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.. . . Terms for Describing Terrorism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
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105062, ,
. , . 38
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e-mail: rvalent@online.ru . . .
www.rvalent.ru
ISBN 5-93439-129-1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
03.02.04
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?
I have always been fascinated by the process of communication, by how
thoughts, ideas and images in one language can be recreated in another tongue. That
process does not merely involve the selection of appropriate lexical and
semantic units, but requires a shift into another culture, another way of
perceiving the world. Only through an understanding of the culture in which a
language is embedded can the interpreter/translator successfully convey the full
meaning of a foreign linguistic/cultural system.
Growing up in America a quadrilingual household my parents spoke their
native Russian, as well as French, German and English probably fated me to be an
interpreter. My parents were from a generation of Russian intellectuals who thought
that any child who did not speak four languages fluently by the age of
four was probably mentally retarded. They didnt give me much choice as far as
language learning was concerned! I very early fell in love with Russian and
French literature, and was intrigued by translation and interpretation
problems. Extensive contacts with Russians in the US and my own trips to Russia

reinforced my interest in language and interpretation. Interpretation provides


instant gratification: you immediately see the result of your work, the
communication and understanding you provide people who otherwise would fail to
understand each other. And you understand how much good a talented interpreter can
do, how greatly he can help people understand each other, and how much damage a
poor interpreter can inflict.
?
My more than twenty years as a staff interpreter at the United Nations,
working in the English booth from Russian and French, in addition to my previous
work for the US Department of State and in the private sector provided me with a
unique opportunity to work for international understanding and to be directly involved
in international communication. It allowed me to deepen my understanding and
knowledge of Russian, French, of the languages and cultures. Contacts with my
colleagues at the United Nations have been deeply gratifying. Work as an interpreter
has expanded my intellectual and cultural horizons, as I moved from a more narrowly
academic focus to explore Russian-American relations in the context of Russian-
American marriages and the impact of culture on language. My background in teaching
Russian and my involvement with the United Nations interpreter training program
prompted me to write a textbook, praktikum and other materials on issues of Russian-
English interpretation, and other works. If it were not for my career as an interpreter
and my interest in Russia I would never have met the wonderful people at RValent and
the many outstanding Russian interpreters and translators who have become my friends
and colleagues. And United Nations conferences have provided an opportunity to be a
direct participant in negotiations and to travel all over the globe.
?
I gave up a promising career in academics to become an interpreter. With
a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures, and a dissertation on Sergei
Esenin, I was sure that I was destined to teach Russian language and literature,
and I taught at several American universities, including Columbia University,
for nearly ten years. While I very much enjoyed teaching, I have no regrets
about leaving the rather narrow confines of academics for interpretation, which
has proved to be far more rewarding in all respects.
?
Life. An interpreter learns from dozens, from hundreds of colleagues,
speeches, books, contacts. It would be absolutely unfair and wrong to single out any
one of the many talented individuals to whom I owe so much.
.
In 2000 at the Millennium session of the UN General Assembly I was given only
the English but not the Russian text of President Putins speech. That English text
was a horrendous translation, stuffed with lexical and grammatical errors. What was
I to do? Read that out? And do an enormous disservice to all those in the hall?
I decided to drop the hopeless text and did the speech by listening carefully and
rendering it into grammatical, literate and idiomatic English.


.
When I was just beginning my career as an interpreter, back in the 1970s, I was
working at a conference of Russian and American women. The American delegate, a
radical feminist, announced that in her country there had been great progress: women
were now allowed to work at construction sites, in mines, operate heavy machinery, etc.
The Russian delegate immediately responded that there must have been a mistake in
the interpretation, for in her country there had also been great progress: such heavy
work by women had just been prohibited by law. Two very different definitions of
progress!
,
I dont believe in nastolnye knigi. One never has enough time to read all the
interesting books and posobiia which would make one a better interpreter and a better
human being. I do, however, think that every interpreter should have a solid
background in the classics of world literature Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare,
Dante, Goethe, Flaubert, Balzac, the Greek and Roman classics, and, of course, the
Bible, which is the basis of Judeo-Christian civilization and which should be required
reading for all interpreters and translators.
, .
a) The OED (Oxford English Dictionary)
b) Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary
c) BTC (Bolshoi Tolkovyi Slovar Russkogo Iazyka (Sankt Peterburg: Norint, 1998)
d) The Russian-English/English-Russian Oxford Dictionary
e) Larousse Dictionnaire General Anglais-Francais/Francais-Anglais

