Translating Children's Literature 9781138803749, 9781138803763, 9781315753515

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Translating Children's Literature
 9781138803749, 9781138803763, 9781315753515

Table of contents :
1 Narrative communication with the child reader
2 Meeting the unknown: translating names, cultural markers and intertextual references
3 Translating the visual
4 Translating dialogue and dialect
5 Translating sound: reading aloud, poetry, wordplay and onomatopoeia
6 Retellings, retranslation and relay translation
7 Children’s publishing, globalization and the child reader

Citation preview

Translating Children’s Literature

Translating Children’s Literature is an exploration of the many developmental and linguistic issues related to writing and translating for children, an audience that spans a period of enormous intellectual progress and affective change from birth to adolescence. In this book, Lathey looks at a broad range of children’s literature, from prose fiction to poetry and picture books. Each of the seven chapters addresses a different aspect of translation for children, covering: • • • • • • •

narrative style and the challenges of translating the child’s voice; the translation of cultural markers for young readers; translation of the modern picture book; dialogue, dialect and street language in modern children’s literature; read-aloud qualities, wordplay, onomatopoeia and the translation of children’s poetry; retranslation, retelling and reworking; the role of translation for children within the global publishing and translation industries.

This is the first practical guide to address all aspects of translating children’s literature, featuring extracts from commentaries and interviews with published translators of children’s literature, as well as examples and case studies across a range of languages and texts. Each chapter includes a set of questions and exercises for students. Translating Children’s Literature is essential reading for professional translators, researchers and students on courses in translation studies or children’s literature. Gillian Lathey is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton, UK, and is a co-founder and judge of the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation. Publications include The Translation of Children’s Literature: A Reader (2006) and The Role of Translators in Children’s Literature: Invisible Storytellers (Routledge, 2010).

Translation Practices Explained Series Editor: Kelly Washbourne

Translation Practices Explained is a series of coursebooks designed to help self-learners and students on translation and interpreting courses. Each volume focuses on a specific aspect of professional translation practice, in many cases corresponding to courses available in translator-training institutions. Special volumes are devoted to well-consolidated professional areas, to areas where labour-market demands are currently undergoing considerable growth, and to specific aspects of professional practices on which little teaching and learning material is available. The authors are practicing translators or translator-trainers in the fields concerned. Although specialists, they explain their professional insights in a manner accessible to the wider learning public. These books start from the recognition that professional translation practices require something more than elaborate abstraction or fixed methodologies. They are located close to work on authentic texts, and encourage learners to proceed inductively, solving problems as they arise from examples and case studies. Each volume includes activities and exercises designed to help learners consolidate their knowledge (teachers may also find these useful for direct application in class, or alternatively as the basis for the design and preparation of their own material). Updated reading lists and website addresses will also help individual learners gain further insight into the realities of professional practice. Titles in the Series: Localizing Apps Johann Roturier User-Centered Translation Tytti Suojanen, Kaisa Koskinen, Tiina Tuominen Translating for the European Union Institutions 2e Emma Wagner, Svend Bech, Jesús M. Martínez

Revising and Editing for Translators 3e Brian Mossop Audiovisual Translation Frederic Chaume Scientific and Technical Translation Explained Jody Byrne

Translation-Driven Corpora Federico Zanettin Subtitling Through Speech Recognition Pablo Romero-Fresco Translating Promotional and Advertising Texts Ira Torresi Audiovisual Translation, Subtitling Jorge Diaz-Cintas, Aline Remael Medical Translation Step by Step Vicent Montalt, Maria González-Davies

Notetaking for Consecutive Interpreting Andrew Gillies Translating Official Documents Roberto Mayoral Asensio Conference Interpreting Explained Roderick Jones Legal Translation Explained Enrique Alcaraz, Brian Hughes Electronic Tools for Translators Frank Austermuhl Introduction to Court Interpreting Holly Mikkelson

For more information on any of these titles, or to order, please go to www.

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Translating Children’s Literature

Gillian Lathey

First published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2016 Gillian Lathey The right of Gillian Lathey to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Lathey, Gillian, 1949Translating children's literature / By Gillian Lathey. pages cm – (Translation Practices Explained.) Includes bibliographical references. 1. Children's literature – Translating. 2. Translating and interpreting – Study and teaching. I. Title. PN1009.5.T75L38 2015 418′.04 – dc23 2015005141 ISBN: 978-1-138-80374-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-138-80376-3 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-75351-5 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Florence Production Ltd, Stoodleigh, Devon, UK







Narrative communication with the child reader



Meeting the unknown: translating names, cultural markers and intertextual references



Translating the visual



Translating dialogue and dialect



Translating sound: reading aloud, poetry, wordplay and onomatopoeia



Retellings, retranslation and relay translation



Children’s publishing, globalization and the child reader


Bibliography Index

145 157

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My interest in this book arises from a passion for children’s literature in my early career as a teacher of young children and as an academic, as well as a deep and lifelong interest in the art of translation. I am not a professional translator, nor could I possibly cover the range of languages addressed in these pages. I therefore owe a debt of gratitude to all the translators, friends and colleagues whose help I have called upon, or whose work I have cited during the writing of this book. Particular thanks are due to: Sarah Ardizzone, Mona Baker, Anthea Bell, Nancy and Aidan Chambers, Estelle Chan, Patricia Crampton, Mieke Desmet, Gunnar Florin, Janet Garton, Jane Grayson, Daniel Hahn, Cathy Hirano, Nadja Korthals, Tomoko Masaki, Aoi Matsushima, Noriko Shimoda Netley, Riitta Oittinen, Emer O’Sullivan and Jehan Zitawi. Every effort has been made to contact copyright-holders. Please advise the publisher of any errors or omissions, and these will be corrected in subsequent editions.

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The writing of books for children is an underestimated art, and the translation of books for children doubly so. Creating publishable children’s stories appears to many to be an easy option, with anyone from popstars to princes able to produce one. Therefore, the thinking goes, surely a reasonably competent speaker of source and target languages will be able to translate a book for children? Yet authors or translators quickly discover the illusory simplicity of a literature that conveys with a light touch the joys, humour and mischief of childhood, as well as its more troubling undercurrents. A text written for children or young adults may be just as demanding in its intellectual complexity, stylistic flair or thematic content as a work for adults, as the cognitive puzzles of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s psychologically astute writings for the younger child, or Toshi Maruki’s disturbing picture book on the aftermath of the nuclear attack on Japan, Hiroshima No Pika!, all amply demonstrate. Such texts highlight the diversity and complexity of children’s literature, the translation of which is no less challenging than translating for adults. Indeed, the boundaries between children’s and adult literature are fluid and regularly breached by both adults and children; critical writing on ‘crossover’ fiction (Beckett, 2009; 2012; Falconer, 2009) draws attention to the history, modern instances and international dimensions of this phenomenon. Some of the best-known international children’s classics began their existence either as oral tales for all ages or as texts for adult readers and therefore include adult themes and preoccupations. The work of Lewis Carroll, the collection of stories known as The Arabian Nights, the fables of Aesop (see Lathey, 2010), Grimms’ tales, Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels are just a few instances of books that have travelled from the adult to the children’s canon. Sometimes this journey takes place in the course of translation, as Zohar Shavit (1986) demonstrates in her account of Hebrew editions of Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Literature crosses the adult–child boundary in the opposite direction, too, as adults across the world enjoy the gentle, philosophical humour of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books, the visual and textual pleasures of Japanese manga, or Belgian and French comic-strip albums. Assigning children’s literature a

