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November 29, 1990|By David Grimes | David Grimes,Sarasota Herald Tribune

SARASOTA,FLORIDA — THINGS HAVE loosened up considerably in the Soviet Union during the past couple of years with the result that citizens are getting exposed to a lot more Western culture than they did before.

The Soviets seem especially fascinated by old American movies and television shows, many of which are being shown in the Soviet Union for the first time. This means a lot of extra work for the translators, whose job it is to convert the strange English dialogue into terms understandable to the Russian-speaking populace. As you might expect, some of these translations turn out better than others. For example, Rhett Butler's famous line in ''Gone With the Wind'' -- ''Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn'' -- translated into ''Frankly my dear, I spit on all that.''

I'm sure we can look forward to even more bizarre translations in the future, especially if we start exporting our TV commercials, many of which make no sense to begin with. Here are some examples of what might happen:

''Please, madam, don't roughly compress the Charmin.''

''Let your fingers pretend they are legs through the Yellow Pages.''

''Just for the glandular stimulation of it, Diet Coke.''

''Go Greyhound and leave the manipulation of the steering mechanism to us.''

''Drink Miller Lite. It tastes great and is less likely to fill you up with the kind of gas that causes you to make embarrassing belching noises.''

''When E.F. Hutton talks, people strain to hear the words that they are saying.''

''Bo knows an 11-member team sport involving a brown leather ball and goalposts.''

''Trix are for juveniles.''

''Federal Express: When getting it there late is the kind of thing that you do not want to happen this time.''

''We will sell no wine before various chemical indicators tell us it would be the prudent thing to do.''

''Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a gastrointestinal discomfort alleviator it is.''

''Listerine: Kills the bacteria that cause your mouth to smell like the socks of an Irkutsk sewer worker.''

''Kellogg's Rice Krispies: Exploding sound, exploding sound, exploding sound.''

''Timex: Takes physical abuse and keeps on making repetitive watch sounds.''

''Virginia Slims: You have enhanced your status in the social hierarchy, attractive young female.''

''Roach Motel: The crawling insects register for overnight lodging, but wind up extending their stay for an indefinite period.''

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