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How can proverbs be translated?

Having met many times in my life with citizens of the Republic of Belarus or the Russian Federation, I have had the pleasure of improving my knowledge of #translation# not only of intricate and difficult technical, legal, business texts, but also of proverbs. I would like to point out at this point that I am not able to quote all Russian proverbs, but I will at least present the ones that have been most engraved in my memory.

How, then, should proverbs be #translated#? This is the question translators ask themselves when accepting an assignment. Should they translate them literally, or should they look for an equivalent in Polish? This varies. I will use one example here: “Бог троицу любит”. It can be #translated# literally – “God likes the Trinity”, or, as one can most often hear such a proverb on the occasion of some celebration, party, at the table- “Well, on the third leg”. Of course, one knows what is meant.

Another proverb, found especially in guests, only that, the phrase falls from the side of the guests: “В гостях хорошо, а дома лучше”. How does this proverb #translate# ? The literal translation is practically the same as the Polish equivalent – “Everywhere is good, but at home is best”. Or let me cite another proverb, particularly frequent in the post-Soviet period: “Где сила, там и закон”, which can be #translated#, as: “There is law where there is force”. Admittedly, in these two cases we got a literal #translation# of the proverb, but I will give an example that one should nevertheless look for the Polish equivalent in the #translation# of proverbs: “Два сапога – пара”. Here one should use the equivalent Polish proverb – “They got matched, as in a poppy seed”.


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