English idioms and their Russian equivalents

The Importance of Achieving of Semantic and Stylistic Identity of Translating Idioms. Classification of Idioms. The Development of Students Language Awareness on the Base of Using Idioms in Classes. Focus on speech and idiomatic language in classes.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Chapter 1. The Importance of Achieving of Semantic and Stylistic Identity of Translating Idioms

2.1.1 Classification of Idioms

2.1.2 The Difficulties of Translation

2.1.3 Synonymous Statements and Emphasis

2.1.4 Indices for Interpretation

2.1.5 Proverbs Figurativeness and Its Means

Chapter 2. The Development of Students Language Awareness on the Base of Using Idioms in Classes

2.2.1 Pedagogical implications

2.2.2 Focus on authentic speech and idiomatic language in classes





Idiom is a phrase or expression whose total meaning differs from the meaning of the individual words. For example, to blow one's top (get angry) and behind the eight ball (in trouble) are English- language idioms. Idioms come from language and generally cannot be translated literally (word for word). Foreign language students must learn them just as they would learn vocabulary words.

It is generally accepted that interpreters did not know much about the laws and rules of translation at the dawn of civilization. They did not have enough scientific knowledge, and some writers maintained later that translation was a problem which could never be solved (e.g., "All translation seems to me to be simply an attempt to solve an insoluble problem." W. von Humboldt).

But life went on, and people wanted to communicate (they wanted to be good neighbours in those times, too) and -- take it or leave it -- they had to interpret and had to translate. But still their translations were not without shortcomings and even left much to be desired.

And now, while the British scientist Theodore Savory says, in an effort to convince his colleagues, that "...both in the original and in translation, the matter is more important than the manner," Savory T., The Art of Translation, London, 1957, p.21 the noted Russian writer Korney Chukovsky records: "The translator's aspiration for achieving semantic and stylistic identity of translation and the original is a lasting gain of our culture." Чуковский К., Высокое искусство. М., 1968, с. 61-62

An interpreter may say that translation is a bridge for mutual understanding among nations and that one has to know the laws and rules of engineering as well as to have the proper material for its construction at hand.

The theme of the present work is “English idioms and their Russian equivalents”.

Nowadays English is worth not just knowing, but it is worth really knowing. There is a great importance to understand up-to-date English. English is the chief language of international business and academic conferences, and the leading language of international tourism. English is the main language of popular music, advertising, home computers and video games. Most of the scientific, technological and academic information in the world is expressed in English. International communication expends very fast. The English language becomes the means of international communication, the language of trade, education, politics, and economics. People have to communicate with each other. It is very important for them to understand foreigners and be understood by them. In this case the English language comes to be one but very serious problem. A word comes to be a very powerful means of communication but also can be a cause of a great misunderstanding if it is not clearly understood by one of the speakers.

The understanding of the native speakers' language is the international problem for our students. Our secondary schools teach the students only the bases of the English language. They do not prepare them to the British streets, and accommodations.

Idioms come to be a very numerous part of English. Idioms cover a lot of drawbacks of the English language and it is one-third part of the colloquial speech.

The object of the work is the process of developing language guessing skills.

The subject of the work is idioms in English and Russian languages.

The hypothesis of the work is as following:

If we develop students' awareness of using idiomatic sentences, we are sure to bring them closer to the authentically sounding speech.

The objective of the work is an attempt to study all the aspects of idioms, the cases of their usage and to analyze the frequency of idioms usage referring to English and Russian.

To achieve the set aim we determine the following tasks:

1. to classify idioms;

2. to study the problem of the translation of idioms;

3. to understand the aim of the modern usage of idioms;

4. to distinguish different kinds of idioms;

5. to analyze the frequency of idioms' usage referring to English and Russian.

For writing the present paper a number of scientific sources devoted to the problem of idioms have been analyzed. As the material for our research we used idioms taken from dictionaries and fiction.

For gaining the mentioned aim we used the following methods:

1. description;

2. observation;

3. critical study of scientific literature and fiction;

4. comparison and contrast;

Scientific novelty is concluded in the comparison of two languages, belonging to different language families.

Theoretical value consists in revealing the fact that idioms can't and mustn't be translated directly as such a branch of language as idioms are inseparably connected with nation's mentality and mode of life.

The practical value consists in the fact that the present work is a valuable manual for specialists concerned with teaching English and can be used as a teaching guide for stirring up idiomatic sentences. The results of the investigation are aimed at raising the quality of translations and preventing mistakes in comprehension.

Some parts of this qualification work have been used at the English language lessons at Gulistan State University as a means of raising students' interest and developing investigation skills.

Structurally the presented work consists of: Introduction, two chapters, conclusion, bibliography.

The introduction reveals the general survey of the whole work and determines idioms as an essential part of the general vocabulary.

The first chapter deals with semantic and stylistic identity when translating idioms.

The second chapter deals with approaches to the developing students' language awareness on the base of using idioms in classes.

