This is the Main Section of a style guide for the English Version of Ukrayinska Pravda.
To see whether your lexical equivalents match our style policy and visit Lexicon. If you experience difficulties with finding an adequate lexical equivalent visit Hard Nuts to Crack. For useful links visit Reference.
If you would like to edit this style guide, please read the statement below first.
Statement for future editors
Please add only Ukrayinska Pravda specific rules here. Ukrayinska Pravda specific rules are those introduced after spotting a mistake made by our translator(s). You may also add rules related to translating modern Ukrainian realities if you would like to set a rule before the actual mistake is made.
In case you have some useful material, which is not directly related to Ukrainian realities, please leave a link in the relevant section. Do not include lengthy or copyright material here. Be short and to the point. The new rule should not be more then 5 lines. If in doubt, use discussion page or write a post to our blog.
Please use examples from modern Ukrainian life. Humor is welcomed.
The 10 Commandments of UP Translation Project
1. Be simple. The simpler the sentence, the better the reader's experience with the translation will be. Writing is all about the clear and direct communication of ideas from the author to the reader.
2. Go deep. Being simple does not mean being stupid. Do your best effort to ensure that the style and lexical equivalents used will be understood by the English-speaking reader. Check the lexical equivalents, set expressions and proper nouns using Google, Wikipedia and this Style guide.
3. Ask for advice. Don't be shy to ask for help at our blog, other blogs, forums and other interactive resources (please add the relevant link here). By asking questions, we make both ourselves and the people who answer the question more clever and experienced.
4. Voice your opinion. People who review and edit your translation are not always right. Tell them they are wrong if you can provide a good argument. A statement like "it is wrong because my high school teacher said so" is not an example of a good argument. Support your argument by live examples from internationally recognized media outlets like CNN, BBC, New York Times, The Guardian or Wikipedia. Use Google or any other search engine to prove that your lexical equivalent gives substantially more search results then the other.
5. Convey contents and style rather than emotions. Ukrayinska Pravda has emotional texts and this makes it different. Many translators try to convey the emotions of the Ukrainian author to the English reader. This makes the text less readable. Please put your main effort into helping the reader understand the basic contents of the translation. Then work on style of the text.
6. Stick to Priorities. First, please ensure the headline reads clearly. A clear headline is the best way to catch a reader's attention. Second, please ensure the main ideas of the article are expressed clearly. Short articles may have only one or two main ideas. Longer articles will have three or more. The main idea should 'bounce out' at the reader so the reader can at least take them away. Third, try to express the remainder of the article clearly and then start working on style.
7 — 10. To be continued. Please suggest your variants at the discussion page.
Use commas to separate items in a series. However, commas should not be used before 'and' or 'or':
Moroz, Tymoshenko, Yushchenko and Yanukovych are rivals. Poland and Ukraine, Hungary and Croatia or Italy will host Euro 2012.
Avoid using commas before an indirect quotation:
The report concluded that new legislation needed to be prepared before the negotiations could commence.
Use a coma or commas to set off non-essential elements in a sentence. The non-essential elements may modify the word they refer to, but do not limit the word to a particular individual or a group. To test whether the element is essential, remove the element from the sentence and see whether the fundamental meaning of the sentence changes. If the element can be deleted, it is non-essential:
Obolon JSC, which is located in Kyiv, is a famous brewery. Viktor Yuschenko, who was born in Sumy region of Ukraine, was visiting his native village. John and Mary, who emigrated from England last year, found it easy to open a business in Ukraine.
Avoid using commas to set off essential elements. Such elements limit the word they refer to and they cannot be omitted without altering the meaning:
The breweries that are located in Kyiv export beer to North America. The MPS who were born in Sumy region of Ukraine are advocating higher budget subsidies to the region. Expats who emigrated from England last year found it easy to open a business in Ukraine.
Notice that Ukrainian який and що (if they introduce clauses and do not refer to people) should be translated as which with nonessential clauses and as that with essential clauses.
Please use only internationally recognized abbreviations in the headlines. Do not use Ukraine-specific abbreviations like VR for Verkhovna Rada, OPG for the Office of the Prosecutor General, OU or NU for Our Ukraine, etc. However, you are welcome to use these abbreviations in the text of the news item or article. Use our common sense or advice from your peers to determine what is internationally recognized abbreviation.
