This particular excerpt from "The Brothers Karamazov":

— Николай Ильич Снегирев-с, русской пехоты бывший штабс-капитан-с, хоть и посрам- ленный своими пороками, но все же штабс-капитан. Скорее бы надо сказать: штабс-капитан Словоерсов, а не Снегирев, ибо лишь со второй половины жизни стал говорить словоерсами. Словоерс приобретается в унижении.

– Это так точно, – усмехнулся Алеша, – только невольно приобретается или нарочно?

– Видит Бог, невольно. Все не говорил, целую жизнь не говорил словоерсами, вдруг упал и встал с словоерсами. Это делается высшею силой. Вижу, что интересуетесь совре- менными вопросами. Чем, однако, мог возбудить столь любопытства, ибо живу в обстановке, невозможной для гостеприимства.

Is abridged and translated in the French edition I'm reading as follows:

« Nicolas Ilitch Sniéguiriov, ex-capitaine en second de l'infanterie russe, avili par ses vices mais pourtant capitaine … Pourtant je me demande en quoi ai-je pu exciter votre curiosité, car je vis dans des conditions qui ne permettent guère de recevoir des visites. »

There is a reference to a translator's footnote after capitaine before the three dots. Here's what the translator, Henri Mongault, says (with a translation into English):

« Je dois passer huit lignes intraduisibles en français. Pour dépeindre son humble condition, le capitaine se livre à une plaisanterie fondée sur une particularité de la langue russe (adjonction d'un s à la fin des mots, formule révérencieuse employée par les gens de peu). »

"I have to omit eight lines that cannot be translated into French. To depict his humble condition, the captain speaks jokingly and uses a peculiarity of the Russian language (the addition of an s at the end of words, a reverential formula used by common people)."

So my question is what is exactly the peculiarity of Russian, the added s, that caused such difficulty to the translator that he thought it could not be rendered in French?

  • 1
    Basically you've took French and English translations and asking why a particular paragraph is missing in a French translation. Then you make an assumption that it's due to the fact that it's hard to translate. True or not, it's not a question about Russian language but rather about the translation, sorry.
    – shabunc
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 19:37
  • 1
    In my experience translators and editors sinned like this quite often - sometimes just skipping the parts they don't feel like to translate.
    – shabunc
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 19:39
  • 1
    As of better-fitting stack - well, you can try your luck at literature.stackexchange.com - but I'm not 100% sure.
    – shabunc
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 20:11
  • @shabunc Anything on the "s" added to the end of words mentioned as the specific difficulty? Or is that not about Russian? I really like how one guy closes a question after not even an hour it's been asked, I guess you must be the big boss on this site.
    – grandtout
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 20:44
  • sorry, I don't know the English links wikipedia.bio/%D0%A1%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%81
    – Elena
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 20:50


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