Как избежать стилистических ошибок? (How to avoid stylistic mistakes?)

Some students ask me: How to avoid stylistic mistakes?
In this article in Russdian I give some recommendations for this.

This aricle is in Russian, but maybe later someone of my English and German friends will be able to translate this article into different languages because I believe that these recommendatiions can be useful for learning of any language.

So, this is the link to the Russian original of the article:

Good luck!

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Thanks, Evgueny! With all my mistakes, I feel like this could be written personally for me (though I know that’s no so). The back-translation exercise makes a lot of sense, and I’m sure it would help.

Concerning classical Russian literature, is there one author, or even a specific book, that you would recommend as being most appropriate for students at an intermediate level to start with?

You can read the stories by Anton Chekhov, he is a very good Russian writer, but about 5% can be old fashioned words. I’ve shared some his stories in lingq.com, for example: Антон Чехов “Дом с мезонином”, Антон Чехов, Володя Большой и Володя маленький, Антон Чехов “Юмористические рассказы”.
If he is too difficult for you, you can find in the internet and start with some stories for children:
Борис Житков “Что бывало” , К. Паустовский “Рассказы”, В. Драгунский, Рассказы, А. Алексин, Рассказы.

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I bought “Master i Margarita” from litres.ru (for less than one dollar) and imported it into Lingq. I haven’t got very far yet but I’m enjoying the first chapters. Bulgakov is on the list proposed by Evgueny and he has the advantage of being a modern author, so old-fashioned vocabulary’s not an issue. I find that he has a clear and enjoyable writing style. The novel’s also available as an audio-book.

Yes, it’s my favourite novel, but it’s quite difficult especially for the first books in Russian.
You can ask me if you have any questions.

Thank you very much, Evgueny.

I absolutely love the style of this Russian translation of Yu Hua’s “CHINA IN TEN WORDS”:
http://www.litmir.co/br/?b=216515 .
Yes, it’s translated from Chinese. But I often recommend it to my intermediate Russian language learners. It’s not very difficult to read, and the style itself is attractive, thanks to the Russian translator. As for me, I’m esthetically enjoying when reading it :slight_smile:

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A bit unrelated, but it feels good to see ones own progress to be pretty good, when you click on a lesson and there are a lot of ‘known’ words in that lesson.

And also if you open the same lesson a week later and you feel that you understand now much more, it’s a good feeling of your going ahead as well.

I’m willing to help translate this article. I am tired and I’m about to go to bed, so I will try to start on it by tomorrow. I can understand and at least recognize at least 80% of these words.

Here’s my best attempt at ‘reverse translation’ (two birds and one stone if you will, eh??) like you suggested in one of your lessons. I put a (?) for things I wasn’t comfortable with translating, as I didn’t understand the phrases.

How to avoid stylistic mistakes?

Sometimes students ask me: How do you avoid stylistic mistakes? How is it possible to answer this question?

First, stylistic mistakes, they are mistakes of average level proficiency, that by themselves are not bad. For the elementary stage, students make many grammatical mistakes, then the grammatical mistakes gradually become small, but stylistic mistakes still remain for a long time.

It needs to be said that, a native speaker of a language often makes stylistic mistakes, especially in spontaneous, untrained speech. For example, many stylistic mistakes allowed Mikhail Gorbachev, sometimes they were in Boris Yelstin’s speeches and they occurred in responses in unexpected questions by Vladimir Putin. I read and heard for myself some stylistic mistakes by George W. Bush (Junior), they met Barack Obama and Germany’s Chancellor, Merkel. (?)

What exactly is a stylistic mistake? It is an unusual or incorrect form/construction of phrase, using the inappropriate word, or strange combination of the words. For example, in Russian there are two expressions. “Playing a role” and “Bring in a contribution”(?) Recently, I heard in one of the speeches of the ministers “Bring in a contribution”. It is a type of stylistic mistake, when the word from one of the stable expressions, is incorrectly used in combination with words from other stable expressions.

But even this needs to make such a reservation (?) Great Russian author Nikolai Gogol who was born in Ukraine introduced to the Russian language, many Ukrainian expressions which for the Russian language was a little bit unexpected even strange and imagined oneself for that time of stylistic mistakes. But gradually the majority of such expressions go into literary Russian language and now already don’t show up with stylistic mistakes.

Often foreigners make stylistic mistakes, incorrectly use slang. Therefore, I would warn against excessive use of slang. First, slang, it is the most mobile (?) part of language. Every year, many new slang words and expressions show up. Not living in Russia, you completely can not use these slang phrases, which are no longer used.

Secondly, slang words not seldomly have regional flavoring/coloring(?). That is, that widely used in one place, maybe not understood or not used in another place. ON the other hand, over there could be used other slang words which will sound strange here.

So, how do you avoid stylistic mistakes? You need to listen more and read more.

Yes, in radio and even in television shows, some broadcasters allow stylistic mistakes – often in thoughtlessness, but sometimes “for fun” especially in musical programs for youngsters, they as if themselves try to be close to their listeners and audience. And yet, in principal, in programs on the radio and television there are observed stylistic norms of the Russian language.

Sometimes stylistic mistakes are met/found in the newspapers. In all the revisions there are proofreaders, that should fix such mistakes, but they sometimes “browse”, and not notice them. More so, that work corrector pays out not enough they simply don’t have enough. I myself in the difficult 1990s, earned as a proofreader in the newspaper “Saint Petersburg Gazette” and “ Change” and therefore I know this in my experience.

It really helps “to leave” from stylistic mistakes, regular readings of artistic literature, especially the readings of classical Russian literature – Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenyev, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Bunin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Yuri Nagibin, and others. There maybe a few amount of obsolete words, but on the other hand it is elegant, stylistic, flawless Russian.

In the end, it is possible to advise “reverse translation” – this is when you translate some sort of Russian text in your native language, and after sever days of attempts with your native language, translate again in Russian. Then you compare your translation with the original Russian one. You will surely see some sort of inconsistencies, which are large parts and will help with your stylistic mistakes.

After this, if you still have time and patience, you can again translate those Russian texts in your language and translate again your translation in Russian. After all, you can obtain the third or fourth time the full identity of your translation of the Russian original and keep in mind the correct stylistic changes. But this method demands a lot of time.

However, the most main thing – if you will continue studying Russian, that is, gradually you will make every small stylistic mistake. And this rule concerns each foreign language.

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Oh, Jake, it’s very interesting.
I’ve had only a quick look, but it seems me that your translation is good.
During a day I can observe it more proper. I’ll write you on your page here my e-mail adress. You can send me your tranlation and we can discuss some places and later record it via skype und download your translation to the English library for using of other English learners.

Unfortunatelly, my English friends criticised Jake’s translation of this article. But in any case, Jake, it’s good that you tried to translate it because such translations can be useful in your Russian learning.

But for other English learners I can propose the new translation of my article made by Richard from the UK with the title:

Here is the link:

No worries. That’s how we learn, is by through constructive criticism and just more practice.