I hope you realize and enjoy the fact that being an interpreter is a life-long
learning experience which doesnt end when you finish your schooling it only starts
then.
I hope you keep an open mind, an open heart, and keep asking questions. What does
this word or expression really mean? How do we say this in my culture? What does it
mean and how is it expressed in another culture? I hope you keep constantly reading in
all of your working languages. I hope you keep up with current events, news, new
discoveries in science and technology, new developments in the arts, new trends in
literature. I hope you are continually in contact with native speakers of all your
working languages.
I hope you travel to the countries where your working languages are spoken, I hope
you enjoy helping people communicate and understand each other, and that this is as
important to you as the material rewards of this profession. I hope you share your
experience and pass it on to others, so that more and more talented people join this
profession.
I hope you always have as much fun as Im having, and that you never lose a sense
of humor!

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purpose under the heaven. A time to be
born, and a time to die; <> a time to cast .
away stones, and a time to gather stones -
together) , , 1987
the forbidden fruit, a fly in the ointment , -
at the eleventh hour -
, , .. -
. - : All the usual suspects are here.
: To be or not to be: that is the question ,
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse
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sleeve at one fell swoop - ,
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, a plague on both your : John Reid, the party chairman,
houses, brave new world ( today dismissed the mavericks like Mr.
) Dalyell as the usual suspects. ,
there is a method in the madness. - , -
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- Round up the usual suspects.
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Westword: Eugene Valershteyns newer is no smoke without fire, -
Russian Cafe in Littleton is still going strong. -
<> we really love this spot for its .
comprehensive list of chilled vodkas
available by the shot. In addition to all of -
the usual high-octane suspects, both foreign . A rising tide lifts all
and domestic, the Russian Cafe also stocks the boats. , ,
an impressive spread of artisan vodkas in .
flavors like black currant, lemon, pepper , , -
and cranberry. , , - .
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: There are prime suspects among the (
usual suspects, but I will stick my neck out -
now. ( , )
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22

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() ? the Dismal Science by Charles J. Wheelan.
. .
- (
: [Russia is] a riddle -
wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma ).
, -
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If you cant stand the heat, get out of , .
the kitchen? manifest
, - destiny,
, - (...A country
, manifestly called by the Almighty to a destiny
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, . - pride, might have envied , -
: ). -
. - . .. Americana
If it aint broke, dont fix it ( , ,
). (1845 .)
- ..
. - . The
, - , - American Heritage Dictionary: 1. A policy of
. imperialistic expansion defended as necessary
- or benevolent. 2. often Manifest Destiny The
, , , - 19th-century doctrine that the United States
. , had the right and duty to expand throughout
, the dismal science. - the North American continent. ..
economics -
(, -, ,
political economy) .
(homas Carlyle). - , -
. Columbia ,
Encyclopedia
( - (, ,
): One of the most influential - the Cuban missile crisis):
writers of the 19th cent. was Thomas Were eyeball to eyeball, and I think the
Malthus, whose predictions that population other fellow just blinked. ,
growth would always tend to outstrip
advances in the means of subsistence earned , -
for economics the title the dismal science. , -
, .
. :
, , , , ,
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: Naked Economics: Undressing

23

.

, , - wag the dog . --


.., (, -
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.
, - . .
. - , wag the dog -
The Atlantic: ...these statements also .
represent <...> the same contempt for the -
decent opinion of mankind that have ,
marked the Administrations drive for war. -
decent opinion? - ,
, - -
. : Most Americans, even Republicans,
( , - have a more tolerant and happy vision of the
) - country than Mr. Scalia and other nattering
: When in the nabobs of negativism.
Course of human events, it becomes , , -
necessary for one people to dissolve the -
political bands which have connected them ( ),
with another, and to assume among the , -
powers of the earth, the separate and equal - (
station to which the Laws of Nature and of
Natures God entitle them, a decent respect ) .
to the opinions of mankind requires that they (
should declare the causes which impel them ) . -
to the separation. - The Austin Review: The Nattering
Nabobs of Nanotech Negativism.
: These networks, like radio, have
. gone the way of talk to attract more viewers.
, : But it is mostly weightless recycled opinion.
After a while, these nattering nabobs of
, - negativism sound like radio static (The Salt
. Lake Tribune). -
, -
, , -
(, , ,
..). - . , -
, , , --
, , -
: The 1997 movie Wag the Dog -
had quite a plot. Although the movies title --.
has entered the language, I dont know how
many people have watched it lately. Read -
the screenplay. If you dont think it bears a a fine mess
resemblance to recent events, youre in ( another fine mess), -
denial. , , - ,

