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All right, I have now seen Episode 2 of Strangler Things... er, I mean #StrangerThings and I am profoundly happy. Mostly because the show's creators have clearly understood that one-handed strangulation does not have to be an exclusive domain of the Soviet Heavy.
I really hope more American filmmakers recognize this. Of course, Bacho slowly grabbing Pavel by the neck and pensively uttering "I told you to not make them suffer" as we see Pavel's feet dangling half a meter off the ground would have been a kickass Chernobyl scene. But...
... as the wispy-armed American idiot above clearly demonstrates, the art of one-handed suspended strangulation can be mastered by any heavy of any nationality. Of course, the American Idiot couldn't do it properly, but I didn't say everyone can be Glorious World Champion, did I?
Anyway, I have a feeling we are in store for many more one-handed stranglings, so here I will discuss the Russians' second-favorite pastime: speaking Russian! Which, apparently, can be done by anyone with a little American spunk, determination, elbow grease, and this book here:
OK, so let me answer the question that surely you have all asked after watching this episode. And I don't mean "How could Steve have fallen this far?" I mean "Could this translation actually happen in real life if I tried it?" The answer is... yes and no.
First, the Russian text above was clearly written by a native Russian speaker and not by an American kid copying off the dictionary. It's easy to see because one of the letters (И) is written inconsistently: printed in some places, cursive in others. A lazy consultant, Netflix!
I also have an issue with the whole premise. Now, I know that Russian uses phonetic spelling, therefore every word is written pretty much the way you pronounce it, but how would American kids know that? You are used to a language with spelling that makes so little sense that...
... only a handful of kids from India and Bangladesh can be trusted with putting your words to writing. How would you guess that you could transcribe proper Russian words by listening to them being spoken? This is an utterly illogical premise, but fine, let's allow this.
However, while Russian certainly is phonetic, it's not all THAT straightforward, because actual spoken language doesn't always follow transcribed sound patterns. In other words, it would be pretty hard to "hear" some of these spellings properly. Let's take a look at some examples
The Russian word for "meets" (vstretitsya, which is actually a wrong translation, but more on this later) is written correctly. The problem is, when a Russian person speaks it, you will never guess that the last three letters should be T, C and Я (t, s and ya)...
Because the "t" and the "s" almost always blend into a "ts" sound (like "z" in Italian "pizza") and we have an actual letter for that - Ц. In addition, the last sound usually gets garbled as A, so if you just listen to the word, you'd get ЦА instead of the final ТСЯ...
The same for the Russian phrase for "with yellow" (s zhyoltym, and "with" isn't translated on the board). The word "zhyoltym" includes the letter Ё which stands for the YO sound. ЁLO, bitches! So all is good, right? No. Because we actually pronounce it with the O sound - "zholty"
The word KOGDA (when) actually sounds as KAGDA, and so on... But fine, words KAGDA, ZHOLTY and VSTRETIЦА wouldn't be found in the dictionary since they are incorrect, so it's possible that he kids could've guessed the proper spelling by just looking for the closest sounding word
But I won't let them off the hook this easily, because their transliteration sucks and would've never yielded the needed results. Look at this bullshit! How would they guess that the letter Ж stands for the "g" sound as in French "gendarme" if Dustin has it transcribed as an S?
Furthermore, you will see he has also marked several letters with the "e" sound, which is also problematic. The letter "И" is pronounced as your long E (in "feel"), the letter Ы as your short I (in "stick") and the letter Э as your A (in "hand"). Hardly the same sound, right?
So, how would they guess that the words for yellow and silver should have the Ы in it? The trial and error method would have taken forever because the base knowledge they are starting with is incorrect.
This leads us to the third problem: Russian grammar. Russian, like some other European languages, is what they call "highly inflected." This means that it has a multitude of inflections (word endings) depending on the tense, the gender and other factors. We are complex people...
For instance, the word "dlinnaya" (long) can only be applied to female objects. For male objects that would be "dlinnyi", for neutral-gender objects, "dlinnoye." All genders would have the same plural, "dlinnye", but this is just a small part of the problem...
Let's look at the word "yellow" again. Yellow by itself is "zhyolty" (ЖЁЛТЫЙ) in male gender, "zheltaya" in female and "zheltoye" in neutral. But in the context of "with yellow", you'd have "s zhyoltym" for male and neutral, "s zhyoltoy" in female and "s zhyoltymi" in plural...
The kids obviously heard "s zhyoltym", but they would not have find this word in the dictionary. Fine, they could've guessed that "zhyolty" is the same word (after being confounded by the "extra" m, the purpose of which they wouldn't know), but the word for "blue" would kill them
As written on the whiteboard, CИНЕЕ (sinyeye), the word for blue can only be applied to neutral gender singular. In the dictionary it would be СИНИЙ (siniy), using the male singular, which is the default setting. Now, it's not impossible to get all that by trial and error, but...
The word "meets" (vstretitsya) would be seen as "vstretit" in the dictionary, the literal translation of "to meet." "Vstretitsya" is actually future tense, but solely in the context of "meet with" (as in "on a date") as opposed to simply "meet someone" (as in at the bus station).
Wow, who knew learning languages would be hard, right? But this isn't even the full extent of it. The fourth issue is the simplest - bad translation. The word ЕСТ (yest) is translated as "feeds" even though it means "eats." The word "meets" is present tense, not future...
So... Is it theoretically possible for the kids to come up with a workable translation by the method they used? Yes, theoretically. It would have taken an ungodly amount of time, and the whiteboard would've been soiled with multiple erasures and ultimately wouldn't look like this
... but, with a lot of luck, it is theoretically possible that they could have come up with something close. Chances are, though, they wouldn't. So, that's about it. Dont @ me with "it's a fictional show with magic spiders in it", please. Magic spiders is not my area of expertise
Americans can handle magic spiders, since they have a whole genre of cinematography dedicated entirely to it. Me, I will do Russian language. And one-handed stranglings. So many one-handed stranglings... Why, hello, my friend!
We're in Episode 3, and American idioms are now literally translatable into Russian, y'all!
Of course, the not-yet-strangled radio man actually said "Yesli byt ostorozhnym", which means "If you are careful" and it's impossible to get from here to "tread lightly" w/ a dictionary.
Watching Episode 4. OMG, this show... Strangler Things, you've done it again. A beautiful one-handed strangulation. Strong form, good dismount. 9.5 for technical merit, 10.0 for artistry from the Russian judge. And we don't just hand these out easily, you know.
Seriously, I am pretty sure that Suzy, Dustin's mystery girlfriend, is going to appear late in the series, and I am soooo hoping she will end up being a Russian spy! Don't spoil it for me, but it would be brilliant and totally salvage this regrettable season.
Dustin: Suzy! What are you doing in Indi...
Suzy: Vy, khello, Dahsteen! My name is Syuzannia Onotoppovna Hrivko. Two times avahrded Order of Communist Revolooshon
[Suzy's hand creeps close to Dustin's throat as she looks at him pensively]
Dustin: No, not that, ple... urgle-gurgle
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