8

Let's suppose I am writing a serious article in Russian about a person, a business, or a geographic object whose proper name sounds in the original language like a Russian swear or obscene word.

Of course, if that person, business, or geographic object has an established name in Russian, I will simply use it, but what if there is none? This can easily happen if I write about a small restaurant, a new hotel, or a nonfamous person who is unlucky enough to have a surname coinciding with a Russian obscene word.

Simply writing the name as it sounds will cause laughter and will thereby seriously impact the perception of my article, but altering the name is disrespectful and also may have legal consequences.

I am curious what kinds of approaches the native speakers would adopt in such a situation.

My question is this: What are some good variants of writing the following four proper names in Russian in a serious article?

  1. Indonesian hotel "Suka Beach Inn" (Link),

  2. Estonian kindergarten "Mudila" (Link),

  3. Turkish cafe "Durak Cafe" (Link), and

  4. Professor 戴暉輝 (Dai Hui-Hui) (Link).

These names are all real, as you can check by following the links provided; I also verified in Google Translator that they are pronounced in the original languages as the Russians pronounce sthe words "сука," "мудила," "дурак," and "дай хуй хуй."

I understand that there may be many variants, so I am not asking for all of them. I just want to see some good variants in order to understand what kinds of approaches are deemed acceptable by the Russian speakers. I guess there are not many principally different approaches.


P.S. My question is not meant to be broad or to require purely opinion-based answers; my intention is to find out (i) whether there is any official or established rule about such situations, (ii) what is the common practice of dealing with such situations, and (iii) what are some good acceptable translation variants for the example names given by me.

4

As for Chinese names, it actually very rarely happens, and your example is not an exception, considering transcription and pronunciation rules for both Russian and Latin pinyin transcriptions (your example transcribes, in modern version of the Palladium system, as Дай Хуэйхуэй which is pronounced without a problem). A bit more complicated occasion was with a Chinese leader's name in the 80-s: Ху Яобан - no problem with writing the name but at broadcasting, a distinctive pause was applied between the surname and the 'first' name.

Sometimes not much can be done (and often enough is not done) with some names like French writer Ив Гандо́н (search him in Russian Wiki; the same way his name was written in the 70-s magazine "Иностранная литература"). So, unlikely a strict rule 'to do something' exists on language level.

3

There are some regulations about the use of business labels, or geographic object names. Many of the newspapers will type the name in Russian as it is. This would make people laugh, but you cannot change the name. From what I saw in papers, they sometimes try to avoid bad reaction to such names using English or pointing out the real pronunciation (if this will make the name sound differently). For example they use "Durak Cafe", or кафе "Durak" instead of кафе "Дурак". Or sometimes "кафе ДУрак" to point the stress on the first syllable instead to the second, which will not sound like the swear word.

| improve this answer | |

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.