Given that for almost all English speakers ‘privacy’ is a normal, everyday concept, it may come as a shock to find that there is no direct translation for this concept in the Russian language.
To English speakers the idea of not being disturbed or having every detail of our lives on display is very simple and natural to understand. However, in Russian, along with various other languages, such as Mongolian and Latvian, there is no word that adequately describes it.
Having said this, when put into Google Translate, there are actually some results for Russian words which supposedly express the English concept of ‘privacy’. There’s уединение uyedineniye, but this word usually comes with the negative connotations of wishing to be isolated from people and society, therefore it would be better translated as ‘solitude’. So, whilst it does convey the idea of ‘privacy’, in that the person is completely separated from society, this word does not encompass the correct meaning of ‘privacy’.
Another word that google translate offers is тайна taina, however this would be better translated as ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ and is therefore not adequate as a translation for ‘privacy’!
So why is this the case? We usually hear about foreign words that can’t be expressed in English, not the other way round. The most common thought behind why there is no translation for ‘privacy’ is because there is simply no cultural concept of ‘privacy’ in Russia. Throughout the Soviet times there was no such thing as private property, private space, private life, therefore many linguists presume that there is no direct translation for ‘privacy’ as it simply isn’t a part of Russian culture.
18 October 2017 10:36