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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 7 - You’s My Only Fren: Translating Dialects 197


Chapter 7 You’s My Only Fren: Translating Dialects This chapter focuses on what dialects are, what strategies are available for translating them, and what the role of power might be in the use and translation of dialects in fiction. Then it of fers typologies of the functions of dialects and of ways to translate them. It has been said that “one of the most dif ficult tasks for a literary translator is to find target-language equivalents for dialectal or sociolectal speech in the source text” (Berthele, 2000: 588). And Englund Dimitrova says that “no comprehensive survey exists of the translation of dialect in fiction, but other researchers have also noted a tendency either completely to omit dialectal markers, or to replace them with markers of colloquial language” (1996: 61). In other words, it is so challenging that translators often either delete it or just mark it in some way that does not necessarily truly ref lect it. Dialects The common saying has it that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, and there is some truth to the view that power plays a role in defining language (and plays a role in how dialects are translated as well); this again relates back to postcolonialism and how those in power try to define or control those over whom they have the power. Each language has multiple dialects and in fact what has been accepted as the standard form of a lan- guage is simply another dialect. Dialects...

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