24

.
,
, -
(, , ).
). - You made a fine mess of my watch ( -
(, / -
): !) , -
Our dovish left will say, with Oliver Hardy, , ,
a fine mess youve got us into as if we ( ).
created Saddams threat, or made our C.I.A. -
dance to some oily imperialist tune, or would : //-
have been better off with our head in the (- ).
sand. Most Americans, I think, will move ,
past these unending recriminations, reject ( , -
defeatism and support leaders determined to ..)
win the final Iraq war. , ,
-
( , ,
!) - .
(of the to protest too
Laurel and Hardy pair). , much
. -
. MSNBC -
Entertainment : Sound added even -
more ingredients to Hardys comic repertoire, , , -
not the least of which were such catch- , : If there was one
phrases as Why dont you do something to consistent theme to 90 percent of the outrage
help me? and Heres another nice mess over a mini-series that no one outside CBS
youve gotten me into. (including me) has seen, it was focused on a
a fine mess. - single line about AIDS attributed to Ronald
, , - Reagan: They that live in sin shall die in
. sin. The screenwriter of The Reagans
1986 . A Fine Mess. (- admitted to The New York Times that she had
: Spence and Dennis are a couple of no source for the line and it was cut. Yet even
losers who work odd jobs, while awaiting after it was cut, those on the attack kept
their big break. One day, Spence overhears harping on it more than any other element in
some mobsters planning to dope a horse at the unseen film. Why? It was the syndrome of
the racetrack. Sure-fire way to make some protesting too much, methinks. Theres no
dough, right? Wrong! Because the gangsters evidence to suggest that Reagan was a bigot,
find out that Spence knows their secret but even so, he did say things similar to that
and theyll do anything to shut him up.) jettisoned sentence. -
, - methinks.
. , -
, GoEnglish.com: To
, Another Fine protest too much is to insist so strongly about
Mess (, something not being true that people begin to
1953 , - suspect maybe it is true. Example: You do like
that girl, dont you? Answer: No! I dont!

25

.

Not at all! Why do you think so? Reply: You ,


protest too much. Protest too much comes
from Hamlet by William Shakespeare; the . -
Queen speaking: The lady doth protest too . ,
much, methinks. (Note: people do not usually -
use the word methinks when they are [] .
speaking English today.) To protest too
much is to insist so passionately about ( -
something not being true that people suspect , . ).
the opposite of what you are saying. Example: ,
Do you think he is telling the truth? Answer: -
I think he protests too much. ,
: To protest too . -
much, which is what Hamlets mother describes
the remarriage-forswearing player Queen as -
doing, is to vociferously insist on the opposite of .
what is actually true (Merriam Websters Word ? ,
for the Wise). , - .
: freeze (up) , -
- (- .
). , to chill Russia? Russia needs to
- be chilled (a bit)? To give Russia a chill? -
, , , - ,
to chill (to chill out , -
, , ) .
. - -
- (
: protest, - )

, , - -
: : -
Protesting Too Much. Anti-globalization fizzles , -
in D.C. (theamericanscene.com) Protesting too ,
much. The anti-war camp is wrong. Its not the , , -
supporters, but the radical opponents of this , -
war who are shameless opportunists, writes , ,
Sin Simon MP (The Guardian). -
, - , -
. - . -
, !..
, , ...to rein in the Russia of
: - thieves, loafers and bullies.
, - :
, there are signs that the actions of this team
, - could have a chilling effect on the other
. Russia... , -

26

.
, , .
, -
, - ,
, - . -
- . : -
. -

- ,
:
, , -
- .. :
, , ,
. .
- , , - -
, .
-
. -
dangerous , -
connections dangerous . ,
liaisons (, -
. ,
Dangerous Acquaintances, - - -
liaisons). .

-
. .
,
, ,
-
.

-
,
.

-
. -
, -
. , .- ,
. , -
.
, - .
, - (.. )
, .

27

,

.

