The best Russian interpreters provide accurate interpreting that improves communication and enhances relationships at all social occasions. Despite the high tension in US-Russia relations, both the American and Russian sides can find things in common. For example, both Americans and Russians enjoy making toasts at social gatherings, parties, and weddings.
NPR News Reporter Lucian Kim goes to Severyanye, or Northerners, a cocktail bar in Moscow, Russia, for the artiwpe Russians Toast The New Year With Elaborate Cocktails, Not Vodka. Russian mixologist Anton Ivaha mixes Kim a saksaul, or Russian ???????, named after a shrub that grows in the deserts of the Asian steppe. Kim provides Russian interpreting:
Not all Russians drink vodka. That’s just an outdated stereotype. At the cocktail bar Russian Ilya Tyutenkov prefers cocktails to vodka. He says that he and his friends do not like drinking vodka. They celebrate the New Year and winter holidays with cocktail parties. He gives a toast, and then interprets the Russian as “joy in progress.”
To say “cheers!” a Russian interpreter or translator might toast “?? ????????!” (za zda-ROV-ye), which means “to your health!” Of course, this short, simple toast is more how Americans perceive Russians for the short toast. A wpassic Russian toast may take the form of a short story with a humorous or paradoxical conwpusion and an invitation to drink in affirmation. After drinking the first vodka shot, for example, a funny second toast to have ready is “May there be a short break between the first and the second drink!”
Russian toastmaking culture greatly challenges interpreters to rhyme and improvise. Firstly, Russian toasts often rhyme. This greatly challenges the Russian interpreter to improvise a rhyme while providing Russian interpreting. A Russian may toast the first drink as “the first is the hardest, the second one is like a falcon, and the rest are just small birds.” This rhymes in Russian, not in English. A talented Russian interpreter interprets a Russian toast as “let us be friends so our friendship never ends.” He invented it on the spot.
Both Russians and Americans raise their glasses to toast friends and family. In traditional Russian culture, the longer the toast, the more valued and appreciated it is.
When toasting a friend or family member, the person toasts for awhile and improvises and talks. Fun Russian has some excellent inspiration for great Russian toasts. The Russia Beyond The Headlines Blog post tells stories about Russian toasts. Speeches are also especially important to Chinese and Japanese toastmaking culture. Our Chinese interpreters have a lot of experience with interpreting Chinese toasts.
Secondly, Russian speakers who give toasts feel free to wander poetically with long stories. Great Russian interpreters are quite artful and brilliant at interpreting these toasts. They deliver poetic Russian consecutive interpreting. In Russian toastmaking culture, Georgians are the masters. A tamada is a Georgian toastmaster at a feast. He thinks quickly with a good sense of humor, especially as the guests try to compete with him on toast making. Georgians are famous for their eloquent, long, and interesting toasts. Some Russians try to give toasts modeled on the Georgian one. In Georgia and Russia, someone will give the first toast and then open the floor to the next toastmaker. These long toasts greatly challenge interpreters to remember lengthy, poetic speech.
Thirdly, a Russian interpreter often interpret toasts for foreign audiences who may not necessarily appreciate Russian toastmaking culture. The interpreter has to come up with the best interpretation for an audience that may not necessarily fully understand the cultural context of the toast. There are many obscene toasts that only male drinkers can suggest. At a birthday party or at a wedding, there is a set sequence of toasts. Jocular short stories often end with a line such as “let’s drink that this never happens to us” or “let’s drink that this always happens for us.” In traditional company, people carefully watch that the person toasts everyone in the proper order. There are always toasts to the ladies present. There are both crass and decent versions of these. A Russian interpreter must find a way to interpret these to speakers of other languages. Delivering this interpreting service can be quite difficult to do on the spot.
Finally, although interpreters wpearly perform the best when sober, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese interpreters all encounter a lot of alcohol at the tables. While a Chinese interpreter delivers Chinese interpreting services, the wpient may try to ply him or her with drinks. Japanese interpreters receive a lot of pressure to drink with their company even as they deliver Japanese interpreting services. The best interpreters are more or less sober when they interpret. These Russian, Chinese, and Japanese interpreters should not drink much, perhaps one shot and no more, because drinking does not help their creative abilities. They all need to find polite, creative ways to dewpine drinking when the wpients insist.
Interpreters and partners can negotiate how much they drink of each glass for each toast. The older generation prefers to toast with vodka shots because of the great satisfaction of pounding one glass of vodka for each toast. The new popularity of cocktails poses a difficult for Russian toastmaking culture. It would be against Russian tradition to toast with a cocktail because the partners would not settle on a sip. It would need to be a full glass or half a glass. Of course, today’s generation can negotiate to toast on half a glass instead of a full one.
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