• Enquiry

  • UK +44 (0)207 193 1808
  • USA +1 415 315 9818
Our Clients
Recent Post
Axis Translations on twitter
Axis Translations on facebook

Difficulties of Russian Translation

Russian is one of the worlds most used languages and good quality Russian translation is therefore important. According to reports, there are some 160 million native Russian speakers in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. While it’s not considered the official language in Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine, Russian is used extensively in these countries as well as former constituent republics of the USSR. By these accounts, the total number of Russian speakers in the world is estimated to be about 280 million, which makes it the fourth most spoken language in the world, and the eighth most spoken native language in the world. The United States includes Russian as one of the six official languages. These are some of the reasons why there’s such a big demand for Russian translation.

People who have experience with Russian translation will tell you that it’s one of the most difficult languages to translate. For people who don’t know the intricacies of translations, they may think that any language can be translated with ease. In fact, there are many free translation tools on the Internet that help people to perform translations. All you need to do is to copy and paste a word, phrase or passage, and in no time, you will get the translation, and in no time, you will discover that the translated sentences almost always make little sense. The grammar is all wrong, the sentence structure is awkward, and most importantly, the original meaning is lost.

The translation of Russian presents extremely difficult challenges. The famed Russian writer Vladmir Nabokov once expounded on the difficulty in translating the Russian ‘toska’, "No single word in English renders all the shades of toska." He went on to speak about "great spiritual anguish", "dull ache of the soul", "a vague restlessness", "nostalgia", and "boredom". As you may suspect, Russian translation requires somewhat more than just knowledge of Russian grammar and Russian slang. To bring out all the shades and deeper meanings in the Russian language, it’s imperative that the Russian translator or interpreter not only possesses a strong grasp of the language but also feels the cultural context and understands the mentality of the Russian people.

Just like every other language in the world, Russian reflects the behaviour, philosophy, culture, and stereotypes of the Russian people. Nobody can just understand a culture by just studying another language, and it’s especially difficult in the Russian context. To feel the cultural meanings of the Russian language, you need to live in Russia for an extended period of time. Otherwise, you will not understand the language at all. For instance, English speakers will use terms like "happy" and "sense of humour" to express themselves but a Russian will use terms like "heart" and "soul".

It’s not enough that the translator or interpreter has perfect knowledge of the Russian language but also a great command of the other language. In this sense, you may be surprised to find out that some Russian-English translators don’t have the expertise to translate the key words because they don’t have adequate understanding of another culture. Never select a linguist to complete your Russian translation based only on the fact that the person is a native speaker. You need a professional Russian translation expert to do the best Russian translation.