All Slavic: "Stars burn, superstars burn out."


Senior Member
Hi everyone.

This is a translated phrase (English is not the original language), and the meaning of the phrase is more important than the words. So it's not important if the first part "stars burn" becomes "stars burn brightly" or "stars shine" but the idea is that stars, film stars, famous athletes, musicians, etc. shine slow and long, while superstars have a shorter lifespan.

The next part, burn out, is a little more ambiguous - do superstars emit a brighter flame for a shorter period of time (do they blow up and out like a dynamite stick?) or is it just a shorter candle stick? I don't know, and the choice of verb makes a big difference.

In Russian, a friend of mine suggested saying "звёзды жжёт," which, in Russian slang means "stars rule" (as in "rock 'n roll rules!" not as in "stars reign/govern") which keeps the original meaning (stars prosper) while adding its own twist.

The English translation is not without its own twist - "burn out" has the meaning of both "extinguish due to lack of fuel" and "reach a crisis of fatigue due to overwork."

Having said that, "burn out" (overwork fatigue) is not the original meaning and that nuance is only present in English which uses that idiomatic expression (and Finnish, which uses a calque). The original meaning is simply "stars keep burning (for long), superstars stop burning (or burn quickly and out)"

What's the best way to translate this phrase? I would prefer keeping the word burn in both parts, even if the word "burn" is a different one. So I would prefer, unless absolutely necessary, if the phrase avoided shine - svetit', sijat', etc. and would prefer if the phrase had - stars (prefix?)-"burn" superstars prefix-"burn," even if the two burns are different verbs altogether - žeći, gorět', etc.

Is there a way of just using "burn" to convey shine and prosper without "brightly"? If not, what's the best adverb to add to the phrase (svetlo? jarko?) to help this phrase sound more poetic and proverbial?

Thanks, everyone.
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Surely "звёзды жгут"?
    Except "звезды жгут" is exclusively transitive. That is, when stars are burning somebody or something. I think it's not what the topicstarter meant, though. :)
    Let alone in the Russian slang the verb "жечь" has a totally irrelevant range of meanings which would interfere.

    "Звёзды жжёт", on the other hand, is an impersonal construction - (it) is burning the stars, (it) burns the stars. Doesn't make much sense either in the context, I believe.

    Surely you need a totally different, intransitive verb. A literal and more or less adequate translation would be "звезды горят, суперзвёзды выгорают" (zviózdy goriát, superzviózdy vygorájut).

    Karton Realista

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    Gwiazdy płoną, a wielkie gwiazdy się wypalają.
    Wypalać się has both the literal and the figurative meaning of to burn out, so I don't see any problem using it.
    Supergwiazda would sound idiotic.

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    A literal and more or less adequate translation would be "звезды горят, суперзвёзды выгорают" (zviózdy goriát, superzviózdy vygorájut).
    The same literal translation applies to Bulgarian:
    Звездите горят, суперзвездите изгарят.