Why does this Russian translation not match up?
April 14, 2011 12:21 PM   Subscribe

There's a "Trimet Respects Civil Rights" notice on all the public transit vehicles in Portland. It's one straightforward paragraph translated into 6 languages. Why is it that in the [what I believe to be] Russian translation, the word "Trimet" only appears once, whereas in the 5 other languages it appears twice?

Is there something special about the Russian language or Cyrillic characters that allows you to phonetically translate proper nouns like that?

(I don't have a photo, sorry)
posted by desertface to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It would help to have the context around the two uses of 'Trimet' in at least the English version.
posted by Hargrimm at 12:34 PM on April 14, 2011

Here's a fuzzy pic of the sign in question, of course it doesn't show the Russian section.

Without seeing the Russian section, based on the English section, the second Trimet is a possessive noun that could easily be replaced with a pronoun.
posted by nomisxid at 12:34 PM on April 14, 2011

I can't say without looking at it, but Russian has a handy pronoun for the subject of any sentence. I regret its lack in English, now that I've heard of it in Russian.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Without seeing a full version of the Russian, I would suspect that instead of "Trimet's Title IV nondiscrimination requirements" it says something like "our Title IV nondiscrimination requirements". Says the same thing, but not word-for-word the same.

I'll see if I can rubberneck the translation tonight on my way home, and see if I can tell you anything more definitive.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 1:31 PM on April 14, 2011

I can't get much information from the photo, but I do translate for a living, and what you observe doesn't surprise me at all.

Translating is much more than transposing words from one language into another; the aim, when producing a translation, is to make something that performs the same function in Russian (here) as the original did in English. There are many ways of doing this, and none of them require that there be the same number of instances of the proper noun in the translation as there were in the original.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:50 AM on April 15, 2011

Best answer: Okay, I finally got a chance on an UNCROWDED bus (man, yesterday sucked), and the translation for "To request additional information on Trimet's Title VI nondiscrimination requirements" is translated pretty much as "To request additional information on nondiscrimination requirements."

In other words, what altolinguistic said.

Usually only in excruciatingly legal/legalistic translations have I seen clients that want every last word, phrase, or punctuation mark to line up. The general gist is usually close enough for everything else, and in general the translations might read better if they're not trying to calque every phrase one-for-one into the target language. Or, conversely, it's cheaper.

Most translation clients LOVE cheaper.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2011

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