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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 5 - Life Is Just an Allusion: Translating Allusions 129


Chapter 5 Life Is Just an Allusion: Translating Allusions This chapter reviews the translation of allusions in children’s literature. It discusses what allusions are, how they can be used in literature, how they might be used in children’s books, and how they can be translated. There is then a review of seven translatorial strategies that can be applied to allusions. How allusions – i.e. references to other texts or cultural items – inf luence a given work depends in part on what items are considered to be the most important in a culture; these can include the Torah and Talmud, the New Testament, the Koran, classical works, Shakespeare’s plays, spe- cific nursery rhymes or songs, celebrities or political figures, and many others. If an author references other works or cultural or historical figures, events, or concepts in a text, a translator has to understand why that is the case and whether such allusions can be kept just as they are, whether they should be removed, or whether they should be replaced with items from the target culture. Allusions Intertextuality is a literary term that was first used by Kristeva to refer to the way an author might employ the plot, the style, a phrase, or a character from another author’s work. It was primarily used in regard to literary texts, whereas the term allusion covers a reference, often indirect, to something that has been created or used before, and this can include a song or a political figure or any other item....

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