Will President Yushchenko Visit US Next Week? — Good Moroz Generates New Ideas for the OPG — Bad Should be: Moroz Generates New Ideas for the Office of the Prosecutor General
List of Some Internationally Recognized Abbreviations that May be Used in the Headlines
First reference rule
The first time the name of a government body, organization or company is shown in an article, the acronym should be shown in parenthesis ( ) immediately following it. The acronym then only need be used throughout the remainder of the article. This saves repeating the full name over and over again in the article. Once the name is stated in full, it may be worth considering whether the acronym be used in the headline (see above rule) as well for brevity and 'punch'.
The Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) has recently come under criticism. The OPG ...
In Ukrainian, quotations usually involve a lot of punctuation. In English, only one comma is used, and when it is used inside the quotation marks:
“I enjoy eating salo, but only if it is progressive and socialist salo,” said Natalia Vitrenko, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party. “I am the president of Ukraine,” said President Yushchenko.
The period and comma always go inside quotation marks. Semicolons, dashes, question marks, and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material, but put them outside the quotation marks when they apply to the whole sentence. Always use double quotes ("). Use single quotes (') to quote text inside a quote.
What to use after the quotes?
The words used after a quote are very tricky, because they can describe a large variety of different emphases. The order in which they are used, however, is fairly consistent. The verb comes first and then comes the name of the person speaking. This is true, except when the speaker is referred to by a pronoun. In that case, the pronoun comes first:
“I am the president of Ukraine,” said Viktor Yushchenko. “I am the president of Ukraine,” he said.
However, if the sentence used after a quote is an extended one, the noun may come first. If the verb is a complex one or used in combination with other verbs, the noun comes first as well.
Also, British and American journalists tend to use both direct and inverted word order after direct speech. Thus, "I am the president," Viktor Yushchenko said is also correct.
“These hands have never stolen,” President Yushchenko used to say during his pre-election campaign.
Please use only past tense when describing direct speech.
Please use pronoun only when the name of the speaker was indicated in the previous sentence.
References to Sources
Please expand this section and add more examples.
- On Friday, UNIAN news agency reported that during the meeting with representatives of the German political and business circles President Yushchenko had expressed an opinion that PM Yanukovych is unreputable.
- During the meeting with representatives of the German political and business circles President Yushchenko had expressed an opinion that PM Yanukovych is unreputable, UNIAN news agency reported on Friday.
- During his meeting with representatives of the German political and business circles President Yushchenko had expressed an opinion that PM Yanukovych is unreputable. This is according to UNIAN news agency.
The third structure should be avoided as it is virtually never used in the formal English language media and, therefore, the reader may find it confusing.
No quotation — no quotation marks
Use quotation marks sparingly if there are no words directly being quoted. Quotation marks are unnecessary in the following example:
Our Ukraine party (партія „Наша Україна”)
However, it is possible to use quotation marks if the common name goes BEFORE the proper name, for example:
chemical plant "AZOT", BUT AZOT chemical plant
The headline of the news item should be not more then 12 words long including pronouns and auxiliary verbs. The best headline is the one which fits two lines in the news panel. However, the idea of the headline should be clear to the reader. If the headline is too long, do not just cut off the words. Please change the idea of the headline instead.
Several things you may do only in headlines:
- Skipping titles like Mr., Mrs. or Dr.
Bohatyryova Offers Yushchenko to Join the Parliament
- Using a question mark (?) without structuring the sentence like a question. Make the words do the talking rather than a punctuation mark.
Poor: Lukash Blurts out the Secrets of the Constitutional Court? Better: Did Lukash Blurt out the Secrets of the Constitutional Court?
- Negation in headlines (rendering Future action)
"Not" always precedes particle "to".
Moroz Not to Disappear From Ukraine's Politics
- There is limited time to 'grab' the attention of the reader. Headlines therefore should be clear and to the point. 'Weak' words such as articles (eg. the) can often be deleted. Headlines can be a little like 'staccato' in music. They should 'pique' the reader's attention to your article as quickly as possible.
Poor: Our Ukraine Decides to Remove the Deserters Better: Our Ukraine Expels Deserters
Translating article headlines is a tough decision because they are often inventive and contain quotes, allusions, idioms, metaphors etc.
The best bet for any translator is to translate the headline AFTER translating the article itself so that the meaning of the headline becomes quite clear to him/her.
To be continued...
Please note that if a proper noun already has its translation in the Lexicon, then only this variant of translation shall be used.
Vernacular or Lexical peculiarities
Please note that if some lexical peculiarity is already described in our style guide, you should pay attention to it while translating.
