Is English to Russian Translation really that easy?

Is English to Russian Translation really that easy?

Introduction

There are hundreds of words in many languages that don’t really have an English equivalent, and vice versa. This is especially true for Russian. Indeed, it can be argued that English to Russian translation of technical documents is actually the easiest one to do because of how word-for-word it needs to be. This is rarely the case with other European languages. However, when it comes to literary or legal Russian translation services, for example, the picture that emerges is very different.

Go Pro

Even if you require an English to Russian translation of technical documents, it is always better to go to a professional translator, because they know the audience and understand the industry well enough to put the technical terms in context. In cases of literary translation and legal translation, a professional agency is an absolute necessity.

Literary

One issue here is that both English and Russian are languages where using words that not everybody might know, or simply “making them up”, is quite popular. For that reason, a professional that provides Russian translation service for literary works needs to be familiar with both the languages and the cultures. They should also take into account the differences between British English, American English and dialects of other English-speaking countries when translating into Russian. For that reason, it is preferable to choose a translator that has both Russian to English and English to Russian translation qualifications. Such a translator would understand that translating a literary work from English to Russian requires a very high degree of creativity and in many ways, is also an act of writing in itself. For example, translating YA novels into Russian requires interpreting English colloquialisms in a way that would be relatable to a Russian youth. On the other hand, translating an English book full of British idioms like “to be in the hole”[1] requires knowledge of both British and Russian idioms which only a translator well-versed in both Russian language and culture would have. Literal translation of idioms would not make a book appealing to a Russian reader.

Legal

English to Russian translation of legal documents requires a different kind of literary skill. Translation agencies often require their employees to have a Russian legal background. This is because the Russian legal system based on Roman law is very different from that of English-speaking countries where common law is predominant. Not knowing the differences between two systems can lead to serious mistakes in translation of contracts or articles of association. It can also lead to problems for clients who need document translation for a visa – incorrectly translated or certified document can lead to a refusal.

“Not a Russian soul”

This peculiar expression is often used to explain why English speakers have trouble becoming fluent in Russian. A professional Russian translator might not have a “Russian soul”, but having qualifications and experience can almost make up for that.

[1] Russian equivalent – “быть по уши в долгах” (literally “to be in debt up to one’s ears”).

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