So, You Wanna Read Russian?

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2007

Ruslan Porshnev passed along a great tip yesterday as we were coordinating his guest post from twelve timezones away. Google has an automatic translation service which works surprisingly well. It’s by no means perfect, but it makes Ruslan’s post about Box Turtle Bulletin reasonably understandable. Already, it looks like a raging debate is taking place over the Russian title for “The Heterosexual Agenda” Maybe they find it too provocative? I don’t know. What do you think?

Update: I neglected to mention how grateful I am to Ruslan for the tremendous effort he put forth in translating the pamphlet and laying out the whole document so that it retains the same look and feel of the original. That’s a very impressive accomplishment. Thank you Ruslan for doing such a fantastic job.

If anyone else out there wants to tackle it in Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, or any other language, I’d be very interested in lending a hand.

Ruslan Porshnev

July 31st, 2007

Guys seem to be upset with one word in the title, which they find too provocative.

COnsidering that it’s a parody, I used not the word “heterosexual”, but a more informal and humorous word for a straight person.

Tho it seems like some guys didn’t even read the whole thing and don’t get the sense of parody. That’s the reason they think this word is unappropriate.

it’s a pity. They are way too serious.

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2007

Actually, I find the comments very interesting. It gives me a lot of insight into how Russians see themselves in this context.

I also find differences in languages fascinating as well. Language does so much to shape how we see the world around us. I hope the comments I left on your web site are helpful, even if they aren’t in Russian.

Ruslan Porshnev

July 31st, 2007

Jim, thanks for your comments – they are very helpful.

Now since this became a hot topic, I need to explain the word I chose for “heterosexual”.

You know there is a term “pederasty” and “pederast”. However they are considered a bit outdated, they are still used in Russia in everyday speech sometimes. While these words by themselvs are not taboo or explicit, they have analogs in Russian “mat” – in vulgar slang ( So in this slang “pederast” would be “pidor”. And now this is really offensive and pejorative, comes from prison slang.

Now, using the same ending “-ast” there are many legitimate and not obsene words which try to bear in themselves a bit of humor and a bit of offence. Like “liberast” is someone who is too liberal ( Same goes for “liberastia”.

Now, there is a word “natural” – an every-day word for a straight person and is not offensive at all. In the title I used the word “naturast” which has the same sense as “pederast” but only applied to straight people. That’s the trick here to make this word not 100% offensive, but as you said, Jim, quite rude.

I hope this makes sense.

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2007

I think so. Essentially you took a Russian word used for a straight person (“natural”) and turned it into something more provocative, as in perhaps “too straight” or “militant straight”

As I explained in my comment at AntiDogma, I did something similar — I took the popular phrase “homosexual agenda” and turned it around for “the heterosexual agenda.”

A literal translation can miss the meaning of the word. To say you love someone in Spanish, you’d say “Te quiero” — literally “I want you.” But of course, that literal translation misses the better meaning. A friend of mine said that in parts of South America, a beautiful girl is called “una pavo” — a turkey. In American slang she’s a fox. Sometimes translations can’t be entirely literal.

I think you made a good choice.

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