Russian Language Style Guide Resources

At the ATA 55th Annual Conference in Chicago a question was raised whether there is a Russian Guide similar to The Chicago Manual of Style for English language. I tried then to answer this question orally while below are some formal links to the sources I cited. One must keep in mind that Russian rules are much stricter than English. Though they do leave some freedom to the users, in most cases the absence (or presence) of a comma or of any other punctuation sign is an obvious mistake.

Please also note that numbers 2 & 3 of my list exist in various versions (titles, authors and dates of publication vary) but they are generally referred as Розенталь and Мильчин accordingly.


1.                Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации


Утверждены в 1956 году Академией наук СССР, Министерством высшего образования СССР и Министерством просвещения РСФСР. На сегодня эти Правила, установившиеся почти полвека назад, – по-прежнему базовый источник для составителей словарей и справочников по русскому языку. На них основаны все многочисленные учебники и пособия для школьников и абитуриентов.


2.                Справочник по правописанию, произношению, литературному редактированию

Розенталь Д.Э., Джанджакова Е.В., Кабанова Н.П.

Дитмар Эльяшевич Розенталь (1899-1994) — советский и российский лингвист, автор многочисленных трудов по русскому языку.


3.                Справочник издателя и автора

А.Э. Мильчин и Л.К. Чельцова – первые 12 разделов в виде pdf – первые 7 разделов книги online – описание книги, покупка бумажной версии


4.                Запятание трудных слов и выражений – правила постановки запятых


5.                Корпус русского языка

На этом сайте помещен корпус современного русского языка общим объемом более 500 млн слов. Корпус русского языка — это информационно-справочная система, основанная на собрании русских текстов в электронной форме.

Корпус предназначен для всех, кто интересуется самыми разными вопросами, связанными с русским языком: профессиональных лингвистов, преподавателей языка, школьников и студентов, иностранцев, изучающих русский язык.


6.                Переводим служебные знаки

Наталья Шахова

Статья о различиях между правилами русской и английской пунктуации

SlavFile, Fall 2008, Vol. 17, No. 4, p.5


7.                Ководство

Артемий Лебедев

Подборка статей о дизайне и веб-дизайне, а также о российском интернете и событиях в нем.

Многие статьи касаются пунктуации и оформления текстов.

Некоторые главы книги online:


Slavic Languages Division Newcomers' Lunch

New to the conference? New to the SLD? Or just thinking about joining SLD and want to learn more? Then this lunch is for you! Join some of the SLD’s “old hands” for lunch, informal discussion of the SLD and all things translating/interpreting, and a chance to meet fellow newcomers.

DATE:  Thursday, November 6

VENUE: Emilio’s Tapas, 215 E. Ohio Street

TIME: Meet in the Sheraton Hotel lobby immediately after the 11:00 am session ends, or just walk there on your own.

RSVP preferred (but not required) so we can ensure enough space for our group at the restaurant. Payment is required.

Questions? Contact Jen Guernsey by email, cell phone or text (703) 887 6485.

A [Better] CAT Breed for the Slavic Soul

Aha! I said to myself upon spying this presentation among the 2013 ATA Conference’s offerings. At last, I will find out which elusive CAT tool actually does a good job with Slavic languages! I had tried several tools, but hadn’t yet run across one that was able to accommodate the peculiarities of my language, Russian, particularly when it came to all of the inflected forms.

Alas, it took no more than two slides for me to be sorely disappointed – not in Konstantin Lakshin's presentation, but in the sad news that there is, in fact, no such thing as a good CAT tool for Slavic languages. Or, at least, there isn’t yet.

Despite my initial dismay at the news, I fortunately stayed to hear the entire presentation. It can be briefly summarized as follows: A combination of technical, linguistic, and particularly market forces have conspired to make CAT tools what they are today: decidedly Slavic-unfriendly. The good news is that many of the pieces needed to improve them already exist, and it’s up to us to put pressure on developers and companies to make use of those pieces.

The reason it took the better part of an hour to provide this information is that the presentation included a lot of very interesting history, examples, and details. It really was quite educational, at least for me.

Kostya started by outlining the history of computer use in translation, and the development of CATs in particular. He began with a discussion of a 1966 government-funded report by the Automatic Language Processing Advisory Committee on the use of computer technology in translation. The gist of this report as it applies to our CAT tool discussion is that machine translation doesn’t work well, but that something vaguely resembling what we now consider a CAT tool, with a similar workflow, might be useful. This pseudo-CAT workflow used the punch card operator – i.e., a human being – as a morphology analyzer. This is interesting, because one of our principal complaints about today’s CAT tools is that they do not have morphology analysis capability. The report also compared use of this early form of CAT with a standard translation process, and found that while it might save some time, its primary advantage was that it “relieve[d] the translator of the unproductive and tiresome search for the correct technical terms.” The report emphasized that compiling the proper termbase was really the key to an effective translation tool.

In the decade or so following the report, the emphasis in computer-assisted translation was thus on building termbanks. In other words, the focus was on words and phrases – small subsegments, if you will – and these termbanks were generally compiled for specific large organizations operating in specific contexts and were not readily transferrable to other entities.

The philosophy that drives current CAT tools – the “recycling” of previously translated texts – emerged fully only in 1979, though large corporations had begun exploring this starting in the late 1960s. This philosophy was in great part a result of the requirements and technologies in place at the time. In the 1960s, for instance, the world was a less integrated place, and there was limited control over the input side – the source text content, editing, and so on. The example Kostya provided was scientific texts coming out of the USSR that were being translated. Fast-forward to the 1980s and 1990s: large corporations have end-to-end control of processes and utilize translation (and translation technology) for their own documents. In this latter context, being able to retrieve and reuse entire sentences made a lot of sense. Note also that in the prevailing markets in which the early CAT tools developed, the primary languages were not highly inflected.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the first commercially available CAT tools appeared: IBM Translation Manager II, XL8, Eurolang, and two still-familiar tools, Trados and Star Transit. Trados, in particular, started life as a language services provider trying to get an IBM contract.

