Translating Russian addresses

Translating addresses is a common translation task that can be a real challenge when you encounter unfamiliar abbreviations. This post explains how to translate a postal address from Russian to English, presents common postal terminology and abbreviations, and illustrates the translation process with examples.

How to translate an address from Russian to English

Russian addresses have historically been written from general to specific, e.g.

Россия, 105066, г.Москва
ул. Старая Басманная
д.16 стр. 1а

In May 2005, Russia officially moved to a specific-to-general format, which is more common internationally. But old habits die hard, so you’re still likely to see the general-to-specific format. (The example given above is fresh off of http://www.pravda.ru/contacts.html.)

Here’s a template of how you are likely see an address in Russian:

  • (Russia/Россия) (postal code/почтовый индекс)
  • (republic, territory, region, autonomous district (region)/название республики, края, области, автономного округа (области))
  • (district, i.e. area within a major city/район)
  • (city/название населенного пункта)
  • (street name/название улицы) (house number/номер дома) (apartment number /номер квартиры | P.O. Box/абонентский ящик)
  • (organization/организация)
  • (surname/фамилия) (first name/имя) (patronymic/отчество)

(Note: Not every address will include every part.)

Here’s a template for translating the address into English:

  • (surname/фамилия) (first name/имя) (patronymic/отчество)
  • (organization/организация)
  • (street name/название улицы) (house number/номер дома) (apartment number /номер квартиры | P.O. Box/абонентский ящик)
  • (city/название населенного пункта)
  • (district, i.e. area within a major city/район)
  • (republic, territory, region, autonomous district (region)/название республики, края, области, автономного округа (области))
  • (For international mail: country/название страны (для международных почтовых отправлений))
  • (postal code/почтовый индекс)

Proper translation always requires an understanding of the purpose or intent of the translation. If an address is to actually be used for sending mail, then most elements of the address should be transliterated, e.g. ул. (улица) becomes ul. (ulitsa).

Examples of translated addresses

Here are some examples that illustrate the process of translating addresses from Russian to English.

Russian address

Translated address

Россия, 105066, г.Москва
ул. Старая Басманная
д.16 стр. 1а(Note: In this address ‘стр.’ is short for ‘строение’ (building, structure). This implies that are multiple buildings with a single street number. This address is specifically for building 1a.)
ul. Staraya Basmannaya, d. 16, str. 1a
Moscow
Russia
105066
127994, Москва,
ул. Малая Дмитровка, 3/10.(Note: a slash ‘/’ in an address may indicate that the address is at an intersection. The first number, in this case 3, is the street number for the given street, in this case ‘Malaya Dmitrovka’. The second number, in this case 10, is for the cross street.)
ul. Malaya Dmitrovka, 3/10
Moscow
127994
Санкт Петербург
Василеостровский район, квартал 1, корп.52
kvartal 1, korp. 52
Saint Petersburg
Vasileostrovsky rayon
ул. Ленина, 23-2-239(Note: A dash can be used to separate a street number from a building number and an apartment number. In this case the street number is 23, the building number is 2, and the apartment number is 239.) ul. Lenina, 23-2-239
Ленинградская обл.
Ленобласть
Адмиралтейский район
наб. реки Фонтанки, 90
nab. reki Fontanki, 90
Admiraltejsky rayon
Lenoblast
Leningradskaya oblast
Санкт-Петербург, В.О., Большой пр., 55-а(Note: ‘В.О.’ here stands for ‘васильевский остров’.) Bolshoy pr., 55-a
Saint Petersburg
Vasilevsky ostrov
Санкт-Петербург, Садовая ул., д. 3/5 Sadovaya ul., d. 3/5
Saint Petersburg
Санкт-Петербург, Колпино г., Культуры ул., д. 8(Note: ‘Колпино’ is a “city within a city”, i.e. it is a municipality of Saint Petersburg.) Kultury ul., d. 8
Kolpino
Saint Petersburg
199106, Санкт-Петербург, В. О., Большой просп., д. 83, оф. 305 Bolshoy prosp., d. 83, of. 305
Saint Petersburg
Vasilevsky ostrov
199106
В.О. 6-ая линия, дом 39 (2-ой двор) 6-aya liniya, dom 39 (2-oy dvor)
Vasilevsky ostrov