Bibliography comprises 23 sources. Books of paramount importance are belles-letters of American and English writers, scientific research of foreign and home linguists, Internet explorations defining dictionaries, articles from methodical journals. The basic works are the following: Кузьмин C.C. “Translating Russian Idioms” Moscow Higher School 1977, Bartlett, F. C. Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms, New York, 1989, Левицкая Т., Фитерман А., Обновление фразеологических единиц, и передача этого приема в переводе. Тетради переводчика, №5, М., 1968, Арнольд И. В. Лексикология современного английского языка. М.: 1959. The full list of works and authors is mentioned in bibliography to this qualification paper.


Chapter 1. The Importance of Achieving of Semantic and Stylistic Identity of Translating Idioms

2.1.1 Classification of Idioms

Idioms and fixed expressions. Idioms are fixed expressions that are usually not clear or obvious. The expression to feel under the weather, which means to feel unwell is a typical idiom. The words do not tell us what it means, but the context usually helps.

There are some simple rules how to deal with idioms. At first it's important to think of idioms as being just like single words, then we must record the whole phrase in the notebook, along with the information on grammar and collocation.

This tin - opener has seen better days. (it is rather old and broken down; usually of Things, always perfect tense form). Idioms are usually rather informal and include an element of personal comment on the situation. They are sometimes humorous or ironic. As with any informal “commenting” word. That's why we must be careful using them. It's not a good idea to use them just to sound “fluent” or “good at English'. In a formal situation we can't say: “How do you do, Mrs Watson. Do take the weight off your feet. ” (sit down) instead of “Do sit down” or “Have a seat”. It is important to know that their grammar is flexible. Some are more fixed than others. For instance, Barking up the wrong tree (be mistaken) is always used in continuous, not simple form, e.g. I think you' re Barking up the wrong tree. Generally, set expression, for example, come to the wrong shop, go the way of all flesh, make somebody' s blood boil, are idiomatical, they are also named phraseological. Besides, there are set expression such as pay a visit, make one' s appearance, give help. Their interpretation is disputable. Some linguists consider them to be a not idiomatical part of phraseology, which is opposed to idiomatical. If the expression is idiomatical, then we must consider its components in the aggregate, not separately. Каменецкайте Н. Л. Синонимы в английской фразеологии. М.: «Международные отношения», 1971, с. 3. Idioms are a part of our daily speech. Судзиловский Г. А. Сленг - что это такое? Английская просторечная военная лексика. М.: Военное издательство, 1973, с. 37. They give expressiveness and exactness to oral and written language. It's not easy to master idioms fluently. Word - for - word translation can change the meaning of the idiom. I've understood, that the study of the English lexicology should necessarily include study of phraseology. So, what is an idiom and phraseology? How can we translate idioms? Is it possible to translate idioms word for word and not to change their meaning?

Classification of idioms. Term “phraseology” is defined as a section of linguistics, which studies word collocations, and, on the other hand, a set of all steady combinations of words of the language. The stock of words of the language consists not only of separate words, but also of set expressions, which alongside with separate words serve as means of expressing conceptions. Ворно Е. Ф., Кащеева М. А. и др. Лексикология английского языка. Л.: Учпедгиз, 1955, с. 123. A set expression represents a set phrase.

Stock of words of the language

Separate words

Set expressions

Phraseological fusions To make up one's mind

To make friends

Phraseological unities He plays with fire She burst into tears

Phraseological collocations From head to foot To get on like a house on fire

Charter 1. Stock of words of the language According to the Academician V. V. Vinogradov's classification phraseological units may be classified into three groups: phraseological fusions, phraseological unities and phraseological collocations.

Phraseological fusions Ворно Е. Ф., Кащеева М. А. и др. Лексикология английского языка. Л.: Учпедгиз, 1955, сс. 124 - 125. are completely non - motivated word - groups, such as heavy father - “serious or solemn part in a theatrical play”, kick the bucket - “die”; and the like. The meaning of the components has no connection whatsoever, at least synchronically, with the meaning of the whole group. Idiomaticity is, as a rule, combined with complete stability of the lexical components and the grammatical structure of the fusion. Phraseological fusions are called “traditional”, “set expression with fixed nomination”, “combinations”, ”set expression” in works of other researchers.

Phraseological unities Каменецкайте Н. Л. Синонимы в английской фразеологии. М.: «Международные отношения», 1971, с. 3. are partially non - motivated as their meaning can usually be perceived through the metaphoric meaning of the whole phraseological unit. For example, to show one' s teeth, to wash one' s dirty linen in public if interpreted as semantically motivated through the combined lexical meaning of the component words would naturally lead one to understand these in their literal meaning. The metaphoric meaning of the whole unit, however, readily suggests “take a threatening tone” or “show an intention to injure” for show one' s teeth and “discuss or make public one' s quarrels” for wash one' s dirty linen in public. Phraseological unities are as a rule marked by a high degree of stability of the lexical components.

Phraseological collocations are motivated but they are made up of words possessing specific lexical valency which accounts for a certain degree of stability in such word - groups. In phraseological collocations variability of member - words is strictly limited. For instance, bear a grudge May be changed into bear malice, but not into bear a fancy or liking. We can say take a liking (fancy) but not take hatred (disgust). These habitual collocations tend to become kind of clichйs where the meaning of member - words is to some extent dominated by the meaning of the whole group. Due to this, phraseological collocations are felt as possessing a certain degree of semantic inseparability.

