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Thread: Rusalka - HC Andersen

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    Rusalka - HC Andersen

    Hey - sorry if I'm posting in the wrong topic -

    I'm working on translation Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen into Russian, from the English text. Knowing myself, I know I'm making some errors that I don't see. Just for a sampler (and to find out what kind of errors I'm making) I wanted to ask if you all who know Russian could correct my mistakes.. also, does the translation hold together well? Here's the first paragraph (of the first story, "Mermaid"):

    RUS: Далеко на море, вода же синей, как синего василька, и же ясно, как ясный кристалл; но ето очень глубокая, и слишком глубоко для любого канату, чтобы её измерять; и если многие шпили были навалены друг на друга, они бы не достигают поверхносты воды.

    ENG: Far out at sea the water is as blue as the bluest cornflower, and as clear as the clearest crystal; but it is very deep, too deep for any cable to fathom, and if many steeples were piled on the top of one another, they would not reach from the bed of the sea to the surface of the water.

    How'd I do?
    luck/life/kidkboom
    Грязные башмаки располагают к осмотрительности в выборе дороги. /*/ Muddy boots choose their roads with wisdom. ;

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Seems mostly okay to me, as a non-native. Three comments:

    (1) This story is usually translated with the diminutive Русалочка -- not only because Andersen called her "little," but also because she's cute, young, and lovable, whereas the non-diminutive русалка often implies a creature closer to the Greek sirens (who were beautiful, but not at all lovable, and in fact rather deadly). Possibly the main difference between the Greek sirens and the Russian русалки is that the former lived in saltwater and the latter lived in freshwater rivers or lakes. So it's kind like the difference between lobsters and crayfish -- but they both have painful pinches! Thus, if you're talking about a sweet-natured mermaid, go with the diminutive русалочка. However, it would probably be okay to describe Ursula the Sea Witch from the Disney movie as "a type of русалка," because of that word's more sinister connotations.

    (2) "вода же синей, как синего василька" -- You should ask native Russians, but I agree with your instinct to use a comparative construction in the Russian ("bluer than a blue cornflower"). However, with this construction, you don't need the как -- you can just use the comparative adjective + the genitive singular the thing you're comparing it to. Thus, "Вода синее синего василька". Similarly, "яснее ясного кристалл".

    (3) Finally: "поверхносты и" -- remember that all of those feminine -ost nouns (гласность, etc.) end in a SOFT т, and thus the genitive singular ends in -ти, not -ты.
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    P.S. Arguably, it was Hans Christian Andersen who INVENTED the "sweet, innocent mermaid" -- before he came along, mermaids had bad reputations in many different cultures as beautiful but semi-demonic seductresses whose three hobbies were singing, combing their hair, and drowning horny lovestruck sailors.



    Однако, в мифе о Гиласе и русалочках, здесь написаном викториянским художником John William Waterhouse, всё происходилось чуть-чуть по-другому, а получилось одинаково. (In the myth about Hylas and the nymphs, here illustrated by Victorian artist J.W. Waterhouse, things went a little bit differently, but turned out identically.)

    The nymphs didn't want to harm Hylas, but they were so horny for him (Hylas was the handsomest youth in all Greece), they simply forgot that human men can't breathe underwater. And Hylas, too, was horny for the nymphs, and also forgot about the "people need air" principle. В конце концов, Гилас всё-равно упал в воду и погиб, а не нарочно, и в этом русалочки не были виноваты. (In the end, Hylas fell in the water and died anyway, but it wasn't on purpose, and the "rusalochki" weren't to blame for this.)

    P.P.S. If Hylas had not drowned accidentally, ему пришлось бы "играть пассивную роль" for Heracles. So, either way, poor Hylas would've been screwed!

    (It's not easy being the hunkiest young man in ancient Greece...)

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    Below is the traditional translation from Danish to Russian by Hansen (Ганзен) which every Russian read in his childhood.
    Далеко в море вода синяя-синяя, как лепестки самых красивых васильков, и прозрачная-прозрачная, как самое чистое стекло, только очень глубока, так глубока, что никакого якорного каната не хватит. Много колоколен надо поставить одну на другую, тогда только верхняя выглянет на поверхность. Там на дне живет подводный народ.
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kidkboom View Post
    RUS: Далеко на море, вода же синей, как синего василька, и же ясно, как ясный кристалл; но ето очень глубокая, и слишком глубоко для любого канату, чтобы её измерять; и если многие шпили были навалены друг на друга, они бы не достигают поверхносты воды.

