Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gavrilov Translation

Andrei Gavrilov

This is a video with Andrei Gavrilov (Андрей Юрьевич Гаврилов) talking about translation.  Gavrilov is a legendary figure in Russia. He dubbed an endless number of English, French and Japanese-language films on video, beginning from 1980s when the flood of Western cinema started to break through the walls of the Soviet Union on VHS cassettes. The films were voiced-over in Russian by a handful of translators who had a knack for a fast-paced, practically simultaneous translation in good intelligible Russian.

Gavrilov, usually uncredited, became one of the best known of them. To the point where the technique of voice-over, when the whole film is dubbed by one translator and his voice is heard a few split seconds after the actors' voices, had become known in Russia as 'Gavrilov translation' – "перевод Гаврилова".

Gavrilov is a professional journalist, fluent in French and English (he translated Japanese films via English subtitles). I worked with him in the European section of TASS news agency in the early eighties where I remember him as the fastest-working, practically faultless editor and writer of news despatches. Which allowed him to carve out time for writing on the side – additional stories, sometimes political, but often on Western culture. He wrote numerous introductory articles on musical record jackets.

Gavrilov stumbled into translating films almost by chance. When a regular translator at an important viewing for Soviet bosses didn't show up, a desperate manager grabbed Gavrilov and put him behind the mike.

His big love has always been music, classical, rock and especially jazz. Gavrilov now runs one of the top quality music companies in Russia, Solyd Records.

In the clip, one interesting observation by Gavrilov is on translating English-language invectives into Russian. He argues that Russian 'mat' (sexually based expletives) have a stronger offensive power than in English. That difference, he says, should be taken into account by a translator. In most cases English swear words shouldn't be translated literally, as Russian mat, but a milder, more acceptable phrasing should be used.

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