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Thread: Multiple Russian translations for a single English word?

  1. #1
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    Multiple Russian translations for a single English word?

    Greetings all.

    I feel a little awkward asking this because of the nature of the words but I thought it best to get some clarification.

    I've been reading 'Rainbow Six' and 'The Bear and the Dragon' by Tom Clancy and in both, Russian characters have used the word 'govno', which both Clancy and the Russian part of my dictionary translate as the expletive 'S**t'. However the English part of the same dictionary translates that word as Chyort in Russian.

    While Russian (and English) expletives are not a high priority for me, this has left me somewhat confused, as I try to translate and learn any Russian words I come across by accident. The only possibility that springs to mind is that one is intended as a slang term for bodily waste while the other is intended as an obscene outburst. But that's just supposition on my part.

    Am I right in my 'two context translation' or is there an error in my dictionary and/or novel?

  2. #2
    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Демоническая Утка
    Носитель английского языка, учу русский язык.
    Пожалуйста, исправьте мои сообщения!

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick response and the useful link. Shall have to keep that handy incase I encounter more such words.

    I've no intention of ever using them but doesn't hurt to understand.

  4. #4
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Arguably, the word говно (govno) should be translated as "crap", rather than "shit" -- i.e., it's rather vulgar, but it's not quite as dirty as the "S-word" is in English. But in any case, as the Russian slang dictionary explains, it's generally used in literal reference to "fecal matter", or metaphorically to say that something is as worthless and disgusting as "the brown stuff". However, it's seldom or never used as an Obscene Interjection, the way we say "Oh, shit!" in English.

    The word чёрт (chyort) literally means "devil," and it's used roughly the way we use "hell" in English. So in contexts where English speakers would say "What the hell?" or "Go to hell!", Russians say Что за чёрт? ("What the devil?") and Иди к чёрту! ("Go to the devil!") One can also just say Чёрт! as an interjection to express surprise, anger, dismay, etc. -- in this context it's functionally similar to "Oh, shit!" (but a lot milder).
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  5. #5
    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Slang isn't the only area where you'll find more than one translation for the same word. In fact, you will hardly find a word in one language which in all situations will always be translated with only one other word in another language, apart from highly specialized technical terms.
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

  6. #6
    Подающий надежды оратор
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    Russians say Что за чёрт? ("What the devil?") and Иди к чёрту! ("Go to the devil!")
    Though Что за чёрт? is gramatically correct, we usually say Какого чёрта?, which means roughly the same ("What the devil?")

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