Discussion:
Untranslatable words in Russian
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Dingbat
2017-10-09 08:02:16 UTC
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Untranslatable words in Russian

No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms

It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
Don Phillipson
2017-10-09 14:09:28 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
Challenge: English has borrowed plenty of untranslatable words (e.g.
naive, perestroika, Schadenfreude and so on.) On what grounds may
anyone say English refrains from borrowing foreign terms with no
prior near equivalent in English?
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
Jerry Friedman
2017-10-09 14:34:50 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
...

"No single word renders all the shades" isn't the same as
"untranslatable". Nabokov gives translations for "toska"'s various
shades of meaning.

I'm impressed that the article discusses "poshlost" without mentioning
Nabokov.
--
Jerry Friedman
Anton Shepelev
2017-10-10 12:42:23 UTC
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Post by Jerry Friedman
I'm impressed that the article discusses "poshlost"
without mentioning Nabokov.
It is strange that the readily findable articles
about this word:

https://www.rbth.com/blogs/2014/05/29/a_question_of_taste_the_untranslatable_word_poshlost_37047.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poshlost

ignonre its morphology, with which every analysis
ought to begin, cf. B.F. Porshnev: "If you want to
understand something, find out how it came to be."
However else shall we understand how it acquired two
so different meanings:

The classical 19th century dictionary by Vladimir
Dal had two definitions of it: an old, originally
neutral one ("long-standing, anachronistic, age-
old; ancient, old-time, time-honored") and a new
one, already with negative connotations ("trite,
common, outmoded; indecent, considered rude, com-
mon, base, ignoble, coarse; vulgar, trivial").

which both follow from the word's morphology?

Poshlost' derives from the perfect aspect of the
verb "to go." The older meaning refers to things
that have come from the past, but during the great
tearing-down of traditional Russian values in the
reign of Peter the Great what had been time-honoured
became time-damned, and a new, negative, meaning
emerged from the same root. The best English rendi-
tions for it are "timeworn" and "hackneyed", for
something in or with which one travels a lot becomes
literally worn and hackneyed.

It is now easy to see how such secondary shades as
'vulgar', 'banal', and 'indecent' extend the general
idea.
--
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Peter T. Daniels
2017-10-10 13:15:19 UTC
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Post by Anton Shepelev
ignonre its morphology, with which every analysis
ought to begin, cf. B.F. Porshnev: "If you want to
understand something, find out how it came to be."
I don't know who B. F. Porshnev may be, but that's poor advice for lexicographers.

Usage, not history, tells us the meanings of words.
Jenny Telia
2017-10-09 16:28:09 UTC
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Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
There are 127 words for "being drunk" in Russian. I believe English has
borrowed all of them and improved on some.
Here a sampler: http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/drunk
charles
2017-10-09 16:50:25 UTC
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Post by Jenny Telia
Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
There are 127 words for "being drunk" in Russian. I believe English has
borrowed all of them and improved on some.
Here a sampler: http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/drunk
amd Scots Gaelic has one word for "the dram you have in the morning before
you get out of bed"
--
from KT24 in Surrey, England
Whiskers
2017-10-09 19:31:02 UTC
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Post by charles
Post by Jenny Telia
Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing
untranslatable words while borrowing so many translatable words
with abandon.
There are 127 words for "being drunk" in Russian. I believe English
http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/drunk
amd Scots Gaelic has one word for "the dram you have in the morning
before you get out of bed"
'Wakener' in English, I think.
--
-- ^^^^^^^^^^
-- Whiskers
-- ~~~~~~~~~~
Jerry Friedman
2017-10-10 13:45:16 UTC
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Post by Whiskers
Post by charles
Post by Jenny Telia
Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing
untranslatable words while borrowing so many translatable words
with abandon.
There are 127 words for "being drunk" in Russian. I believe English
http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/drunk
amd Scots Gaelic has one word for "the dram you have in the morning
before you get out of bed"
'Wakener' in English, I think.
The practice of getting high on getting up is called "wake and bake",
I'm told.
--
Jerry Friedman
Ken Blake
2017-10-09 18:34:42 UTC
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On Mon, 9 Oct 2017 01:02:16 -0700 (PDT), Dingbat
Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
That reminds me of the story about a young woman named Harriet, who
was attending college in Russia. A telegram about her was sent home to
her parents in the U. S. The telegram was originally written in
English, translated by computer into Russian, then translated by
computer back into English when it arrived here.

