I must admit I do get a little shudder when I hear the word “Russian” being used as a slur.
Svetlana Voreskova

Sting once sang:

Believe me when I say to you,
I hope the Russians love their children too

To which I would say: “Don’t be silly, Mr. Sting, OF COURSE Russians love their children — from the moment the egg-clusters slither out of mamochka’s transparent, leathery ovipositor, to the first swallow of nutrient-jelly secreted by papa’s specialized throat glands, to the day they’re implanted into vat-grown humanoid host-bodies so they can mingle undetected among Earthlings.”

But seriously, Svetlana’s accounts of warm relations between American and Soviet soldiers during WW2 reminded me that I was once asked by an online Russian acquaintance to help polish up his English translations of some Soviet Army songs, including one called «Давай закурим» (“Let’s have a smoke.”). It was part of a Russian historical exhibition that was being prepared for visiting American military veterans.

His attempt in English actually wasn’t too bad, apart from minor spelling errors, and there was only one change I absolutely insisted on. He had translated tovarishch as “comrade” — and I said, if you want every American who has ever served in war (or just seen a John Wayne movie) to instantly and totally grasp the song’s spirit, you should definitely translate tovarishch as “buddy” in this context. (“Comrade” is just too stilted and formal in English, quite apart from the fact that it sounds so fucking Bolshevik. The lyrics basically say, “Someday, somewhere, I’ll be sitting around reminiscing about all this — I’ll remember the boys in my old platoon, and I’ll remember YOU, buddy, for giving me a few drags off that cigarette, my best buddy.”)

Also, check out this video mash-up of the WW2 hit “Comin’ In On a Wing and a Prayer,” featuring the original English (here sung by British performer Anne Shelton) plus the 1943 Russian cover by Leonid Utyosov. The Russian lyrics are fairly similar to the English except that are no references to praying, because GODLESS HEATHEN COMMIES.

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