Lost in Translation

For 5 minutes I stared dumbly at a tweet by a Russian-language reporter who is trying to get the truth out to the world.

“Police in Minsk are passionately beating a woman with legs!” the tweet announced.

This is a tragic situation and it’s not OK to laugh but it took translating the sentence back into Russian word-for-word to figure it out.

8 thoughts on “Lost in Translation”

  1. “Police in Minsk are passionately beating a woman with legs!”

    So what kind of legs are they beating her with —
    Table legs?
    Piano legs?
    Legs of lamb?
    Legs sawed off a statue?

    Not laughing at her plight, just asking for of us among your readers who can’t read Russian.

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    1. “So what kind of legs are they beating her with ”

      Their own, to hit smn with (one’s) leg is found in a few European languages as a way to say ‘to kick’….

      Also in Slavic languages possessive pronouns that would be necessary in English are dropped.

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    1. You should try it with tieng Viet sometime… it warms my heart to think there are some thing AI will never be able to do. And translating context-dependent languages is probably one of them 🙂

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  2. “Police in Minsk are passionately beating a woman with legs!”

    What is the correct translation, though?

    ““Police in Minsk are passionately kicking a woman!”

    ?

    Can one still use the word “legs” and create a correct sentence?

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  3. Read the almost cancelled article and it’s quite good. What was interesting to me is what is considered beyond the pale in Russian blogosphere. The article is quite tame, yet Russian democratic forces were afraid to publish it. A bit weird that people in a country led by Putin would copy American sensibilities instead of demonstrating dedication to freedom by supporting a voice for democracy and against FSU.

    Заблудились в трех нарративах. Дискуссия
    Инфантильный социализм стал новой религией Большого Запада. Мнение Юлии Латыниной
    https://novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/08/03/86505-zabludilis-v-treh-narrativah-diskussiya

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  4. OT: Russian language (in Ukraine?) question….

    I recently watched the Ukrainian series прятки (overall pretty okay, though I got a bit lost at the very end).

    Anyhoo, I saw the version with a Polish voice-over (for readers: an Eastern European thing where the original soundtrack is turned down but audible and a single voice reads the lines of dialogue in a monotone…)

    I noticed that when the Polish translation was “nie wiem” (I don’t know) instead of “не знаю” it consistently (from different characters) sounded like “не зная” or even “не знай”… was this just me not hearing? Is it a Ukrainian thing? A colloquial thing? Something else?

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