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RUSSIAN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY OF IDIOMS, REVISED EDITION
By Sophia Lubensky
Yale UNIVERSITY PRESSCopyright © 2013 Sophia Lubensky
All rights reserved.
When the Russian-English Dictionary of Idioms first came out in 1995, it quickly drew the attention of translators and other potential users. They immediately recognized a number of features that distinguished it from traditional bilingual dictionaries. The Dictionary was the first of its kind in several respects. It included more idioms and meanings than any bilingual dictionary at the time, along with numerous synonyms and variants of idioms. It was the first bilingual dictionary to provide definitions for each entry and meaning, as well as extended usage notes, where needed, in an attempt to create semantic microworlds that would contribute to a better understanding of every idiom presented. By creating a semantic habitat for each idiom, the dictionary offered assistance without curtailing the translator's ingenuity and creativity. Each idiom was accompanied by essential grammar information and a wide range of style and usage labels—temporal, stylistic, and sociolinguistic—on the Russian side. This information enabled users to develop a sense of how an idiom is used in both typical and atypical contexts, and to pair the Russian idiom with the most suitable equivalent for each context.
The introduction of patterns demonstrating the correlation between Russian and English constructions, especially in syntactically challenging structures, was an additional unique feature. Russian patterns for idiomatic verb phrases were presented in typical tense-aspect forms, as well as in numerous special patterns for negated predicate, imperative, and more, thus showing the user how an idiom was used. Patterns and grammar information were included to encourage users who were willing to take an extra step to make a given idiom part of their active lexicon.
Presentation of English equivalents differed greatly from the traditional approach. It happens very rarely that one English equivalent fits every context. Instead of one or two equivalents traditionally found in bilingual dictionaries, this Dictionary offered equivalents for many potential contexts. My aim was to avoid the all-too-familiar impasse experienced when a word or phrase can be easily found on the left side of a bilingual dictionary, but its equivalent on the right side simply cannot be squeezed into a given context. Trying to force it in may weaken the idiomaticity of the English sentence. To highlight the relevance of context, the dictionary provided ample illustrative material for most entries—predominantly bilingual citations from Russian works of literature and expository prose together with their published translations, and, in rare cases, self-contained invented examples. This approach made it possible to select the majority of illustrative examples from works whose translators enjoyed the benefit of having the context of the entire literary work at their fingertips. Finally, an attempt was made to give translators the credit they deserve: every citation could be easily traced to its translator.
The dictionary found its audience not only in English-speaking countries, but also in Russia, where it was published twice: in 1996 by Shkola: Yazyki russkoi kultury, and in 2004 by AST-Press. In both Russian editions, the Guide to the Dictionary and Introduction to the Index were in Russian. Beyond that, there were no changes.
The dictionary was widely reviewed both in English-speaking countries and in Russia, and the response from users, especially translators and lexicographers, has been overwhelmingly favorable. Occasionally, user feedback included suggestions regarding the addition of phrases that recently acquired currency or idioms which had been overlooked in the Dictionary, should a new edition materialize. Many of the users' suggestions are incorporated in this first revised and enlarged edition.
Features of the First Revised Edition
The revised edition has built on the strengths of the 1995 dictionary, and the underlying lexicographic principles employed in the original edition have been preserved. The structure of the dictionary entry has remained unchanged. When selecting new equivalents for existing entries and working on new entries, I abided by the ironclad rule that each equivalent should be practically applicable.
At the same time, this edition differs considerably from the original edition. About 550 new entries containing over 900 new idioms along with their synonyms and variants have been added, thus increasing the total number of entries in the current edition to approximately 7,500 and bringing the total number of idioms close to 14,000. These new entries reflect changes in the living language and its use in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: they present new idioms that have become rooted in the language and are commonly used in speech and writing. Some of the idioms included in the original edition have acquired new idiomatic meanings. These idioms have been revised and are presented differently in this edition. In selecting English equivalents, special attention was paid to phrases that have been enjoying wide currency on television, in the press, and on the street, but have not yet found their way into Russian-English dictionaries. Although most of these phrases, as well as other equivalents presented in the dictionary, are common to all varieties of the English language, the dictionary predominantly reflects American usage.
The availability of language corpora made it possible to check the idioms' register and usage in multiple contexts and to make the labels more uniform. Numerous citations come from the works of Russian authors of the last two decades: B. Akunin, A. Chudakov, R. Gallego, V. Pelevin, V. Sorokin, L. Ulitskaya, and A. Eppel. While Russian classics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries figured prominently in the 1995 edition, the current edition has benefited from a number of new translations of these works. Regrettably, I had to reduce the number of citations—a necessary and unavoidable move—in order to make room for new entries and meanings.
It is largely because of the initiative and enthusiasm of my editor Vadim Staklo and Yale University Press that the dictionary has found a new and extended life. I am most grateful.
Excerpted from RUSSIAN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY OF IDIOMS, REVISED EDITION by Sophia Lubensky. Copyright © 2013 Sophia Lubensky. Excerpted by permission of Yale UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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Table of Contents
Editorial and Production Staff, xi,
Sample Entries, xii,
Guide to the Dictionary, xiv,
Abbreviations Used in the Dictionary, xxviii,
Russian Alphabet, xxix,
RUSSIAN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY OF IDIOMS, 1,