2003 :
, Homo proponit, sed Deus desponit.
--, , - :
, - -
: , -
.
, , XIX . . -
:
. -
:
.
. , ? ? . -
, -, , -
. (1912 .): , , -
-, ,
: ,
, -
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, , , -
:
, , -
. 1998 . , : -
, -
, , .
, :
: : , ,
, . 1918 .
- V , -
(Lhomme ? ( -
propose, Dieu dispose), (Man : ,
proposes but God disposes), ).
(Luomo propone, e Dio dispone) - -
. : -
- , , -
XIV-XV . - . (

28

.
:
..
7 1998 .) ( , 7 1907 .): -
, ,
. ,
,
. : , , -
-
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, - -
.
, , ,
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?
( , :
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, VII, 6, 19)? ( . (
, 5, 4)? ,
( , :
- ,
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: : ! Power tends to corrupt and absolute
, power corrupts absolutely.) , -
- , -
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.
-
( - : ,
2002 . - . , -
.. XIX . -
, . -
).
- .. .
, - , -
. ,
- .
- .
. . (1834- -
1902): The ship exists for the sake of the .. -
passengers -
. -
: - (1830),
.
, .. .

29

, :
.

, : ,
, , : ,
, ; -
.
, , - .)
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; .
, .
- ( . )
, , 1804-1807,
, : XVIII .
( - ,
). ,
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. . (

: - -
XVIII ., .)
, . .
(, - : !
) -
. . , ,
: Dinach tait ma tante, mais -
la vrit est ma soeur. (Sterne). . :

.
, ,
(I, 21): Amicus Plato, my father would say, ,
construing the words to my uncle Toby, as he ;
went along, Amicus Plato; that is, DINAH was , ,
my aunt; sed magis amica veritas but , ,
TRUTH is my sister. . - ,
: Amicus Plato, -
, , ;
, , amicus Plato ,
( ), sed , ,
maigs amica veritas (
). .
,
. ( :
Amicus Plato sed magis amica .
veritas ,
-
-
,
-

30


.
(. ., 2001), -
- . -
- (proper_names@yahoo.com), , , -
- .
. - -
, ,
. ,
, - (
, ). ,
-
. - ,
-
. -, .
-
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- :
. (New Scientist)
- Guy Poppy
, - David de Pomerai. ,
- ? -
.
( ,
? , -
,
5 : )?
, - -
, , Poppy de Pomerai
, . -
- : , , Poppy
- , Pomerai -
. , .
I liked it immensely. , - ,
, ,
- - ()
. ,

31

, - : . . Ulrike.
.

- , ?
. - ?
- ,
, - . :
, , ?
, - Ulrike
. , -
: , - . (
- Ulrich ).

- : ,
Chitikov, Shitikov
. Kessar (Alexopoulos)
, (
, - ,
, . ,

. Caesar) (
,
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?
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, -
: .
, ,
Ulrike Lohman ,
( , ?). -
.... , -
Ulrica (), ,
, - , -
, , .

32

Hes a little Scotsman, feisty, round

.
-
as a ball, with short legs. Its impossible ,
to imagine him in the Navy, though he -
was. Of course, he was thinner then. In -
those days he looked like Cagney; today . ,
he looks like Humpty Dumpty. His waist -
size, as my mother complains to anyone -
who will listen, is almost the same as his ,
height. He doesnt buy new clothes often. ,
: , -

... ,
-
. , (James Cagney) -

, -
; -
-
.
.
?
, , ,
? .
.
.
:
-
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, - (Humpty Dumpty)
,
: -
, Cinema Paradiso
.
-
- . - -
, : .
, , -
... - . -
, - . ,
.
( ),
, , , -

. .

.

33

While he stood there ten stories , ,


.

above the Brooklyn alley, the towers . ...


distant absence seemed a light , ,
throwing a shadow behind him, a weak , ,
shadow, but inextricable from his .
presencethe price, it could be said, of kisses. -
his living presence .
Amazing, his daughter said, , ,
seeking to read his thoughts, how the ,
not-thereness remains so haunting. .
Sometimes you still see them in old ads,
where the admen havent noticed or Cinema Paradiso. , -
taken the trouble to airbrush them out , ,
of the background, and its a thrill. It
feels illicit. A lot of these yuppie movies .
and TV serials have a glimpse of the , -
towers, from SoHo or the Staten Island
ferry or wherever, and now theyve -
been collected on a tape, like the kisses
in Cinema Paradiso. Theyve become a .
kind of cult. ,
,
(Cinema Paradiso, .
1988 ), , :
. - , -,
, - .
( ) , -
11 , ,

, , - - (World Trade Center).
. flashbacks, - -
Cinema Paradiso. Most ,
of Cinema Paradiso is told through Cinema Paradiso -
flashbacks, , -
. .
, , , , -
, , flashbacks (

