4

Some time ago I performed quite poorly on a Russian test. The test consisted of a number of short texts, 2-3 sentences each, to be translated from English into Russian. The teacher gave very little time, about a minute per each short text, and I struggled to find good Russian translations in time. I rage-broke my pencil and could barely hold my tears. To add insult to injury, a considerable portion of seemingly good translations I did manage to find were later deemed by the teacher not to meet his standards, so he gave a poor score to me, and it didn't help my feelings that my score was the second-best in the class.

I accepted that I still have to learn a lot to master the Russian language, but I'm curious how native Russian speakers would perform on that test. Here's one of the tasks:

Don't get dragged into any of his schemes. He's a double-crossing weasel.

How would you say that in Russian? Would you be able to find a good Russian translation within a minute or so?


UPDATE: Encouraged by a comment below, I'm adding an explanation of the text in the translation task.

  • Imagine that a sea current pulls a swimmer away from a shore. That's what to drag means. The current drags the swimmer to the sea.

  • Now imagine a criminal leader who is drawing a complex diagram on a blackboard for his partners to explain how they all together are going to get what they want. That's a scheme. More broadly, a scheme is a complicated plan involving various parties and devised to attain something or reach a certain end. For example, some Russian businessmen devised and implemented tax evasion schemes.

  • Now, a double-cross is when you plan deceitful activities with a partner against a third party and then deceive your partner. It comes from thieves' slang cross, which was used to refer to something dishonest, and therefore a crook going back on his partners would be crossing the crossers, or double-crossing. Imagine a diamond thief who double-crosses his partners and gives them only worthless fake jewels.

  • A weasel is the figurative use of the name of a well-known mammal, the weasel, to refer to a deceitful person. You know, weasels are cunning and adept predators that hunt prey tirelessly throughout the day and night, aren't they?

Now put all these together, and you get the meaning of the two sentences as a whole. That is, it's a kind of, "If you get under pressure to join any plot or undertaking of his, don't yield. He'll offer you a cooperation to deceive someone, but you'll end up being deceived by him in the end."

My Russian teacher has very high standards, so I had to come up with a very accurate, but concise, translation. I failed, and I'm still at a loss as to how I can precisely express the idea of a double-cross in Russian.

  • «Проходимец», «прохиндей» is general with negative connotations, «хитр[ожоп]ый лис/хорёк» if to follow the animal connotation, «двурушник» if to follow "double-crossing". – Yellow Sky May 4 at 13:48
  • @YellowSky : Thanks, I didn't know двурушник, but I just had a look and got an impression that it doesn't hit bull's eye. Wiktionary defines двурушничество as follows: стремление одновременно действовать в пользу двух противоположных сторон. Double-crossing is something different. It's when you plan illegal activities with a partner and then deceive him, hence a double cross. Have a look at the definition in the Cambridge dictionary. An example sentence from there: The diamond thief double-crossed his partners and gave them only worthless fake jewels. – Mitsuko May 4 at 14:28
  • 2
    My Ushakov's dictionary says двурушничество is "Поведение человека, наружно принадлежащего к одной группе, но действующего в пользу враждебной ей стороны; стремление одновременно действовать в пользу двух противоположных сторон путем обмана каждой из них." I'd use двурушник: «Не дай ему втянуть тебя в свои аферы. Он хитрый двурушник.» – Yellow Sky May 4 at 14:38
  • 1
    The best I can do is: "Не поддавайтесь ни на какие его уловки. Он лжив и двуличен." – user31264 May 4 at 15:45
  • 1
    Mitsuko, why shouldn't you give us your own translation, and we will tell you whether it is correct or not. – user31264 May 4 at 15:48
7

I'm not really sure what kind of style your teacher is looking for.

Двурушник and двуличный mentioned in the other answers are good translations, but they're not widely used these days.

If your teacher is looking for modern slang, you'd better go with something among the lines of:

Смотри не впишись в его мутки. Он разводила и кидала.

Развести means to deceive someone into willingly doing or giving away something against their own best interest.

Развести на деньги would be used to describe a con game, say, bumping into a Japanese tourist while carrying a watermelon and demanding a compensation.

