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Common English to Russian Translation Errors. Part 6

This post describes some of the painfully obvious errors. It will not be of any use to experienced translators, but less experienced colleagues might find something to chew on. And no, these are not Google AdSense ads on our blog, just screenshots of machine-translated ads used as examples.

Decimal mark

English uses the period as the decimal mark, whereas Russian uses the comma. The bad news is that despite the punctuation rule, it is not uncommon for Russian writers to use the period. This inconsistency is confusing for translators. On the one hand, the Russian punctuation rules require using the comma, but on the other, the period is often used in the real world. For example, the online banking application in a Russian bank that we use does not even accept documents with a decimal comma! Regardless of this inconsistency, as translators, we are required to follow the rules.

Original Correct Incorrect
9.97 9,97 Poor Russian translation in a Google ad Decimal mark

Spaces before units of measurement

Even though there is often no space before a unit of measurement in English texts, it is mandatory in Russian. Moreover, it is important to use a non-breaking space instead of  a regular one. This will ensure lines do not end with a number, while the unit of measurement ends up on the next line.

Original Correct Incorrect
$9.97 9,97 $ Poor Russian translation in a Google ad Unit of measurement

Title case

English authors often use title case, i.e., capitalize the first letter of each word in a phrase. It is tempting for a new translator to keep the case just as in the original. This is totally wrong in Russian, though. Regardless of the role a phrase plays in the text, you must capitalize the first letter of the first word only, unless, of course, other words require capitalizations for a different reason, e.g., proper nouns.

Original Correct Incorrect
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Poor Russian translation in a Google ad Title case

Avoiding the kind of errors described in this post is very important for beginning translators, because these formal blunders will turn away clients immediately, even if the translation itself is not that bad. To improve other areas of your Russian translation skills, read other articles in this series by clicking the link in the “Tag” section below.

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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.