2 Introduction second-class status, or defining such a wide variety of texts as a ‘genre’ to rank alongside other strands of popular literature, is, therefore, to trivialize unjustly the work of children’s authors and their counterparts, those who translate for children. The adult–child duality inherent in all books for children originates in the paradox that – with very few exceptions such as Anne Frank’s diary – only adults write, publish and edit children’s books. Jacqueline Rose (1984) investigated this fundamental irony from a psychoanalytic perspective by taking J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan as a case study of what she has called ‘the impossibility of children’s fiction’. Rose argues that adult self-interest is at stake in writing for children, whether as part of a cathartic revisiting of childhood concerns or because the adult has retained certain childhood qualities. This adult investment in children’s literature – whether creative, financial or affective – results in an asymmetrical power relationship between writer and reader that affects every level of the writing process. In many early children’s books this adult–child relationship is inscribed within the text in the form of an omniscient adult narrator who inspires or admonishes young readers, while tacitly or even overtly addressing the adult. Moreover, witty asides or knowing comments clearly intended to entertain or inform the adult reading aloud to a child are not uncommon in children’s texts, so that a translator has to address both layers of meaning.

What is children’s literature? How, then, is it possible to distinguish clearly between literature for children and adults? Definitions of children’s literature are plentiful, ranging from a pragmatic focus on texts intentionally published for children to the unlimited scope of any text read by a child.1 Some critics seek to identify the stylistic and thematic qualities of children’s literature, although such blueprints may be contentious. Today it would be possible to take issue with almost every aspect of the comparison Myles McDowell made in 1973 between adult and children’s literature: [. . .] children’s books are generally shorter; they tend to favour an active rather than a passive treatment, with dialogue and incident rather than description and introspection; child protagonists are the rule; conventions are much used; the story develops with a clear-cut moral schematism which much adult fiction ignores; children’s books tend to be optimistic rather than depressive; language is child-oriented [. . .] (cited in Hollindale, 1997: 36) Since McDowell made these assertions, longer works with ambiguous moral messages and passages of introspection, as well as less than optimistic conclusions, have almost become the norm in the field of young adult fiction. Moreover, children’s fiction set in the two World Wars quite frequently



features adult protagonists either as combatants, refugees, medical personnel or victims of air raids. Nor is a ‘clear-cut’ moral standpoint evident in many current novels for the young; readers may be left to draw their own ethical conclusions. Such definitions described by McDowell fail to encompass the variety of children’s literature currently available. In his book Signs of Childness in Children’s Books (1997), an extended essay on perceptions of childhood in adult and children’s literature (highly recommended to anyone considering translating for children), Peter Hollindale juxtaposes McDowell’s confident, but limiting, description with that of British novelist Jill Paton Walsh. Paton Walsh promotes the adult–child tension of writing for children as a creative spur and source of unique stylistic challenges: The children’s book presents a technically most difficult, technically most interesting problem – that of making a fully serious adult statement, as a good novel of any kind does, and making it utterly simple and transparent. It seems to me to be a dereliction of some kind, almost a betrayal of the young reader, to get out of the difficulty by putting down the adult’s burden of knowledge and experience, and speaking childishly; but the need for comprehensibility imposes an emotional obliqueness, an indirectness of approach, which like elision and partial statement in poetry is often itself a source of aesthetic power. I imagine the perfectly achieved children’s book something like a soap-bubble; all you can see is a surface – a lovely rainbow thing to attract the youngest onlooker – but the whole is shaped and sustained by the pressure of adult emotion, present but invisible, like the air within the bubble. (Paton Walsh, cited in Hollindale, 1997: 40) She refers, of course, to literary writing for children of the highest standard rather than to the full range of children’s literature, but her comments are an enlightening encouragement to any writer or translator attempting to understand the artistic potential of writing for the young. One children’s author has offered an intriguing example of a distinction between writing for children and adults. In a collection of essays on children and literature published in 1985, Aidan Chambers presents two versions of the same passage by British children’s author Roald Dahl, one written for children and one for adults, although each is ‘sustained’, as Paton Walsh would have it, by an adult sensibility. First, here is the passage from a short story “The Champion of the World”, from the collection Kiss Kiss, published 1960: I wasn’t sure about this, but I had the suspicion that it was none other than the famous Mr. Victor Hazel himself, the owner of the land and the pheasants. Mr. Hazel was a local brewer with an unbelievably arrogant manner. He was rich beyond words, and his property stretched for miles along either side of the valley. He was a self-made man with no charm at all and precious few virtues. He loathed all persons of humble station,


Introduction having once been one of them himself, and he strove desperately to mingle with what he believed were the right kind of folk. He rode to hounds and gave shooting-parties and wore fancy waistcoats, and every weekday he drove an enormous black Rolls-Royce past the filling-station on his way to the brewery. As he flashed by, we would sometimes catch a glimpse of the great glistening brewer’s face above the wheel, pink as ham, all soft and inflamed from drinking too much beer. (“The Champion of the World”, 1960: 209)

Next, the same passage from Dahl’s children’s novel Danny: The Champion of the World, published 1975: I must pause here to tell you something about Mr Victor Hazell. He was a brewer of beer and he owned a large brewery. He was rich beyond words, and his property stretched for miles along either side of the valley. All the land round us belonged to him, everything on both sides of the road, everything except the small patch of ground on which our filling-station stood. That patch belonged to my father. It was a little island in the middle of the vast ocean of Mr Hazell’s estate. Mr Victor Hazell was a roaring snob and he tried desperately to get in with what he believed were the right kind of people. He hunted with the hounds and gave shooting-parties and wore fancy waistcoats. Every weekday he drove his enormous silver Rolls-Royce past our filling-station on his way to the brewery. As he flashed by we would sometimes catch a glimpse of the great glistening beery face above the wheel, pink as ham, all soft and inflamed from drinking too much beer. (Danny: The Champion of the World, 1975: 45–50) Chambers identifies a number of changes for the younger audience, including the ‘chopping up’ of longer sentences on the stylistic level and the removal of a reference to Hazel’s loathing of people of humble station. There are, however, other significant changes such as the shift from an uncertain narrator in the first passage (‘I wasn’t sure about this . . .’) to one who is fully in command of the narrative and addresses his audience directly in the second. In the passage from the children’s version the frequent use of the personal pronouns ‘we’, ‘my’ and ‘our’ continuously brings the reader back to the central emotional bond of the book, that between Danny and his father, and to their circumstances at the filling-station. Dahl also changes the antiquated phrase ‘rode to hounds’ into ‘hunted with the hounds’. Whether such fine linguistic changes and the introduction of an omniscient narrator are necessary or not – many are debatable – the shift in focus to the father–son relationship is essential in the revision of the passage for younger readers. An analysis of this example certainly raises awareness of the potential narrative and stylistic niceties of writing and translating for children.



