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Western censors

August 1, 2012

Languagehat’s series of tenth-anniversary posts is wonderful for those of us who didn’t know to read that blog in 2002. Readers of this blog will probably enjoy seeing Nabokov caught in a mistake or reading Kornei Chukovskii on language change (more here). It’s also fun to read Chukovskii on the creativity of young children learning languages, and LH’s posts reminded me of an example of Cold War censorship I once caught. The following example was left out in at least one translation of Chukovskii’s book into English:

An old woman was telling her four-year-old grandson about how Jesus Christ suffered: they nailed God [Боженька] to the cross, and despite the nails God arose and ascended to Heaven.

“Should have used screws!” [Надо было винтиками!] her grandson sympathized. (from chapter 1 of From Two to Five/От двух до пяти)

I haven’t done my homework and admit that there may be a Russian edition without this bit that the translator might have used.

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