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  • Writer's pictureOlga Jarrell

Should Russian borrow this Halloween word already?

Updated: Oct 30, 2021

How difficult could it be to translate one short phrase into Russian? However, when you attempt to translate a completely foreign concept like trick-or-treating, you could face some difficulty. The well-known Halloween phrase Trick or treat! turned out to be a challenge for translators. There are quite a few versions; however, nobody has come up with the perfect Russian translation yet.

Here are some of them, and you can choose what you like best.

  • Кошелёк и́ли жизнь! – Your wallet or your life.

  • Сла́дость и́ли ша́лость! – A sweet treat or a trick.

  • Сла́дости и́ли га́дости! – Sweets or dirty tricks.

  • Игру́шку и́ли угоще́ние! – A toy or a treat.

  • Хле́ба или зре́лищ! – Bread or shows.

  • Всем приве́т, хоти́м конфе́т! – Hello everyone, we want candy.

  • Угоща́й, а то проу́чим! – Give a treat, or we’ll teach you a lesson.

  • Ли́бо конфе́т полу́чим, ли́бо тебя́ проу́чим! – We either get candy, or teach you a lesson.

How about trick-or-treating itself? I’ve seen the phrase translated like выпра́шивание сла́достей (begging for sweets). It sounds a little artificial to me. Should Russian just borrow the whole phrase and turn it into a verb – trick-or-treat-ить (трикотри́тить)? It could be easily used with the verb ходить (to go).

Let's translate the English sentence It was Halloween yesterday, and we all went trick-or-treating. It was fun. Which of the following would be a better translation?

  1. Вчера́ был Хеллоуи́н, и мы все ходи́ли выпра́шивать сла́дости. Бы́ло ве́село!

  2. Вчера́ был Хеллоуи́н, и мы все ходи́ли трикотри́тить. Бы́ло ве́село!

I would go with the second version because there is no much fun in begging for sweets, and I wouldn’t even say Было весело!

You will certainly find a lot of borrowed words in Russian. HalloweenХеллоуи́н is one of the examples. Why not borrow the Halloween phrase as well if the concept takes so many words to explain it in Russian? What do you think?

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