The emergence of children’s literature The emergence of a separate ‘children’s literature’ in cultures across the world naturally depends on an early phase of life that is at least partly devoted to education and acculturation, and free from the need to participate in the struggle for survival – a luxury that is not universal. Childhood is a flexible period adjusted to meet economic necessity. Even in affluent countries, the parameters of childhood have shifted in recent times: currently in the UK, for example, the official end of childhood occurs at the age of eighteen rather than twenty-one as was the case until 1971, and the permissible age for purchasing cigarettes, alcohol or engaging in sexual activity has also changed a number of times in the latter half of the twentieth century. In the global market of the early twenty-first century, concepts of childhood depend increasingly on the initiatives of the fashion, games and toy industries in establishing age-related categories. Publishers, too, divide childhood into phases such as the ‘early years’, the ‘pre-schooler’, the ‘pre-teen’, the ‘adolescent’, the ‘young adult’ and indicate appropriate age ranges on book covers, or classify books as ‘easy readers’, ‘chapter books’, ‘middle grade’ and similar. Often these categories can be taken with a pinch of salt, since children develop as readers at vastly different rates. Where economic conditions favour the establishment of an indigenous children’s literature, reading matter for the young may begin as a vehicle for educational, religious and moral instruction, or purely for the teaching of literacy. In many children’s literatures there is a gradual shift from a purely instructive medium towards reading for aesthetic pleasure and entertainment; but not all emergent children’s literatures follow the same pattern. O’Sullivan (2000) counters Shavit’s (1986) global application of the standard Western model of development ‘from instruction to delight’ by offering case histories of the tension between imported colonial and indigenous children’s literatures in Africa,2 and the recent establishment of a non-imported English-language children’s literature for the young in Ireland in the 1980s. Both instances inspire a fresh look at the international history of children’s literature and focus the attention of translators on its position and purpose within the source culture. Translated literature, too, has had profound effects on the development of national children’s literatures; translations of Grimms’ tales, for example, have inspired collectors of indigenous3 tales across the world and their publication for adults and children (see articles in Joosen and Lathey, 2014). When adults write for children in either educational or entertaining mode, they convey a world-view to the next generation that is either in line with the government-sanctioned investment in the education of the young, or goes against the grain and makes use of children’s literature as a subversive medium. Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, for example, includes satirical scenes that ridicule practices in law and medicine in the Italy of the late-nineteenth century, just as children’s literature – including adaptations of Pinocchio – was a vehicle for the expression of opposing political views during the Fascist period in the 1920s and 1930s in Italy (Gaudino, 2015).



National governments, as stakeholders in the formation of future citizens, may intervene in the publication and approval of translated books in an indirect or overt manner. Indirect control is apparent when officially sanctioned children’s reading lists or national curricula include or omit translations from particular countries or languages, according to contemporary political allegiances. In the case of Brazilian children’s author Monteiro Lobato, an ideologically motivated reframing of the text in his translation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan to include criticism of the conservative regime of the late 1930s resulted in action in the national courts and the banning and confiscation of that translation. Censorship, didacticism and ideological pressure are at their most evident, however, in children’s literature published under the aegis of totalitarian regimes (for example during the Fascist period in Italy as indicated above, National Socialism in the Germany of the 1930s and 1940s, or the postwar German Democratic Republic). In the course of painstaking work in the archives of the former communist German Democratic Republic and interviews with translators, Gaby Thomson-Wohlgemuth (2003) has established the ideologically-driven selection of texts and the censorship that constrained the work of translators during an era when the child was central to the socialist enterprise. Ironically, and precisely because their work was regarded as of high ideological importance, translators for children in the former GDR enjoyed favourable conditions and high social status. To take an entirely different context, Haidee Kruger’s recent monograph Postcolonial Polysystems: The production and reception of translated children’s literature in South Africa (2012) addresses the ideological aspects of the complex postcolonial and multilingual context for the translation of children’s literature in South Africa. Translating for children may therefore include an ideological dimension that requires linguistic and political finesse on the part of the translator. It is important to ensure that hidden, encoded messages are not lost to the child (or adult) reader in the target culture, or that children are made aware in peritextual material (prefaces, afterwords, annotations, blurbs, etc.) of the political context from which the book originates.

Developmental issues As children mature physically, mentally and emotionally, their requirements concerning the content of reading matter change radically. By far the most thorough examination of these developments is to be found in J.A. Appleyard’s Becoming a Reader: The experience of fiction from childhood to adulthood (1994). Appleyard’s thesis is age-related; he regards early childhood, for example, as a period when the child reader is a player exploring the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Early childhood reading is a numinous experience, generating images we retain throughout our lives, and has an unpredictable and sustained impact on children’s imaginative, affective and cognitive development. Translating a text for the younger child therefore presents subtle and easily overlooked challenges since there is a temptation to over-explain



texts for the young reader or reinterpret them from an adult’s viewpoint. Astrid Lindgren had little time for translators who harboured preconceived ideas about child readers and introduced a sentimental tone into translations of her work by ‘prettifying’ the matter-of-fact actions of child characters. She relates an instance from the German translation of one of the Madicken books where, in a scene of imaginative play based on the rescue of Moses from the flood, Lisabet (Moses) puts her arms around the neck of older sister Madicken (the Pharaoh’s daughter). Madicken, from whose point of view the whole story is told, is desperate to get out of this stranglehold. The German translator completely alters the import of this incident by inserting a description of Lisabet’s arms as ‘little’, ‘podgy’ and ‘round’ (Lindgren, 1969) and thereby attributing an inappropriate adult sentimentality to Madicken – who at that moment sees nothing remotely appealing in her sister’s imprisoning arms. It is often in translating for the younger child that the danger of misjudging the tone of a text is at its most acute. Appleyard’s discussion of the later stages of childhood focuses on the increasing complexity of narrative structure necessary to hold the child’s attention, and the affective need to identify with protagonists. This development accounts for the many first person and diary narratives for older children and adolescents, narratives that are highly personal and express the joys and anxieties of a gradual growth towards adulthood. For the translator, such texts pose the challenge of replicating the child’s voice in another language. In later childhood, too, there is an increasing divergence of genderrelated concerns and interests that shift according to cultural and social changes. Publishers may issue entirely separate series for boys and girls for example, or libraries may shelve boys’ and girls’ books separately, as happened until the latter decades of the twentieth century in some European countries. Translators and editors may well have to make crucial decisions when they encounter a mismatch between expectations of boys’ and girls’ behaviour in source and target cultures. Finally, Appleyard characterizes adolescent readers as thinkers who seek both emotional involvement in realistic scenarios and answers to philosophical questions in what they read. Other adolescent readers prefer the detached intellectual excitement of science fiction or adventure fantasy. No child follows an exact developmental pattern, nor do children only read fiction written for them, but an understanding of general trends will enable translators to appreciate both an author’s purpose and the potential response of a broad age group. As a result of children’s cognitive, emotional and literacy development, a translator of children’s texts may work on an enormous range of text types, from the toddler’s board book to a novel for young adults. Writing for a sixyear-old generally demands a quite different stylistic approach from prose that will appeal to a pre-pubescent twelve-year-old or indeed a young adult of seventeen – not least because the younger child is an inexperienced reader. Necessary adjustments for the younger child reader should not, however, lead to a deliberate simplification of language in the process of translation.



