Translating long English sentences into Russian: Another adventure in the Russian language

In my long-winded English way I might say to my wife: Excuse me, my darling, I would really appreciate it if you would kindly pass me the salt.

Which my wife translates into Russian as:

Передайте мне соль!

The literal translation which my brain converts it to sounds like a command: Give me salt! (and give it to me now!).

Now, after many years, when I hear: Give me salt! I translate it to its correct meaning, which is, of course, Excuse me, my darling, I would really appreciate it if you would kindly pass me the salt!


Обычно мы добавляем “пожалуйста”.
Или, например, “Можешь передать мне соль?”, “Передай мне соль, хорошо?”, “Ты не передашь мне соль?” :))

Мне нравится слово: обычно! But, usually not! Maybe in polite society.However, I have trained my wife to say please and thank you in our excessive English way! But she still won’t take the long route!

But to the Russian ear the direct imperative does not sound impolite. The literal translation “Извини меня, дорогая, я был бы очень признателен, если бы ты была так любезна, чтобы передать мне соль” does not sound polite in Russian, it sounds absurd. And it’s not because we’re naturally impolite. It does not transfer the meaning so it’s not an accurate translation.
У нас просто разные языки и одинаковый смысл мы выражаем по-разному :). Наш русский императив по-русски звучит достаточно вежливо, если, конечно, интонация правильная.

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Anna, I agree with you, that my sentence is absurd. I purposely made it so to bring out the humour inherent in the difference. I know it is not a direct translation. I was joking! I do not use that kind of inflated and ridiculous language, but constructed it to contrast the use of the imperative in Russian, which I know is not impolite. But initially, it took me some time for my English ear to get used to hearing what sounded like a command instead of a request.

But that makes learning languages more exciting, right? :slight_smile:

I am really enjoying learning Russian, especially now I have found LINGQ.

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