The mid- to late 1990s saw the emergence of tools being created ostensibly for translators: Déjà Vu, Memo Q, and WordFast. However, rather than being fundamentally different from their larger predecessors, these often turned out to be essentially smaller, less functional versions of Trados. This era also witnessed the development of smaller commercial players, such as WordFisher (a set of Word macros) and in-house tools such as LionBridge, Foreign Desk, and Rainbow (specifically for software localization), as well as Omega T, the first open-source CAT tool.

That brings us to the present day, the 2000s, when there are too many CAT tools to list, and there have been many mergers and acquisitions among them. However, NONE of the existing tools can be considered very useful for Slavic or other highly inflected languages. In addition to the reasons noted above, there were other issues that contributed to this situation as the software was being developed. First, there were no obvious ways to incorporate Cyrillic into early software. Second, there were additional market forces, such as software piracy, the cross-border digital divide, and the lack of major clients, that provided little incentive to software developers to make CAT tools that would be particularly useful in Slavic-language markets.

Today, we have a much wider playing field in terms of the market for translation. Translation work is “messier” now, and involves things like corporate rebranding and renaming, a variety of dialects and non-native speech, outsourcing, rewrites for search engine optimization, and bidirectional editing in which both source and target documents are being modified. In this environment, the old “termbase plus recycled text” CAT model is not sufficient.

From this historical background, Kostya next proceeded to illustrate just what the difficulties are that Slavic languages present for today’s CAT tools. These can be boiled down to their relatively free word order, their rich morphology, and their highly inflected nature. The CAT tool’s “fuzzy match” capabilities are insufficient for Slavic languages.

Kostya then provided a number of illustrative examples. Consider the following pairs of segments:

              To open the font menu, press CTRL+1.

              Press CTRL+1 to open the font menu.

               Analyzing and characterizing behaviors

               Analysing and characterising behaviours

He ran these and other examples through about a half-dozen CAT tools using a 50% match cutoff, and found that the first example was considered only a 60-80% match, and the second was 0% (in other words, below the 50% threshold). The CAT tools on the market generally do not recognize partial segments in a different order, nor can they tell that “analyzing” and “analysing” are essentially the same word. In other words, they lack language-specific subsegment handling, and morphology-aware matching, searching, and term management. They are also missing form agreement awareness (e.g., noun/adjective case agreement). This diminishes their utility for those translating out of Slavic languages, to be sure, but it also complicates matters for those translating into Slavic languages, as word endings in retrieved fuzzy matches must constantly be checked and corrected.

The obvious question that Kostya next asked is, can this situation be fixed? In theory, yes. Kostya believes that many software tools already in use by search engines, machine translation, and the like could be integrated into CAT tools. These include Levenshtein distance analyzers that can handle differences within words; computational linguistics tools such as taggers, parsers, chunkers, tokenizers, stemmers, and lemmatizers, which analyze such things as syntax and word construction; morphology modules; and even Hunspell, the engine already in use by numerous CAT tools for spellchecking but not for analyzing matches.

Developers continue to cite obstacles to integrating these tools: it’s complicated, they are too language-specific, we don’t know how to set up the interface, there are licensing issues, we have limited resources. While all of these are legitimate factors, Kostya believes that they do not present insurmountable obstacles. He is hopeful that developers will start seeing these tools as data abstraction tools that enable the software to break down the data into something that is no longer language-specific.

So what can we do about this lack of suitable CAT tools? Kostya’s recommendation is principally that we talk to software developers and vendors and explain what we want. We need to create our own market pressure to move things along. In addition, we need to educate developers and vendors about the existing tools that are available; for instance, we might point them to non-English search engines that utilize morphology analyzers.

Alas, there is neither a good CAT tool for the Slavic soul nor a quick fix to this situation. But after listening to Kostya’s presentation, I have a much better understanding of how this situation developed and how we might take action to prompt vendors and developers to move in a new direction.

SLD 2014 Banquet during ATA's 55th Annual Conference

Please join us for a convivial evening. Enjoy a great meal, greet old friends and meet new colleagues.

WHEN: Thursday, November 6, 7:00 PM


"Chicago's original Armenian restaurant"

157 East Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611

Price: $35 per person, including tax and gratuity.

 Guests make the main course menu selection at the event; alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. Vegetarian options are included in the menu selections. Please coordinate any other special dietary requirements with Fred Grasso ( by 10/23/2014.

Payment of $35.00 should be made by PayPal (preferred) or check received on or before Thursday, 10/23/2014.

QUESTIONS? Contact  Fred Grasso (

Creating visuals: visualizations, infographics, and quotes

In May I attended the Digital Marketing for Business Conference, where various aspects of online marketing were discussed, including the importance of using visual materials. According to several studies, using visuals on social media can lead to a significant increase in engagement (for Twitter, this means retweets, favorites and clicks – here’s an example; here’s a summary of advantages for Facebook). Several presenters discussed the online tools that can be used to create and share compelling visual content. I hope this overview will be useful to SLD members.

Tools for visualizations, infographics and flowcharts


Website address


Create and export infographics as PDF or PNG; may be shared (via email, Twitter, or Facebook) or embedded

There are plans for a video infographics tool.

A wide variety of themes; both free and paid accounts available.

Includes helpful case studies.

Interactive charts and templates (data pop-ups, show/hide series, zoom).

Here are some examples of charts about language.

Interactive timetables.

Here is an example.

Create diagrams and flowcharts in your browser.

Here are some examples.

Easy-to-use storyboard creation.

The only drawback of this website is that it uses the Google Translate plug-in.

Tools for quote creation

Website address


Free tool; no login required.

Post results on social networks

Various options: create e-cards, Twitter headers, Facebook timeline covers, etc.; You can edit text, select colors, and change the background.

Additional resources

Website address


For ideas on kinds of content and inspiration.

Here are some infographics related to translation.

This handy color wheel creates selections of colors with RGB and HEX codes.

You can also explore existing color selections.


Winter in the City, Spring in the Air: Getting ready for UTIC-2014!

