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Common English to Russian Translation Errors. Part 3

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Difference between “cursor” and “pointer”

In English texts, authors often use the word “cursor,” while they actually mean “pointer.” According to the Microsoft glossary, a cursor is the point where you can insert text or graphics, usually appearing as a blinking vertical line. Strictly speaking, a pointer is something very different: a graphical image on the screen that indicates the location of a pointing device.

This means we cannot translate “cursor” into Russian literally when the author actually means “pointer.” It is important to understand what exactly the author is talking about and translate it accordingly.

Use the cursor to select the correct answers.

Incorrect: Выберите правильные ответы с помощью курсора.

Correct: Выберите правильные ответы с помощью указателя мыши OR Щелкните правильные ответы.

“Efficient” and “effective”

These two words present a very interesting linguistic challenge for Russian translators. Many translate both as “эффективный,” which might be okay, but what do you do when they occur together? For example, in his book Seven Secrets of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey drew a distinction between these two words, so translators of that book could never translate both as “эффективный.” Correct translation depends on understanding the difference between the two words and then conveying it with the terms most appropriate to the context. According to Covey and other sources, the difference is that “efficient” means someone who uses time and resources optimally, whereas “effective” is someone who gets the job done, usually with the best results.

You may use your time efficiently, but that does not necessarily bring the result you want; that is, you are ineffective.

I want to be effective, efficient, and expedient.

Incorrect: Я хочу быть эффективным и рациональным. (“Efficient” is missing in translation, because the translator assumed it is a synonym of “effective” and does not need to be repeated.)

Correct: Я хочу быть результативным, эффективным и рациональным.

Spelled-out numbers in parentheses

In English texts, authors often spell out numbers first and then add the actual number in parentheses after it, whereas the Russian language tradition requires the reverse order. It is therefore important not to keep the English “spelled-out number (number)” order in the Russian translation, changing it appropriately to “number (spelled-out number).”

The estimated loss is five million dollars (5,000,000).

Incorrect: Прогнозируемый убыток составляет пять миллионов долларов (5 000 000).

Correct: Прогнозируемый убыток составляет 5 000 000 (пять миллионов) долларов.

You may be also interested in the previous articles of this series:

Common English to Russian Translation Errors. Part 1

Common English to Russian Translation Errors. Part 2

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.