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Thread: Translating Southern/American Slang into Russian

  1. #1
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    Translating Southern/American Slang into Russian

    How do you translate regional American slang into English, such as a 40 oz?

    How do you translate "Hey y'all, watch this?!"

    How do you translate "y'all?" Oxford Russian dictionaries simply just do not have terms like crawfish for crayfish and tend to be biased towards upper-class snobby English properly-speaking English upper class twits.

    (Monty Python reference.)

    The dictionaries that I have at my house are so frustrating and difficult to use and often do not properly explain things in different contexts and often the words do not exist there. How do you translate "Sheet cake?" into Russian? or "Turnover" into Russian? or "donut" into Russian.

    I am not just translating Southern terms, but also common American terms such as soda. I already know what soda is in Russian. I need to know the terms for a Java and a dozen donuts. Lack of these terms in a dictionary is frustrating and hampers my language-learning experience that I often have.

    I need to know more terms in Russian if I am to get any better with the language. I want to translate "llanos" into Russian or "high Sierra" or "high Plains" into Russian or Cleveland or Pittsburgh terms like yins.

    How does someone get Pittsburgh or nothern US or Southern US terminology translated into Russian? It is so damned difficult for me. I just want to scream sometimes. Can I scream, please? I need a better and more intelligent way to learn Russian and learning phrases from watching movies on eTVnet does not always help as the movies often do not have all the terms that you are looking for and are often filled with profanities in them.

    Any help out there?

    Thanks.

    Patchman123.

    How do you translate "Mercan" into Russian? "Merican or Mercan" is a Southern corruption of the word American in Southern slang. How do you translate common Southern phrases into Russian? Like cornbread or fried chicken or translate "it's cornbread and chicken where I come from" into Russian? That ol' dictionary can't help y'all learn Russian. (translate ol' big ol' into Russian like translate Polack into Russian. I am a Polack of Polish descent in the United States and I deeply love the Russian language, culture, and people, but hate the clunky dictionaries that I use in the house.)


    How do you say "Losing my religion" (another Southern idiom popularized by the group REM.) in Russian?

    There has to be a way past all this language barrier. Boy, it would sure make my life a lot easier.

    Justin.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Idiomatic / regional slang translation is one of the main translation difficulties. If national colouring is present, then it gets only worse. So honestly I doubt very much most of these expressions can possibly have full equivalents in Russian.
    "Losing one's religion" in the sense "losing one's temper" is "потерять самообладание", but it sounds way too bookish. The slang equivalent could be "взорваться", but, clearly it has no reference to REM. I don't know, can't think of anything else right now. Usually, according to the theory of translation, in such cases we should use description or calque translation. I don't think it would work in this case.
    Even stable idiomatic expressions known for decades or even centuries rarely have their full equivalents in other languages, expecially if we are speaking of such different languages as English and Russian. So I don't think you'll find what you are looking for. There are simply no corresponding "terms", as you call them, in Russian.
    Russian mat or some regional dalects (like Ukrainian or Moldavian) can't be translated into English either.
    You need a native Russian speaker who's familiar very well with Southern American realia to be able to TRY to translate all those.
    I don't have problems with English, and Russian is my native, but it takes me serious googling to sherlock the meaning of some words / expressions you mentioned.
    Stil I'm not quite sure I got them. And I can't think of any equivalents.
    Like, for "Americans" we have several slang words (америкосы etc.), but they often have negative connotation, so I don't think they are suitable at all. If the word "merican" was present in a text, in the official translation it would be "американец", unless it was used in a negative / sarcastic/ etc meaning, then the slang words could be used probably.
    It is impossible to translate such words without a clear context.

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