Thursday, February 09, 2012


So, I'm preparing a killer text - absolutely crawling with cultural references. It's funny, in a very biting way, and a native speaker I work with died laughing at it. But it's also HARD. It was in Ukrainian, and I'm using it in a Ukrainian class first, but I found a Russian version that I'm planning to use in a Russian class as well. Most of the time, I knew I needed Google and/or a native. But here's one that tripped me up entirely (Ukrainian version first):
За цим автозаком, як у Росії колись Пугачова, везуть заґратовану клітку із членом попереднього уряду, екс-міністром внутрішніх справ. З інших кліток виглядають ще кілька фігурантів сюрреальних судових процесів.

За этим автозаком, как в России некогда Пугачева, везут зарешеченную клетку с членом предыдущего правительства, экс-министром внутренних дел. Из других клеток выглядывают еще несколько фигурантов сюрреальних судебных процессов.

Behind this police van, as once [Pugachev-a] in Russia, will be a barred cage containing a member of the former government, the ex minister of internal affairs. From other cages several others will be peering, people also figuring in surreal court cases.
Well, I know Alla Pugacheva - she's like Madonna or somebody in terms of name recognition. So I started scouring her lyrics and even found a song, Девочка сэконд-хэнд (Second-hand Girl), that had a reference to being caged.

But. Of course it's not Alla Pugacheva in the nominative. Noooooo. It's Yemelyan Pugachev in the accusative, he being a rebellious Cossack, leader of an eponymous revolution in 1774, who was dragged through Moscow in an iron cage in 1775 before being hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Sheesh. Grammar. Who needs it, right?

(Plus: Culture. It's everywhere)

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At 2:24 PM, February 09, 2012 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Additional evidence that online computer translations just don't "cut the mustard," except perhaps for the simplest of expository language! I predict that our professional translating services will continue to be in demand, at least for several more years ;-)

At 7:35 PM, February 09, 2012 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Actually, I wasn't using Google Translate. I was just googling words I didn't know and people I couldn't place exactly. Like під Мурку, which turns out to mean, not "under a cat" (Murka being a typical cat name) but rather "while the band played the song Murka"...

At 9:18 PM, February 09, 2012 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

See, I was reading the ellipsis as "as Pugacheva once (did)" but it's really "as they once did to Pugachev", which you need to remember/know about him and his cage to be sure of...

Although you're quite right, because here's what GT did with it:

For those paddy wagons, as in Russia once Pugacheva, driven grilled cage with a member of the previous government, ex-Minister of the Interior. From other cells peep a few more defendants in lawsuits surreal.


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