Russian Translation Arrives
by Michael Hanian
In 1990, apparently by pure chance, I discovered The URANTIA Book and started working on the first draft. At that time I didn't think of the consequences of such an undertaking, nor about the magnitude of effort it would involve; I did it for my own purpose, which was to facilitate the reading of a very unconventional text.
In about a year my brother, Andrei Reznikov-motivated by acute concern about my mental health-offered his help as copy-editor. As time went by, Andrei's initial motivation gave way to genuine enthusiasm, and his participation proved to be of utmost importance for the whole project.
In three more years Vadim Knorre, Professor of physics and a poet, was invited to join the team as final copy-editor.
Since translator and copy-editors live on different sides of the Russian border, we had to work separately most of the time. Of course, we had such convenient tools as e-mail and telecopiers, but each "live" session has been a rare and precious occasion, a chance to solve a number of things in a Sturm-und-Drung manner.
Quite naturally, we faced a lot of text-related difficulties, which can be classified as conceptual, structural, and methodological.
Consider the difficulties in the conceptual group, of conveying what an agondonter is-by comparison, reality-ize was easy.
Within the structural group I would single out problems of an intra- and interlinguistical character, the former originated by the complexities of the original and the latter by the essential differences between the English and Russian languages.
Due to the advantages of an analytical language, English allows such luxury as chained adjectives (mind-spirit personality) and invariants (one and the same form performing different functions). In English almost any noun can become a verb or an adjective without any change in the word itself; so it is possible to have a table, or to table a proposal, or to have table salt on that very table. In Russian, nouns, verbs, and adjectives must be invested with an appropriate form; so where English doesn't care if there is an adjectival or a verbal shape, Russian has to know this for sure. And when there is simply no, say adjectival form, we are in trouble-like in the case of "Deity relations" (646), which has to be translated as "pertaining to Deity."
In the methodological group there are problems of finding appropriate methods for translating The URANTIA Book. Is the fact of dealing with a revelation relevant for translators? If yes, should this be reflected on the fluency vs. exactness of scale? What is the referential authority in the situation where there is no human author? Some of these questions are more of an academic nature, but all of them presupposed tough choices and hard decisions.
Anyway, now it's in the past, and we all await, with mixed feelings, for the readers' feedback which will help us refine the Russian translation for the second printing.
Audio Urantia Book
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Urantia Foundation History