,
( ) ) -
. - .
, ,
, ,
, Cinema Paradiso - -
. Cinema Paradiso, ,

34

.
, - -
. (- ,
) - - ,
. ,
, . :
.
. , , -
. -, . ?
- ,
, - : ?
- , 11 -
2001 -
. ,
P.s. - .
, WTC - , .
-- :
, , , -
: ! -
! , , ,
World Trade Center, ?
.
- (
- , , ), -
- ,
. - - -
- Americana. (,
, -.
- ?)
(Chamber of Commerce and Industry). , -
, .
. , , , , :
,
- World Trade Center. . ,
, ,
: -


, , ,
, -
. Officer
shopping center (
.
mall).
-
-
: -
:
-
world center, trade,
, . -
world trade -
,
-
,
center.
.
,
-

35

Terms for Describing Terrorism


Lynn Visson

Since in todays world newspapers, radio insidious or fiendish sophistication of the


and television programs around the globe are terrorists would successfully render the
all too often filled with accounts of terrorist phrases meaning.
attacks, suicide bombings and other such Reprehensible implies something
horrific acts, the Russian-English/ English- which is both and
Russian translator or interpreter is well revolting. Disgust-
advised to have a variety of synonyms in his ing is somewhat too colloquial for such
active linguistic baggage. Shocking, a word situations. And the correct adjective to
commonly used to describe terrorist acts, can render is barbaric, not
be supplemented or replaced by a wide barbarian, as in barbaric bombings or
variety of negative adjectives such as the barbaric and sick individuals who
abominable, (), appall- committed these acts.
ing (), atrocious (, The individual who carries out such acts
), brutal (), frightful is the perpetrator, and he commits,
(, ), hateful (- carries out or perpetrates his evil deeds.
), heinous (), The individuals who order him to do so,
hideous (), horrible (- or are the
), monstrous (), masterminds, ringleaders or instigators
obnoxious (, ), of violence. While the word often
odious (, ), comes up in reference to terrorists, the
outrageous (, - English word bandits should be avoided.
), repugnant, (), A far better translation is thug; the
repulsive (), sickening or of terrorists are
(), terrible (, their henchmen, accomplices, or those
), vile (). Another useful who aid and abet terrorists.
word is unspeakable unspeakable acts is better translated as
imply actions so awful that one is loath to criminal gangs than as bands. o
even talk of them. These deeds may also be (cause) can justify the actions of any
brazen (). A common Russian (misguided, deluded)
adjective describing such acts is , as individuals, would-be martyrs () or
in . fanatics.
While the dictionary defines as While , as
treacherous or perfidious, in many terrorists are often called, can be translated
contexts these may not be appropriate as a strong and merciless enemy,
translations. In the given phrase, the ruthless is a more idiomatic translation of

36

Linn Visson
, and a very useful word to wiped out/ended. This also requires putting
describe someone who has no an end to its , or
scruples/moral principles/will stop at noth- breeding grounds.
ing/will not shrink/shirk from perpetrating joint or common efforts are needed to
any kind of terrorist act. defeat the terrorists, and those involved in
this struggle must pool or unite (not
share) their efforts. What is required is a
is the vitally, critically
important or crucial issue of the . Better than a comprehensive
continuous/continued further revitalization approach would be multipronged or
(activization is not a good choice here) of multifaceted. Also needed are -
effective cooperation in combating ,
terrorism. can be vigorous/
rendered in several ways: the war on resolute (much better than firm), united
terrorism/campaign against terrorism/ and considered actions on the part of the
struggle/fight against terrorism. And international community. As the Russian
- Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov
can be rendered as the high(est) stated in his speech to the UN Security
priority objective of resolving (not solving!) Council in January, 2003.
the challenge/issue/problem of the fight/
-
struggle against terrorism.
,
,
, -
, are acts which shocked, stunned,
-
rocked, or convulsed the world, or
.
made the world reel. While -
. -
are often translated as
:
hotbeds or flashpoints of terrorism, in

some contexts these can be strongholds or
.
bastions.
We often hear about the The translator here is presented with
the key to or prerequisite for plenty of interesting possibilities. The use of
success in the war on terrorism. terror can either doom or put an end to
enemy/adversary/opponent the political strivings (better than
has by no means/has not yet ambitions) of those engaged/involved in
been defeated/conquered/smashed. The terrorism, and (and is necessary in
forces of evil English!) clearly/unequivocally/stamps/
are (despera- marks/brands them as criminals and
tely) trying/eager/out/to acquire weapons utter/absolute pariahs/the lowest of the low/
of mass destruction. There are also - places them beyond the pale. There can be
- no justification (whatever) for their actions.
a great deal of/a plethora of/ And we must take appropriate action against
incontrovertible/irrefutable evidence them: the criminals must be punished/
regarding terrorist activities. punishment must be meted out for their
- actions (or, much better) for what they
/ can be translated as have wrought. In other words, they cannot
Terrorism must be eliminated/destroyed/ be allowed to act with

37

impunity. Terrorists must not be allowed to oggi bisogna chiarire che tutti devono rispettare le leggi del
Linn Visson

to escape from Paese , -


justice. .
, , -
Those who , , -
harbor/give refuge to terrorists must also -,
be punished. As the Foreign Minister , . -
pointed out in his speech: , .