A translator has to assume that the author of the source text has good reasons for introducing vocabulary or concepts that may seem demanding: children must, after all, learn as they read.

Creativity in translating for children At the 2013 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation in the UK, translator and presenter of the prize Daniel Hahn spoke of the creativity inherent in the act of translation: If translations are to work – if they are to find a voice for the story, the voice that weaves the enchantment, they must be the work not of a mechanical mind, a mind that applies a mechanism to a text – but an individual, creative mind. (Hahn, 2013) One of the most demanding, and at the same time inspiring, aspects of translating for children is the potential for such creativity that arises from what Peter Hollindale (1997) has called the ‘childness’ of children’s texts: ‘the quality of being a child – dynamic, imaginative, experimental, interactive and unstable’ (1997: 46). The ‘unstable’ qualities of childhood that Hollindale cites require a writer or translator to have an understanding of the freshness of language to the child’s eye and ear, the child’s affective concerns and the linguistic and dramatic play of early childhood. Translating sound, for example, whether in the read-aloud qualities of books for the younger child, in animal noises, children’s poetry or in nonsense rhymes, demands imaginative solutions – as indeed does working with visual material. Such multi-faceted creativity has, at times, placed children’s literature in the vanguard of aesthetic and imaginative experimentation, as Juliet Dusinberre argues in relation to latenineteenth and early-twentieth century modernism in Alice to the Lighthouse: Children’s books and radical experiments in art (1999), and Kim Reynolds in relation to more recent publications in Radical Children’s Literature: Future visions and aesthetic transformations in juvenile fiction (2007). Translating for children may therefore include experimental texts that will tax even the most competent of translators.

Critical and theoretical interest in translation for children The last thirty years have seen an enormous increase in the amount of scholarly and critical writing devoted specifically to the translation of texts for children. French comparatist Paul Hazard was one of the first to pay attention to the international exchange of children’s books in Les Livres, Les Enfants et Les Hommes (1932), where he proposed a romantic vision of the development of international understanding and the exchange of aesthetic appreciation through children’s books. Jella Lepman’s equally idealistic vision recounted in her



autobiographical A Bridge of Children’s Books (1964) of post-Second World War reconciliation through children’s books led to the foundation of the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY). Branches of IBBY in countries across the globe serve as a useful contact point for translators wishing to engage with developments in children’s literature. A move away from general internationalist – and predominantly idealistic – statements to paying serious attention to the linguistic processes, ideology and economics of translating children’s books was heralded by the proceedings of the third symposium of the IRSCL (International Research Society for Children’s Literature), entitled Children’s Books in Translation (Klingberg, Ørvig and Amor, 1978). At a time when the study of children’s literature – whether national or international – was only just beginning to gain academic credibility, Austrian scholar Richard Bamberger claimed at the symposium in a contentious assertion that the role of translation had ‘hardly been touched upon . . . in spite of the fact that translations, as a rule, are of even greater importance in children’s than in adult literature’ (1978: 19). Subsequently, both children’s literature and translation studies scholars have addressed a variety of strategies specific to translating for children from ‘cultural context adaptation’ (Klingberg, 1986) to the significance of read-aloud qualities and the visual in children’s texts, and have produced numerous case studies on the translation of children’s texts in academic journals or unpublished PhD theses. Two monographs published at the turn of the millennium, Emer O’Sullivan’s Kinderliterarische Komparatistik (2000, English translation Comparative Children’s Literature, 2005) and Finnish scholar Riitta Oittinen’s Translating for Children (2000), made invaluable contributions to an understanding of the history and poetics of the translation of children’s books on the one hand, and the significance of the author’s and translator’s dialogue with the implied child reader on the other. O’Sullivan’s insights into narrative communication in translations for children and the translation of visual texts inform Chapters 1 and 3 of this book and Oittinen, as published translator of children’s fiction into Finnish, children’s picture book author–illustrator and academic, has a professional foundation on which to build theoretical reflection and is therefore cited a number of times in this volume. Current developments in research into the translation of children’s literature are interdisciplinary, since comparative literature, translation studies and children’s literature studies all contribute to an understanding of theoretical issues, historical developments and professional practice in the translation of children’s books. Van Coillie and Verschueren’s edited volume Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and strategies (2006), for example, covers the history and ethics of translating for children, as well as specific issues such as the translation of names and intertextual and cultural references. Strands from all of these aspects of research into translating for children will be addressed in this book where relevant. As Jean BoaseBeier affirms in an article entitled ‘Is translation theory of any practical use?’ (2013), theories can be very useful to the translator by clarifying reflection on



the translation process, inspiring confidence and offering fresh insights into specific strategies.

Children and translation Finally, a few words on a neglected area: children’s responses to translations. As Richard Bamberger argued long ago, ‘children are not interested in a book because it is a translation, as may be the case for adults, but in the power of narratives as adventure story, fantasies and so on, just as if the books were originally written in their own language’ (1978: 19). This is certainly true in parts of the UK and the US, where adults are often surprised to learn that their favourite childhood books were in fact translations. On the other hand, children do sometimes deliberately seek out translations, for example the latest Harry Potter volume in countries around the world, or may participate in prepublication and fan translation via the internet. Globally, children’s interest and practical involvement in translation is a natural fact of life. For many who live in multilingual societies, spoken translation is a daily occurrence and published translations dominate reading material. In other situations the profile of translation still needs to be raised – for example in the UK, where initiatives such as those discussed in Chapter 7 are under way to inspire all pupils to explore literary translation, and to encourage bilingual children to translate from and into their heritage languages. Whatever their linguistic experience, children do read translations, but there is little hard evidence of their responses to the content and context of translated texts. The time is ripe for further empirical research to build on the work of Puurtinen (1995), to be discussed in Chapter 1, and the very few small-scale studies on the reception of translated literature in existence. Children read differently from adults for reasons already outlined in this introduction and, therefore, we need to know far more than we do about how they read and hear translations.