Kyiv Translation Friday was deliberately held on Friday, December 13, 2013 to emphasize that there are no superstitious or unlucky dates given the right attitude. The event was organized by Ukrainian Translation Industry Conference (UTIC) organizers and was a great success in spite of the weather, Friday leisure temptations and certain political events in the Ukrainian capital.

Winter Kyiv welcomed everyone who traveled from throughout Ukraine and Russia to join us here. Translation educators and representatives of translation businesses were equally interested in the event due to its well-balanced program and friendly atmosphere.

The Kyiv Translation Friday meeting kicked off with a presentation about UTIC, its origins, current status and future plans. UTIC is an annual conference held in Kyiv that brings together talented translators, successful managers, bright educators and innovative software developers to help each other and the industry grow into the future through networking, collaboration and learning.

The first Ukrainian Translation Industry Conference in 2013 welcomed over 360 representatives of local and international translation businesses, including 108 translation companies and bureaus, representatives of 13 higher education institutions and the 3 largest international translation associations: ELIA (European Language Industry Association), ATA (American Translators Association), and GALA (The Globalization and Localization Association). The Translation Forum Russia Organization Committee and representatives of Gorod Perevodchikov, and also attended. The organizers’ efforts to create a congenial, collegial atmosphere during the event were highly appreciated by the participants and were captured in this short film about the conference:

Recorded presentations from UTIC-2013 are available at

Following the event, the UTIC organized a series of free webinars to continue the discussions initiated at the spring conference and thereby reach out to a wider translation community audience. The webinar videos are available at

Kyiv Translation Friday represented both an opportunity to engage and encourage participation by more members of the translation community, as well as a one-day conference organized as preparation for UTIC-2014.

Participants of the Kyiv Translation Friday were the first to know the names of the UTIC-2014 key speakers. This year, UTIC attendees will have an excellent opportunity to hear presentations by members of the Program Committee and other highly regarded translation industry experts such as:

·         Vadim Sdobnikov – representative of the Linguistics University of Nizhniy Novgorod, and experienced educator and author of multiple research papers, textbooks, and guidelines

·         Irina Alekseeva – director of the Saint Petersburg Higher School of Translation at the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia and author of dozens of books on translation 

·         Oleg Rudavin – independent translator with over 20 years of experience and organizer of conferences in Ukraine

·         Jaap van der Meer – a founder of TAUS (Translation Automation User Society) and a language industry pioneer

·         Olexandr Pysaryuk – localization manager at Achievers and specialist with 12 years of experience in translation management and software localization, both in the language services industry and on the client side

·         Kimmo Rossi – currently a leader of the Research & Innovation sector of the Data Value Chain Unit of the European Commission managing science, technology and innovation programs involving statistics, data and content management and language technologies

·         Rebecca Petras – experienced PR and marketing specialist and developer of PR Strategies for GALA and Translators Without Borders

·         Konstantin Josseliani – founder of Janus Worldwide and one of the leading providers of translation and localization solutions

·         Serge Gladkoff – president of Logrus, board member of GALA, and acknowledged expert in localization and translation standards

The Kyiv Translation Friday event program also included a number of interesting and informative presentations covering various aspects of translation. The results of a post-conference survey of the participants showed that the Kyiv Translation Friday sessions were engaging and valuable.  

We cordially invite all ATA members to attend the next UTIC-2014 conference in Kyiv on May 17-18, 2014. A detailed event program is available at For more information please visit

Stay tuned, there’s more to follow!







A Review of the UTIC Webinar "Translation of Advertising Materials"

By Ekaterina Howard

Since the next UTIC conference will take place in May (, it seems like a good time to look back at last year's conference. It was reviewed in the Summer 2013 edition of SlavFile and some of the UTIC 2013 presentations are available on a wide range of topics on YouTube, either as webinars or presentation videos.

Of particular interest to me was the webinar on translation of advertising materials by Katya Filatova and Joseph Kovalov (; the conference presentation video is available at

The presenters discuss the main challenges in translating slogans, ads, commercials, articles on products or services, websites, brochures, banners, etc., and common errors, from literal translation to culturally insensitive and/or stylistically inadequate translation.

The presenters highlight the need to research and use reference materials when translating or transcreating advertising materials and generously share practical tips and tricks, including a detailed description of suggested steps of transcreation.

The webinar also includes several examples of translation gone wrong, for instance, a spectacular “three-letter word” blunder.

An exercise in slogan transcreation and a Q&A session conclude this practical and informative webinar.

I am looking forward to following the UTIC organizers' updates and, hopefully, viewing new excellent webinars once UTIC 2014 is over.

Slavic Languages Diversity and the SLD by Jennifer Guernsey

As far as language divisions go, the Slavic Languages Division is by far the most linguistically diverse. Most language divisions are monolingual. The only other division that comes close to the SLD is the Nordic Division, which encompasses five languages. Slavic languages, on the other hand, number more than a dozen. Not only that, but our division also welcomes members speaking any language of the former USSR. We are a diverse lot, indeed.

The Slavic Languages Division was originally founded as the Russian Language Division, and though the name was changed a few years later, in 1996, the Division’s origins and its preponderance of Russian speakers meant that it initially offered little to the speakers of other (i.e., non-Russian) Slavic languages. Fortunately, during my decade as an active member of the SLD, I have seen the other Slavic languages become much more active and better represented in all aspects of the Division’s activities. This has been the result of two major shifts: a more encouraging and welcoming attitude on the part of the Russian speakers, and more speakers of other Slavic languages willing to step up and become active in the Division. Both of these are key to ensuring that all Division members are able to reap the benefits of Division membership.

