An Adequacy of Translation: the Netflix Culture in Ukrainian

Igor P. Fesenkoa more
a Igor P. Fesenko

ScD, Chief Editor, Linguistic Cues to Social Meaning, Kyiv, Ukraine Email: Instagram: @dr_igorfesenko

August 08, 2021

Linguistic Cues to Social Meaning 1, December 2021, 5–6.

Under a Creative Commons license


Fesenko, I. P. (2021) An adequacy of translation: The Netflix culture in Ukrainian. Linguistic Cues to Social Meaning1, 5–6.


A history of the Netflix success – No Rules Rules Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Ervin Meyer in Ukrainian translation [1] – gives us a nice opportunity to investigate linguistically a phenomenon of communication number and its nearly invisible social importance.


Well, an episode from Reed Hastings youth’s experience in Africa in 1983 (Chapter 10) contains an example of Teacher/Pupil communication. The Ukrainian translated text gives us addressing the teacher by the pupil with plural number, and vice versa with singular one. Yes, this asymmetric communication is a common place in schools of Ukraine and some neighboring countries. And both translator and editor of the Ukrainian version of the book got used to it and see no reason for change. And most of readers do.


But our Journal sees the problem and is aimed at its solving. The problem is in a starting symmetrical plural number communication in the original English language text and its asymmetrical interpretation into Ukrainian. This tradition of addressing a person of low status (e.g., black schoolboy) by a person of higher status (e.g., white teacher) with a singular and a plural reciprocal one has a long history in some continental European tongues. For instance, most translations of Robinson Crusoe have been edited in this downshifting communication manner – white master Robinson is addressed in plural and nonwhite youth man Friday is addressed backward in singular [2]. Keeping in mind a humiliating aspect of singular addressing we see that both age and race abuses arose in the translation presented in this newly published book.


Moreover, an urgent global problem is weather a native country of Daniel Defoe can examine possibility to control adequate translation of his opus magnum, to say nothing about the infinity of the English literature. Besides, we hope that such a successful modern corporation as Netflix can afford launching in some independent universities an investigation of the translation manner of its enormous communication content into various languages and countries in terms of addressing number. The Linguistic Cues to Social Meaning welcomes the pioneer research works and articles aiming at the adequate, fair ex-English translation thus proposing linguistic recommendations enhancing a social stability.


  1. Hastings, R. & Meyer, E. (2021) No rules rules: Netflix and the culture of reinvention (V. Halychyna, Trans.). New-York: Penguin Press. (Original work published 2020)

  2. Fesenko, I. P., Fesenko, O. D., & Chasnyk, V. I. (2019). Transition from singular to plural form in single-person addressing in literature and mass media (2nd ed.). Korsun-Shevchenkivsky: Maydachenko I. V.