If the purpose of the translation is merely to help a foreigner understand the parts of the address, then translating the elements of the address is appropriate and changing their order is not necessary, e.g. the original example provided becomes

Russia, 105066, Moscow
16 Staraya Basmannaya Street, bldg. 1а

Common Russian postal terminology

Here are words and abbreviations you may encounter when translating addresses from Russian to English:

Russian term (and abbreviations)

English term (meaning and transliterations)

(почтовый) абонентский ящик, а/я post office box, P.O Box: a/ya
бульвар, бульв., буль., бул., б-р boulevard: bulvar, bul.
город, г. city: gorod, g.
двор, дв. yard, courtyard: dvor, dv.
деревня, дер., д. village: derevnya, der., d.
дом, д. house, block of apartments/flats: dom, d.
кабинет, каб., к-т, к. office, room: kabinet, kab.
квартал, кварт. кв., кв-л quarter, area, block: kvartal, kvart., kv.
квартира, кварт., кв., квр apartment, flat: kvartira, kv.
корпус, корп., кор. building: korpus, korp. kor.
край, кр. territory: krai
линия, лин. line: liniya, lin.
литера, лит. letter (i.e. of a building): litera, lit.
микрорайон, мкр-н, мкр., мкрн, м/н, м-н, м/р-н, мрн., м-р neighborhood, microdistrict: mikrorajon
мост, м. bridge: most, m.
набережная, наб. embankment: naberezhnaya, nab.
область, обл. region: oblast, obl.
остров, о., о-в island: ostrov, o.
офис, оф. office: ofis, of.
переулок, пер., п., п-к lane: pereulok, per., p.
площадь, пл., п. square: ploshchad, pl., p.
помещение, пом. room, premises: pomeshhenie, pom.
посёлок, пос., п. town: posyolok, pos., p.
проезд, пр., пр-д drive: proezd, pr.
проспект, просп., пр-т avenue: prosekt, prosp.
район, р., р-он district, region: rayon, r.
строение, стр. structure, building: stroenie, str.
тупик, туп. cul-de-sac: tupik, tup.
улица, ул. street: ulitsa, ul.
шоссе, ш. highway: shosse, sh.
этаж, эт. floor: etazh, et.

There are some other considerations for Russian addresses mentioned on Wikipedia.

Please let me know if you were not able to find the postal term you were looking for—or if you have comments or corrections!

Updated 10/24/2011: Added new Russian address word, кабинет

Updated 11/17/2011: Added new Russian address words, литера and помещение

Words translated exceed miles driven and miles to the moon!

A few days ago I was reading a book about the solar system to my children.  We learned that the distance to the moon is about 225,000 miles.  It struck me that my car, which has 224,006 miles on the odometer, has almost covered that distance.  That number is also significant to me, because it is (approximately) how many words I’ve been paid to translate from Russian into English in the past four months.  I’ve averaged 2,000 words a day for four months—not bad!

Next milestone: 500,000 words translated!

English lessons at the Russian Community Center in Redmond

Last Wednesday I began teaching English at the Russian Community Center in Redmond, Washington.  The class is free and meets each week at 7:00pm on Wednesday.  Please join us!

I emphasized to the students that they would need to devote significant time outside of our class in order to make progress with the language.  They would need to find a native English-speaking friend to help them.  Many felt that this would be difficult.  As an alternative that does not require another human, I suggested that they make use of public domain books and audio books in order to get practice with reading.  By listening to an audio recording of a story while following along, a student can correct mistakes in pronunciation, learn new vocabulary, and improve their reading skills.

Story text

Story audio recording

The Fox and the Grapes

The Fox and the Grapes

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

The Cat and the Mice

The Cat and the Mice

The Mischievous Dog

The Mischievous Dog

The Charcoal-burner and the Fuller

The Charcoal-burner and the Fuller

The Mice in Council

The Mice in Council

The Bat and the Weasels

The Bat and the Weasels

The Dog and the Sow

The Dog and the Sow

The Fox and the Crow

The Fox and the Crow

The Horse and the Groom

The Horse and the Groom

As some people have expressed an interest, I’m also going to offer individual instruction in English (for Russians), either in-person or via Skype.  If you are interested, contact me, and we can negotiate the details.

Good luck!