What opportunities exist in the Division for the speakers of other Slavic languages, and how can the Russian speakers continue to foster their continued inclusion and involvement? As the Leadership Council member responsible for outreach to non-Russian-speaking SLD members, I’d like to provide some suggestions:

  • Conference presentations: Last year we had one Polish session and one Serbian/Croatian session; the year before we had a Polish session and a Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian Greiss lecturer. These sessions would not have taken place if not for the presenters’ initiative and effort. If you want to see presentations in your language, make it happen. Propose your own presentation, recruit a colleague to present, or suggest suitable Greiss lecturers. For further information, contact Lucy Gunderson ( and Fred Grasso (
  • Blog postings: Write your own post. Blog postings are short- to medium-length articles on any topic of interest to the Division. Posting is a great way to get name recognition within the Division and particularly among your same-language colleagues, and to ensure that the Division blog contains material relevant to your specific language. For more information, contact our blog administrator, Sam Pinson (
  • SlavFile: Write an article – it doesn’t have to be long, just relevant. You can also suggest topics for future articles or recommend articles from other publications for reprint (with appropriate permission, of course). If you’re interested in taking it to the next level, serve as a SlavFile Language Editor, recruiting people to write articles related to your language. As with blog postings, writing for the SlavFile is great for name recognition, networking, and ensuring that the SlavFile contains articles relevant to your language. For more information, contact our SlavFile editor, Lydia Stone (
  • LinkedIn Group: Post a comment relevant to your language to the SLD’s LinkedIn group. For more information, contact Todd Jackson (
  • Listserv: Aside from the Russian listserv, there is a Yahoo-based listserv for only South Slavic languages. To join that listserv, go to If you are interested in starting a listserv for your language, contact Lucy Gunderson ( and Fred Grasso (
  • Twitter feed: Just launched! Subscribe and/or tweet something relevant to your language @ATA_SLD.
  • Certification: Among the non-Russian Slavic languages, certification is available for Croatian<>English, English>Polish, and English>Ukrainian. For more information or to register for an exam, go to It is possible to establish certification in additional languages, but it requires a certain critical mass of participants and considerable time and effort. For further information, see
  • Web page: Your language group can create its own web page, which can be linked to the SLD web page provided it undergoes the normal review required of all ATA-associated web pages. For further information, contact webmistress Zhenya Tumanova (
  • Leadership Council: Serving on the Leadership Council is a great way to get involved, learn more about the Division, forge closer connections with other Division members, and ensure that your language is represented. For more information, contact Lucy Gunderson ( and Fred Grasso (

For the Russian speakers:

  • Remember that the lingua franca of our division must of necessity be English.
  • When possible, make your contribution – whether a blog post, a SlavFile article, or a conference presentation – useful to all SLD members. Obviously, some topics do not lend themselves to this: a discussion of idioms or legal terms, for instance. But some topics are of interest to the entire division, while others can be expanded to encompass multiple languages. When John Riedl and I did a presentation on pharmaceutical translation a few years ago, we decided to “pan-Slavicize” our presentation. It took a bit of effort and coordination, but our non-Russian language colleagues readily responded to our request for aid, so we were able to include multiple Slavic languages in the exercises we used, and we offered participants a multilingual glossary.

For questions or suggestions related to this blog post, contact Jen Guernsey (

Multiple Monitors for Increased Productivity by Samuel James Pinson

A dual monitor setup is a good way to boost your productivity as a translator. In this post I want to share my current dual-monitor setup and invite you to share yours. For years I enjoyed a 19” AMW F199 LCD monitor sitting next to a 20” Samsung Syncmaster 205BW monitor, both of which had been stacked on top of a few outdated reference books to make their height ergonomically correct. But when my 19” monitor recently began to flicker and die, I decided it was time to upgrade. After a bit of research, I purchased two Viewsonic 27” Full HD Widescreen LED Backlight LCD monitors and an Ergotron LX Dual Side-by-Side Arm to hold them up.

That’s a substantial increase in screen real estate, which I’m hoping will yield some productivity gains as I spend less time scrolling and switching between windows. I’ve been looking at DisplayFusion, a window manager, to help me get the most out of my new monitors.

Here are the window management features that I like so far:

·       Ability to split my large monitors into multiple “virtual monitors”;

·       Configurable window snapping;

·       Windows® taskbar for each virtual monitor;

·       Ability to wrap the mouse cursor around monitor edges. Think Pac-Man – moving the cursor off the left edge of the screen makes it appear on the right edge. This can reduce wrist motion;

·       Ability to specify the specific monitor and position a particular application will open in;

·       Key combinations to quickly place windows where I want them.

As can be seen in the photo above, I’m going to try having one of the monitors in a portrait orientation. When I translate this is where I will put my CAT tools, allowing me to see a large amount of the text without the need to scroll.

I like my setup, but I’m always interested in learning what other people have found to be helpful. What monitor configuration and window managers have you found to be most productive? What’s your dream multi-monitor setup? Please share!

Slavic Languages Division Twitter Account Launched

In the end of January the Slavic Languages Division has launched a Twitter account (@ATA_SLD) to bring together professional translators and interpreters working with English and Slavic languages on this social media platform.

You can follow the SLD Twitter account for news and links on the following topics:

  • the Slavic Languages Division updates, links to SlavFile, website and LinkedIn group updates, as well as interesting links from Yahoo! Groups
  • retweets and links from the Twitter feed of the American Translators Association, its chapters and SLD partners, such as UTIC
  • links to Slavic languages-related cultural and news articles
  • in the future – tweets about and from SLD events.

All SLD members are very welcome to suggest additional topics and Twitter accounts to follow and to share links they find interesting or useful. You can do this via Twitter, by emailing or by getting in touch with Ekaterina Howard, either at @katya_howard or at

The SLD Twitter feed can be viewed here: You will need to join Twitter to connect with the SLD and participate in discussions on this platform. Information on setting up a Twitter account is available at, general information about Twitter can be viewed at

We are looking forward to connecting with the SLD members on Twitter!

“Withered” Washington through Russian Eyes by Lydia Razran Stone

During the government shutdown, our hometown paper, The Washington Post, is, of course filled with stories describing various reactions to the situation. My favorite so far describes the reaction of a delegation of Russian educators, scientists and journalists brought over this week through a program “set up by Congress to show off the US government.” Unfortunately they are seeing only the outside of Federal buildings and hearing lectures in rented function rooms. Their reactions seem to be twofold. First, it is “inconceivable” that any legislators could be so “fractious” as to shut down the Federal Government (at least by means not physically violent LRS). Second, they were highly impressed that the city remained so peaceful and orderly, with “clean streets and open shops.” One delegation member joked that this shutdown was not really a manifestation of capitalist democracy but instead the predicted final stage of socialism in which the state has “withered away” but people are able to “manage well without it.” This particular Russian is evidently, during the second stage of his tour, going to be sent to San Antonio (!) to study local government.  Too bad he is not going to be there next month: we could have invited him to our banquet and given him an earful about additional paradoxes of life and government in the United States.

