Andrey (azangru) wrote,

I’ve been listening to The Unwomanly Face of War, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky. The worst part of the audiobook is narrators. This is a curious case — usually, the problem with narrators of English texts about anything Russia-related is that they cannot pronounce Russian words; they don't know where to put the stress; they don't apparently have a phonetic transcription or any other means of assistance in front of them. The narrators of the Unwomanly Face are almost unique in that they are Russian speakers. They have no problem with pronouncing Russian names or placenames. But god do they have an accent. And — here's the curious bit — it sounds as if they are intentionally, theatrically exaggerating it, so as to impress the foreignness, the Russianness of the book, upon the listener. This is very distracting and hard to listen.

A couple of problematic translations I picked up, both medical:

- I ran to the recruiting office at once. I had angina, I still had a high temperature. But I couldn't wait.

Angina, is of course, a mistranslation of the Russian ангина, which is pharyngitis, or whatever the vernacular equivalent of this condition is (a bad case of sore throat). In English, angina almost exclusively refers to a heart problem.

- I was second-year student at the paramedical-obstetric school in the city of Sverdlovsk

At first I thought that the word obstetric was wrong — put alongside paramedic, it begged for being midwifery; but then I glanced in the original and saw that the Russian is фельдшерско-акушерская школа. I don't know whether there is a native English equivalent for the Russian feldsher (apparently from the German word for field surgeon, and recorded in Merriam-Webster as feldsher) — it is an untranslatable beast similar to the candidate of sciences — but whatever it is, it can't be paramedic. A paramedic is a санитар.

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