Tag Archives: Russian translation

How Well Has Nabokov’s Poetry Been Translated?

Nabokov was s a prolific poet and writer who was also bilingual and often translated his own poetry. Now, Dmitri Nabokov translates his work, though some have questioned his word choice and style of translation.

Nabokov is best known for his book Lolita and Pale Fire. A movie was made based on the book first in 1962 and then in 1997 . He also published several books of poetry as well as scholarly essays.

Early Poetry and Translation

Vladimir Nabokov was quite embarrassed by his early attempts at poetry. Most of the poems of his teenage years are contained in the volume Poems and Problems. In fact, he called the book “the steady mass of verse which I began to exude in my youth … with monstrous regularity.”

Just as the elder Nabokov was embarrassed by his own simplistic verses, his son was embarrassed by his rudimentary Russian translation of his father’s works. Both father and son though, eventually matured in their talents and Vladimir grew into a world renowned author and poet, while his son grew into an accomplished professional translator.

Distinguished Translator

Vladimir was also a distinguished translator, and he translated most of his own works while he was alive. He studied at Cambridge, which is where he learned fluent English, and later, Nabokov wrote several poems about his Cambridge years that played off of his bilingualism.

Vladimir Nabokov's Main Translations were:

From French into Russian

  • Nikolka Persik Translation of Romain Rolland's novel Colas Breugnon.

From English into Russian

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

From Russian into English

  • Three Russian Poets: Selections from Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tyutchev
  • Expanded British edition: Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev: Poems
  • A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermontov
  • The Song of Igor's Campaign: An Epic of the Twelfth Century
  • Eugene Onegin, by Aleksandr Pushkin, in prose. Includes "Notes on Prosody".
  • Verses and Versions (edited by Brian Boyd and Stanislav Shvabrin), includes materials previously published in Three Russian Poets
  • Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev
  • As well as unpublished materials.

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Astronaut Learns Russian before Going into Space

Even though the Space Shuttle is gone, it doesn’t mean that American astronauts have to find different careers or that American children have to give up their dreams.

There are other nations going into space that are more than willing to give other astronauts a lift to the stars. However, for many astronauts, that means learning a new language well enough to provide professional translation, because in space, mistakes can be deadly.

How to Get to the International Space Station

For NASA employee Shannon Walker, the only way she was getting back into space was by hitching a rocket ride to the international space station. Before she was allowed to go though, she had to learn Russian. The Russian language is a notoriously tricky language to learn for many people, and though Walker struggled, she prevailed and was sent to the international station in a Russian rocket.

Russian translation is now easy for Shannon, and she is hoping to go back into space soon. She recently shared her story to students at St. Anne School in Barrington, Chicago, and is planning to speak to more students around the country.

NASA Audience

"NASA takes all kinds of people," Walker told her student audience on Wednesday January 9th. "The most important thing is you have to do well in school, so study hard if you want to be at NASA." The students who eventually get to be employed by NASA might have something else to look forward to now: being bilingual.

Shannon’s story isn’t uncommon. Astronauts commonly work with people from other counties, and they are frequently Russian cosmonauts. It only makes sense that astronauts should be proficient in professional business translation to make work conditions more comfortable and safe.

Language Isn’t the Only Barrier

To become a candidate for going into space, Walker also had to become a physicist. That made her eligible. When she was chosen for the space program, she had to begin training. Besides learning Russian, Walker had to become physically fit and learn basic medical and dental skills.

She was trained rigorously on emergency procedures and survival skills as well. Walker suggested that if students want to become an astronaut, they should learn Russian while they are still in school. She says it’s much easier than learning the language as an adult with a deadline.


Moscow Library Shows Rumi’s Masnavi

The week before Christmas, the Russian State Library unveiled a new acquisition: a Russian translation of the six volume set of the Masnavi-ye Manavi written by the Persian mystic and poet Molana Jalal ad-Din Rumi. The ceremony was held at the library’s Center of Oriental Literature, and was attended by various Russian academics and translators.

Masnavi a Translation Masterpiece

The translation services needed to translate such an intricate and historical piece of Islamic culture and civilization took an entire team of talented Russian and Iranian literati. The ceremony consisted of a presentation of the six volume set and a series of speeches that were made by the translation team and by professors and language experts from the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow State University. During the ceremony, they also discussed Rumi, the author of the Masnavi, and how his writings influenced Persian literature and Persian poets. At the end of the ceremony, the audience was treated to a private performance by an Iranian virtuoso.