Viva San Antonio! by Fred Grasso

For those of you planning to attend the upcoming ATA conference in San Antonio, following is a local’s take on things to do and see in downtown San Antonio during your stay, including the Slavic Languages Division banquet, of course.

Slavic Languages Division Banquet: The SLD banquet will be held at Acenar ( from 7:00–9:00 pm on Thursday, November 7. Details are provided below, and an announcement can be found in the summer edition of the SlavFile. Seating is limited, so make your reservation by purchasing tickets as soon as possible.  Acenar is located on the banks of the River Walk within walking distance (.7 mi.) of the conference hotel, so come early and/or stay late to enjoy the riverside ambiance and camaraderie.

Greater San Antonio: More detailed information is available through the ATA conference website and will also be available at ATA's hospitality table at the conference. In the meantime, you can check the San Antonio Visitors and Convention Bureau website ( for more information. Specific information on sites of interest, etc., can be found at

The central business district is relatively compact compared to those of most large cities. The conference hotel is conveniently located on the east side of downtown proper and directly connects to the Rivercenter Mall (

Downtown: The area’s original cultural influence (including Native American of course) is colonial Spanish and can be seen today in a rich Mexican and Hispanic culture reflected in the city’s architecture, language, and cuisine. There are a number of restaurants (including Mexican and Tex-Mex) in the downtown area and along the River Walk (

In the early to mid-nineteenth century, central Texas experienced a large influx of settlers from central Europe, mainly of Czech, Slovak, Polish, and German origin. You can experience some of that Germanic influence at Schilo’s ( If hearty German fare and authentic root beer is what you crave, then Schilo’s (est. 1917) is the place to go for lunch or early dinner (it closes at 8:30 pm).

The Germanic influence is also evident in the King William Historic District south of downtown. Named after Prussia’s Kaiser Wilhelm, the King William Historic District is where the well-to-do German merchants built their homes. One of the first to build in the area in 1859 was Pioneer Flour Mills founder Carl Hilmar Guenther. The flour mill is still in business, but the former family home situated on the banks of the San Antonio River is now the Guenther House (, a combination museum, gift store, and restaurant (breakfast and lunch only). Time permitting, it’s a 1.3mile (27-min.) stroll from the conference hotel or the downtown VIA trolley service ( can get you close; otherwise, cab service is available.

No visit to San Antonio is complete without a trip to the Alamo ( Afterwards, step next door to the living history museum, which is the Menger Hotel ( ). Established in 1859, the hotel includes the Menger Bar built in 1887, which is an exact replica of London’s House of Lord’s Pub. One of the hotel’s most famous guests played a pivotal role in settling an international conflict involving tsarist Russia in the first decade of the twentieth century.

A 0.3-mile walk east from the conference hotel along Commerce Street takes you away from the central business district at the Alamo to the St. Paul Square Historic District ( The name is derived from the Old St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church, which was constructed between 1870 and 1880. Also located in this district is Sunset Station. The structure, built in 1902, then served as a passenger depot for Southern Pacific passenger service between New Orleans and San Francisco.  The building is now a restaurant and entertainment complex.

River Walk: For those who are interested, a leisurely stroll along the San Antonio River is a journey through history. In addition to its restaurants, hotels, and architectural features, there are a number of sites along the River Walk that are of interest. For those who would prefer a boat ride, easy access is also provided by river taxi service from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm daily. Check the daily or 3-day pass options ( if you plan to do a lot of exploring.

The San Antonio Museum of Art ( and the Pearl Brewery complex are on the Museum Reach section of the river north of downtown. The Pearl Brewery complex is at the northern terminus of the San Antonio River’s Museum Reach. It was founded in 1881 as the J.B. Behloradsky Brewery and operated under several different names until 2001. The property is currently being redeveloped as a retail, hotel, business, and residential complex (; The brewery building itself is a Victorian-style architectural gem.

The San Antonio Museum of Art ( is also located on the river between the Southwest School of Art and the Pearl Brewery. The Southwest School of Art ( is housed in the former Ursuline Academy (, which was established in 1851. The arts complex includes a chapel from 1868, a rectory dating from the 1880s, and an academy building constructed in 1910.

For those with some extra time and a rental car, the travel destinations are endless, from the state capitol in Austin (about 90 mi. northeast) and the surrounding Texas hill country to Corpus Christi and the Texas Gulf coast (approx. 160 mi. south).

In addition to the conference, you’ll find San Antonio interesting and enjoyable. The weather in early November is somewhat unpredictable: it can be very pleasant shirt-sleeve weather, or sometimes chilly and/or rainy. However, you can leave the parka at home. The average first freeze date for San Antonio is late November.

See you in San Antonio!

Creating a custom dictionary in Déjà Vu X2 by Sam Pinson

Recently, I have been working on a large translation project involving nearly 100 text files. Upon completing each file, I run Déjà Vu X2’s spellchecker before adding the translation to my project’s translation memory.

Every project has its unique terms that aren’t found in a standard dictionary and are therefore flagged as misspelled—this project was no different. I found myself ignoring (“Ignore” or “Ignore All”) the same “misspelled” words over and over again for each file, because the spellchecker doesn’t remember which words I ignored the last time it ran.

I didn’t want to just add them to a dictionary that would be applied to all of my translation projects—if these words appeared in a different context, I wanted them flagged as misspelled. My solution was to create a project specific dictionary and add the “misspelled” words to it. Doing so saved me some time. However, the process wasn’t immediately obvious, so I thought others might benefit from a step-by-step guide.

