Ukrainian is spoken by around 40 million people. Since it belongs to the Slavic language family, it differs significantly from Germanic languages like English. More than that, Ukrainian has dozens of unique features that distinguish it from other Slavic languages. Knowing such features is required to achieve a professional Ukrainian translation. That’s why the best idea is to choose a native or bilingual translator who is able to deal with all the pitfalls described below.
1. Grammatical agreement.
Declensions often cause trouble in Ukrainian. Nouns decline for seven cases, and adjectives adapt their case, gender and number in accordance with nouns. For example, a simple word such as “cat” and its plural form, “cats,” have 16 different forms, depending on the case and number.
Such diversity is something machine translation is not ready to manage yet. For example, it’s unable to correctly identify a vocative case that is used when someone is addressed. In the sentence “How are you, Maria?” someone addresses Maria, and her name will change accordingly in Ukrainian, from Марія to Маріє. In a professional Ukrainian translation, such details won’t be overlooked.
Ukrainian shares a great portion of its vocabulary with other Slavic languages. This similarity may play a mean trick on a person who knows Ukrainian and another Slavic language because they may unconsciously use words from another language, adapting it to Ukrainian pronunciation. This phenomenon is spreading even among Ukrainian citizens themselves, who sometimes use a mix of Ukrainian and Russian known as surzhyk. It’s tempting to call a roof криша (from Russian крыша), but the correct translation of the word is completely different — дах. This is where Ukrainian translation services come in to ensure the translation complies with official standards because, as mentioned, even native speakers sometimes make such mistakes.
3. Word order.
Another pitfall is syntax. Typical word order in a sentence is similar to English: “I see you” (Я бачу тебе). Yet the word order can be changed to Я тебе бачу, Бачу я тебе or Бачу тебе я. Such alterations can convey additional meaning or give special emphasis, but the difference is usually so subtle that only a native speaker can truly feel it — one more reason to turn to professional Ukrainian translation services.
Punctuation rules in Ukrainian are extremely different from those of English. A common and simple example is how direct speech is conveyed:
Дівчинка відповіла: «Я знаю, як тебе звати». (The girl answered, “I know your name.”)
It might look like a trifle, but correct punctuation is often vital whether you’re translating a literary work or a business contract.
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