Research article
Issue: № 1 (1), 2015


In the original article the search problem of the proper equivalents regarding english vocabulary with the meaning “profession” is examined. Authors have scrutinized semantic differences between “profession”, “occupation”, “job”, “position”. The idea about necessity of using the more appropriate Russian equivalent is grounded. This view would be useful for professionals in translating and teaching spheres.

There is an important problem in teaching English at school – teaching to translate words with different notions and different nomination. It isn’t a goal at school to translate only, but nevertheless, teaching foreign language without teaching to translate correctly is impossible. While doing this, a teacher not only checks students’ text understanding, not only teaches adequate literal translation, but also meets students foreign cultural values.

Definite semantic and cultural-historic discrepancies often cause incorrect usage of these lexemes by Russian students. For example, this is a typical dialogue at English lesson: -“What is your father’s profession?-His profession is a driver. -Where does your mother work?- She is a cook by profession. I think profession of a cook is boring”.

As we see, the majority of students don’t associate the definition “profession” with having special or higher education. Also while making up personal questionnaire students prefer to use “profession” rather than “occupation”. They also use “occupation” in the meaning of “capturing the territory” quite often. Students don’t think much about the right search of correlation in other language, they often make a mistake by using words with similar pronunciation. We call these words “false translator’s friends”. There are also mistakes in understanding the words “position” and “trade”: “His position is an English teacher”, “He is a lawyer by trade''.

Leibniz writes:

…while using a language we should pay special attention to the fact that words aren’t just signs of thoughts, they are signs of things

So a translator has to know both historical background and the definitions of all the subjects in this background. If there aren’t any equivalents for the things in a translation language, a translator should think about the words with similar meanings.

One of the most responsible features of a real translator is that he should not only understand a foreign text, but also to transform it into another cultural-historic space. That’s why incorrect understanding of a text by an ordinary reader is a fault of a reader, and professional translator doesn’t do such mistakes. He has to create idea-cultural adaptation.

We face many language and stylistic difficulties when we translate. The Russian translation of the word “profession” has its own peculiarities. Firstly, this word has many almost similar synonyms:  occupation, job, position, vocation, employment, field, calling, post, pursuit, business, craft. Secondly, the meaning of the word “profession” in Russian language and in English differs because of mentality and cultural variances. All these facts create special feature and difficulties at the same time. We tried to reveal common and different sides in the words, that have Russian equivalent “professia”. We have used plenty of dictionaries for this. We have made a table, that contains names of dictionaries and their definitions of the words “profession”, “occupation”, “job”, “position”.

Table 1- Definitions of lexemes with the meaning “professional activity”






Visual Thesaurus 3.0 Desktop Edition

An occupation requiring special education (esp. in liberal arts or science)

The principal activity in your life that you do to earn money

A specific piece of work required to be done as a duty or for a specific fee

A performance of a piece of work

A job in organization

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation; a principal calling, vocation, or employment

an activity in which one engages; the principal business of one's life 

a piece of work

an employment for which one has been hired; social or official rank or status

Cambridge Dictionary

any type of work which needs special training or a particular skill, often one which is respected because it involves a high level of education

a person's job

the regular work which a person does to earn money

the place where something or someone is, often in relation to other things

Collins English Dictionary

an occupation requiring special training in the liberal arts or sciences, esp one of the three learned professions, law, theology, or medicine

a person's regular work or profession; job or principal activity

an occupation; post of employment

a post of employment; job

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

a job that needs a high level of education and training

a job or profession

the regular paid work that you do for an employer

formal a job; somebody's position as something

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

An occupation or career; an occupation, such as law, medicine, or engineering, that requires considerable training and specialized study

An activity that serves as one's regular source of livelihood; a vocation

A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, especially as one's trade, occupation, or profession. A position in which one is employed

Social standing or status. A post of employment; a job

As we see, each word has its own specific area of meaning and usage. Making a conclusion, we can assume following statements:

  1. We should pay attention to the context while translating the Russian word “professia”. We should understand if it is a profession, a job or a post.
  2. We should pay attention to the specific area of a word’s meaning and choose the equivalent, that describes the English term more precisely while translating from English into Russian.

The results that we have obtained can be perfect additional material both for translator courses and methodic courses.