Classification of idioms for better understanding and learning. Vocabulary. Idioms can be grouped in a variety of ways. According to “English Vocabulary in Use” there are 3 groups of idioms. Phraseology of modern English http://vernadsky.dnttm.ru/h4/w01358.htm


By meaning

By verb or another key word

verb + object

verb + preposition phrase

His fingers are all thumbs [clumsy]

Do you mind my smoking? [object to]

hold someone's hand [to take care of]

rise the eyebrows [to wonder]

Charter 2. Different ways of grouping idioms. I've found some more more or less convenient ways of grouping the idioms

Classification of phraseological units according to their structure. There are two groups of idioms: nominal a black sheep (of the family) [shame of the family], and verbal to take risks (to risk) as I've already told you. As one can see on the diagram, there are more verbal idioms, approximately 65 percents, than nominal ones. In both groups there turns out to be too many idioms, therefore such way is difficult for remembering.

Academician V. V. Vinogradov's classification. There are three groups of idioms according to this classification. The problem is the same as in the previous case. It's not easy to remember all of these phraseological units.

Classification of phraseological units according to the parts of speech. Арнольд И. В. Лексикология современного английского языка. М.: 1959. There are four groups: nominal phrases: hard luck [misfortune]; adjective phraseological units: all fingers and thumbs [clumsy]; verbal: to get on like a house on fire [to make progress]; adverbial: vice versa [conversely]. At last I tried to divide idioms into several groups, as it's written in “English Vocabulary in Use”. I also added some more of them. According to this classification idioms can be divided into following groups. As everyday spoken language is full of fixed expressions that are not necessarily difficult to understand (their meaning May be quite' transparent') but which have a fixed form which does not change the first group is everyday expressions. These have to be learnt as whole expressions. These expressions are often hard to find in dictionaries. For example as I was saying (it takes the conversation back to an earlier point). This group includes three sub - groups.

Conversation - building expressions - these are some common expressions that help to modify or organize what we are saying. There are many expressions like these. For example: as I was saying (it takes the conversation back to an earlier point). Some everyday expressions can be grouped around key words. The preposition “in” for example, occurs in several expressions: in fact (really), in practice (actually). Common expressions for modifying statements are also a part of this group. For example: as far as I'm concerned (from my point of view). As... as... similes and expressions with 'like' are easy to understand. If you see the phrase as dead as a doornail, you Don' T need to know what a doornail is, simply that the whole phrase means “totally dead”. But it's important to remember that fixed similes are not “neutral”; they are usually informal or colloquial and often humorous.

Idioms describing people Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell. English Vocabulary in Use. Cambridge University Press, 1994. can be divided into two sub-groups:

Idioms connected with positive and negative qualities, for example: His fingers are all thumbs (he's clumsy) or She has iron nerves (she's composed). How people relate to the social norm, for example: I think Mary has a secret to hide (She keeps something from us). I have divided idioms describing feelings or mood into three sub - groups. They are positive and negative feelings, moods and states. For example: to get on someone's nerves (to exasperate), to have a horror of (to disgust), to be as happy as the day is long (extremely content). Physical feelings and states. For example: to burst into tears (to cry). And people's fear or fright. For example: She was scared stiff, (very scared). Next group is idioms connected with problematic situations. The first sub - group is problems and difficulties. For example: a hard luck (failure). The second sub - group is idioms related to situations based on get. For example: to get frustrated (defeat). The third sub - group is changes and staves in situations. For example: to change one's mind (think better of it). At last idioms connected with easing the situation. For example: to do well (recover), to get off lightly (escape). Idioms connected with praise and criticism, for example: to go on at someone (criticize). Idioms connected with using language and communication. Idioms connected with communication problems. For example: to have a row with somebody (to quarrel). Good and bad talk. For example: stream of consciousness (flow of words). Talk in discussions, meetings, etc. For example: to strike up (a conversation) (to start a conversation). Idioms - miscellaneous. Idioms connected with paying, buying and selling. For example: to save up for (put by). Idioms based on names of the parts of the body. For example: to lend an ear (to listen to). Idioms connected with daily routine. For example: to do up (tidy up). There are also single idioms which cannot be included into described above groups. For example to run out (to come to an end) and some special groups of expressions in “Blueprint” such as all along (always), all in all (as a result), all of a sudden (unexpectedly). The last group of idioms is proverbs. For example: “Out of the frying Pan and into the fire” (from one disaster into another).

Differences in Idioms Usage in American English and British English

The background and etymological origins of most idioms is at best obscure. This is the reason why a study of differences between the idioms of American and British English is somewhat difficult. But it also makes the cases, where background, etymology and history are known, even more interesting. Some idioms of the "worldwide English" have first been seen in the works of writers like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll or even in the paperbacks of contemporary novelists. An example of Shakespearian quotation can be found in the following sentence: "As a social worker, you certainly see the seamy side of life." Biblical references are also the source of many idioms. Sports terms, technical terms, legal terms, military slang and even nautical expressions have found their way to the everyday use of English language. Following are some examples of these, some used in either American or British English and some used in both:

"Having won the first two Tests, Australia is now almost certain to retain the Ashes." (Ashes is a British English idiom that is nowadays a well-established cricket term.)