1.      Run the spellchecker (F7). This will bring up the “Check Spelling” window:

2.      Click “Dictionaries…”to bring up the “Dictionaries” window:

3.      Click “New File…” to bring up the “New Dictionary” window:

4.      Click “Browse…” to navigate to the desired location for the dictionary and give it a name.

5.      Click “OK” to dismiss the “New Dictionary” window.

6.      Close the “Check Spelling” window (ESC) and reopen it (F7) in order for your newly created dictionary to appear in the “Add words to” dropdown list. Select your new dictionary.

7.      Add all of the project- or customer-specific words to your new dictionary!

The next time you find yourself repeatedly ignoring the same misspelled words, consider creating a custom dictionary for your project or customer. Your productivity may thank you! 

Why isn't there certification in all Slavic languages? by Boris Silversteyn

People often ask: “Why isn't there certification in all Slavic languages?”

Indeed, currently ATA certification exams are only offered for the Russian-English, English-Croatian, English-Russian and English-Ukrainian SLD language pairs. Why not the rest?

A short answer is because it is difficult—I would say, extremely difficult—to establish ATA certification for a new language pair. A long answer is that the process is complicated, protracted, and can only be brought to fruition by a group of dedicated and selfless (I will explain the last one a bit later) translators led by a determined champion of the cause.

The process for establishing certification for a new language combination is described in great detail on the ATA website.

Below I will try to explain the process using as an example the establishment of English-Ukrainian certification. It all started when Vadim Khazin took the matter into his own hands and contacted several colleagues to ask if they would volunteer to join him and form a committee to explore the possibility of creating the new language combination. Such a committee must include at least four people, and Vadim was able to talk three of his colleagues who met the program requirements (more about it in a moment) into joining him in this endeavor.

Committee members must meet eligibility requirements for ATA’s certification exam and be willing to become graders after the language combination is approved by ATA. If they are approved as graders, they forfeit their opportunity to become certified until the exam year after they are no longer involved in grading or passage selection. This means that these people will be grading the exams of other people, some of whom will become certified, while not being able to take the exam themselves or become certified until several years after the exam is first offered. Talk about selflessness!

Vadim was selected the committee chair and established formal contact with the Certification Committee.

The next thing the committee members needed to do was contact English-Ukrainian translators, both ATA members and non-members, asking if they were interested in taking the exam. The list of those interested had to include at least 50 names, 25 of whom were ATA members who listed English-Ukrainian combination in their profiles in ATA’s Directory of Translation and Interpreting Services. At least ten people on the list had to sign a non-binding letter of intent to take the certification exam within two years after it is first offered. Only those who meet the eligibility requirements for ATA’s certification exam may sign the letter.

At least five of those who signed the letter of intent, excluding members of the committee, also had to indicate that they were willing to become graders after passing the exam and becoming certified.

The list, the letters of intent and the application to establish the English-Ukrainian language combination were submitted to ATA Headquarters. After the Certification Committee approved the application, the prescribed four-year period for completion of the process began. (If the process is not completed in four years, you are back to square one).

The committee chair and members of the English-Ukrainian language combination establishment group agreed to become the language chair and grader workgroup. It should be noted that if they did not want to do this they would have instead needed to locate a different group of eligible people (see above) to volunteer to form the workgroup that would have to undergo grader training. (Some committee members were already graders for the English-Russian combination, so they did not need to have additional training).

Well, getting the list compiled and letters signed was the easy part. The next steps, where the real work was, were selecting exam passages, getting them approved, and preparing grading guidelines. This was the most time consuming and labor intensive part of the process.

It started with selecting two sets of three exam passages each—A, B and C. Passage A must be a general text that expresses a view, sets forth an argument or presents a new idea. Passage B may be technical, scientific or medical in content. Passage C may be financial, business or legal. The passages had to meet certain ILR (Interagency Language Roundtable) reading skill requirements—level 3 to 3+ for passage A and level 2+ to 3 for passages B and C (see

The selected passages, with sample translations, were sent for approval to the Certification Program’s Passage Selection Task Force (PSTF). It is not unusual for passages not to be approved initially and to need updating or replacement; the English-Ukrainian group passages were no exception. After the passages were finally approved by the PSTF they needed to be translated by all four graders.

The next step was for graders to review the translated passages; identify, analyze and categorize errors; and create so-called passage-specific guide lines (PSGs), to be used in grading future exams.

All passage related materials were submitted to the Certification Committee. After reviewing the materials, the Committee recommended approval of the English-Ukrainian language combination, and the Board voted to establish the new combination.

Currently, the passage set requirements are slightly different. Initially, one set (the practice set) is required; passage-specific and language-specific grading guidelines are prepared; this set will be used for practice tests. Then two more sets must be prepared and approved for use as actual exams. Eventually, each grading workgroup must have a passage bank of four complete sets of three passages each, in addition to a practice test set.

We started in 2005; the ATA Board approved the establishment of English-Ukrainian certification in November 2006; and in 2007 we had the first practice test and actual certification exam.

So now that you know how to do it, go and do it. It’s not rocket science—we did it, you can too! 

Good luck.

Looking Forward to San Antonio: Playing Cowboys and Idioms, By Lydia Stone

Since our next ATA Conference will be in San Antonio, the heart of cowboy country (witness the boot motif in the conference announcements), I thought I might discuss some of the English idioms and phrases based on cowboy life.  What would a city girl raised in New York, who never rode a horse in her life, know about cowboys?  You might well ask.  It is true that I spent 13 glorious years in Colorado.  However, life in Boulder during the late 60’s and 70’s, while wild enough in its way, was not quite in the wild West mode of the cowboys.  Very well, I will stick to phrases filtered through (or even originated by) popular media (films, TV, songs, etc.).  Surely their cultural influence reached everyone, no matter how Eastern or urban.  Even my quintessentially New York mother, who developed a fear of animals when her father lifted her up to pat a policeman’s horse and who never willingly watched even a highbrow horse opera,  in her 90’s under heavy pain medication in the hospital, told me that she had shot 5 buffalo the previous day.