The purpose of this book Translators new to translating for children include the experienced professional who occasionally takes on a commission to translate a children’s book, the children’s writer who turns his or her hand to translation, and the trainee literary translator who wishes to specialize in translating for children. It is the purpose of this volume to introduce anyone wishing to translate for a child audience to stylistic, linguistic, formal, generic and thematic issues specific to writing for children; to the developmental issues central to writing for an audience that spans a period of enormous intellectual progress and affective change from birth to adolescence, and to the kinds of ideological constraints arising from social expectations of childhood that translators may encounter. The focus throughout is firmly on children’s fiction as well as poetry, rather than



on instructive or information books. Literary language is therefore in the foreground. Discussion of the linguistic creativity inherent in representations of non-standard language in Chapter 4 or figurative language and wordplay in Chapter 5, for example, illustrates the deviation of literary language from linguistic norms or educational expectations, while emphasizing its essential role in children’s developing appreciation of literature. Above all, the aim of this book is to assist would-be translators to act as bridges for the young into the worlds of individual writers whose work they would not otherwise encounter. As Astrid Lindgren memorably wrote in an article headed ‘Translating for children – is it possible?’: I believe that children have a marvellous ability to re-experience the most alien and distant things and circumstances, if a good translator is there to help them, and I believe that their imagination continues to build where the translator can go no further. (Lindgren, 1969, cited in Stolt, 2006)

Organization Following the pattern of previous volumes in the Translation Practices Explained series, each chapter addresses a different aspect of translation for children and is accompanied by a set of exercises or questions that students studying independently may work through at their own pace. The book may also be used as the basis for a set of seminars, in which case tutors will no doubt add exercises and tasks of their own that meet the needs of their particular student cohort. Starting with overarching issues pertinent to children’s literature, the first chapter introduces common modes of addressing the child reader, narrative style and the challenges of translating the child’s voice, while Chapter 2 addresses the translation of cultural markers for young readers and the delicate question of the degree of unfamiliarity children can be expected to assimilate. Chapter 3 tackles the visual dimension that has been of central importance to the children’s literatures of most cultures, and the translation of the modern picture book. In Chapter 4, dialogue, dialect and street language take the lead, since all three have played a dominant role in modern children’s literature, and have been subject to didactic constraints in some eras and countries. Chapter 5 turns to a crucial creative element in translating for children, particularly for the younger child: read-aloud qualities, wordplay, onomatopoeia and the translation of children’s poetry. Chapters 6 and 7 return to broader topics. Chapter 6 addresses the continuum between a translation and a retelling as well as the retranslation and reworking of children’s classics and fairy tales, while the focus in Chapter 7 is on the current role of translation in the global children’s publishing industry, virtual translation and translators working with children.



Discussion points • •

Based on your own reading experience, what do you consider to be the differences between fiction written for adults and for children? Which topics might you consider to be ‘taboo’ or inappropriate in children’s or young adult fiction?

Exercises •

Discuss the passages from “The Champion of the World” and Danny: The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, reprinted above. Compile a list of the changes Dahl makes and discuss which ones you consider to be necessary and what kind of assumptions Dahl makes about the adult and child reader. Read at least two recently established ‘modern classics’ or prize-winning books for children in your working language and make brief notes on stylistic and formal qualities as well as subject matter that have, in your opinion, ensured each book’s success. Read as widely as possible across the different genres and formats, including picture books, used by well-known children’s authors writing in your working language. Set yourself a schedule for reading the international classics of children’s literature in their source languages or, where that is not possible, in reputable translations. Children’s authors frequently make intertextual references, for example, to The Arabian Nights, Grimms’ tales, Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio or, more recently, to the Harry Potter series, so it is important to recognize and do justice to such allusions in a translation.

Notes 1 2 3

For a more detailed discussion of this open-ended definition and the general difficulty of pinning down ‘children’s literature’, see Chapter 3 in Peter Hunt’s Criticism, Theory and Children’s Literature (1991). See also Haidee Kruger (2012), Postcolonial Polysystems: The production and reception of translated children’s literature in South Africa. ‘Indigenous’ is used throughout this volume to refer to works or translations originating in the country under discussion.

Further reading Appleyard, J.A. (1994) Becoming a Reader: The experience of fiction from childhood to adulthood (2nd edn), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chambers, Aidan (1985) Booktalk: Occasional writing on literature and children, Stroud: Thimble Press. Hollindale, Peter (1997) Signs of Childness in Children’s Books, Stroud: Thimble Press.



Hunt, Peter, ed. (2004) The International Companion Encyclopaedia of Children’s Literature (2nd edn), London: Routledge. Lathey, Gillian, ed. (2006a) The Translation of Children’s Literature: A reader, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Oittinen, Riitta (2000) Translating for Children, New York and London: Garland Publishing. O’Sullivan, Emer (2000) Kinderliterarische Komparatistik, Heidleberg: Winter. O’Sullivan, Emer (2005) Kinderliterarische Komparatistik; trans. A. Bell as Comparative Children’s Literature, 2005, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. van Coillie, Jan and Verschueren, Walter, eds. (2006) Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and strategies, Manchester: St. Jerome Press.

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Narrative communication with the child reader

When adults write for children, they instinctively attune the storytelling voice to the sensibilities of a young readership, an act of adult-to-child communication that lies at the heart of all successful writing and translating for the young. Riitta Oittinen (2000) believes that to communicate with a child reader is to enter into an imaginary dialogue with sharper and fresher readers than adults, and that the translator should therefore reach out to children of the target culture by attempting to re-experience the dynamic intensity of childhood. She argues that translators of children’s books hold a discussion with the history of childhood, the child of their time and ‘the former and present child within themselves’ (2000: 26). With reference to Bakhtin’s concept of the antiauthoritarian freedom of ‘carnival’, she therefore advocates an approach to translation that entails both a dialogue with and immersion in the anarchic world of the child. Oittinen’s recommendation is a radical one. Not all translators will aspire to the fulfillment of her demands, but an understanding of children’s imaginative, spiritual and emotional concerns, whether through direct contact as a parent or carer, as a children’s author, or through a revival of childhood memory, is certainly an inestimable advantage to a translator writing for a young audience. Communication with the child reader takes many forms, and was not always considered to be the two-way process that Oittinen describes. In her historical investigation into the role of the narrator in English-language children’s fiction, Barbara Wall (1991) identifies a number of modes of address to the child reader, including the distant, omniscient and didactic narrator of many pre-twentieth century texts. Asides to the child reader or comments on characters’ actions set a firm line for social behaviour as part of the enterprise to tame and socialize the young child, much as the Widow Douglas was determined to ‘sivilize’ Huckleberry Finn. Authors working under the sponsorship of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, too, have produced texts where the conversation is distinctly one-sided and ideological messages unmistakable. On the other hand, the subversive role of children’s literature – its function as an apparently innocuous channel for satirical social observation – has led to a conspiratorial voice that seeks to ally the child with


Narrative communication with the child reader

the author’s critical perspective. In fiction of this kind, the narrative voice is persuasive rather than straightforwardly didactic. Wall also offers examples of dual address, where an author either directly or indirectly speaks to adults as well as to children. It is the primary task of the translator to identify the quality of the narrative voice in a children’s text, whether overtly didactic, subversive or characterized by duality. Translators with a theoretical interest in the intricacies of the layers of communication in translations for children will find illuminating examples, analysis and representation in diagrammatic form in O’Sullivan’s work on comparative children’s literature (2000). This chapter will begin by focusing on the translator’s response to variation in narrative voice, beginning with dual address to adult and child. Discussion will go on to focus on the particularities of the narrator’s voice in children’s fiction, as well as the voice of the child narrator. Examples from texts where the translator’s voice is evident in addressing and informing the child reader will lead to suggestions as to where such intervention might be necessary. Next, a discussion of theoretical insights into reader response highlights the role of the third party, the child, in the triangle author–translator–child, with an additional discussion of Oittinen’s application of reader response theory to the process of translating for children. Finally, selected linguistic aspects of narrative communication – syntax; the age-related usage of Japanese characters; the use of gendered nouns and varying cultural practices in the use of tense – raise general translation issues as well as those pertinent to specific languages and language pairs.