Развести на секс would involve pretending to be a Hollywood movie producer and promising a part in a movie in exchange for sex.

Кинуть means to cheat someone by betraying their trust.

Кинуть на деньги would mean, say, employing as an accountant for a rich person and running away with their money.

| improve this answer | |
  • +1. Кидала - действительно хорошо подходит. (мутки ни разу не слышал - что-то региональное, видимо). Вместо "он кидала", можно сказать "он тебя кинет", "он может кинуть"... – tum_ May 5 at 6:08
1

I would propose a phrase "на нём (ней) клейма ставить негде" as an alternative translation of "double-crossing weasel". Literally, it means "He(she) has no free place for a new brand on his (her) body". This phrase refers to human branding - an old practice to mark a person committed a crime with a brand. So, saying this, you say "He committed so many crimes that there is no place to put another one brand". And finally, the full translation:

Не дайте ему втянуть вас в его дела. На нем клейма ставить негде.

| improve this answer | |
1

I'd also suggest an "ушлый лис" as a translation for a "double-crossing weasel": "лис" is a male fox and "ушлый" is a more widespread adjective that characterizes an active person who is not selective in methods of achieving his goals.

| improve this answer | |
0

I agree with @YellowSky that двурушник fits well into this sentence. Thus my version would be:

Не дай ему втянуть себя в его аферы. Он хитрец и двурушник.

Example usages of двурушник from the Russian National Corpus:

  • Повысил тебя, выходит, Леонард Гилялович в статусе: был ты обычным «шестеркой». А стал двурушником. ― Не докажешь! ― процедил Мамедов. [Семен Данилюк. Бизнес-класс (2003)]
  • В это время двурушник Скотт обжимается с Селестой в уютной ординаторской городской больницы. [Сергей Белошников. Вторая тайна Франциско // «Столица», 1997.10.28]
  • Ишь, отъелся на харчах цээрушных! Распустил, сионист, усищи! Я ж тебя удавлю, двурушник, Не таких давили, почище! [Борис Левин. Инородное тело (1965-1994)]

A well-known double-crossing weasel is the interpreter from this joke:

Допрашивают чукчу через переводчика:

— Чукча, где ты спрятал золото?

Переводчик:

— Чукча, где ты спрятал золото?

Чукча:

— Не скажу!!

Переводчик:

— Он не скажет.

— Если ты не скажешь, где золото, мы тебя убьем!

Переводчик:

— Чукча, они тебя убьют, если ты им не скажешь, где золото.

Чукча:

— Золото зарыто у входа юрту.

Переводчик:

— Стреляйте, все равно не скажу!
| improve this answer | |
  • There is also "двойной агент" but it's specific to government security services. – Sergey Slepov May 5 at 1:44
-1

Меня, может статься, заминусуют, но я не согласен с использованием слова двурушник в данном контексте.

Словарь Ожегова:

ДВУРУШНИК, -а, м. Человек, к-рый под личиной преданности кому-чему-н.действует в пользу враждебной стороны.

Словарь Ушакова:

ДВУРУШНИЧЕСТВО, двурушничества, мн. нет, ср. (газет. презрит.). Поведение человека, наружно принадлежащего к одной группе, но действующего в пользу враждебной ей стороны; стремление одновременно действовать в пользу двух противоположных сторон путем обмана каждой из них.

Должны быть две группы/стороны, и двурушник, притворяясь лояльным одной из них, действует в пользу другой, или (по Ушакову) обманывает обе.

В то же время weasel словарём Merriam Webster определяется как

a sneaky, untrustworthy, or insincere person

Weasel не обязан притворяться лояльным какой-то группе и принадлежащим к ней. Чтобы быть weasel, не нужно двух сторон. Weasel может, например, соблазнять девушек и при этом врать им напропалую и т. п. Поэтому я считаю свой перевод более правильным:

Не поддавайтесь ни на какие его уловки. Он лжив и двуличен.

| improve this answer | |
  • Unfortunately there's not much of a context here. If we had more, we could say with better precision. I agree with you that "двурушник" is not a full generic equivalent of "double-crosser". – Alexander May 4 at 22:28

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.