: Tutti devono capire una volta per tutte che la
-
legge va rispettata sempre e non solo quando ti prendono a
. For Russia, calci nel sedere ,
strengthening/consolidating international , , -
solidarity/unity in the war on/campaign/ -
fight against terrorism is not empty rhetoric/ . -
hollow platitudes/mere political gesturing/lip ,
:
service/mere verbiage. All those who are .
fighting terrorism must , -
harbor/cherish the hope that terrorism (, , -
will be eliminated. ) , .
And the translator/interpreter must take , , .
,
care to keep abreast of the growing
-
vocabulary of political, military and ,
humanitarian terminology so frequently used .
in discussion of this scourge of the twenty- -
first century. . 1991

. -
, . -
: The law should be observed
always and not only when you have been caught
, ,
. , -
. -
, The law should be observed
always and not only when you have been caught by the ass.
-
,
, - -
: ...y no solo
, , - en los momentos cuando te pillen ...
, : ( ).

, , . ,
,
( - . ,
- : ...an den Pranger stellt ...-
) - , , : ...am
. Kragen (packt) bekommt ... .
, -
, . .
, .
- ( 7.11.2003)
, : Invece

38



.
Originally printed in The Moscow Times

: slang, from () you can scream: -


(hallucinations). Can mean seeing things, ! ! (Come
or can be a real malfunction in a computer, as soon as you can! My computer is screwing
car or other machine. Can be translated as up!) You know the story: its 5 PM on the
glitch, problem or screw up. day you have to finish a 4 million dollar
My car occasionally suffers from . grant application. hit your computer
When the engine skips, this is a sign that and the fonts change every other line, the
there are in the spark plugs or printer network has disappeared, and
distributor. If not properly fixed, these can Outlook is experiencing the software
lead to . These are literally little equivalent of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrom).
nuances small problems that have to be Sasha, my , who is a genius
fine-tuned. I hate . They are much with anything that contains a microchip or
worse than smaller and sneakier. I integrated circuit, arrives to save the day. He
ask my mechanic if he fixed the problem and grins, rubs his hands together and says, -
he says, , . - ! ?! (Lets
see now whats the problem here?!) He hits
. (Yes, but there are keys, opens up the processor, pokes and
some tiny problems. There might be a prods and taps more keys, all the while
momentary break in the power supply with keeping up a cheerful and totally
sudden acceleration.) What does this really incomprehensible monolog.
mean? My translation is something like this: Listening to Sasha brings me back to the
youre tooling along in the left lane at 80 days when I was learning Russian and could
kph. Theres a car on your right, and a pick out every fifth word in a sentence.
Mercedes 600 SL coming up behind you Because I hadnt mastered the grammar, I
fast. You decide to slip in front of the car on knew, for example, that I was being told
your right to let the Benz pass you. You hit there was a grandmother, a cat, and a stove,
the gas. The power outs. The superior power but I wasnt sure if she was cooking the cat
of the Mercedes propels you into the next on the stove (that cant be right) or (more
world, where you are glad that you went to mysteriously) sleeping with him on the
confession last week and paid up your life stove? (The village baffled suburban
insurance premiums. American students of Russian, for whom a
in the office are usually less life- stove was what you cooked eggs on.)
threatening. But no less annoying. In a When Sasha explains something to me, I
panicked call to your computer repairman hear a lot of familiar words, but I dont quite

39

get the context the grammar of computers, everything I need for my new apartment.)
.