Dual address in children’s literature Children’s authors, as Wall demonstrates, often write for a second, adult readership, either covertly in the form of moral instruction or ideological content that seeks the approval of the adult reading over the child’s shoulder, or overtly as in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. In this well-known instance of a text designed to appeal to both adult and child, Milne includes sophisticated witticisms that children could not be expected to understand. Any adult who has read Milne’s books aloud to children will know how tricky it is to explain sudden fits of laughter, for example, at the existential musings of the gloomy donkey Eeyore. Both layers of meaning should be as apparent in the translation as in the source text, a task requiring considerable finesse on the part of the translator. O’Sullivan’s article on the fate of the dual addressee in the first published German translation of Winnie-the-Pooh highlights the omission of this strand of adult humour, and acts as a warning to any translator seeking to simplify the sophisticated ambiguity of a classic children’s text that is intentionally designed to produce divergent readings. O’Sullivan offers the following example of this change of tone in E.L. Schiffer’s first translation, as compared to a subsequent version by Harry Rowohlt (see O’Sullivan, 1993: 116–7; I have added a back translation of the German in square brackets):

Narrative communication with the child reader 17 Owl lived at The Chestnuts, an old-world residence of great charm, which was grander than anybody else’s, or seemed so to Bear, because it had both a knocker and a bell-pull. (Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926: 43) Eule lebte in den Kastanien in einem alten, schönen Palast, der prächtiger war als alles, was der Bär je gesehen hatte, denn vor der Tür hinge ein Klopfer und ein Klingelzug. [Owl lived in the chestnut trees in an old and beautiful palace that was more splendid than anything the Bear had ever seen, because by the door hung both a knocker and a bell-pull.] (Milne, 1926; Pu der Bär, trans E.L. Schiffer, 1928: 65) Eule wohnte an einer Adresse namens ‘Zu den Kastanien’, einem Landsitz von grossem Zauber, wie man ihn aus der Alten Welt kennt, und diese Adresse war grossartiger als alle anderen; zumindest kame es dem Bären so vor, denn sie hatte sowohl einen Türklopfer als auch einen Klingelzug. [Owl lived at an address with the name ‘At the Chestnuts’, a country seat of great charm like those in the Old World, and this address was grander than all the rest; at least so it appeared to the Bear, for it had both a door knocker and a bell-pull.] (Milne, 1926; Pu der Bär, trans Harry Rowohlt, 1987: 54) Schiffer omits both the parody of estate agent hyperbole in ‘old-world residence of great charm’ and the nod to the British habit of naming houses in the cliché ‘The Chestnuts’, both likely to be appreciated by the adult reader. Fortunately, in the later translation, Rowohlt reinstates the italicized emphasis and, as O’Sullivan puts it, gives the German adult reader more to smile about. Unlike Schiffer, Rowohlt attends to both child and adult readers.

Narrative voice Finding the voice of a children’s text in order to replicate it in translation requires particularly careful reading; even the traditional omniscient adult narrative voice assumes a number of guises and may be used ironically. Many authors adopt the voice of the oral storyteller, as is the case in Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, where in the opening lines of the tale Collodi predicts his readers’ response in an imaginary dialogue: C’era una volta . . . –Un re! – diranno subito I miei piccolo lettori. No, ragazzi, avete sbagliato. C’era una volta un pezzo di legno. (Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio, 2002: 5)


Narrative communication with the child reader Once upon a time there was . . . ‘A king!’ my little readers will say straight away. No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood. (Collodi, 2002; The Adventures of Pinocchio, trans Lawson Lucas, 1996: 1)

In such instances the translator has to imagine telling the story to an audience of children, using the intimacy of spoken language and standard storyteller’s phrases in the target language. A more distant, omniscient and didactic narrative stance may be the subject of parody in modern children’s fiction. C.S. Lewis, for example, warns readers four times within the first three chapters of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe of the dangers of the wardrobe on which his plot depends, inserting a bracketed and tongue-in-cheek comment on Lucy ‘(She had, of course, left the door open, for she knew that it is a very silly thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe)’ (Lewis, 1950: 14) in a reference to the avuncular narrator of the nineteenth century. Seeking the appropriate voice to replicate, for example, the double-layered address of A.A. Milne, the storyteller’s voice adopted by Collodi or the knowing aside of Lewis is an essential challenge for the translator. This may sometimes involve reading other fiction by the author of the source text or research into his or her biography to gain a stronger sense of that unique voice and the face behind the page. German author Erich Kästner speaks to young readers in a conspiratorial tone that debunks the adult world both in prefaces to the child reader and as his narratives unfold. Knowing that he wrote bitingly satirical poetry during the Weimar Republic, lived through the Third Reich under a publication ban and placed all his faith in children assists readers and translators to understand the satirical edge to his narratives. Kästner’s famous – if sometimes longwinded – prefaces to children are often missing from translations, as they are from the early Swedish and English versions of his international hit Emil und die Detektive (1929). This represents a considerable loss, since a preface of this kind establishes the tone of the rest of the narrative. It is worth noting that a translator’s discussions with editors should therefore include the role of an author’s preface or afterword. An example of the kind of authorial irony that characterizes Kästner’s prefaces is embedded in the text of his Das doppelte Lottchen (literally ‘double Lotte’), the basis of the multiple Hollywood ‘parent trap’ films. The novel was at the time of its first publication in 1949 a groundbreaking, lighthearted tale of the effects on children of parental divorce. Kästner pre-empts criticism of his treatment of this controversial subject by advising his young readers to tell any disapproving adult the following story: Als Shirley Temple ein kleines Mädchen von sieben, acht Jahren war, war sie doch schon ein auf der ganzen Erde berühmter Filmstar, und die Firmen verdienten viele Millionen Dollar mit ihr. Wenn Shirley aber mit ihrer Mutter in ein Kino gehen wollte, um sich einen Shirley-Temple-Film

