:: i love you ::

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Good Article

Hey Everyone... Its been a crazy couple of weeks for me. God has blessed me with a great job, but, he has blessed me with nearly 60 hours of work a week to go along with it.

Pray that I don't get burned out... its rough hours working that much overnight, 10:30pm - 7, 7:30am everynight... I've had one day off in the last 16... and not another until Friday... But, praise God, the paychecks will be my cup running over.

I read this article in the Moscow Times this weekend. Just wanted to pass it along. I've read a couple of these 'translation' articles, and always love them. I would post a link for you, but the Moscow Times archives all articles like a day after they are avail, so it wouldn't matter much.

Update: Still waiting for all my refences to get the forms back to International Teams so that we can move forward in the application process, everything still looks good. I am praying about possibly going this Winter, I have an e-mail out to Stacie requesting some info on the team for the Winter Camp (if you are a Moscovite and see her... tell her to get back to me!! :p), and if that doesn't work out there are a few other options open at this point.

The Moscow Times // Friday, September 24, 2004. Page 7.

King James Misplaced in Translation
By Michele A. Berdy

God bless you!: с Богом; Боже вас сохрани; Будь здоров (after a sneeze).

All rules have exceptions, and the exception to the "Russians are great quoters and Americans are not" rule is Biblicisms. This is the one area where English-speakers excel: all those years of Sunday school may not have made us morally pure, but they did imprint on our brains Biblical quotes, references and paraphrases for every occasion.

Folks who study this, like T. Klyukina and V. Lanchikov, D. Yermolovich and M. Zagot (whose books and articles are a treasure trove of Biblical lore, translations and analysis) point out that the Old Church Slavonic of the Russian Orthodox liturgy made it harder for Russians to understand and claim Biblical phrases the way English-speakers could with the King James version. "Thou shall not commit adultery" is quite clear to an English-speaker; the Russian version -- Не прелюбодействуй -- might send a Russian to the dictionary to figure out what he shouldn't be doing.

And then came the Soviet period, when the Bible was virtually banned from public and literary life and when, Russian translators tell me, they resorted to lifting the Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms on business trips abroad so they could at least know what their colleagues were referring to. Another of the Ten Commandments (десять заповедей) -- «Не укради» (Thou shalt not steal) -- is pretty clear on this point, but hey, it was for a good cause.

As a result, even if you know how to say your favorite Biblical saying in Russian, Russians might not get the reference. Of course, many quotes do exist as recognizable sayings in both languages: not by bread alone (не хлебом единым); daily bread (хлеб насущный); forbidden fruit (запретный плод); manna from heaven (манна небесная); to cast pearls before swine (метать бисер перед свиньями); many are called, but few are chosen (много званых, да мало избранных). You can flip on the light switch with a flip Да будет свет! (Let there be light!), and your Russian friends will appreciate your erudition. If you want to reprimand a friend for speaking harshly about someone, you can say, Не судите, да не судимы будете (Judge not, that you be not judged), but Russians might more readily resort to Griboyedov's А судьи кто?! (Who are you to judge?!) And "the writing on the wall" (письмена на стене), while recognizable, has never caught on with Russians the way it has with English-speakers.

Neither has Job taken hold of the Russian metaphorical mind. You can speak of the patience of Job (терпение Иова) or long-suffering Job (многострадальный Иов), but it will not resonate as strongly as it does in English. This is utterly baffling to me, since if there was one country on Earth that is the personification of Job, it must be Russia. But God moves in mysterious ways (пути Господни неисповедимы).

You can try to use "let my people go" (отпусти народ мой), but your friends may think it's a reference to a song rather than Moses' plea to the pharaoh.

"I am holier than thou" (я свят для тебя) is more likely to be expressed in Russian by the adjectives самодовольный (self-satisfied) or высокомерный (haughty).

I've given up on the Good Samaritan (добрый самаритянин), first because it's too easy for us foreigners to confuse it with добрый самарец (a good man from Samara), and then because Russians don't use it much.

"God bless you" is also a tricky phrase. Of course, if you want to say it after someone sneezes, say instead, Будь здоров! (Literally, "be healthy.") The standard translation, Боже вас сохрани is rather high-toned -- more like "May God bless you and keep you" -- and in Russian you would usually add what you want God to keep you from.

If you're the sort of person who says goodbye with a cheery, "Have a nice day and God bless you!" try Счастливо! С Богом! ("Go with God," "May God be with you.")

Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.


Post a Comment

<< Home