I’ve quoted John Derbyshire a number of times; here‘s a nice piece he wrote about his experience having one of his books translated by Alexei Semikhatov, an unusually scrupulous, thoughtful, and literate man. Derbyshire asked “an erudite Russian friend” to explain to him one of Semikhatov’s Russian footnotes, which turned out to mean:
NOTE. The Russian language as spoken by educated people at the beginning of the 20th century clearly demonstrated the same effect, using tretievo dnia, “the third day,” to indicate the day before yesterday. Nowadays this term has been almost completely supplanted by the word pozavchera, “day before yesterday.” The word pozavchera was formerly considered as belonging to the speech of the common people.
The erudite friend added “I have probably heard this expression tretievo dnia, but never used it myself. I always use pozavchera. In my opinion, this shows that your translator loves the Russian language.” What better tribute could a translator ask?
Also, I very much like this passage near the end:
These kinds of encounters are common enough in the literary life. I am always heartened by them. The nations of the world are great lumbering behemoths ridden and directed, more often than not, by gangsters, poseurs, or buffoons. Nestled in their coarse hides, though, are parasites like myself and Aliosha, not much bothered by great matters of state or the antics of vapid “celebrities,” but endlessly fascinated by language, history, mathematics, music. We must be baffling to the gangsters and buffoons, as baffling as they are to us. Sometimes the rougher kind of rider will, with a flick of his crop, flatten a few of us.
Such is my view of life as well. (Thanks for the link, John!)