as it were. He tells me his diagnosis: - is the diminutive of this, a


collective noun that means details,
, trivialities, or small tasks.
-
. . (Ive already written the
, - text of the report all thats left are the last
. little details.)
Which I translate as: Its broken. is another very useful
noun. It comes from the phrase
: an event for insiders, (among ourselves/them), and refers to
and event just between friends; a heart-to- a conversation among close friends (usually
heart talk over drinks) or any kind of event that is for
insiders only. It can be translated variously,
Over the years Ive developed a list of
depending on the context. -
Russian words that express very succinctly a
. (Were having a
concept that is hard to express in English.
heart-to-heart talk please dont bother us.)
Some of them I love, because they put into

a Russian nutshell something you can barely
. . (Theres no
fit into an English cocoanut shell. Some of
point applying in the grants competition. Its
them I loathe, because they are very hard to
for insiders only.) Russian encapsulates the
translate. Take , a word that I
notion of an activity for a select group of
love. This is frequently used in the world of
people so nicely in the word -
translation and means literally, something
that Ive always wanted to translate
from oneself, ( ) i.e., editorial
insider trading as
commentary that the translator or interpreter
.
adds to the text. -
. Another group of nouns that are
(I dont like working with him. He adds a voluminous in meaning but a headache to
lot of his own commentary to the text.) translate are abstract nouns formed by
adding to the stem of an adjective.
Another nice word along these lines is
is derived from the
, a noun from the adjective
adjective and could be
(any, all kinds of), which means a
rendered literally as right-this-minute-
collection of all kinds of things. In
ness. -
colloquial American English, this is usually
-
expressed by the word stuff. Its often used
. (Through internet you can update
in the phrase :
information virtually every minute.) -
. (My closet is filled with all
is the other word,
kinds of stuff.) can refer to big or
the afterlife, literally the world on the
small stuff. , another handy little
other side. This has a nice abstract noun,
word, can be used to describe small stuff,
, literally the concept of
i.e., a collection of small items, and in some
life in the next world, which could be used
contexts can be translated as sundries.
in the phrase,
,
-
. (In the
. (The idea of the afterlife is one of the
store World of Sundries I found
main themes in Nabokovs work.)

40

.
Russian-English translators and aiming for, is what you would
interpreters also loathe another commonly like to see happen, the preferred outcome.
used meaningful Russian noun: - Sometimes these are synonyms what you
(the condition of producing are aiming for is what you prefer to get but
constructive results). When you hit up sometimes they are not. For example, -
against this, you groan, throw the Russian and -
semantic construction out the window, and are nearly the same thing the desired
rebuild the thought in English in another or preferred outcome. However, you can see
way. Try constructive or productive. the subtle distinction in the following sentence
- (which is a bit of a linguistic stretch, for
. (They were pleased that the purposes of illustration): -
negotiations were productive.) ,
But if youre interpreting in front of . (Dima is a preferred candidate,
3000 people and your brain short-circuits on but Sasha is the candidate we want.)
the resulting-ness of the negotiations, try a Confused already? Then take two kinds
bit of : They thought the of friendly: and .
meeting went well. Both express the idea of being disposed in a
friendly way but means
: paronymous words, i.e., internally friendly, made up of friends,
words that are allied by derivation from the while means externally
same root friendly, disposed in a friendly way to
If we English-speakers pull the dictionary others. So a team made
off the shelf from time to time when we want up of friends; a
to check usage of confusingly similar words, team that is friendly to other teams.
like sensual and sensuous, Russians You can hear the difference in the news
must keep their dictionaries next to their headline (that was the inspiration for this
mouse pads. Because Russian has developed migraine-inducing column):
largely from one language and been fine- , ,
tuned by all those prefixes and suffixes over ? This is a
the millennia, there are a plethora of real nightmare for translators. What it means
paronymous words that native Russian is: Once upon a time the members of the
speakers often confuse. And if they confuse Yabloko and SPS parties were all good
native speakers, they wreak havoc with us friends, but now they arent. Can the parties
hapless non-native speakers. at least get along? But thats an explanation,
A classic example is and and it doesnt help the poor translator in the
. is a season pass, a news bureau, who has ten minutes to come
subscription; is the subscriber. up with a headline. How about: Yabloko and
. (I SPS are no longer one big happy family, but
bought a subscription to a series of lectures maybe they can still be friends? Or: The
at the museum.) - Yabloko and SPS parties are no longer
53999. (I want to leave kissing cousins, but maybe theyll hold the
a message for subscriber 53999 what you family together? Or: Yabloko and SPS have
say to a paging service.) gotten divorced, but maybe the divorce will
/ can also throw be amicable? You lose the nice word play on
you off. is something you are kinds of friendship, but at least you convey
the meaning.

41

.

