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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 3 - By Any Other Name? Translating Names 67


Chapter 3 By Any Other Name? Translating Names This chapter discusses the translation of names in children’s literature. It looks at what names are, how names might be used in literature in general, the functions of names in literary texts and in children’s books in particular, and what strategies are available for translating names. At first glance, it seems easy enough to understand what the word name means. Quite simply, it is a designation for an object, whether that object be a person, animal, location, book, or anything else. A name could be said to be just another word. In fact, however, there are many interest- ing issues in regard to how and why things are named. A word represents a sign, a sign is used as a name, a name is a label – but the issue is with what sort of meaning and connotations each label is imbued with and why, and how this can be translated. Names A name is a label, but there are many dif ferent types of names and labels, and translators must be aware of what kind of name they are faced with. There are names that show religion or ethnicity or gender or socioeconomic class, place names, allegorical names, allusive names, alliterative names, well- known names (i.e. names of famous people, though they may be applied to unknown people), nicknames, descriptive names, and anagrams, amongst others. There are also titles (i.e. Dr., Ms., Professor, Madam, and so on) and varying naming systems (diminutives...

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