"In his case the exception proves the rule." (A legal maxim -- in full: "the exception proves the rule in cases not excepted". Widely used in both American English and British English.)

"To have the edge on/over someone." (This is originally American English idiom, now established in almost every other form of English, including British English.)

"A happy hunting ground." (Place where one often goes to obtain something or to make money. Originally American English idiom from the Red Indians' Paradise.)

In the old days English idioms rarely originated from any other form of English than British English. (French was also a popular source of idioms.) Nowadays American English is in this position. It is hard to find an American English idiom that has not established itself in "worldwide English" (usually British English). This is not the case with British English idioms which are not as widespread. It has to be remembered that it is hard to say which idioms are actively used in English and which are dying out or have already died. Idioms are constantly dying and new-ones are born.

Some idioms may have gone through radical changes in meaning. The phrase - There is no love lost between them - nowadays means that some people dislike one another. Originally, when there was only the British English form, it meant exactly the opposite. The shift in meaning is yet unexplained. All dialects of English have different sets of idioms and situations where a given idiom can be used. American English and British English may not, in this respect, be the best possible pair to compare because they both have been developing into the same direction, at least where written language is concerned, since the Second World War. The reason that there is so much American influence in British English is the result of the following:

Magnitude of publishing industry in the U.S.

Magnitude of mass media influence on a worldwide scale

Appeal of American popular culture on language and habits worldwide

International political and economic position of the U.S.

All these facts lead to the conclusion that new idioms usually originate in the U.S. and then become popular in so-called "worldwide English". This new situation is completely different from the birth of American English as a "variant" of British English. When America was still under the rule of the Crown, most idioms originated from British English sources. Of course there were American English expressions and idioms too, before American English could be defined as dialect of English. Some examples of these early American English idioms follow:

"To bark up the wrong tree." (Originally from raccoon-hunting in which dogs were used to locate raccoons up in trees.)

"Paddle one's own canoe." (This is an American English idiom of the late 18th Century and early 19th Century.)

Some of these early American idioms and expressions were derived from the speech of the American natives like the phrase that "someone speaks with a forked tongue" and the "happy hunting ground" above. These idioms have filtered to British English through centuries through books, newspapers and most recently through powerful mediums like radio, TV and movies.

Where was the turning point? When did American culture take the leading role and start shaping the English language and especially idiomatic expressions? There is a lot of argument on this subject. Most claim that the real turning point was the Second World War. This could be the case. During the War English-speaking nations were united against a common enemy and the U.S. took the leading role. In these few years and a decade after the War American popular culture first established itself in British English. Again new idioms were created and old ones faded away. The Second World War was the turning point in many areas in life. This may also be the case in the development of the English language.

In the old days the written language (novels, poems, plays and the Bible) was the source from which idioms were extracted. This was the case up until WWII. After the war new mediums had established themselves in English-speaking society, there was a channel for the American way of life and the popular culture of the U.S. TV, movies and nowadays the interactive medium have changed the English language more to the American English direction. Some people in the Europe speak the Mid-Atlantic English, halfway from the British English to American English.

The influence of American English can even be seen in other European languages. In Finland, we are adopting and translating American English proverbs, idioms and expressions. It can be said that the spoken language has taken the leading role over the written and the only reason for this is TV and radio. Most proverbs and idioms that have been adopted to British English from American English are of spoken origin. This is a definite shift from the days before WWII. What will this development do to the English language? Will it decrease its value? This could be argued, but the answer would still be no. Languages develop and change. So is the case with English language and idioms.

How then does American English differ from British English in the use of idioms? There are no radical differences in actual use. The main differences are in the situations where idiomatic expressions are used. There have been many studies recently on this subject. American English adopts and creates new idioms at a much faster rate compared to British English. Also the idioms of American English origin tend to spread faster and further. After it has first been established in the U.S., an American idiom may soon be found in other "variants" and dialects of English. Nowadays new British idioms tend to stay on the British Isles and are rarely encountered in the U.S. British idioms are actually more familiar to other Europeans or to the people of the British Commonwealth than to Americans, even though the language is same. The reason for all these facts is that Britain is not the world power it used to be and it must be said that the U.S. has taken the role of the leading nation in the development of language, media and popular culture. Britain just doesn't have the magnitude of media influence that the United States controls.

The future of idiomatic expressions in the English language seems certain. They are more and more based on American English. This development will continue through new mediums like the Internet and interactive mediums. It is hard to say what this will do to idioms and what kind of new idioms are created. This will be an interesting development to follow, and by no means does it lessen the humor, variety and color of English language.

2.1.2 The Difficulties of Translation

Some say, translation is art based on knowledge. Of course, an interpreter must have a good knowledge of the idioms of the two languages as well as take decisions to the best of his (her) knowledge and taste.