Narrative communication with the child reader 19 anzuschauen, liess man sie nicht hinein. Sie war noch zu jung. Es war verboten. Sie durfte nur Filme drehen. Das war erlaubt. (Kästner, Das doppelte Lottchen, 1949: 64–5) When Shirley Temple was no more than seven or eight she was already a film star, famous all over the world. And she earned many millions of dollars for the film companies. But when Shirley wished to go with her mother to a cinema and take a look at a Shirley Temple film, she was not admitted. She was still too young. It was forbidden. She could only make films. That was not forbidden. (Kästner, 1949; Lottie and Lisa, trans Cyrus Brooks, 1950: 52–3) Kästner trusts his young reader’s ability to appreciate an implicit comment on the paradoxical attitude of adults and, fortunately, the English translator follows suit; indeed, Brooks emphasizes the point of the story through the judicious use of italics. Children appreciate such comments on adult inconsistencies, and must learn to appreciate ironic undertones if they are to become sophisticated readers. Kästner is not the only children’s author to point out adult folly, since Swedish author Astrid Lindgren does exactly that throughout her classic story Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking). When Lindgren introduces the children of Pippi’s neighbours, who act as foils to the outrageous Pippi, she emphasizes their good behaviour in a dry little comment: Aldrig bet Tommy pånaglarna, nästan alltid gjorde han det hans mamma bad honom. Annika bråkade inte när hon inte fick sin vilja fram. [Literal translation by Gunnar Florin: Never did Tommy bite his nails; he nearly always did what his mother asked him. Annika didn’t fuss when she didn’t get her way] (Lindgren, Pippi Långstrump, 1945: 9) The translator of the published English version again resorts to italics to assist those reading the story aloud: Tommy never bit his nails, and always did what his mother asked. Annika never fussed when she didn’t get her own way. (Lindgren, 1945; Pippi Longstocking, trans Edna Hurup, 1954: 12–14) Thus the translator draws attention to the humour inherent in Lindgren’s description of behaviour that is too good to be true: the conduct of other real or fictional children is always of burning interest to young readers. Irony depends on a narrative voice that conspires with the child reader to unmask ridiculous aspects of adult expectations and behaviour. There are,


Narrative communication with the child reader

however, linguistic constraints in some languages that may affect the manner in which the narrating subject conveys this subversive tone. Noriko Shimoda Netley (1992) has analyzed narrative stance in Roald Dahl’s Matilda (1988) in order to make a comparison with the Japanese translation by Mineo Miyashita. Netley demonstrates how Dahl shifts perspective from the use of ‘we’ on the first page of the novel, thus aligning the narrator with the child’s point of view, to ‘I’, a cynical adult narrator on the second and subsequent appearances of the narrating subject. A third narrating subject also appears, signalled by the neutral pronoun ‘one’ that could include the child reader, but is certainly more distant than the inclusive ‘we’. Netley found that in the Japanese version, the narrating subjects ‘we’ and ‘one’ are eliminated because the subject (especially first and second person) is often omitted in Japanese sentences, and the Japanese first person plural equivalent of ‘we’ (私達 ‘watashitachi’) is lengthy and awkward. Moreover, the Japanese equivalent of ‘one’ would sound odd. The translator uses only the first person pronoun. Dahl’s subtle alterations of narrative perspective are therefore lost. In cases where linguistic differences hinder the replication of an author’s narrative stance, a translator may have to compensate in other ways to maintain the shift from distant to cynical narrative voice.

Child narrators When the narrator of a children’s book is a child, the translator has the task of recreating the illusion that a child is speaking directly to his or her peers. This is a necessary skill because of the marked increase in the adoption of the child’s voice in first person and diary narratives in contemporary children’s literature. During his presentation speech for the British Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in translation in January 2013, professional translator Daniel Hahn touched on this question while identifying a fundamental difference between translating for children and adults: If the translation process is a two-part thing – reading, writing (inhaling, exhaling) – then working for children seems to me to make the first easier, the second harder. The reading is easier – entering the original text and ascertaining what it’s doing. What it means, what it wants, where it’s going. So, the reading: ‘Je m’appelle Arthur. J’ai sept ans et, l’autre jour, derrière la maison de mes grands-parents, j’ai trouvé un œuf. Un œuf tout blanc . . .’ But even with my schoolboy French, that’s easily read. But then there’s the writing. I’ve grappled with some difficult writers in my time – awkward, tricksy, famously tangled-up European novelists with Nobel prizes, say – but I’m not sure I’ve ever been back and forth quite so many times trying to get the words right as I have for that deceptively uncomplicated little opening introducing young Arthur.

Narrative communication with the child reader 21 I can read the original – easy as falling off a, um, you know, cliché. But writing my own seven-year-old voice . . . It’s a skill our best children’s writers have. The Marsh Award recognises that some of the people with that extraordinary and peculiar writerly skill are translators. (Hahn, 2013) Hahn refers here to his own translation of French-Canadian children’s author Johanne Mercier’s Arthur et le mystère de l’œuf, published as Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg in 2013. His version of these opening lines reads: I’m Arthur and I’m seven, and the other day, round the back of my grandparents’ house, I found an egg. A completely white egg [. . .] (Mercier, 2007; Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg, trans Hahn, 2013: 1) A child of seven would indeed proudly announce his name, age and what he had to tell all in one breath, as Hahn’s punctuation (different from the French) indicates. But would he use the word ‘completely’? Possibly, if he had just discovered it and was relishing frequent repetition of the new word as small children do, otherwise ‘an egg that was all white’ or ‘white all over’ would be acceptable alternatives. An example of a child narrator in a more extended piece of fiction is found in Astrid Lindgren’s Bröderna Lejonhjärta (1973). The story, told by the younger of the two brothers of the title, is punctuated by gasps and exclamations that convey young Karl’s excitement or anxiety as events unfold. At a point when Karl remembers his brother’s death, the translator has to replicate the rhythms and pace of a highly expressive narrative: Jag mindes plötsligt hur det var, den där tiden när Jonatan låg i min kökssoffa och inte visste säkert om jag skulle få se honom mer, å, det var som att titta ner I ett svart hål att tänka på det! (Lindgren, Bröderna Lejonhjärta, 1973: 55) I suddenly remembered how it was, that time when Jonatan was dead and away from me and I lay in my kitchen settee and didn’t know for sure if I’d ever see him again, oh, it was like looking down a black hole thinking about it! (Literal translation by Gunnar Florin) I remembered suddenly how things had been that time when Jonathan was dead and away from me, and I was lying in my sofa-bed, not knowing whether I’d ever see him again; oh, it was like looking down into a black hole, just thinking about it. (Lindgren, 1973; The Brothers Lionheart, trans Joan Tate, 1975: 47)


Narrative communication with the child reader

Lindgren’s ‘å’ (pronounced as ‘o’ in the British word ‘more’) is a characteristic voicing of overwhelming emotion for which words are inadequate, and which overcomes Karl as he lies inside his typical (and womb-like) Swedish kitchen settee with its removable lid and sleeping-box. Tate retains the expression of feeling, but drops the additional impact of Lindgren’s exclamation mark and, through the addition of punctuation in the form of commas and a semi colon, reduces the breathless effect of Karl’s outburst. A translator attempting to take on the voice of a young child narrator needs to bear in mind ways in which an author harmonizes syntactic and emotional rhythms in a passage such as this one. How, then, is it possible to achieve an apparently effortless transition to the words and sensibility of a child, that ‘peculiar writerly skill’ that Hahn identifies? Spending time with children and talking to them certainly helps but – as Hahn points out – the skill is a literary one: in other words child narrators have stylized voices that convince without actually being authentic. A good test of the difference is to read a children’s novel in diary form and an actual child’s diary (possibly your own from childhood days!) to see how – in all likelihood – the latter is far too awkward or dull to warrant an audience beyond its author and his or her family. The best strategy by far is to read as many children’s novels featuring child narrators as possible in the language into which you intend to translate. Note down specific phrases, vocabulary and narrative techniques that you might adapt or re-use in a translation and, if you have a commission to translate a first person narrative, try to find a published tale with a narrator of roughly the same age. The voice will differ from that of the narrator in the text you are to translate, of course, but that contrast may well help you to pinpoint the idiosyncrasies and idiolect (an individual’s own distinctive language use) of the voice in the source text. And, of course, narrative voice naturally varies according to age and social milieu, aspects that will be discussed in the sections on dialect, social register and dialogue in Chapter 4. To sum up, the following are points to bear in mind when seeking to translate narrative voice in children’s fiction: • •

