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Translating Expressive Language in Children’s Literature

Problems and Solutions

B.J. Epstein

Children’s literature delights in made-up words, nonsensical terms, and creative nicknames, but how do you translate these expressions into another language?
This book provides a new approach to translation studies to address the challenges of translating children’s literature. It focuses on expressive language (nonsense, names, idioms, allusions, puns, and dialects) and provides guidance for translators about how to translate such linguistic features without making assumptions about the reader’s capabilities and without drastically changing the work. The text features effective strategies for both experienced translators and those who are new to the field, including exercises and discussion questions that are particularly beneficial for students training to be translators. This learner-friendly book also offers original contributions to translation theory in light of the translation issues particular to children’s literature.


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Chapter 1 - Introduction 1


Chapter 1 Introduction This book is a guide for translators and researchers. It explains what trans- lating children’s literature involves, what problems might occur, and what ef fective strategies can be employed. This text gives practical information to both experienced translators and those who are new to the field, and it links to other ideas in translation theory to show how they might be of use to translators. It contains exercises and discussion questions that will be particularly beneficial for students who are training to be translators. The six types of expressive language discussed in this book are, in order: neologisms, names, idioms, allusions, wordplay, and dialects. In this chapter, there is an introduction to the main topics explored in this book: the field of children’s literature, the challenges it poses for translation, what expressive language is, and issues of power. Children’s literature is not easily defined. Even scholars cannot agree on how to decide whether a piece of text is meant to be for children and, if it is, what that would mean in terms of the goals of the text and its form, style, and content. Here this issue is explored and then the translation of works for children is discussed. Children’s literature What is children’s literature? And what is its function? As Bator points out: Literature for children easily merits definition. Books have been written for them in England and America for at least 300 years, and a sizable publishing industry, almost as old, continually supplies that...

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