Analyzing the need
Apart from the fact that Russian is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Tourism Organization, it also ranks fifth in the list of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Russia hold a key position in the present global economy, being a strategic exporter of technology, especially in the Oil and Gas, as well as Defense sectors. Collectively, all this has increased the demand for Russian to English translation across the world.
Food for thought
“Translation is not a matter of words only; it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” Not only is this view put forth by English Writer Anthony Burgess thought-provoking, it also questions the relevance of word-to-word translations. The wide variety of computer aided translations available today certainly save a lot of time, money and effort, and are of great help to professional translators, but sole dependence on them for executing a full-fledged translation project (for instance, one that entails website translation) is highly questionable.
With this thought in mind, let us ponder over the easiest available options for translating a Russian website into English.
1. Use a Russian to English bilingual dictionary: This is probably the oldest aid for translation and is an excellent aid for beginner or learners. But it is impossible to convert a Russian website into English solely using this age-old tool.
2. As the first step towards Russian to English translation, Romanization of the Russian words can be done, which means transliterating the Russian Cyrillic script into the Latin alphabet. This can be done via a number of websites, one of them being http://www.translit.ru/, which transliterates Russian letters into Latin letters. If you copy and paste a Russian word into the field, the website will give you a letter-to-letter Latin Alphabet equivalent. However, this only involves transliteration and does not imply proper translation.
3. The most popular and instant option of course is Google Translate (translate.google.com/) Even a layman who has no idea about translation can use it conveniently; one just needs to select the desired languages and enter words, sentences or paragraphs in the translation field. However the number of paragraphs that can be entered is limited. Moreover, there are two major disadvantages of using this tool. First, its underlying principle involves Statistical Machine Translation without application of grammatical rules, and second, it often uses English as a pivot language, which increases the ambiguity in the final translated version.
Here is an example of a mistake caused by overlooking the grammatical aspect as extracted from Wikipedia:
Пишет (3rd person: it writes) вам (dative: to you(all)) письмо (letter) семья (family) Дарьи (genitive: of Daria).
Based on the word order, Google translates: You wrote a letter to family Darya.
Based on declensions (word functions), it means: [it's] Daria’s family [that] writes you a letter, exactly the opposite.
Google took you for to you, Daria for of Daria as well as to the family for the family.
4. One can log onto the website www. Dictionary.reference.com, and select the translator tab, which will display a field where you can enter up to a maximum limit of 2000 characters at one time.
5. Bing Translator (www.bing.com/translator): This has the option of translating entire web pages by selecting “translate this web page” in Bing Search results. One has the option of viewing the bilingual viewer in four different layouts namely top and bottom, side by side, original with hover translation and vice versa. However, the underlying technique of word-to-word translation often leads to errors.
6. Babylon Translator (translation.babylon.com/): This gives you the option of specifying your domain. There are about 400 options you can choose from ranging from arts, business, and computers to health, law, entertainment and sports.
The question of finesse
All said and done, there is no software or tool that can substitute the expertise of certified, professional translation of a Russian Website into English. The following points illustrate why:
• Only an expert human translator can understand the context and objective of the translator and execute the translation accordingly.
• Professional translation entails understanding the psyche and expectations of the end-user and translating the website accordingly.
• The question of finesse in translation means understanding lexical gaps, area-specific idioms, terms, terminology etc and conveying the real meaning as opposed to the literal/ word-to-word meaning
• For effective website translation, one needs to understand the political, social and cultural background of the end-user in order to deliver socially as well as culturally appropriate translations.
• The ambiguous word-to-word translation of machine churned versions is eliminated.
About the author
Sitara Sankar is a Content Marketing Specialist at TIIT Solutions a subsidiary of TridIndia IT Translation Services Pvt. Ltd- One of the top provider of Russian translation services. She is passionate about writing unique, innovative and engaging content on a diverse range of topics. You can catch up with her on Twitter @sitara_sankar.