Back in the saddle again. Meaning: back at work (much less negative than back in harness); may even mean back home, back where one is meant to be. Origin: 1939 popular song by iconic cowboy actor/singer Gene Autry. The first lines are: I`m back in the saddle again./ Out where a friend is a friend/Where the longhorn cattle feed/On the lowly gypsum weed.  Obviously, whatever one may now think about longhorns and gypsum weed, the original connotation of the phrase was positive. Usage example: From the web: Back in the saddle again: How to Overcome Fear of Riding after a Motorcycle Accident

Beat (someone) to the draw. Meaning: react more quickly than someone else, especially in a competitive situation.  Origin: not documented, but most likely, from innumerable showdowns in cowboy movies where the one who is quickest on the draw (is the first to snatch his gun from its holster at his belt and shoots it) is the one who wins and, incidentally survives. (There are few flesh wounds or misses in these movies.)  No longer need have a negative connotation. Usage example: I had been meaning to invite our new neighbors to dinner, but they beat me to the draw.

Bet the ranch. Meaning: be so certain that something will happen that you risk everything on the possibility. Frequently used in the negative: don’t bet the ranch on it = don’t be so certain.  Origin: not documented per se, but ranch is a word that only came into English with the old West’s cattle culture. One pictures the numerous movie bar scenes of cowboys and ranchers, who have come into town after long periods on the range, sitting around a table drinking and gambling. Usage example: So you think you can beat me at tennis? Don’t bet the ranch on it. (Note: you bet your boots, which is almost always used in the positive sense of “you can be sure of it,” certainly also seems to hark back to cowboys, though I can find no documentation.)

Bite the dust. Meaning: down (literally, fallen from a horse), dead (only used ironically), defeated, ruled out. Origin: Used so often that it is considered a cowboy movie cliché, but the phrase lick the dust appears in the Bible (Psalms 72) and was first used in exact form in English in 1750. Usage example: It costs that much money?? Well, another good idea bites the dust?

Cowboys and Indians: Meaning: refers to a children’s game of chase or mock combat in which some children assume the role of “cowboys” and others “Indians.” May be used generally to refer to any similar noisy play especially by small boys.( PC Alert: may not be considered an acceptable phrase by some.) Origin: clearly comes not from a phrase used by actual cowboys but from results of frequent exposure to movies targeted at this age group.  Usage example: The wedding reception was a disaster. No one had the nerve to tell the bride’s nephews to take their game of cowboys and Indians outside.

Get (the Hell) out of Dodge. Meaning: Original: We do not want “your kind” here, with the implication of if you do not leave you will be in big trouble.  Adopted by the 1960’s and 1970’s youth culture to mean simply let’s get out of here or, more colloquially, let’s blow this joint. Origin: Dodge City, Kansas, starting in the 1870s was publicized in the media as the quintessential lawless frontier town, the “Sodom of the West,” associated with the largely fictional exploits of the real Marshal Wyatt Earp trying to maintain order, in many Western films and dime novels.  The radio and later television series “Gunsmoke” ran from 1952-61 and 1955-75, respectively and featured the efforts of the fictional Marshal Matt Dylan (a much more respectable character than Earp) to maintain order in Dodge. Whether or not Dylan actually repeatedly told bad guys to get out of Dodge (as an alternative to being shot) is open to debate.  The word Hell was certainly not permitted in the media of that time.  Equally certain is the fact that this is the origin of the double life of this phrase.  Usage Example: We have rules in this place; either follow them or get the Hell outta Dodge.

(Heading for) the last roundup. Meaning approaching death, or at least the end of useful life.  Virtually always used ironically or jocularly.  May be used of a piece of equipment as well as a living thing. Source: From a ludicrous song originally recorded by Gene Autry in 1933, purportedly sung by a dying cowboy.  Here is the second verse: I’m heading for the last roundup/To the far away ranch of the Boss in the sky/Where the strays are counted and branded there go I/I’m headed for the last roundup.  Usage Example: Just because I have white hair, doesn’t mean people should treat me as if I’m headed for the last roundup.

Meanwhile back at the ranch: Phrase used jocularly to introduce a change of subject or return to an earlier topic.  Origin: Used as a caption in silent movies and radio dramas to signal a change in the scene of the action.  The word ranch indicates the cowboy drama context. Usage example: After a digression to some other topic: Meanwhile back at the ranch, what are we going to do about the leak in the ceiling?

Ride off into the sunset: Meaning: may mean either to have finished a chapter in one’s life and moved on into another, unspecified, one or to disappear from someone’s life, especially after having solved a problem for them. Origin: from a Western movie cliché, in which the good guy who has arrived in a troubled town and solved whatever grave problem it was experiencing with bad guys, gets on his horse and rides west in the direction of the picturesque setting sun.  (As someone points out on the Internet, it is fairly foolish to ride off into the wilderness at sunset, when you will only have to camp when as soon as it gets dark.) Much better to spend the night in town and leave at dawn. ) Usage example: George Washington would have been content to ride off into the sunset after a first term, but he could not withstand the pressure to serve another one.

Shoot from the hip: Meaning: to speak or act without taking time to think first, recklessly or impulsively.  Origin: Both real and movie cowboys kept their guns in holsters on their hips. In close-up showdown duels with another “gunslinger,” such as occurred regularly in movies and perhaps even in real life, survival depended on being the first to draw and shoot, so that guns were fired the instant they were free from the holster, i.e., at the level of the hip.  It goes without saying that aim from this position could only have been reliable at very close range. Usage example: That is a very good question and I do not want to answer it by shooting from the hip.

White hats: Meaning: heroes or good guys, especially in a certain context, as distinguished from villains or bad guys (black hats). (In the computer world a “white hat hacker” is one who finds security weaknesses and reports them to the owner so they can be fixed.) Origin: a primitive costuming device in many early unsophisticated Westerns to allow the audience to readily distinguish good guys from bad. (Note: there is no evidence that there was any actual correlation between hat color and character in the West, and given the deplorable lack of dry-cleaners and similarly unfortunate amount of dust in frontier towns, any white hat would not have remained so for long. Usage example: From the web: do not expect a simple black-hat/white-hat duality in this cop and gangster movie.

