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Thread: Translation exercises

  1. #1
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    Translation exercises

    While I generally don't use Russian in my lessons I have found it very useful to have my students translate some things from Russian into English. Can anyone reccomend some exercise books for this?

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    I usually have students translate from Russian to English (not a lot, but maybe 1/5 of the time). They all like doing it and find it useful, and it helps them understand some basic difference between Russian and English sentence structure (i.e. Я хочу, чтобы ты купила = I want you to buy, NOT I want that you bought). I make a lot of my own exercises, to practice the vocabulary they have already learned and their weak points, because I basically don't like any Russian English books. But if I am feeling lazy I use the Golytsinsky Grammatika book (as I understand pretty much all Russian students use it in school now, and most of my students already have a copy), or sometimes something else, like "Read and Speak English" or "Everyday English" (cheap books, not sure about the publisher). I think all of these books are the same in the sense that they can be useful for grammar but not too useful for vocabulary (using the same words over and over, or words which students don't really need) which is why I usually make my own exercises.

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    .

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    I think it's useful for things like
    Я думаю, дети должны играть на улице
    or падение пистолет и поднять руки
    Я получил инъекцию в руку
    (I hope these are correct in Russian)

    It's great for prepositions also. The only way I can convince them that you can't translate prepositions is to have them translate things like;

    на окнa
    в 8 вечера
    на заводе
    над ним
    (all of which would be 'at')

    на столе (on)
    на меня (at)
    на него (with)
    на юг (to)
    на севере (in)
    на три дня (for)

    After a few pages of these they think twice before telling you what 'на' means.

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    Я думаю, дети должны играть на улице
    or падение пистолет и поднять руки
    Я получил инъекцию в руку
    (I hope these are correct in Russian)
    Я думаю, дети должны играть на улице - more or less ok, however toooo formal, strict headmaster's style.
    падение пистолет и поднять руки - wrong, maybe you meant imperative Брось пистолет и подними руки (вверх)!
    Я получил инъекцию в руку - wrong, Мне сделали укол в руку ( they normally say "в вену"?). If you use the word инъекция, the collocation is ввести инъекцию. Usually about somebody else not about yourself - Ему ввели инъекцию в руку (вену).

    As for prepositions - context, please! It's useless to practice vocabulary (especially prepositions) without a context.

    над ним
    What about "above him" for example?

    на меня (at)
    на него (with)
    на юг (to)
    What about Ты можешь положиться на меня.(on) Толпа двинулась на него.(to, towards) Мы едем на юг.(no prep)?

    The idea is good - to show that one Russian prep. can be translated in different ways into English and vice versa.

    But if I am feeling lazy I use the Golytsinsky Grammatika book
    I think all of these books are the same in the sense that they can be useful for grammar but not too useful for vocabulary (using the same words over and over, or words which students don't really need) which is why I usually make my own exercises.
    You're right - unfortunately, there are no good Russian English books with good examples for practicing translation form Russian into English and Golytsinsky Grammatika is one of the worst (as well as most "popular") so the only variant left is to make your own exercises.

    Sometimes I ask my students to underline all the verbs in some Russian texts (some extracts from fiction or newspaper articles) and choose the right English tense for them (sometimes even without translation into English). It helps them use English tenses correctly.

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    That's exactly why I would like to find some exercise books. My Russian is vey rudimentary. I would prefer books written by Russians, so I could assume the Russian part is fine and I could correct any mistakes in the English part (and books written by Russians always seem to have them).

    Looking at what I wrote I already see some mistakes that I made.
    As for the examples being out of context, first I thought that it wasn't neccessary here, I assumed that people would see the possibilities of my incomplete examples. Second, as I said, I don't want to write a text book.
    Third, and most importantly, your questions demonstrate my point that you cannot simply translate prepositions.
    But since you asked I will put in a little extra effort here

    Они смеялись над ним. They laughed at him.

    Ты можешь положиться на меня. You can count on me.
    the example in my mind was
    Он посмотрел на меня. He looked at me.

    Толпа двинулась на него.
    here my Russian fails me. It could be on, to, at
    The crowd moved to it. pretty simple
    The crowd moved on(onto) it. a bit more info than above
    The crowd moved at it. a bit more menacing
    Perhaps more context would be needed here or maybe it's just my bad Russian.
    The example I had in mind was
    Я сержусь на него. I was angry with him. (A softer version of 'I was angry at him)

    'to the South' or 'south'

    Anyway it all just shows that you can't simply translate prepositions. I think that it also shows that I'm not qualified to write my own exercises.



    Unless Ira wanted to write it with me . . .

  7. #7
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    Anyway it all just shows that you can't simply translate prepositions.
    You're right - without a context there could be variants because no one knows what you had in mind...

    An old friend of mine (an Englishman who lives in England and studied Russian at school many many years ago) tends to start and finish his postcards he sends to me like this:

    В Ирине ..........Из Дэвида instead of Ирине (on the envelope you can write Для Ирины ........От Дэвида

    He translated 'to' and 'from' like prepositions of place (to Moscow from St Pete - в Москву из Санкт-Петербурга) - that was his mistake. So, again: no context - no correct translation.

    Unless Ira wanted to write it with me . . .
    Why not?

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    If you make the book, I'll buy a copy

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