Caucasian Ovcharka

Champion Caucasian Ovtcharka
The Name of Our Breed

by Esquire Caucasians

We have seen some discussion of the English language name of the KAVKAZSAYA OVCHARKA breed of dog as the North American breed fancy was born. Now as the breed becomes better known, it may be time to re-visit this topic.

When we think of writing something from one language in another language, first we must look at the alphabet. If the alphabet is the same, we can go directly to translating the words. If the alphabet is not the same, we may think to convert the alphabet, but not make any other change. This is called transliteration. We can see the name of a breed of dog in the script or alphabet of the people who use this name. On the left is Georgian, on the right is Russian.

nagazi            кавказская овчарка

Now, here are the same names, transliterated to use the Roman alphabet common to western Europe and the Americas :

qar'tuli nagazi           kavkazskaya ovcharka

You would say the words the same way as in the first case. In fact, the test of good transliteration is to make the transliteration sound like the original, or reflect the original script, as well as possible. The words are still in the language of the original. Recently, the name “Beijing” has taken the place of “Peking” for the capital city in China. This was because the Chinese government sought to improve the standard transliteration, to make it sound more like Chinese sounds. “Beijing” is not the sound of a word in any other language but Chinese. “Beijing” is Chinese characters converted to Roman ones so it is easier for people in the West to write them and say them.

Transliteration is done by accepted rules. It is typically very little effected by the judgment of an individual doing the transliteration. It this context, one can note the Cyrillic character Ч. Under the U.S. Library of Congress transliteration system and the GOST system (adopted at the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names), the correct transliteration for English-speakers is ch. Under the standard German system, the correct transliteration for German-speakers is tsch, but tch is also seen. The official Russian government advisory takes no position, reflecting the need to transliterate differently to preserve the sound of the Cyrillic character Ч as well is possible, depending on who will be reading and speaking the transliteration. It is an affect for an English transliteration to use the German version.

We can also do an actual translation :

Georgian Sheepdog           Caucasian Mountain Dog

In a translatrion, the sounds of the words change, as they become words in another language. The test of a good translation is whether or not the meaning is preserved correctly. This is often open to the judgment of the translator, since there is not always a word in the second language that means exactly the same thing as in the first language. There can be many ways to make the translation that are not wrong and debate as to what is “best”.

Here are some other translations :

These are all true translations. Any word that sounds like “ovcharka” is used only if that word naturally occurs in the language translated into. It will be noted that these are eastern European languages only, as one might expect. The name CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA in English is a mix of a translation CAUCASIAN and a transliteration OVCHARKA. No other country or language uses a mix like this for the name of the breed.

A correct transliteration KAVKAZSKAYA OVCHARKA is quite viable in English, and may show extra regard for Russian leadership in this breed. It would be similar to using “Beijing” for the capital in China. Similarly the shortened Russian name Кавказец (transliteration KAVKAZETS, translation CAUCASIAN, but with the meaning of a specific individual from the Caucasus) is sensible.

Some candidate translations for кавказская овчарка are :

Each of the above have found favor with English-speaking members of the breed fancy.

(c)2004 Stacey Kubyn & Esquire Caucasians - All Rights Reserved

Caucasian Mountain Dog