Suppose one has to interpret the idiom "метать громы и молнии (в чей-л. адрес)" which is rather frequently used in the Russian press. The interpreter who wants to make his translation idiomatic has to look up a dictionary of Russian idioms to be sure of the idiom's meaning, and then to find in a dictionary of English idioms an adequate English idiom. This process seems to be ideal but our interpreter soon realizes that translation begins where dictionaries end.

The interpreter would realize that the idiom "метать громы и молнии" may mean three things in one: (1) быть в страшном гневе, (2) выкрикивать бранные слова и (3) что подобные действия -- "гнев" и "крик"-- дело напрасное или неразумное.

So, it seems impossible to find a single English equivalent for all contexts. At first glance, however, it appears quite possible to find several English idioms and translate the Russian idiomatically 'by parts', that is,

(1) "быть в страшном гневе" may be expressed by 'to be beside oneself with rage' or 'to go up into the air' (i.e. explode with rage) or 'to fly off the handle' (which may, sometimes, correspond to the Russian "он словно с цепи сорвался");

(2) "выкрикивать бранные слова" can be idiomatically expressed by 'to jump down smb.'s throat' (i.e. shout angry words at smb. though (3) it is needless and/or unwise to do) or by 'to go off the deep end' (i.e. speak with unduly anger). However, the resulting combination of an idiom of 'rage' and of that 'of needless shouting' appears to be too long in time to suit interpretation purposes, e.g., 'Beside herself with rage, she was jumping down his throat' or even 'She went up into the air and off the deep end about it'. The latter-- we may note-- sounds particularly funny due to the zeugma's effect. (Recall Ch. Dickens' zeugma: 'She fell into a chair and a fainting fit simultaneously'.)

On the other hand, the shortest way of translating the idiom "метать громы и молнии" may well be 'to hurl thunderbolts at smb.', that is, by means of a metaphor devised by experienced translators. This metaphor does not exist in the English language but is well understood when the context helps. We realize, at the same time, that the latter part of our combined equivalents, that is, 'to jump down smb.'s throat' and 'to go off the deep end' seem to be satisfactory for the purpose because their usage cannot be imagined beyond the scope of anger.

As one can see now, interpreters are not able to deal, in their work, only with the idioms (e.g., "Привычка--вторая натура") that may have, in English, their ready-made equivalents (e.g., 'Custom is second nature'). Interpreters have to be ready to create what we might call 'contextual equivalents' which do not exist in dictionaries.

And it is not at all enough to know the existing types of translation, that is, for example, to know that Russian idiomatic phrases can be translated by means of

(1) an English absolute monoequivalent ("складывать оружие" - 'to lay down one's arms'),

(2) or by a relative equivalent ("встречать что-либо в штыки" - 'to meet smth. at dagger-point'),

(3) or by a selected synonym ("метать громы и молнии" might, depending on a context, be translated either as 'to jump down smb.'s throat' or 'to go off the deep end' or 'to go up into the air', etc., etc., etc.),

(4) or metaphorically ("метать громы и молнии"- `tо hurl thunder bolts at smb.'),

(5) or, the last and the least, by a description ("встречать что-либо в штыки"- `tо give smth. a hostile reception' or 'to meet smth. With resistance', or the like).

It is only natural that this very classification Катцер Ю., Кунин А., Письменный перевод с русского языка на английский. М., 1964, с. 94-100; 104-109 (as any other) can and does show the result of the translation, whereas the process of translation is really quite different.

The choice of a particular type of translation is secondary and subordinate to the requirements that our translation should be (a) adequate and (b) idiomatic. Besides, the choice also depends on (c) the circumstantial factors of the language.

NOTE: The use of a descriptive translation may be justified, for one, if a certain idiom is repeated twice in the same paragraph. To avoid tautо1оgу and present a better style of narration, it is acceptable to translate one of the phrases descriptively.

One must learn how to translate an idiom by an idiom (e.g., "встречать в штыки" by 'to meet at dagger-point') because descriptive translations (e.g., 'to meet with resistance') almost always happen to be not only emotively blank but also unable to serve as a basis for our applicating, in the process of translation, such important and necessary stylistic means as puns (e.g., "Она встретила предложение в штыки, но штыки ее оказались тупыми".) or anti-idiomatic additions (e.g., "Они встретили наше предложение буквально в штыки".) and many others to be thoroughly considered by us in this book later on.

Here are just the three idioms: "разводить руками", "ахиллесова пята" and "метать громы и молнии". They deserve to be considered separately.

разводить руками

We see that, firstly, the phrase "разводить руками" can be taken for a free word-combination and it would be an error, to do so. Secondly, I he idiom is in common with the language of gestures. And "Он развел руками" is often translated as 'He shrugged his shoulders', for the Russian gesture is rarely employed in the English 'language of gestures'. And, thirdly, it is common knowledge that this and any gesture can mean different things and, thus, is to be understood accordingly. For instance, one may shrug one's shoulders as a sign of regret, astonishment, lack of understanding or information. And this is why this Russian phrase sometimes complicates the translators' life, and one would especially appreciate knowing that this phrase is frequently used both in the press and in colloquial speech. See how it is translated by our brothers-in-arms. Two examples:

(1) Папа-краб ходил, жаловатьcя капитану, тот только развел руками: «Жалуйтесь на них в Марселе, если угодно...» (А. Толcтой)

Papa crab went to complain to the captain but the latter only shrugged his shoulders: "You may complain about them in Marseilles if you wish..."

