I speak Russian natively, but 95% of what I read is in English.

Which translation of a Polish book should I read, Russian or English?

The question may sound strange, but I mostly prefer English translations of Japanese texts to Russian translations which I often dislike and are commonly based on English translations.

Polish is different in that it looks much closer to Russian. Does that mean that it's easier to make a good Polish->Russian translation and so the Russian translations often better than English ones?

  • From my experience, I would expect quite the opposite. Polish and Russian, while not mutually intelligible, are still very similar and this similarity may be often misleading both in understanding the source laguage text and particularly in contaminating target language text. Some of the worst translations I have ever read were from Polish to Czech precisely for this reason.
    – Eleshar
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 18:18
  • 1
    Eleshar This is a nonsense - any REAL translator knows what "false friends" are, etc... Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 11:53

2 Answers 2


There is a large variation in translation quality inside a given language pair. My guess is that this variation outweighs any systematic effects caused by choosing different target languages. Even if there were a tendency towards better translation quality for an "easier" language pair (I am not aware of any systematic studies of this question) I'd ask about the quality of translation for the given work (or look for books reviews, they often have information about the translation quality) and than choose on a work-by-work basis the better one.

In case that everything else is equal, I'd always prefer a translation to my native language to a translation to a foreign language (except I want to learn the foreign language better by reading in it).

  • "this variation outweighs any systematic effects caused by choosing different target languages." - this is a just the clear, without any questions, , about the quality of a particular translation. But the cognates, building and mechanic of languages, idioms, and so on ... Of course, one should choose more related languages in just such the case. Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 19:47

Of course, it doesn't make sense to consider in this answer your personal preferences or a quality of a particular translation, everything about this should be clear anyway.

The Polish language, being also a Slavic language, is also an inflectional-synthetic language, like Russian; But English is an analytical language. This is a very big difference.

Between Polish and Russian there is a really large number of common words, and mutual borrowings, and idioms, etc.

Русский читай, конечно. Вопрос прям детский какой-то..

Oczywiście czytaj po rosyjsku. Takie dziecinne pytanie. - уже почти всё понятно :>

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