Как перевести непереводимое: 25 слов-реалий и фраз, которых нет в английском

Иногда трудно найти общий язык с иностранцами: некоторые культурные и социальные явления, присущие нашей культуре, - непонятны и непереводимы для жителей других стран. В лингвистике они даже получили специальное название «лакуны» - понятия, которые отсутствуют в определенном языке, однако имеются в другом языке. Как же переводить такие слова? Чтобы их перевести приходится подробно описывать значение этого слова.

Мы попытались частично решить эту проблему и создали некий "словарь" из 25 слов и крылатых фраз. Пора разъяснить иностранцам, что такое "халява", "беспредел", "совок" и почему "хотелось как лучше, а получилось как всегда" звучит неутешительно.


1. "Авось" – "Avos'"

Объяснение: This word is used when there is some problem or difficulty, meaning that either the person will somehow manage to solve or avoid the problem, or at least will be able to endure it. It’s blind trust in sheer luck; counting on a miracle. This word is ingrained into Russian mentality. All those videos with Russians doing crazy stuff - they are thinking "Авось пронесёт", "It has a chance of succeeding, so I will count on it."


2. А голову ты дома не забыл? – Haven`t you forgotten your head at home?

Объяснение: A most common "pun", used by teachers to tease a pupil who`s forgotten his journal or / and homework. Became a popular meme which`s used by adults as well, to make fun of a forgetful person in various situations.


3. Белоручка - "beloruchka"

Объяснение: A person who does not want to do any dirty work.


4. "Беспредел" – "without-boundaries"

Объяснение: An unacceptable occurrence, often of a social or political character. Many of those examples happen on the roads when drivers don’t follow any rules or regulations.


5. В часов семь - "in the seventh hour"

Объяснение: Though literally it’s "at seven o’clock" but it means approximately anytime between 6:00 and 7:00, with the word order suggesting vagueness and impreciseness in the time. This technique works for other hours as well.


6. Галерка - "gal`orka"

Literally having the same meaning as "the gallery", upper side of the theater on the opposite side of the stage, in universities we use "gal`orka" to denote the last rows of the auditorium, usually inhabited by D-students or ones , who want to have some sleep at the lecture.


7. Двойной листочек - Double sheet

Объяснение: Russian schools are still using specific types of notebooks for pupils, their size and formatting being strictly regulated (for example, usually you are not allowed to use blank A4 sheets for your notes or tests). When the teacher announces that "Everyone should tear a double sheet out of their notebooks right now", it usually means that the class is going to have a test, answers for which are written on the abovementioned papers.


8. Да нет, наверное – Well, probably no

Объяснение: Despite apparent literal nonsense, this collocation is actually used to express uncertain denial, equating "probably not". It is used by everyone on daily basis as "soft no" without even noticing how hilarious the idiom is. Actually, in this case 'да' doesn't mean 'yes'. It's a common word in Russia that could be put before any statement, similar to English words 'actually' or 'well'. So this phrase could be perfectly translated as a 'well', probably no'


9. "Знать понаслышке" - to know by hearsay

Объяснение: To know something without particular, personal experience in the matter.


10. "Лопата!" - "A shovel!" ta-da..

It’s used after a poor joke or un-joke -- means "Ok, that's the joke, you can laugh now" or "Well, that was a very dull joke, man". Also, possibly related to the English usage of the "cricket" sound effect after a dull joke.


11. Маршрутка - "marshrutka"

Объяснение: An unusual combination of public transport and taxi: mini-bus in a poor condition (usually yellow, but other colorings also possible), which runs along the routes of buses and trams more frequently than other types of public transport, but tickets for which are a bit more expensive.


12. Накрыть стол - To set the table

Объяснение: You don`t only set the table for family dinners - usually you`re supposed to do that for a person, who`ve made you a favor, person, to whom you owe something to pay back - for example to your Department members at university after you've graduated.


13. "Нашла коса на камень" - Hit a rock with a scythe

Объяснение: Two stubborn people collided head-on and wouldn't give up.


14. Последний звонок - The Last Bell

Объяснение: Annual prom celebration, which marks the bell ringing for school-leavers, denoting their last lesson at school.


15. Почемучка - child at the age of how's and why's

Объяснение: A person (usually a child) who asks a lot of questions. In fact, parents or grandparents often use this word to speak kindly of a child, without any negative meaning


16. Переподвыподверт - Perepodvypodvert

Объяснение: This noun refers to something being made in a complex, almost incomprehensible way. This word is hard to pronounce as it has 4 prefixes, so it’s often used as a tongue twister as well.


17. Показуха - "Pokazuha"

Объяснение: An effort to disguise bad state of affairs by showing off everything in a positive aspect.

18. Пропить (smth.) – to spend on drink, to drink away smth
Объяснение: To sell the thing and to spend all the money on booze. You can spend on drink not just physical things, you can "пропить" your own marriage, career , whole life, etc. Like the film «Географ глобус пропил» (The geographer that drank the globe away) which has literal and metaphorical meanings. Great movie to watch.


19. Потискать - to cuddle aggressively, "hug you and squeeze you into itty-bitty pieces"

Объяснение: It means to cuddle-squeeze for bit of time. It's what you would do if you saw a really cute animal and you just wanted to ruffle your hands through it's fur and make affectionate noises in a baby voice.


20. Селедка под шубой - Herring in a fur-coat

Объяснение: Traditional salad, which consists of herring, covered with layers of onions, potatoes, carrots, chopped eggs, beetroot and mayonnaise. May sound unusual, but has been approved by numerous generations of foodies and is an essential dish on every New Year`s menu.


21. "Совок" - "sovok"

Объяснение: Literally having the same meaning as "scoop". Anything with a negative tinge of Soviet Union heritage (e.g. primitive narrow-mindedness, poor functioning community services, bureaucracy etc.)


22. Сглазить - to give an evil eye (to someone)

Объяснение: When something bad happens people tend to think that’s because someone has given an evil eye to them.


23. "Только за смертью посылать" - "Should only be sent to fetch Death himself"

Объяснение: For when a person takes inordinately long time to bring something or complete a task, you can say that he should only be sent for the death, since it will also take so long that the death will effectively never come.


24. "Халява" - "Khalyava", freebie, free swag

Объяснение: Something you get without even trying, entirely for free, by lucking out; a mysterious state of getting everything free of labor and cost by lucking out. In Russia it has much more connotation than "freebies" and "swag", because it is strongly connected to being lucky. "Халява, приди" (Come to me, oh Khalyava!) is a traditional luck chant of many college students. You may take something for free, even if you don't need it, just because it's "халява". Well, ever lucked out on an exam because of a random fluke without preparing at all? That is "халява".


25. "Хотелось как лучше, а получилось как всегда" - We tried our best, you know the rest.

Объяснение: "We tried to make things better, but the outcome was what it always is". A particularly snappy phrase referring to the way our own well-intended yet invariably misguided and bumbled actions inevitably doom us to remain mired in the unfortunate status quo.



Как видите изучать английский это не только механическая зубрежка слов и грамматика, а уникальная возможность  глубже осознать свой родной язык, прикоснуться к традициям, культуре и уникальному типу мышления. Недаром же Чехов утверждал " Сколько ты знаешь языков, столько раз ты человек". Чем больше ты знаешь языков, тем богаче ты сам, тем образованней и эрудированней становишься. Расширяя рамки изучения английского, получаешь очередной бонус, постигаешь глубину своего народа. А вы находили в русском языке слова, которых не хватает в английском?

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