During the service, Natalia Prigarina, a Russian Orientalist and a senior editor of the translation project, addressed the audience and said, “This translation is an eternal and precious gift from the profound Persian culture and literature for the Russian-speaking world.”


Beer No Longer Considered a Soft Drink in Russia

As of the New Year, beer is to be considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia. Before now, beer was only considered to be a soft drink, which could be purchased at basically any corner shop or from a street vendor and drunk on the way to work or even during a lunch break.

Anything below 10% in strength is not technically considered alcoholic in Russia, and in fact, there is a saying among the hearty drinkers in Russia that "beer without vodka is like throwing money to the wind."

New Alcohol Status Restricts Sales

Because beer is now an alcoholic drink, it will no longer be available in many of the places it once was. Kiosks, petrol stations, and railway stations will no longer be able to sell the beverage. These places account for over 30% of all beer sales, and many people are upset they will no longer be able to buy a bottle or a can on the go.

In a Russian translation of an interview with Isaac Sheps, the chairman of the Union of Russian Brewers, Sheps says that this attempt to restrict the sale of alcohol may backfire. The chairman says that people will have to stock up if they want beer, but beer is bulky, and it’s much easier to simply grab a bottle or two of vodka.

This probably means people will be drinking more vodka and less beer, which is the opposite of what President Dmitry Medvedev had in mind when he approved the restriction.

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Russian T.V. Star to Host U.S. Radio Show

Oleg Frish has long been popular in Russia and the United States as a talented T.V. personality, radio show host, and singer. On January 12th, he will also be the new host of his very own radio show out of New York, and he could be the first foreigner to promote jazz, cabaret, and rock-n-roll on American airwaves.

Frish has also released several albums of his own and can sing in multiple languages. He has hosted T.V. shows on Russian-American stations, and he can provide professional translation for both languages.

History of Working on T.V. and the Airwaves

Frish has a long history of working on the radio and on television in America and Russia. He was born in the USSR to a musically talented family and has known what he wanted to do since early childhood. He graduated from the Kalinin State University and majored in preforming arts.

Oddly enough, Frish started out his career doing a musical magic show where he would guess what members of the audience were thinking and then sing them a song about it.

Later, Frish started to travel more and eventually relocated to New York as a T.V. and show business history professional. He provided Russian translation for the multimedia center in New York, where there was large Russian-American community.

Russian Language Radio Shows

When a Russian language station was ready to air for the first time in the United States, Frish was the host of a popular entertainment magazine show called “Time Out.” In Moscow, he had been the editor for a prominent performing arts magazine, so he fit very well into the television show.

Also, since his translation services were so well developed in addition to his experience with music, radio, and television, he was doubly suitable for hosting Russian-American shows. Now, Frish plans to take his career to the next level by hosting his own radio show.

Music Career

In addition to being an editor, writer, and T.V./radio host, Frish has also had a successful music career. His first album was recently issued and was received with enthusiasm in United States jazz circles. It also paved the way for his position as host of the New York radio show.

His next album is set to be released in 2013, but this isn’t the start of Frish’s music career. He began everything with his musical magic show and took singing gigs every once in a while. His voice has been described as appealing and charming by Scott Yanow of the L.A. Jazz Scene.


Controversial Textbook Riles Russian Readers

A new addition of a textbook that teaches how to speak Russian has made some Russian readers quite upset. The reason for their indignation is not that the book doesn’t teach Russian adequately, but that the stories used to teach the language seem to paint a bad picture of Russian’s in general.

It’s not your typical Dick and Jane type of stories.  Rather, the Russian translation has people reading about a crooked cop taking bribes, an unfaithful husband, and a college professor who does drugs.

Russian Citizen’s Feel the Books Are Derogatory

A United Russian lawmaker has spoken out against the books, saying that they kill the soul and create a moronic impression of Russia. The same lawyer has asked for the books to be investigated for what they say about Russia and the Russian people.

The authors of the books though, are not bothered by the investigation, and they have stated that the lawyer has simply misinterpreted the books. For one, the books are intended only for adults, which is clearly shown in the cover, and for two, the passages that talk about drugs, bribes, and cheating husbands are sections in an exercise where readers must pick out the parts that don’t fit or sound wrong.

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