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Is there an equivalent to the verb 'to multitask' or the act of 'multitasking' in Russian or possibly an English calque? I tried to think of other suitable English synonyms that could approximate 'multitask' and was unable to find a closer translation that doesn't read like a definition, such as 'делать два дела (/несколько дел) одновременно.'

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    Could you, please, provide some context, where you need to use these words? – Lara Feb 9 '16 at 6:11
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    Context would indeed help. Though the shortest translation for the verb 'to multitask' that comes to my mind is 'жонглировать делами,' or literally, to juggle errands. – H. Zeta Feb 9 '16 at 8:16
  • I have no particular application for this translation, but merely noticed my unfamiliarity with a Russian equivalent. I think such a word is indicative of the American mindset--the necessity of doing two things at once. Despite studies which indicate that it is doubtful whether people can truly multitask (the person believes they are multitasking when they are really just switching between tasks quickly) its used quite often when Americans speak about their work. I often find how a lack of a word or expression in Russian makes me think more critically about what words are useful in my own. – Конрад Feb 11 '16 at 22:46
  • @Конрад, I think it's just in this particular case in American English a technical term migrated to everyday use. Multitasking and multi threading are computer programming terms, see e.g. IBM/360 manual p.18 (ca.) 1965. If I had to comment on culture, then many or most Russians also multitask at work regularly, but they assume it's normal and don't use the fancy term. – Aksakal almost surely binary Feb 21 '16 at 15:55
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There are some special terms like

multitask 1) Общая лексика: многозадачный 2) Вычислительная техника: работать в многозадачном режиме, работать со многими задачами 3) Автоматика: многозадачная работа, многозадачный режим работы, многофункциональность, многофункциональный, многоцелевой, мультизадачная работа, мультизадачный, мультизадачный режим работы 4) Авиационная медицина: относящийся к (одновременному) выполнению нескольких операторских задач

As for everyday usage "делать несколько дел сразу/одновременно " is the best interpretation

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    If you want a little sarcasm, try 'гоняться за двумя зайцами' in reference to 'За двумя зайцами погонишся - ни одного не поймаешь!' – Sasha Pachev Feb 9 '16 at 22:05
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In technical documentation, "to multitask" ≈ "работать в многозадачном режиме". In everyday use, it's "делать много дел сразу". There is no equivalent verb in Russian. We can understand English calque "многозадачить", but it's not in the dictionary and sounds ugly. There is a programmer slang "колбасить в много потоков", there "колбасить" is for "to work fast", but I'm not sure it's not a Siberian region-specific.

Translators often find it hard to translate some English verbs to Russian, because something simple may suddenly became complicated in Russian translation. In Russia, we call it "English specific". We say that English is verb-based, which I believe is not really accurate.

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    About "колбасить в много потоков": "многопоточность" (multithreading) and "многозадачность" (multitasking) are not the same in general case. This variant may be valid only when multitasking is implemented via multithreading. – Lara Feb 9 '16 at 6:25
  • It's programmer slang. If you feel like never heard of it, then probably it's our region specific slang. – Nadia Solovyeva Feb 9 '16 at 9:32
  • I've heard and used similar expressions, but only in cases when all the threads handle different parts of the same task, i.e. perform the same operations on different data, not when every thread (or process) has it's own task. The verb may vary widely, from neutral "работать" or formal "исполняться" to slangy "колбасить", "шпарить", "фигачить", and so on, including heavily obscene variants. – Lara Feb 9 '16 at 13:50
  • I never heard it before, partially because I have not spoken Russian very much in the technical context in the last 20 years, but I understood it right away, so I imagine most Russians will, in Siberia or not. I also recalled that such expressions cannot exist without a rich variety of unprintable equivalents. – Sasha Pachev Feb 9 '16 at 22:00
  • I think that in English, too, the original use of the word was purely technical and then it leaked out to the general public, like "bandwidth", for example. – biggvsdiccvs Feb 10 '16 at 4:44
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There used to be an old word from soviet times многостаночник which referred to a person who worked on several machines at the factory. Obviously, this will not apply to software, where there is a standard term многозадачный.

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Often found in "negative" meaning: "Я разрываюсь между несколькими делами". (Обычно такое можно слышать от женщины. В отличие от мужчин, женщина может погнаться за двумя и более зайцами, и поймает всех).

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There are no direct translations of these terms to Russsian.

I can think of only one occasion when this term was used - at a job interview I was asked: "Насколько вы многозадачны?" (How well you're able to multitask?), but it's not common Russian way of speaking.

Considering these terms, people in Russia tend to speak 'definition-like' - check out this article: http://www.happymozg.ru/news/57

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