Many two-part names such as “book store” have direct two-part equivalents in Russian. But translating them is not as simple as translating each of the words into Russian. We must first analyze the phrase and understand the contribution which each word makes to the meaning.
Modifier Noun and Actual Noun
When an English name consists of two nouns as “book store” does, you will often find that the second noun (in this case “store”) tells us what the thing is in broad terms and the first noun acts as a modifier (in this case to tell us what kind of store). If there is a similar term in Russian, the 'real' noun will be a noun and the modifier noun will be either be an adjective or be in the genitive case. Some examples:
|English||Russian||Which Literally Means|
|book store||книжный магазин||bookian store|
|Kingdom Hall||Зал Царства||Hall of Kingdom|
|construction site||строительная площадка||construction ground|
|clothing store||магазин одежды||store of clothing|
Place Names as Modifiers
When the modifier noun is the proper name of the place where the thing named is located, it should be in adjectival form:
|Brooklyn Bridge||Бруклинский мост|
|Moscow Zoo||Московский зоопарк|
|University of Pennsylvania||Пенсильванский университет|
|Boston Tea Party||Бостонское чаепитие|
|Columbia University||Колумбийский университет|
The last example is tricky. If we did not know the history we might assume that the word “Columbia” is an arbitrary label. In fact it is an archaic alternative name for the United States of America and hence describes the university's location.
Human Names as Modifiers
When the modifier noun is the name of the thing's discoverer or of a national hero, it should be in the genitive case. In the names of institutions and public facilities the word “имени” (meaning “of the name”) is frequently included.
|Pushkin Theater||Театр имени Пушкина|
|JFK Airport||Аэропорт имени Джона Кеннеди|
|Alzheimer’s Disease||болезнь Альцгеймера|
|Saint Lawrence River||Река Святого Лаврентия|
|Hudson Bay||Гудзонов* залив|
*The word “Гудзонов” is actually the possessive form of “Hudson”, not the genitive. This possessive form is archaic and hence is not used in names of recent origin.
Names of Time Periods as Modifiers
When a name contains the name of a day or an hour it should be in adjectival or genitive form:
|Sunday meeting||Воскресное собрание|
|Easter Island||Остров Пасхи|
|lunch break||обеденный перерыв|
Two Actual Nouns Acting as Nouns
In a few cases one of the nouns is the proper name of the thing such as “The Connecticut” and the other is a generic noun which has been added to prevent confusion.
|Connecticut River||река Коннектикут|
|Moscow River||река Москва|
Here despite what we might think the words “Connecticut” and “Moscow” are not modifiers and do not describe the locations of the rivers. They are the actual names of the rivers. The generic noun “река” (River) has been added to make it clear that we mean the rivers rather than the settlements which later borrowed their names.
Sometimes one of the nouns is an arbitrarily selected label. This label is not the name of a national hero or a discoverer and does not meaningfully describe the thing. It is often intended to invoke a poetic or patriotic ideal. In these cases the generic noun comes first and the label comes after. The label is frequently enclosed in quotes. Generally the label remains in the nominative even when the phrase is declined.
|The Red Rose Cafe||кафе «Красная роза»|
|The USS Constitution||корабль «Конституция» Соединённых Штатов|
|Space Shuttle Columbia||космический челнок «Колумбия»|
Adjectives After the Noun
In a few cases in English the adjective comes after the noun. Be careful to not get confused and mistake the adjective for a second noun. This is particularly easy in the case of the adjective “general” which is used in the military as if it were a noun as an abbreviation for “general officer”.
|attorney general||highest attorney||генеральный прокурор|
|court martial||military court||военный суд|
As you see, English-languages names of places and establishments are often missing information which is required to render them correctly into Russian. Research may be required before one can understand the structure and meaning of the name.