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My first question is straightforward. What is the meaning of the following idiom (from Dusa McDuff's translation of Crime and Punishment):- "some bread and salt together but a pinch of sniff apart." It was spoken by a person, of a marriage that he was not approving of.

My second question is how translation of idioms and sayings should be approached. Should they be translated literally or matched to another idiom in the target language closest to it in meaning or should it be removed in favour of plain text.

  • Perhaps you mean "a pinch of snuff apart"? – Robusto Nov 13 at 1:45
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It's a proverb, not an idiom. From the point of view of a Russian-speaker: the meaning is: someone is your "friend" only when you are successful (share your bread), but when you have troubles, they leave you alone (or when they are more successful, they don't share their tabacco "sniff"). Similar to "a friend in need is a friend indeed" but more strict. As for the second question - it all depednds on the translator. There are a lot of similar idioms/proverbs in many languages, using them by mere translation you can always use a footnot or just throw it away if it doesn't change the passage.

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