Hope to see y’all in San Antonio!

Tales from the Trenches: Humbled by “Humble” by Irina Jesionowski

Like many of you, my dear colleagues, I have made it my daily business to agonize over words.  Summarizing my long, painful and joyful experience of dealing with these pesky lexical units, I must say it has been humbling. In fact, the very word “humble” humbled me on many occasions. 

In January of 2009, I had an assignment in Western Michigan. An international corporation brought four Russian technicians to the U.S. for a three-week training course, and I was contracted as an interpreter.

The four Russians were very good, hard-working, salt-of-the earth young guys. For them, coming to the United States was an out-of-body experience, a dream come true.  Their American counterparts were very friendly and welcoming.  During lunchtime, a cafeteria was quite a cheerful place: Americans and Russians were exchanging jokes, discussing national food and, of course, beverages. Americans bragged about “the Russian five” – the Detroit Red Wings’ legendary Russian hockey players.  However, our hosts, whose ancestor came to the U.S. from the Netherlands, didn’t forget to mention that “if you are not Dutch, you are not much.” 

On January 20, the atmosphere in the cafeteria was quite different. Everyone’s eyes were glued to a TV showing Obama’s first inaugural ceremony.   People were silent, tense and unhappy.  Most residents of Western Michigan are no fans of the Democratic Party.  

The Russians become quite excited.  People in Russia, as in the majority of other countries, were ecstatic about Obama’s 2008 victory.  As the Russian guys put it,  “Whew!  No more hawks in the White House; no more unilateral wars or arbitrary bombings.” I am not commenting; I am just reporting.

The four Russians quickly caught on to the fact that their enthusiasm was quite dissonant in the room filled with gloom and doom. Baffled, they turned to me for an explanation: “What happened? Why is everyone so unhappy? Was there a terrorist attack?”

What could I do?  Provide a simplistic answer that would lead to more bias and misunderstanding, as if there is not enough of it already? Explain the complexities of the American political and ideological dynamics?  Then I would inevitably impose my own biases and opinions, and I am trained to avoid that at all costs.  I did what I could do more or less competently – I started interpreting.

First, there was the swearing-in ceremony.  Chief Justice John Roberts and Obama fumbled a couple of times as the oath of office was administered, -- but that was OK; I could deal with it. Next, the inaugural address:

-        My fellow citizens  Дорогие сограждане

-        I stand here today  Я стою здесь сегодня

And then it came, this dreaded deer-in-headlights moment when you understand the meaning of what is being said but have no idea how to render it in the target language:

-        … humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

Humbled… There is a perfect calquing option in Russian -- смиренный: to be in the state of deference or submissiveness, especially in the religious context. «Я стою здесь сегодня, смиренный перед стоящими перед нами задачами…» Ouch. Think, Irina: “humble” is the opposite of “arrogant” > approaching the tasks before us without arrogance > taking them seriously > being aware of their complexity > полностью осознавая сложность стоящих перед нами задач … Whew!  

The devil is that while all this thought process is taking place in your head, the show goes on, the speaker keeps speaking, and you have to keep up. 

In the course of my career, I have interpreted for many dignitaries, business leaders, and legislators, but I don’t remember any other occasion -- before or after this one -- when I was so fired up, when I felt so acutely compelled to render the significance of the moment as I did for those four Russian kids.

I wish I could share with you many of my small linguistic victories, but, in reality, I ate more humble pies than I would care to digest – or remember.

While simultaneously interpreting a report on therapeutic justice in Michigan, I uttered:
“Вместо того, чтобы сажать секс работниц в тюрьму, мы предоставляем им возможность повышать свою квалификацию в области обслуживания клиентов.” 
Instead of incarcerating sex workers, we provide them with the opportunity for further improvement of their customer service skills.

Of course, what I should have said was,
“Вместо того, чтобы сажать секс работниц в тюрьму, мы предоставляем им возможность для приобретения специальностей и трудоустройства в сфере обслуживания.”
Instead of incarcerating sex workers, we provide them with the opportunity for receiving vocational training and obtaining jobs in the service sector.

I am not discriminating against any of my working languages; I am an equal-opportunity blunderer.  My only solace is that I am in a good company, along with many other “binders full of women.”

Words… for many years they have been feeding my addiction by reliably supplying a daily dozen of puzzles and keeping me on my toes.  As many of us are in this profession, I am a happy glutton for punishment.

Усердней с каждым днем гляжу в словарь.
В его столбцах мерцают искры чувства.
В подвалы слов не раз сойдет искусство,
Держа в руке свой потайной фонарь.

На всех словах -- события печать.
Они дались недаром человеку.
Читаю: "Век. От века. Вековать.
Век доживать. Бог сыну не дал веку.

Век заедать, век заживать чужой ..."
В словах звучит укор, и гнев, и совесть.
Нет, не словарь лежит передо мной,
А древняя рассыпанная повесть.

С. Маршак

Through dictionaries’ pages, I wander more each day,
Within their ordered columns, I find true feeling’s spark.
For to this cellar warehouse, where words are stored away
Art comes with secret lantern to guide me through the dark.

Translation of the first stanza by Lydia Razran Stone


Welcome to the new blog of the Slavic Languages Division of the American Translators Association!

The SLD has a long history of embracing newcomers to the profession and providing information of interest and use to Slavic translators and interpreters. SLD members have a number of means for communicating with one another, including our LinkedIn group, the Russian Translators Yahoo list, the South Slavic Yahoo List, and the SlavFile, but we have found that it is difficult to reach everyone through these outlets. It is therefore our hope that this blog will enable us to provide timely communications to an even larger portion of our diverse membership.

Our posts will mostly be written by members of the SLD Leadership Council and they will cover a wide range of topics including important SLD news and announcements, helpful hints regarding common translation problems in any and all Slavic languages, information on reference materials and new technologies, and accounts of professional activities. We also welcome contributions and suggestions, so if you would like to submit a post or propose a topic for a post, please e-mail

For our blog policy, please see section of the Divisions Handbook, which can be found at . And don’t forget to check in regularly!

Thank you for reading!