Thank heaven / (to dress) the panicked stammering of the first


are related words with clear-cut rules of translator, followed by the clatter of the
usage complicated, yes, but at least microphone being grabbed by the second,
comprehensible. (what) who said, if youd like to get a
(on whom) or (on what); circumcision, please come to Moscow... You
(whom) (in what) or (as what). are welcome and everything and everyone is
The rule of thumb is that is followed tolerated in Moscow.
by an inanimate object (WHAT you are Journalists took the interpreters to task.
putting on), and is followed by an But should they have? Interpreters are
animate object (WHOM you are putting it trained to judiciously edit the speaker in
on). is the verb to use when you are most situations, and especially to cut out
talking about yourself. (?) improper words ( ). This
. (I put on my coat.) is because, first, when you interpret, your
(?) ( ?) . (I tone of voice is usually supposed to be
put the bracelet on her wrist.) neutral and relatively unemotional, so a
(?) ( ?) four-letter word would startle far more than
. (I dressed the child in his school in the original. Second, each language has its
uniform.) (?) own norms for usage. If a Frenchman says
(?) . (I dressed the child as a merde, youd never translate it with the 5-
rabbit). letter Russian word for excrement (or any
So how about a more interesting example: other strong Russian expression). Similarly,
what verb do you use for a condom? The an American might toss off something like
confusion comes from not knowing if a body Yeah, I read it. It was a f****** lousy
part is considered to be animate or inanimate article. The literal Russian would be vastly
in Russian. But look at the example above: stronger than the English, so you might say
. In Russian, body instead , . -
parts are inanimate (sorry, guys). is (back-translated as it was a
the way to go: you use it for putting something hellishly bad article). This comes under the
on yourself, or for putting something on heading of translate what he means, not
something else. what he says.
The third reason is that interpreters are
: circumcision charged with cultural facilitation, so you
We can thank President Putin for edit out (non-
continuing to broaden our linguistic range. standard language), racial and other slurs,
Now everyone knows that is the and afterwards pull the speaker aside and
operation of circumcision. But it was news explain what you did and why.
for me when the President recommended Ive certainly done this. A classic
, example is the traditional toast to -
(to do the , .
operation so that nothing will ever grow The guy giving the toast might have a
back). Who knew that anything could? mother in the Cabinet, a wife who is Chief
The statement became the hot topic in Doctor of a major teaching hospital, and a
the news largely because of the official daughter studying to be an astrophysicist. He
Russian translation, which left out a good may not be a sexist pig at all; he is just
deal of the salty Russian original. We heard fulfilling his duties as host. But try telling a

42

.
table of ardently feminist businesswomen
that they are beautiful table decorations!
My standard cheat on this is I raise my
glass to the brilliant women gracing our
table. Everyones happy, no ones insulted,
and Ive conveyed the intent of the toast, if
not its exact meaning.
The book by Chuzhakin
and Palazhchenko quotes the memoirs of
Minyar-Beloruchev, who once translated for
36 (17-23 2003)
Khrushchev. In one particularly fiery speech
about the betrayal of Albania, Nikita

Sergeevich ranted about its leader:
, .
! (that man shat on us from head ,
to toe, the f***er!) Minyar-Beloruchev , .
translated it into French as something like
that man heaped dirt on us from head to , -
,
toe and promptly got scolded for daring

to edit the General Secretary. But ten ,
minutes later he was told, Brand Way .
.
, -
! (Nikita Sergeevich - -
. , ,
asked me to thank you. He didnt want his

crude expressions to be heard in every , .
language!) -
, -, ,
So what would I have done in the shoes
-, . , -
of the Russian translators last week? I would
have gulped and translated Vladimir , -
Vladimirovich word for word. In private ( shit ), -
conversations editing is permissible and even
advisable, but not, to my mind, for a head of . , ,

state, and not in public. For one thing
youll get caught. When half of the audience . --
of journalists is laughing or gasping and the ( -
other half isnt, the half that isnt, is sure to )
poke around until they find out what was so -

funny. And then you have a mess. If the
(). , -
interpreters had translated it all right away, , -
the protocol folks could have just shrugged -
and said: , . (He , ( ).
calls it like he sees it.)
.
, 2000-2003

43



.

.

, - ,
, , .
, - -
,
. - .
, ?
-
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, - , -
-
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, -
.
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,
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,
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- ! ?
-.
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1
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http://rybakov.narod.ru/text/o_perevodax.htm. .

44

.
, -
.
, , -
.
,
, () -

. -
, -

, , -
.
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46


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Alex Eames. How to Earn $80,000+ per Year as
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AMAZING Publication, 2nd edition, 19992001.

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85