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I'm coming to this by way of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker/Nutcracker Suite, and the piece "Танец Феи Драже". This is known as "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" in English. In German, it's called "Tanz der Zuckerfee", which is just "Dance of the Sugar Fairy". That agrees with the Spanish title, "Danza del Hada de Azúcar". French seems to have the closest-to-Russian translation: "Danse de la Fée Dragée".

English has the word "dragée", which is a candy like a jelly bean. (That is not what I imagine a sugar plum to be. Sugar plums, to me, are more like what is pictured here: http://www.theartzoo.com/sugar-plum-recipe/.)

So I am wondering why the name of this piece is translated in such a variety of ways. Is its Russian meaning difficult to translate? Or was it translated with a disregard for the precise meaning?

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    Chaikovsky was fluent in French, it probably was his first written language. So, I would assume the word would be closest to the meaning of the French dragee. – Aksakal almost surely binary Dec 16 '14 at 19:30
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    драже is not a sugar plums like the one from the picture, but rather candies like M&M's or rounded pills in glaced coating. – c69 Dec 27 '14 at 15:28
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Драже means pretty much the same as English "dragee": a candy covered in solid sugar shell, like an M&M or a Jordan almond. Jelly bean is not a dragee as its shell is soft.

Since "The Nutcracker" story is set on Christmas Eve, a candy most associated with Christmas in English-speaking cultures was used to translate the fairy's name.

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Драже is not a Russian word. It's some foreign word (sounds like French), used by companies, making candies, that most people don't know the meaning of.

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  • it's originally not a Slavic word but that does not mean it's not Russian. – shabunc May 2 '17 at 16:22
  • and it does not mean that "most" people don't know it. – Alex May 2 '17 at 20:49
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    @shabunc if it originally came from an other language, than it does mean, that it's not Russian. If you buy an Intel processor in Russia, it doesn't suddenly become Russian. It's still American. – igoryonya May 3 '17 at 0:23
  • @Alex Anybody I asked, and I was asking about that word for many years. Old and young, smart and dumb, nobody could answer to me, what it means, so, I would say most don't know. – igoryonya May 3 '17 at 0:26
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    @igoryonya: you should not look up Russian words in French dictionaries. Let me look this word up in Ozhegov for you: нескл., ср. I. Сорт мелких твердых конфет округлой формы. Шоколадное д. 2. Витаминные или лекарственные таблетки такой формы. Поливитамины в драже. Easy, ain't it? – Quassnoi May 14 '17 at 8:55

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