In political writing, use words that are suited to politics. The word "intrigue" is over-used and more suited to soap operas than politics. Bring the subject out from behind the 'veil' for the reader.
Recent proposals were made for this article. See Discussion.
More a matter for authors than translators but the best tense to use is the third person whenever possible. First person (eg. I, me, we) is most personal and second person (i.e. you) is also personal. Both also tend to be subjective. Third person (i.e. he, she, they, it) is impartial, objective and most free of emotion. Readers pick up ideas more quickly when they are somewhat detached from the issue.
Poor: If you think about it, the answer becomes clear. Poor: The answer becomes clear if you think about it. Better: Thinking about it makes the answer become clear.
Inversions occur when the most important part of a sentence (eg. noun or phrase) is put to the end instead of the beginning. It is better to be up front with the main idea of a sentence than make the reader go all the way to the end to finally get the most important part.
Is all about choosing the right word. The difficult part about learning the English language is that it uses the Latin alphabet and has huge word choice. However, its advantage is that it can be a very expressive language. It is the official language of the European Union and is widely used in the West, sub-continent and Far East. British English may differ from international English. Use English which is common throughout the world.
Most typical mistakes
In case if
In case is indicator of condition and it equals to if. Therefore, when you use "in case if" you actually say if twice.
Ukrainian "у разі якщо" should translated using if, in case or subjunctive mood.
Inappropriate use of hyphen
Always check English equivalents of the Ukrainian words with hyphen.
Bad: Prime-minister, Vice-President Good: Prime Minister, Vice President
See hyphen in Wikipedia for examples of usage.
Do not use English analogues of Slavic complex adjectives like соціально-економічний. Use separate adjectives or rephrase your translation.
Social and economic reforms Areas of society and economy
Inappropriate use of contractions
Words are not 'co-joined' in writing as they often are in speech. In writing, words are written out in full.
Incorrect: The PM hadn't indicated whether he agreed with the views expressed by the Council of Europe.
Correct: The PM had not indicated whether he agreed with the views expressed by the Council of Europe.
An article such as "a", "an" or "the" formally introduces a key noun. Think of the article as a lens drawing attention to a focal point. Which article, if an article is even required, depends on the exact word which it is drawing attention to. The word is the article's focal point and the correct article will properly introduce it.
Occurs when too many words are used. May result either when there is little to say but too much time or space to say it or when there is difficulty finding the correct words to express the idea concisely. Every word should 'work hard'. If a word (or phrase) is not making a contribution to a sentence then perhaps it does not belong. Avoid repetition and redundancies. Unneeded words confuse the reader. Politicians and others sometimes use too many words.
Voltaire: "The adjective is the enemy of the noun."
He was likely referring to adverbs too. A modifier can detract from a noun or verb rather than contribute to it.
Time and Date format
Month DD, YYYY
Please do not use 'st' after the day number.
Bad: April 1st, 2007 was the second day of the rally. Good: April 1, 2007 was the second day of the rally.
In cases where the Ukrainian text makes reference to a date only, you may omit the year in your translation.
HH (AM/PM) : MM.
Please use 12 hours scale. Do not mix 12 and 24 hours scales.
Bad: The meeting was due to start at 17 o'clock but the President has arrived only at 5:30. Good: The meeting was due to start at 5 PM but the President has arrived only at 5:30 PM.
Spelling out numbers
The written word is expressed differently than the spoken word.
In writing, fractions and numbers less than 20 are generally written-out.
Incorrect: About 2/5 the MPs were absent from the Rada. Correct: About two-fifths of the MPs were absent from the Rada.
Incorrect: Initially, there were 3 MPs who changed factions. Correct: Initially, there were three MPs who changed factions.
Incorrect: There are four hundred and fifty MPs in the Rada. Correct: There are 450 MPs in the Rada.
Using brief and full titles of the governmental agencies
Ministry of Finance vs. Finance Ministry. Please draft this section.
Legislation and Political Documents
- Use verb stipulate when explaining the scope of application of the law.
Закон передачає кримінальну відповідальність за ... The Law stipulates criminal responsibility for ...
- Translating official titles
Use type of the document + preposition on + subject matter when translating the official tile of the legislative or regulatory document.
Law of Ukraine on the Cabinet of Ministers
You may use brief title of the document from the Lexicon.
Law on the Cabinet of Ministers
There are times when it is helpful to the reader to have the author or editor add a sentence to an article to give it perspective. Sometimes it is a simple matter of stating the obvious so the reader is not left with a one-sided view.