The telegram began as "Harriet suspended for minor offenses," but
ended up as "Harriet hanged for juvenile crimes."
occam
2017-10-09 19:02:20 UTC
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Post by Ken Blake
On Mon, 9 Oct 2017 01:02:16 -0700 (PDT), Dingbat
Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
That reminds me of the story about a young woman named Harriet, who
was attending college in Russia. A telegram about her was sent home to
her parents in the U. S. The telegram was originally written in
English, translated by computer into Russian, then translated by
computer back into English when it arrived here.
The telegram began as "Harriet suspended for minor offenses," but
ended up as "Harriet hanged for juvenile crimes."
This story has apocryphal written all over it. It is a variation of "The
wine was good but the meat was off" translation stories circulating 20
years ago, from a double (mis)translation of the Biblical text "The
spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
Ken Blake
2017-10-09 19:17:48 UTC
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Post by occam
Post by Ken Blake
On Mon, 9 Oct 2017 01:02:16 -0700 (PDT), Dingbat
Post by Dingbat
Untranslatable words in Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of "toska." - Nabakov
http://www.businessinsider.in/9-Incredibly-Useful-Russian-Words-With-No-English-Equivalent/articleshow/33914130.cms
It's curious that English has refraining from borrowing untranslatable words
while borrowing so many translatable words with abandon.
That reminds me of the story about a young woman named Harriet, who
was attending college in Russia. A telegram about her was sent home to
her parents in the U. S. The telegram was originally written in
English, translated by computer into Russian, then translated by
computer back into English when it arrived here.
The telegram began as "Harriet suspended for minor offenses," but
ended up as "Harriet hanged for juvenile crimes."
This story has apocryphal written all over it.
Yes, of course. If you thought I had suggested that it was a true
story, I apologize.

But I still think it's a good story.
Peter T. Daniels
2017-10-09 21:25:21 UTC
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Post by occam
Post by Ken Blake
That reminds me of the story about a young woman named Harriet, who
was attending college in Russia. A telegram about her was sent home to
her parents in the U. S. The telegram was originally written in
English, translated by computer into Russian, then translated by
computer back into English when it arrived here.
The telegram began as "Harriet suspended for minor offenses," but
ended up as "Harriet hanged for juvenile crimes."
This story has apocryphal written all over it. It is a variation of "The
wine was good but the meat was off" translation stories circulating 20
years ago, from a double (mis)translation of the Biblical text "The
spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
Usually reported as "The vodka's ok but the meat is lousy."

Computer translation has improved somewhat since Sputnik time, but not so much
that you can safely issue a computer translation as a text to be read.
occam
2017-10-10 10:13:15 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by occam
Post by Ken Blake
That reminds me of the story about a young woman named Harriet, who
was attending college in Russia. A telegram about her was sent home to
her parents in the U. S. The telegram was originally written in
English, translated by computer into Russian, then translated by
computer back into English when it arrived here.
The telegram began as "Harriet suspended for minor offenses," but
ended up as "Harriet hanged for juvenile crimes."
This story has apocryphal written all over it. It is a variation of "The
wine was good but the meat was off" translation stories circulating 20
years ago, from a double (mis)translation of the Biblical text "The
spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
Usually reported as "The vodka's ok but the meat is lousy."
Computer translation has improved somewhat since Sputnik time, but not so much
that you can safely issue a computer translation as a text to be read.
Or to be committed to a road sign.

http://tongue-tied-nw.co.uk/embarrassing-translation-error-ends-up-on-welsh-road-sign/
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