Russian translation for Android App
August 23, 2013 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I am creating an Android app and it would have some attraction to Russians, especially in the West, so I need a small amount of translation done.

(~200 words).
2 questions:
1. Should I ask for "generic" Russian or some particular dialect? ie What will a Russian person with an Android likely speak?
2. Is it fine just to use someone I find in an internet search? Or can you recommend someone you've used in the past?
posted by falsedmitri to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add the by "West" I mean the western part of Russia itself and countries like Ukraine.
posted by falsedmitri at 5:33 PM on August 23, 2013

All my Russian and Ukrainian translation-industry coworkers left the office forty minutes ago, so I can't get a pro answer for number 1, but my guess is that you can just ask for Russian. Unless you think that it will be profitable to get Ukrainian too (consider it a separate language, expect to pay twice if you ask for both Ukrainian and Russian). But no, it's not like you need to get both US and UK English.

No. 2 is dicey. You're really not asking for "translation" but "software localization." Since you'll probably localize it yourself (pasting strings into your dev interface, or perhaps raw-text into your code?) you probably don't need to worry about the distinction when shopping, but it's almost always more complicated than it looks. Your strings might turn into rows of boxes if you don't know what you are doing. I say this as someone who describes my career to monolinguals as "I keep foreign languages from turning into rows of boxes."

Don't just "search" the "internet." Go over to or; those are both comparatively reputable places to look for language-industry professionals.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 5:44 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should not worry about dialects in Russia. The Russian they speak in Ukraine is regular Russian... of course, they also speak Ukrainian.

Anyway, MeMail me -- I'll do it. Pretty bored tonight, need something to do until midnight or so.
posted by Behemoth at 5:45 PM on August 23, 2013

Enh… this kind of translation is tricky. If you want your app to be used by a broad audience, I would suggest using a professional translator. Dialects aren't the issue. Modern Russian has one standard dialect. The problem is that the translation has to be appropriate.

Imagine a piece of software with a typical set of dropdown menus: file, edit, window, and so on. Each one of those words is easy enough to look up in a dictionary, but most dictionaries will not tell you which of those options Russian-language users actually expect to see. For example, the word dossier means pretty much the same thing as file, but a typical software user would be a little baffled by a dropdown menu called dossier. Basically, file in this context doesn't refer to a particular physical object, it refers to a menu that offers users a specific, predictable set of functions.

You want a translator who can tell you what a speaker of Russian expects that menu to be called. It could be file, or it could be dossier or even just the word "file" transliterated into Russian. And moreover, given the set of menu headers and button labels in your app, what labels in Russian would suggest the same functionality that the English labels suggest. That's what a good technical translator is for.

posted by Nomyte at 7:20 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ՗՗՗՗՗՗ ՗՗՗ ՗՗՗ ՗՗՗՗՗՗
posted by falsedmitri at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2013

Get someone professional, and be prepared to discuss what kind of translation you want. Me and my wife have been confused by a "your pregnancy" app which was inappropriately translated - "size of a melon" vs "size of a watermelon"!

This kind of thing seems like a weird edge case, but weird edge cases crop up more often than not. Get a translator who knows technology and the subject matter, and be ready to clarify anything ambiguous in the source language.

Ukrainian and Russian are different languages. Russian is way more uniform than English in terms of dialects, so don't worry about that.

posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:24 PM on August 24, 2013

Response by poster: Behemoth graciously did the translation pro bono. In return I made a donation to an animal shelter in his area. Thanks for all the replies.
posted by falsedmitri at 5:51 AM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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