Great Russian quotes about language

May I bring some more Russian goodness from www.gramota.ru to your attention?  I love their collection of quotes from (mostly) Russian literary heavy-hitters such a Tolstoy (Толстой), Pushkin (Пушкин), and Chekhov (Чехов).

Here are a few good ones that I’ve quickly translated from Russian into English:

Tolstoy

Нравственность человека видна в его отношении к слову.

“One’s virtue is seen in how he treats words.”

Klyechevsky

Слово должно быть по росту мысли.

“The word must be as tall as the thought.”

Pushkin

Чтение – вот лучшее учение!

“Learning is better than reading!”

 

As always, any comments on the translations are welcome!  Thanks!

Test your Russian Grammar skills

Can’t afford a personal Russian language coach?  The “Interactive Dictation” (Интерактивный диктант) feature on www.gramota.ru may be the next best thing.  It’s always available and is never in a bad mood.  You can practice at your own pace, and—best of all—it’s free!

Here’s how it works.  Once you go to the website, you’ll see a list of names of authors.

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Each author’s name is followed by the name of one of his or her works.  Pick one.

You’ll then see a passage of text sprinkled with yellow boxes.

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Each yellow box is a test of your skills in Russian grammar or spelling.  Click on a box to reveal a dropdown menu of punctuation or letter combinations.  Choose one of the options for each yellow box.

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Then click the “Check” (Проверить) button to see how you did.

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Correct answers will be rendered green, and incorrect answers will be red.

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That’s great, but there’s more!  Not only do you get to see what you got wrong, you get to learn why!  Click on each red box to see an explanation of the grammar or spelling rules that you broke.

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What a great resource!  Enjoy!

Helpful Russian links on WordReference.com

I’ve joined the Russian forum at WordReference.com.  This looks like a great place to share linguistic expertise.  I look forward to making a contribution.

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You won’t want to miss the excellent collection of links related to the Russian language.  You’ll find specialized dictionaries, glossaries, online courses, pronunciation, and more!

Podcast: Russian Business Vocabulary

If you’re looking to learn some basic Russian business vocabulary, you may be interested in the audio recordings produced by Anna Kudyma of the UCLA Center for World Languages.

There are 7 episodes covering topics from “Company structure” to “Taxes” to “Company representation”.  They range from 12 to 15 minutes, and each includes a companion PDF file with transcripts and vocabulary lists.

You may also be interested in Beginner’s Russian With Interactive Online Workbook: A Basic Russian Course by Anna Kudyma available through Amazon.com.

Translation Tool: IntelliWebSearch

I’ve come across a helpful translation tool called IntelliWebSearch that can accelerate your translation speed.  It allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for repetitive web searches.  For example, I’ve created a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+I) to automatically initiate an image search using whatever text is currently selected as the query string.  The more time consuming alternative would be to copy the query string from your document, switch to your browser, navigate to the image search page, paste the query string, and hit enter.  If you find yourself searching the web a lot during a translation job, this tool is for you!  Kudos to the developer: Michael Farrell.  There are dozens of preconfigured search engines and online dictionaries.  You can tweak them as needed or add your own.

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Mr. Farrell has created some explanatory videos for IntelliWebSearch:

Enjoy!

Tag removed

When converting a PDF file to a DOC/DOCX file for translation, you may end up with a bunch of “Optional Hyphens”—or as SDL Trados 2009 refers to them, “softbreakhyphens”.  Academic publications are particularly affected.  These symbols in your source text can trigger some annoying tag verification errors in Trados.

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What’s so irritating?  Beyond the useless tag verification errors, the hyphens can also confuse tools like Lingvo X3 and prevent matching within translation memories. There can literally be hundreds of these irritations in an article.  There are no less than five (highlighted in yellow) in the abstract below. 

The annoying hyphens in this PDF are highlighted in yellow.

They don’t go away, even after converting a PDF to DOC/DOCX.

After converting to DOC/DOCX, the hyphens remain.

Here’s a trick to quickly get rid of them before parsing the converted DOC/DOCX file with translation software such as SDL Trados.

  1. Bring up the Find and Replace dialog. (CTRL+H)
  2. For the “Find what” field, select “Optional Hyphen” from the Special drop down menu.
  3. Leave the “Replace with” field empty.
  4. Click “Replace All”.

Say goodbye to the unhelpful hyphens.

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