Thinking about getting a cheap Russian translation? You can do so, as long as you want the translation to be a complete flop, bringing you no results at all or even marring your reputation. But if you want your translations to reflect the professionalism of your business, you need a translation pro. Read this article to know why finding the best Russian translator is crucial.
Difficult punctuation rules
Russian has excruciatingly difficult rules when it comes to punctuation—so difficult that even a well-educated Russian can be unaware of them for his or her entire life. The Russian language is full of tricky words, such as например or в частности, that require different punctuation based on the context.
Я выбираю вас, например, за силу воли. (“например” refers to “вас”)
Я выбираю вас, например за силу воли. (“например” refers to “силу воли”)
Несмотря на препятствия, все закончилось благополучно. (“несмотря на препятствия” requires a comma after “препятствия”)
Несмотря на то что возникли препятствия, все закончилось благополучно. (“несмотря на то” does not require a comma, because it is part of a compound conjunction.)
Plethora of word forms
A simple word, such as the verb “изменить” (to change), can have as many as twenty word forms. Understanding the distinctions among them and using the right form without a typo might be a challenge even for an educated native speaker. For instance, each verb can be of two types: longer duration of action (несовершенный вид, imperfective aspect) and shorter duration, usually one-time action (совершенный вид, perfective aspect). This distinction alone doubles the number of word forms a verb has. To illustrate, here is a comparison of two similar English and Russian verbs:
Change: change, changes, changed, changing. (4 forms)
Изменять: изменять, изменяю, изменяет, изменяешь, изменяют, изменяем, изменить, изменишь, изменит, изменят, изменил, изменила, изменило, изменили.
This is already 14 forms, and the list continues. Note that I am not counting those word forms created by adding an auxiliary verb to an infinitive, such as “will change.”
In addition to different types of verbs, Russian nouns have the following distinctions:
- Six cases (whereas English has just two in most cases).
- Three genders (masculine, feminine, neutral), each having its own rules for declining words.
- Two numbers, with a plethora of words endings instead of just one as in English. For example, singular “дерево” and plural “деревья.”
The plethora of grammatical distinctions in Russian makes it difficult to write correctly even for a very knowledgeable Russian scholar, much less someone who learned Russian as a second language or is not a professional translator. You need specialized knowledge and years of experience to be good at writing in Russian.
Russian word order is different from English. For instance, in noun phrases, the word order in the two languages are opposite:
Instrument cabinet access
Доступ к шкафу с приборами (access to cabinet with servers)
General word order is also quite different. For these reasons, literal translation works only for very simple texts. With more difficult texts, it makes little sense, and end users of the translations often complain that they do not sound Russian. Again, these distinctions are very challenging for professional translators, let alone hobbyists and non-native speakers.
A few errors as simple as a missing comma can damage your reputation or annihilate a business opportunity. Do not let that happen to you when it comes to Russian translation! Now you have an idea about how challenging the Russian language is. Remember this when you select a vendor, to make sure you pick the most professional Russian translator, who will save you from the embarrassment of not being taken seriously.