2

Let us consider the sentence shown in the title of my post:

(1) He had to run faster than his tribemate, as the hindmost would be eaten by the lion.

(For context, watch this short commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ie_aFsfb8 ).

I am at a loss as to how I can translate this sentence to Russian. I feel totally helpless. Below are my naive attempts.

(2) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего съест лев.

I feel that "съест" is a bad choice because I never saw the future tense being used to describe past events. I guess that "съест" sounds as if the lion had not yet eaten anyone by the moment of speaking.

(3) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего съел бы лев.

This sounds like a hypothetical thing, doesn't it? But it was the most real thing on earth. The hindmost was bound to be eaten by the lion. The lion was angry and hungry.

(4) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего должен был съесть лев.

Here I tried to use the tricky verb "должен," being highly unsure how it fits here. I guess it sounds as if the lion had had been obliged, or owed it to someone, to eat the hindmost. Even if this construction works here, it is clearly not a universal solution, because the meaning of "должен" highly depends on the context.

(5) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего съедал лев.

Here I tried to use a solution analogous to a phrase I had seen before: Он должен был побеждать, потому что проигравший вылетал из Высшей лиги. I had been explained that the form "вылетал" can be used as the future in the past. So I tried "съедал" here. But this form confuses me so much. I am very unsure. I do not even know how it is classified. And maybe "поедал" is a better choice, if there is a good solution of this kind at all.

My question is this: How will you translate Sentence (1) to Russian if I ask you to use a solution as universal as possible? I would also like to read comments on my hopeless attempts (2)-(5).

2

Ему пришлось бежать быстрее своего соплеменника, ибо оказавшемуся последним предстояло быть съеденным львом.

  • Great, it seems to be a precise translation! And could you please offer a variant in which the lion is the subject? That is, ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как лев ... Continue this please – Mitsuko May 26 at 20:09
  • @Mitsuko i agree this is a great rendering, but not entirely faithful to the original, for it to be faithful the original should have been He had to run faster than his tribemate, as the hindmost was destined/bound to be eaten by the lion – Баян Купи-ка May 26 at 20:37
  • @Mitsuko To make the lion the subject, we may consider the following option: Ему пришлось бежать быстрее своего соплеменника, ибо лев сожрал бы отставшего. – Michael_1812 May 27 at 3:40
1

Variant 3

(3) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего съел бы лев.

OR

Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего мог съесть лев.

could (мог бы) and would (бы) are not exactly one and the same but in this context i think the difference is insignificant.

Variant 5

(5) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего съедал лев.

could also be correct if the narrative described how it usually would end up being or used to be.

  • Thanks a lot! Wouldn't съел бы prompt the question если бы что? – Mitsuko May 26 at 19:57
  • Doesn't мог imply only a possibility or a capability rather than something pre-determined? Мог съесть, а мог и не съесть? I want to say the lion would definitely eat the hindmost. Hе мог не съесть! Can you say остатающего мог точно съесть лев to express the idea that the hindmost was bound to be eaten by the lion? – Mitsuko May 26 at 20:01
  • @Mitsuko not sure i get your 1st question, but it's kind of implied that it would eat the man if he lagged behind... the situation itself is contingent since we project into the future which is unpredictable, so from conceptual point of view съел бы doesn't sound too logical to me, that said your version does already express certainty but of you wished to emphasize it точно would be too colloquial, you could use обязательно/непременно instead – Баян Купи-ка May 26 at 20:10
  • The situation is this: Two men are running from the lion, and the latter chases them and runs faster than any of them, so the lion will definitely eat one of them - the one who runs slower than the other. I just need to say this in the past tense. – Mitsuko May 26 at 20:15
  • I feel uneasy about съел бы and мог съесть, because the former sounds hypothetical and the latter sounds like a speculation - мог съесть, а мог и не съесть. Even if they don't, it is only thanks to the context, I guess. I want a universal solution, one that sounds very definitive regardless of the context. – Mitsuko May 26 at 20:18
0

(3) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего съел бы лев.

This option is good. "Would"is often translated as бы.

(5) Ему надо было бежать быстрее соплеменника, так как отстающего (обычно/как правило) съедал лев

This one is also correct, if you want to stress a habitual situation.

Должен isn't correct because it sounds like you wish to oblige the lion to eat the person.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.