(2) Очень много богатства и очень мало настоящего искусства. В общем это то, что французские художники, безнадежно разводя руками, называют «стиль Триумф». (И. Ильф, Е. Петров)

There was much wealth but little real art. As a whole, it was what French artists, helplessly shrugging their shoulders, called "style triumphe."

Thus, one can see that the nut is not so hard to crack. It is most often enough to 'shrug one's shoulders' and add the words 'in bewilderment' or 'helplessly', or anything that the gesture may mean.

ахиллесова пята

The phrase "ахиллесова пята" (tr.: 'the Achilles' heel') is easier to dial with, for it exists only as an idiom. The phrase means: 'The weak or vulnerable spot in a man's character or a state's (company's, etc.) affairs.' (According to the legend, Achilles, with the exception of one heel, was protected against every weapon his enemies might use.) And 'the Achilles' heel' as a phrase has the definite article and the apostrophy to be observed and not to be 'bruised'. Example:

Но увы! и у него была ахиллесова пята, и он имел слабости... Подсохин любил писать. (И. Ламечников)

But alas! He had the Achilles' heel, too. Yes, he also had his own weakness... Podsokhin was fond of writing.

метать громы и молнии

The phrase "метать громы и молнии" exists only as an idiom but its happens to be misleading. This phrase does not necessarily mean 'to frighten smb.' as one might wrongly guess. It means 'to be furious at smb.'

One can try and select a synonym (like 'to go off the deep end about smth.') out of the group of English synonyms but... the Russian context may oppose it, for these English phrases may turn out to be too colloquial to be used, say, in the translation of a newspaper text.

It seems, therefore, that in most of the cases we may safely use the method of translating this Russian phrase, 'literally and metaphorically', for a metaphor itself shows its colouring and intention in a flexible way: it is understood from the context, and the stronger the language of the context is the stronger the metaphor will sound. And the suggested metaphor is 'to hurl thunderbolts at smb. (or smth.)'.

This metaphor seems sufficient but it requires a material object for the action, that is, for 'hurling thunderbolts' at something worth 'hurling thunderbolts' at. In other words, one cannot 'hurl thunderbolts', say, at a 'fact' or an 'idea'. One can always do so at a 'person' as well as at something which is a 'state', 'company', 'newspaper' or the like. And in such cases as when there is no material object for our metaphorical action, one may resort-to the idiom 'to blow one's top' and say, for example, 'He blew his top... at the fact that...' or '...when he heard that...', which would mean just 'to be fuming'. The phrase 'to blow one's top' is used in the English press and is not very negative though it is quite expressive.

2.1.3 Synonymous Statements and Emphasis

The translation of the Russian idiomatic phrase "взять (брать) себя в руки" (or: "держать себя в руках") depends on the context, that is, on what the author means:

(a) "Взять себя в руки" when one is under a moment's strain usually means 'to pull oneself together' and... stop crying or being panicky, or the like. Example:

...Клавдия, не приготовившая сложения и вычитания, громко заплакала посреди урока арифметики. Катя постучала карандашом о кафедру:

- Возьми сейчас же себя в руки, Клавдия. (А. Толстой)

...Klavdia, who had not done her addition and subtraction, burst out into loud sobs during the lesson, Katya knocked her pencil on the teacher's desk:

"Pull yourself together this moment, Klavdia."

(b) "ВЗЯТЬ себя в руки" when someone is under a more or less permanent strain and is worrying about something usually means 'to take oneself in hand'. Example:

- Вообще-то надо тебе взять себя в руки,-- порекомендовал Женя.-- Если по-дружески, как мужчина мужчине, то ты, разумеется, способнее меня, но разбрасываешься, дружок. (Ю. Герман)

"By and large, I'd say take your- self in hand," Yevgeny said. "To be quite honest, as man to man, you're a lot cleverer than I am, but you can't stick to one thing at a time."

However, in the following extract, the man in love seems to believe t hat his nervous strain has a permanent nature though his friends who think the opposite advise him that he rather 'pull himself together' and not 'take himself in hand':

...Я, говорит, в своих чувствах не волен, моя любовь сильнее меня. Мы, конечно, с Сергеем Андреевичем рекомендовали ему в руки себя взять -- куда там! У него, видите ли, сдерживающие центры отказали. (Ю. Герман)

..."I can't help my feelings," he said, "my love is stronger than my will." Sergei Andreyevich and I naturally advised him to pull him- Self together--but he wouldn't listen. He said his control centres had snapped! How d'you like that?

(с) "Держать себя в руках" and never show signs of fear or other emotions usually means 'to hold (or: keep) oneself in hand'. However, we must admit that this expression does not point to the amount of will power or, say, extreme efforts taken by the person in question for keeping control of himself. But precisely this can be conveyed by the phrase 'to keep a (tight) hold on oneself'. For instance, chain smokers and drunkards who try to abstain would undoubtedly say that they 'keep a tight hold on themselves'.

