There's this book called "Город, написанный по памяти".

If I keep the comma, Google translates it as: "Memory city".
If I delete the comma, it translates it as "City written from memory".

Google translate is a weird beast for sure!

I assume the second version is closer to the real meaning. However I'd like to know what the real meaning is.

  • Google Translate sucks. You should try deepl.com It's actually amazing.
    – CocoPop
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 15:09

3 Answers 3


In Russian, the verb "писать" oftentimes has the meaning "to paint". Specifically, an artist can "писать по памяти" ("paint from memory)". For this reason, while "писать" in this title certainly means "to write about" or "to describe", a slight connotation to the other meaning, "to paint", is palpable. This connotation would have been absent, had the author used a different prefix ("описанный"). It is the prefix "нa-" which brings up this subtle connotation.

  • 3
    I think it's important to add that serious painters traditionally prefer to use the word писать instead of рисовать ("draw" as in amateur and simpler works). Since this is a serious book - the word писать implies a serious matter, as if this novel (memoirs) were a large and complex painting.
    – alexsms
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 8:44
  • Actually, painted from memory is the only interpretation, because in case of writing you cannot написать город
    – Anixx
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 22:41

The second one (that google gives without a comma) is correct.

City written from memory

You were right in your doubt.


This means "city painted from memory".

Написанный город can refer only to painting, but if it were написанный рассказ "written story", it would mean writing.

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