10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

There are more than a million words in English. Nevertheless, there are often insurmountable difficulties when trying to translate certain words into this richest language, the meaning of which is quite obvious to a Russian person. Especially when these words are related to the phenomenon of the "mysterious Russian soul."


1. Vulgarity / Poshlost

Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov, teaching Slavic studies to American students, admitted that he could not translate this word, which every Russian easily understands.

Nabokov tried to convey to the audience the essence of this concept with examples:

“Open any magazine, and you will surely see something like this: the family just bought a radio (car, refrigerator, silverware — it doesn't matter), and the mother claps her hands, overjoyed, the children gathered around her with open mouths, the baby and the dog are drawn to the table, on which the new-born idol is hoisted for worship ... and the father, the breadwinner of the family, stands proudly a little apart.The “vulgarity” of such a scene does not even consist in a false exaggeration of the value of table silver, but in the very assumption one can buy such a violent joy and that such a purchase ennobles the buyer. ”

A professor at Harvard University Svetlana Boim added later:

"This word simultaneously means triviality, vulgarity, sexual promiscuity, and heartless."

2. Tear / Nadryv

In German Wikipedia there is a whole dedicated to the word "tear". This concept was firmly established in everyday life thanks to the novels of Dostoevsky and is one of the most capacious, expressive, rooted in Russian culture and therefore difficult to translate. In the word “anguish”, in addition to the idea of ​​exerting all forces, there is also a kind of masochistic narcissism, and hysterical confession, as well as an uncontrolled emotional outburst, when a person releases intimate, deeply hidden feelings.

Moreover, the anguish of Dostoevsky implies a situation in which the hero cherishes the hope of finding something in his soul that does not exist at all. The fourth book of the second part of the novel “The Brothers Karamazov” is called: “Nadryv”.

3. Rudeness / Khamstvo

This phenomenon was well described by the Soviet writer Sergei Dovlatov, who claimed that “rudeness is nothing but rudeness, arrogance and arrogance, coupled with impunity”.

It is impossible to fight rudeness, you can only put up with it, the writer believed, adding that rudeness simply simply kills everything human in a person

“I lived in a crazy, beautiful, terrifying New York for ten years and most of all I was surprised by the lack of rudeness. Here anything can happen to you, but you will not meet rudeness. You may even be robbed, but not shut the door in front of your nose. "

4. to flush / Stushevatsya

Dostoevsky, which he first used in the story "The Double." In its use, “blurring” meant the desire to become imperceptible, recede into the background, leave the stage, and later acquired the meaning of “embarrassed”, “confused in an awkward or unexpected situation.”

5. Tosca

This word can be translated into English as “emotional pain” or “melancholy” (emotional pain, melancholy), but this does not convey all its depth. Vladimir Nabokov wrote that “not a single word in English can convey all the nuances of anguish.It is a feeling of spiritual suffering without any particular reason. This is an obscure pain of the soul, vague anxiety, nostalgia, love longing. "

6. Being / Bytie

This word comes from Russian to be (exist). In Russian-English dictionaries, this philosophical category is translated as being. However, being is not just life, but the existence of objective reality that does not depend on human consciousness (cosmos, nature, matter).

7. Lawlessness / Bespredel

Eliot Borenstein, a Slavic professor at New York University, explains that lawlessness literally means “no restrictions”. Translators often use "lawlessness" to convey its meaning. However, in Russian, the meaning of lawlessness is much broader and relates to the behavior of a person who violates not only the law, but social and moral norms.

8. Avos / Avos ’

Explain the meaning of the word to people of other nationalities is simply impossible. Interestingly, many people believe that “maybe” is almost the main national trait of the Russian people. “Hoping at random” means doing something without planning, without making special efforts, and hoping for success.

9. Holy fool / Yurodivy

In ancient Russia, holy fools called people who voluntarily gave up earthly pleasures in the name of Christ. They looked like crazy and led a way of life wanderers to find inner peace and eradicate passion. They were revered as close to God, believed in their prophecies, and sometimes even feared.

10. Feat / Podvig

This word is often translated into English as a feat or achievement, but its meaning is much broader. The feat is not only a result or achievement, but a brave and heroic act, an act performed in difficult circumstances. In Russian literature military, civil and even scientific feats are often mentioned. Moreover, this word is synonymous with disinterested acts, for example, “feat in the name of love”.


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  • 10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English

    10 Russian words that can not be translated into English