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Common English to Russian Translation Errors. Part 5

5658075410_7d879e8fa0_zThis next article in the series focuses mainly on stylistic issues. Note that my suggestions are not final truths and are context-sensitive, as is often the case with stylistic errors.

Subtle difference between “программа” and “программное обеспечение”

The first English-to-Russian dictionary definition for the word “software” is “программное обеспечение.” This Russian term means software as a broad category, a class. However, this translation does not sound right when the English “software” refers to a specific program. A much better option is “программа.”

Original: Open the Microsoft Word software.

Incorrect: Откройте программное обеспечение Microsoft Word.

Correct: Откройте программу Microsoft Word.

Obviously, the error is purely stylistic. It makes more sense to use a specific term when referring to a specific program instead of a more abstract one.

Original: Scans data from a barcode into the software.

Incorrect: Служит для сканирования данных со штрихкода, передавая их в программное обеспечение.

Correct: Служит для сканирования данных со штрихкода, передавая их в программу.

Avoiding ambiguity with “При…”

Using structures such as “При…” requires caution, because they can easily confuse readers:

Original: Zooming in automatically adjusts the X and Y axis to fit the available data.

Incorrect: При увеличении масштаба оси X и Y автоматически адаптируются с учетом имеющихся данных.

When you read this sentence for the first time, it is initially difficult to understand the role of “При увеличении масштаба.” You do not know whether it means “увеличивается масштаб осей” or “масштаб увеличивается, а оси…” It is only when you reach the end of the sentence that you understand the meaning. I recommend avoiding this “temporary” ambiguity by doing exactly what English authors do in such cases—adding a comma. Russian does not allow placing a comma after such phrases directly, though, which means we need to convert them into adverbial clauses:

Correct: Когда масштаб увеличивается, оси X и Y автоматически адаптируются с учетом имеющихся данных.

Warrant to be free from defects

This phrase is often translated literally, and the Russian counterpart does not sound right either in terms of accuracy or style:

Original: This product is warranted to be free from defects in material and workmanship.

Incorrect: Настоящее изделие гарантированно не содержит дефектов материалов и изготовления.

The Russian sounds as if the manufacturer is promising that the product will have no defects. This does not make sense, obviously, because no one in their right mind will promise that. All a manufacturer can do is give a warranty in case of defects.

Correct: Производитель дает гарантию на дефекты материалов и изготовления.

Correct: Гарантия распространяется на дефекты материалов и изготовления.

Or: Гарантия распространяется на заводской брак.

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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.