Published December 01, 2008

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

  • by Natalia Gogolitsyna

93 Untranslatable Russian Words


There is no better terrain in which to examine the differences between two cultures than language. Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life.

A key to understanding another language, another culture, is figuring out what cannot be "known," but only "felt."

In this compact and useful volume, difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.

Added bonus: Includes an extensive chart of Old Russian Measurements you may meet in literature – from the common arshin, to the less known charka – with modern conversions. An invaluable reference tool.



Professional Reviews

"The structure of the entries is particularly well conceived... the emphasis on the need for translation to be contextual is commendable...The English translations of the Russian excerpts are accurate and in excellent English... if I were a professor I would include this book in my syllabus for courses in advanced Russian language, Russian literature, Russian translation, and possibly also Russian studies... the cost is so nominal, somewhere between 25 and 50 cents per word, that I recommend it to translators and interpreters as well." {Lydia Razran Stone, SlavFile (Slavic Division of the American Translators Association)}

Reader Reviews

"I'm bilingual in English and Russian... and I have to admit I loved this little book. As a matter of fact, I find all the translations and descriptions very accurate, even though I don't consider the words themselves "untranslatable". I'd recommend this book to everyone interested in Russia, its culture and its people." {Andre van D / Amazon}

About the Author

Professor Natalia Gogolitsyna was educated at the Herzen Institute in St. Petersburg and teaches translation and Russian at the University of Bristol, UK. She has a scholarly interest in the field of lexis and phraseology, with particular emphasis on non-equivalence. She is co-author with Derek Offord of the second, augmented edition of Using Russian: A Guide to Contemporary Usage, Cambridge University Press.


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