation services neglects to choose suitable articles for every noun. In some cases, the gender of a noun in the Russian language is directly related to the gender of the thing you are referring to–these are easy to get right. But in other cases, the correct article is not as obvious.
An English speaker trying to translate Russian text will struggle to choose the correct article. For instance, a simple word such as a cat can be translated as кот (Masculine) and кошка (Feminine) in Russian. Although your text will still be understandable by Russian speakers, it won’t sound professional or as trustworthy as a grammatically correct piece of content.
Trust us to Translate your Russian Content
The Russian language is highly complex. To translate Russian accurately and professionally requires in-depth knowledge, or any of these five common mistakes might creep in! Even speaking Russian and understanding the source language is not enough to translate sensitive documents.
The only way to avoid ruining your Russian translations is by hiring a reputable Russian translation services provider, such as Renaissance Translations. To guarantee that a professional translator is always available when needed, we have pooled the talents of native translators and thousands of professional linguists internationally.
All our Russian translators hold translation degrees and use the best methods to avoid errors. We are also members of the Asociation of Translation Companies in England as well as SDL LSP Partner Programme. You are promised accurate, professional translations every time. Please contact our team or request a quote online if you want to discuss your project and let us translate Russian on your behalf.