We have seen above that the phrase 'держать себя в руках' can be expressed by several English phrases in different contexts. Why is it so?

We know, for instance, that one Russian word may correspond to two or more English words (e.g., "Нога" - 'leg' or 'foot', "палец'' - 'finger', 'thumb' or 'toe'). We would translate "Он держал в руках книгу" as 'He held a book in his hands' but "Она держала в руках ребенка" as 'She held a baby in her arms'. Firstly, one language makes it possible not to express the difference between certain notions whereas the other language makes it obligatory to express it. In other words, the difference between languages lies in not what they can express (any thought can be expressed in any language) but in what they cannot help expressing. Бархударов Л.С., Рецкер Я.И., Курс лекций по теории перевода, 1-й МГПИИЯ, М., 1968, с. 6-13

Бархударов Л.С., Язык и перевод. М., 1975, с.83-86 Secondly, one can see that the words "hands" and "arms" have their own (different) meaning. But they perform the same function in the action "держать в руках". Their meaning in this action comes to us from their function. The function (cause) is primary. The meaning (effect) is secondary. Thus, it is the function that has to be translated first thing and never mind by what means. Here, ends justify the means (lexical, grammatical, etc.).

Let us consider now some of the possible contextual functions of the phrase "смотреть сквозь пальцы" and how each particular function can be translated into English:

(а) "Смотреть сквозь пальцы" and 'to turn a blind eye (to smth.)' may perform one and the same function of 'ignoring on purpose',

(b) The function of 'pretending not to see smth. embarrassing or ;ht with danger' may be expressed by both "смотреть сквозь пальцы" and 'to shut one's eyes (to smth.)'.

(c) When a person who "закрывает глаза (на что-л.)" is criticized for it because he is believed 'to be irresponsible enough to overlook someone's grave misconduct', one can say that the irresponsible person simply `turned a blind eye (to it)', which is, in fact, negative attitude in criticism in.

(d) The phrases "смотреть сквозь пальцы" and 'to look through one's fingers' (or. 'to wink at smth.') may be used in the function of 'to pretend (for some reason) not to see an error, piece of misconduct, etc'.

(e) And finally, "смотреть сквозь пальцы" may have the function of 'neglecting as being indifferent', that is, of 'not caring a damn (about smth.)' or simply 'not troubling'.

Thus, we can see that two phrases (in two different languages) that minim the same functions Бархударов Л.С., Рецкер Я.И., Курс лекций по теории перевода, 1-й МГПИИЯ, М., 1968, с. 6-13 can meet each other, shake hands and lake a junction as allies and brothers-in-arms.

Let us see now whether this rule is also good for sуnоnуms we to deal with.

It is common knowledge that two or more phrases are synonymous if and when some of their functions coincide. For instance, the Russian phrases "смотреть сквозь пальцы" and "закрывать глаза (на что-л.)" are synonyms, for they may perform the same functions, namely, functions "b" and "c". And consequently, it means that both of the phrases performing function "b" can be translated by the English phrase 'to shut one's eyes' as well as bоth of them performing function "c" can be translated by means of 'to turn a blind eye'.

The Russian language has a tendency of not letting a thought be expressed somewhat partially, for it hates preservations and hints. It prefers to dot the "i's" and cross the "i's". For instance, a Russian speaker would seldom use an idiom (e.g., "у меня зуб на зуб не попадает") without adding anything more specific (e.g., "я очень продрог") which is to explain what the speaker exactly means. If, on the other hand, the Russian speaker says "я очень продрог", he is often inclined to add "зуб на зуб не попадает" in order to draw the listener's attention to the significance of the fact.

The English language, on the contrary, has quite an opposite tendency. Just see the following example:

"Evidently," Mason said, "your detective is somewhat green at the game." (E. S, Gardner)

One can see that the English language does not insist that the speaker (Mr. Mason) should give an explanation of his idiom and say something like '[because] your detective doesn't know his work well.'

Conclusion: It is true that interpreters are normally expected to translate the information in detail. However they may, in cases of sуnonуmоus statements, translate only the idiomatic part of a pair of statements under the condition that the idea expressed in the idiom is 100% intelligible to the listener and the 'explanation' does not contain new information. Such a way of translation will suit the said requirements of the English language and, besides, will enable you to condense the-translated information in case you are interpreting it simultaneously.

2.1.4 Indices for Interpretation

Indices for interpretation: meaning and usage. Image as selected designation. Beware translating designations.

In physics, mathematics and other exact sciences, two or more phenomena are considered equivalent when they have authentic indices, that is, when all their indices coincide.

The same cam be said about two (Russian and English) idioms, except that interpreters are never able to deal only with absolute equivalents like "Привычка-- вторая натура" = 'Custom is second nature'. We have to deal with relative equivalents whose indices, not all, but at least the main ones do coincide.

Idiomatic phrases have four main indices to their equivalency which are, to us, indiсеs for interpretation (переводческие показатели). They are: meaning (mng), conditions of usage (use), emotive overtones (o-t) and style (sty).