    ENG: Far out at sea the water is as blue as the bluest cornflower, and as clear as the clearest crystal; but it is very deep, too deep for any cable to fathom, and if many steeples were piled on the top of one another, they would not reach from the bed of the sea to the surface of the water.
    - В море; на море means actually "on the shore of the sea";
    - comparative should be "синее(синей) василька" or "синее, чем василёк". Also construction "такая же ..., как" can be used: "такая же синяя, как василёк" (as blue as...), otherwise "как" and "же" should be removed;
    - ясно should agree with the subject: ясна (short form because it is used as predicate);
    - но там очень глубоко (the way to translate English construction "it is ...": It is deep. - Глубоко.);
    - слишком глубоко, чтобы можно было измерить канатом (no direct equivalent for English construction "for smth. to do smth.");
    - "навалены" obviously means "tumbled" and implies horizontal position, "поставлены" is better (it implies vertical position);
    - "шпиль" means actually architectural shaft. A steeple building is колокольня;
    - они бы не достигли (perfective past only);
    - поверхности

    There is also punctuation, which is not free in Russian.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    crystal - хрусталь, crystal clear - хрустальный

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    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo View Post
    A steeple building is колокольня;
    By the way, колокол is "a (large) bell" -- so a колокольня gets its name because that's where the church bells are.

    (Although a колокольня can also be on a "secular" building instead of a church. In which case we'd call it a "bell tower" in English, and not a "steeple" -- that word specifically and exclusively means "церковная колокольня".)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Полуношник View Post
    crystal - хрусталь, crystal clear - хрустальный
    Ещё есть кристально чистый.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Thanks a lot to everybody for the corrections and the insight on this.. You are all invaluable..

    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    (1) This story is usually translated with the diminutive Русалочка -- not only because Andersen called her "little," but also because she's cute, young, and lovable, whereas the non-diminutive русалка often implies a creature closer to the Greek sirens (who were beautiful, but not at all lovable, and in fact rather deadly). Possibly the main difference between the Greek sirens and the Russian русалки is that the former lived in saltwater and the latter lived in freshwater rivers or lakes. So it's kind like the difference between lobsters and crayfish -- but they both have painful pinches! Thus, if you're talking about a sweet-natured mermaid, go with the diminutive русалочка. However, it would probably be okay to describe Ursula the Sea Witch from the Disney movie as "a type of русалка," because of that word's more sinister connotations.
    LOL I love the way you say it =)

    I was worried about that a little bit... The copy of HCA's work I've been translating literally just says "The Mermaid" but I know this is the "little mermaid" story that we all know and (~love) from Disney.. =) I was worried because I first learned the word "Rusalka" from Quest for Glory IV wherein it is used exactly like you say, like a Slavic river-siren story.. when I think of it I can't help but think of The Toadies (YouTube - ‪The Toadies - Possum Kingdom‬‏) =)...

    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo View Post
    - В море; на море means actually "on the shore of the sea";
    - comparative should be "синее(синей) василька" or "синее, чем василёк". Also construction "такая же ..., как" can be used: "такая же синяя, как василёк" (as blue as...), otherwise "как" and "же" should be removed;
    - ясно should agree with the subject: ясна (short form because it is used as predicate);
    - но там очень глубоко (the way to translate English construction "it is ...": It is deep. - Глубоко.);
    - слишком глубоко, чтобы можно было измерить канатом (no direct equivalent for English construction "for smth. to do smth.");
    - "навалены" obviously means "tumbled" and implies horizontal position, "поставлены" is better (it implies vertical position);
    - "шпиль" means actually architectural shaft. A steeple building is колокольня;
    - они бы не достигли (perfective past only);
    - поверхности
    There is also punctuation, which is not free in Russian.
    Thanks for that, it-ogo.. some of these are what I was worried about.. I'm really stumped on how to AVOID the ";" when translating into Russian from English. English writers, especially from like 1600-1900, loved to use these semicolons; it would be fair, indeed, to say they overused the double-comma thing and the semicolon thing ad nauseam; or, at least, more than necessary; or, if nothing else, enough to make them a bit annoying to read. =) So.. how can I avoid this? Looks like the best solution is just to seperate these sections all into separate sentences.. what do you think?

    Also, I struggled with "в море" versus "на море".. my dictionary kept saying "на " but translators changed it to "в " ... guess I went with the wrong choice on this one. Thanks guys! It will get easier as I get a feel for what is more comfortable for Russian eyes to read. =)

    EDIT: Thanks again, guys. Some of these notes may seem quick in passing but they do me a LOT of good when I'm going back over what I've done. Thanks for all the help.
    luck/life/kidkboom
    Грязные башмаки располагают к осмотрительности в выборе дороги. /*/ Muddy boots choose their roads with wisdom. ;

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