I like Michele Berdy’s columns in the Moscow Times. Who knows how many times inaccurate translations have skewed our understanding of Russia in the mass media:
Надувать щёки is not, as the otherwise brilliant Kremlin translators would have it, “to be full of hot air.” Sure, someone with a swelled head might also run off at the mouth without saying anything of value — which is what “to be full of hot air” means. But Medvedev wasn’t calling on officials to cut the crap. He was telling them to stop playing the big shot.
This is clear in the sentence that follows: Мы заинтересованы в притоке в страну капиталов, новых технологий и передовых идей (We want to see capital, new technologies and cutting-edge ideas coming into the country). The West, he asserted, is interested in the same thing: Знаем, что и наши партнёры рассчитывают на сближение с Россией для реализации своих приоритетных задач (We know that our partners are counting on better relations with Russia in order to achieve their priority goals). In other words: We want it and they want it, but our unwarranted pride is getting in the way.
No wonder this was the hot topic in the steam room. Let’s hope it’s not just hot air.