You can see that meaning, as an index for interpretation, describes the essence of the action (or event) whereas usage shows the conditions under which a given idiom may be used altogether, that is, the forms of the action, its aims, etc. For instance, in the phrase 'to pull the wool over smb.'s eyes' (mng: to deceive, to fool; use: when a person wants to do it by not letting smb. know smth.) the obligatory condition under which the phrase may be altogether used by a speaker, is 'by not letting smb. know smth.' (the form of the action).

If one takes, say, a number of synonyms (e.g., 'to throw dust in smb.'s eyes', 'to draw a red herring', 'to pull smb.'s leg', etc.) whose meaning is, naturally, the same (e.g., to deceive, to fool), one can see that most of them, if not all, differ by conditions of their usage. It is, then, the condition of the usage, the core of the idiom, Кузьмин С., Употребление - главное звено механизма переводческих показателей (на примере фразеологизмов). Тетради переводчика, М., 1972 that may and, often, should be considered first.

Case 1

The easiest case is when an interpreter who deals with an idiom like “сводить концы с концами” finds, among its English synonyms (e.g., 'to live from hand to mouth', 'to keep the wolf from the door', 'to make both ends meet', etc.), one (e.g., 'to make both ends meet') whose main indices coincide with those of the Russian phrase. The job is done, then. The required English idiom is in the bag. Translation begins.

Case 2

In case both of the usage indices (the cores of the idioms!) coincide and meanings do not, one may try to alter the image of the English phrase and adjust its meaning to the requirements of the Russian meaning. Thus, "He так страшен черт, как его малюют" becomes practically equivalent to 'The devil is not as terrible (instead of 'so black') as he is painted'.

In case meaning indices coincide and usage indices do not, the job of the interpreter is not a bed of roses. One is expected to know the items (i.e., every condition) of the Russian phrase's usage and be prepared to translate them idiomatically. Then, a descriptive translation of the idiom's meaning can be added to our idiomatic translation of the usage and placed after it as an 'explanation' of the English idiom (like 'explanation' in a pair of cause-and-effect relation statements) if the meaning is not clear from the context itself.

For instance, the phrase "пускать пыль в глаза" (mng: to deceive, to hoodwink) has at least three permanent items of its usage.

We have not been able to avail ourselves, in this case, of the English phrase 'to throw dust in smb.'s eyes' though its dust-in-the-eyes image is similar to the "пыль в глаза" image of the Russian phrase. The usage of this English phrase differs from that of the Russian idiom:

'to throw dust in smb.'s eyes'

use: to deceive by preventing a person from seeing the true state of affairs (as if by impairing a person's vision so that he cannot see things clearly).

Had one translated the phrase "пускать пыль в глаза" by means of `to throw dust in smb.'s eyes' (tr.: сбивать кого-л. с толку) it would have been an error which can be generally considered typical of inexperienced interpreters and translators.

2.1.5 Proverbs Figurativeness and Its Means

Translators are faced with formidable problems. Many writers and poets thought it necessary to voice their opinion of how one should approach proverbs. V. A. Zhukovsky Жуковский В.А., Предисловие к «Дон Кихоту». М., 1805, с. 2 stressed that translators "should produce the effect of the original." Not a few writers likewise opposed literal, word-for-word translations of proverbs (and we know this to be true), the question however remains: how should they be translated? V. G. Belinsky said that "the internal life of the translated expression should correspond to the internal life of the original." Белинский В.Г., Собр. соч., СПБ, 1896, т. 1, с. 299 This is true again. It seems therefore that we should do this, that and the other. We agree to do this, that and the other... But, apparently, we must focus our attention on figurativeness when translating proverbs. Федоров А.В., Введение в теорию перевода, М., 1967, с.172, 174 Thus, our translation of a proverb must either be, in fact, an English proverb or an idiomatic sounding metaphor. And this seems to be the right answer to the question of what we must do above all, especially because "The corresponding image as well as the corresponding phrase do not always present a visible adequacy of words."

The translation difficulties usually arise in cases when (a) there happens to be no corresponding English proverb that we can use for our translation or (b) when the existing "ready-made" equivalent (e.g., an English proverb) cannot be used as it is because, for example, the Russian proverb is innovated in speeсh and, thus, may convey a specific additional meaning.

An analysis of translators' work shows that we may have the following means at our disposal in order to overcome these difficulties and to ensure the figurativeness of our translation: (1) use of rhymed and/or rhythmically arranged metaphors, (2) use of English phrases, proverbs and their components as a basis of one's translation, (3) utilization of the structures of English proverbs, (4) use of innovation as a means of adequacy, (5) use of colloquialisms and special introductions , etc. It is the соmplex use of these means which could guarantee the desired result.

Rhymed Metaphors

A rhyme alone is a supplementary means. For instance, the rhymed words "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" have a meaning which is in no way metaphorical. These cigarettes are real, and one cannot say the same of the words "Либо дождик, либо снег--либо будет, либо нет". Both "дождик" and "снег" are metaphorical. This Russian saying was once translated as "Who knows -- maybe rain and maybe snow, maybe yes and maybe no."

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