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Common English to Russian Translation Errors. Part 4

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This post continues the series about the errors Russian translators frequently make. You can find the links to the previous articles at the end of this post.

i.e.

This is an ambiguous abbreviation. Normally, it means “id est,” which equals “that means” or “in other words.” Translating it with this meaning could not be easier:

We are free to go, i.e., we can leave at any time.

Нас больше не задерживают, т. е. мы можем уйти в любое время.

Now the challenge: authors often erroneously write “i.e.” while actually wanting to say “for example” (“e.g.”). How can a translator tell the difference? Only by relying on the context and professional intuition.

The manager cannot do all his/her work personally (i.e., when the organization grows)

Менеджер не может справиться со своей работой один (например, в период динамичного роста организации)

In this case, “i.e.” is incorrect; the meaning is “for example,” because the situations where the manager cannot do all work personally are not limited to the growth period.

Use something to…, collaborate with someone to…, work with someone to…

Translating these phrases into Russian literally rarely works well.

Original: Use a flat -head screwdriver to loosen the screw.

Incorrect translation: Используйте отвертку с плоским жалом, чтобы открутить винт.

Original: Work with business partners to shape business strategies and goals.

Incorrect translation: Работать совместно с партнерами для того, чтобы сформулировать бизнес-стратегию и цели.

The most universal approach to translating such phrases is translating the first verb with a noun or preposition, such as “вместе” or в “сотрудничестве”:

Original: Use a screwdriver to unscrew the screw.

Translation: C помощью отвертки с плоским жалом открутите винт.

Original: Work with business partners to shape business strategies and goals.

Correct translation: В сотрудничестве с партнерами разрабатывать бизнес-стратегию и цели.

Another approach is translating the second verb as a noun, as long as there is an equivalent Russian phrase:

Original: Work with business partners to shape business strategies and goals.

Correct translation: Сотрудничать с партнерами над разработкой бизнес-стратегии и целей.

Configuration

“Configuring” and “configuration” cannot be translated as “конфигурация” when they mean the process of configuring something:

Original: The next section describes configuring the device for optimal performance.

Incorrect translation: В следующем разделе описано, как выполнить конфигурацию аппарата для оптимальной работы.

The Russian “конфигурация” is not an action, but a combination of settings. It should not be used to denote the process of configuring software or a device. It is what you get as a result of configuring. To describe the process, use simply “настройка”:

Original: The next section describes configuring the device for optimal performance.

Correct translation: В следующем разделе описана настройка аппарата для оптимальной работы.

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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.