rusquen (rusquen) wrote in little_details,

Translation into English, with a dose of word-making

I'm translating my story, originally written in Russian, into English. Part of the setting has a distinct Slavic flavour, which I really want to preserve, but, being bilingual, I have issues appreciating just how confusing all my translations and transcriptions look to anglophone speakers.

I've got a political system where the monarch is called Gousudar - literally, "the sovereign". He gets addressed, in Russian, as "gosudar" (sovereign) and "batushka" (father).
I figured I'd translate this mess as Sovereign (the title equivalent to a king), and "my liege" and "sire" as forms of address. So far, so good.

Problem is, his cousin and heir, a major character, is a князь (knyaz). This usually gets translated as "prince" or "duke", but I like neither option, because, a, they conjure a distinctly Western European setting, and, b, neither of them is really accurate for my purposes (the character is more independent politically than a royal prince would be, and definitely stands higher than a duke).

I've tortured Google translate and searched Wikipedia up and down, but found no good alternatives. Wikipedia does, however, know "knyaz" with a bunch of spellings, so I'm trying to go with the more anglicized-looking version: knez. His wife would be a knegina, and his son a knezich.

My questions to the community are:

1. How do I form a posessive of "knez"? Yeah, I know the rule of "never have your character's name end in s or z", and this is why, but I have little choice here. I could add an e at the end (kneze), but I doubt it would help. Or would it? "Kneze's"?
1.a. Idea: I could form an adjective from knez. You know, kind of like the noun is "king", but adjective is "royal". It's not exactly posessive, but close enough for most purposes. Except I don't know what adjective would make sense to an anglophone ear. It needs to be very clearly an adjective, so as not to get confused with knegina and knezich. Knezal? Knezhal? Knegal? Knegial? Do they sound totally weird and nonsensical to you?
1.b. Does "knez" sound like "knees", or is it just me?

2. If I'm going with knez/knyaz/kneze for the "prince", does it make sense to translate the "king"? Should I stick with Gosudar, just to keep it consistently weird consistent? Or is it ok to have the feudal ladder of Sovereign - Knez - Boyars (oh yeah, I got those, too, but they are at least consistently transcribed) - Nobles?

I'd appreciate any advice or insight you might have.
Tags: ~languages: english (misc), ~languages: russian, ~nobility (misc)

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