Things people just don’t say outside Russia

This post first appeared on my blog about Russia:

Now that I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Translation (see my translation-related blog for more information), I often think about similar things people describe using totally different expressions that are not, strictly speaking, translations of each other.

Say, one of my English students asked me who you translated the Russian expression “X по профессии, но Y по призванию” (literally, X in my training, but Y in my calling”). At that point, I was at a loss. The best I could come up with was “I was trained as X but have always wanted to be Y.”

However, I’ve now been noticing certain things people say in Russian which, even (probably clumsily) translated, would make no sense to an English speaker. For instance, on this Russian tutoring services website, I came across the following cited as the parents’ motivation to find an English tutor for their child: “Привить любовь к языку” (“to develop love (an appreciation?) for the language”). Have you ever heard anyone in the US say that they want to develop love for a language?

What is your experience with other languages? Can you say that? Are there things in your language that sound weird in others?

Published by Maria

Russian health and human services translator based in Rochester, New York

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