• •

Maintain dual address to the adult and child when this is integral to the style and tone of the narrative. Read other works by the author of the text to be translated or undertake biographical research to assist in an understanding of his or her political or ideological perspective in the text in question. Discuss with editors the translation of an author’s preface or afterword when this is in your opinion an essential element in the work as a whole and likely to be read by children. The use of italics in a translation is often an effective strategy for conveying an ironic tone present in the source text. When translating a child narrator’s voice, spend time with children of the same age if possible, but also read children’s fiction narrated by a child

Narrative communication with the child reader 23 in the language into which you are translating to familiarize yourself with the stylized, fictional child’s voice; make a note of phrases, vocabulary, expressive use of punctuation (cf. the example from Lindgren’s Bröderna Lejonhjärta above) and narrative techniques.

The translator’s voice: interventions Omissions such as that of the adult addressee in Winnie-the-Pooh in Emer O’Sullivan’s example indicate a manipulation or rewriting of the source text, and therefore the executive function of the translator that is invisible to all who do not know the source text. Cultural difference between the source and target texts may also call for the visible intervention of the translator to add material or to address the young reader directly. Since the translator is writing for an implied child reader living in different cultural and social circumstances from those of the implied reader of the source text, he or she may omit, rewrite or insert passages of text in order to aid the child’s understanding or to follow trends and adhere to norms in children’s publishing in the target culture. A translator may even add text to explain a phenomenon that is entirely unfamiliar to young readers in the target culture, and which is important to a full understanding of the story in question, as in the following example. Cathy Hirano is the translator of Kazumi Yumoto’s The Friends, a story about three twelve-year-old boys who stalk an old man in order to find out what really happens when someone dies. In an article on her experience of translating young adult fiction from Japanese to English, Hirano (2006) describes the difficulty of translating the concept of juku (学習塾), a typical Japanese after-school learning centre. A direct translation such as ‘cram school’ alone would not convey to American readers the manner in which juku affects the rhythm of the boys’ daily lives, and therefore the time available to follow the old man. Hirano consulted the author for further details of this aspect of Japanese education, finally agreeing with her American editor that the best solution was to insert explanatory passages into the translation. Hirano reproduces the longest of these: Every day, Monday to Friday, we have cram school after regular school. We’re there from six until eight and sometimes even until nine o’clock at night, trying to cram in everything we’ll need to know to pass the entrance exams for junior high school next year. By the time we get out, we’re exhausted, not to mention starving. (Hirano, 2006: 228) Here the translator’s voice blends with that of the young narrator as unobtrusively as possible in a few sentences that give the essential information on the timing and purpose of juku. A translator’s footnote is another possible solution in such a situation, but footnotes in a text for young readers are both alienating and likely to be ignored.


Narrative communication with the child reader

Translators reveal themselves even more directly in prefaces or afterwords. Historically, translators’ prefaces were often addressed to the parent or teacher (Lathey, 2006b), so that Emma Stelter Hopkins, translator of Johann Spyri’s Heimatlos (Homeless) from German into English in 1912, could express in tight-lipped fashion the hope that Spyri’s stories would teach children to appreciate home comforts: ‘to which they grow so accustomed as often to take them for granted, with little evidence of gratitude’ (Spyri, 1912: iii). Today publishers and editors may encourage translators – or a translator may insist upon the opportunity – to address children directly for a variety of purposes. This is, however, a risky strategy, since children are not keen readers of prefaces. One solution is to spin an enticing story from the translation’s origins, as British author Joan Aiken did in her edition of the Comtesse de Ségur’s L’Auberge de L’Ange – Gardien (published as The Angel Inn in 1976). This is how she begins: When I was five or six my mother decided that it was time I learned French, so she bought a book of French fairy-tales and read them aloud, translating as she went. They were wonderful stories – about a small princess whose carriage was pulled by ostriches, a boy turned into a bear, a little girl lost in a forest of lilacs, wicked queens, good fairies disguised as white cats, marvellous feasts and dazzling palaces. The author of the book was a lady called the Comtesse de Ségur. We enjoyed the stories so much that we bought all the other books of hers that we could find, and soon had half a dozen or so. One of my favourites was L’Auberge de l’Ange-Gardien, the Inn of the Guardian Angel . . . Unfortunately I lost the copy I had as a child, but I found another years later, read it again with just as much pleasure, and thought what fun it would be to translate. And so it was. (Aiken, 1976: 7) Where appropriate, storytelling of this kind is likely to encourage a younger child to read a preface; it certainly expresses a positive attitude to the stories and indeed towards the process of translation. Peritextual material may also provide historical or cultural context to a narrative. Patricia Crampton’s translation from German of Gudrun Pausewang’s Reise im August (published as The Last Journey in 1996) has an afterword that is not present in the German source text. As the journey of the title is that of a young Jewish girl, Alice, travelling with her grandfather in a cattle truck to Auschwitz, Crampton adds half a page of basic information on the concentration camps which begins thus: The Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in the 1930s. The regime dealt brutally with all forms of opposition. In 1938 Hitler declared that ‘one of these days the Jews will disappear from Europe’ and in Germany and Occupied Europe his regime began systematically to round up Jewish people and transport them to

Narrative communication with the child reader 25 concentration camps. In the camps, special equipment for mass murder had been set up, including gas chambers disguised as showers. (Pausewang, 1995; The Final Journey, trans P. Crampton, 1996: 153) Crampton, who began her career as a translator at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals, goes on to describe the selection process separating those fit for work from those destined for the gas chambers which Alice has just undergone, and to name other victims of the Holocaust including ‘gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities and dissidents of all kinds’ (1996: 153). When working with texts of this kind set in the recent past, discussion with editors may be the impetus for the decision to add such information. Its exact placement as a foreword or afterword requires some thought. Crampton or her editor clearly considered that the moment after the shock of Alice’s fate (in the final scene she enters the infamous shower room, still believing that she will encounter ‘the water of life’) was the time to present young readers with the facts of what actually took place. Young readers are likely to feel compelled to read Crampton’s bald account of the holocaust following that final shocking scene.

Censorship and ideological messages Crampton’s insertion of historical information or Hirano’s explanation of juku are indicative of the distinction between the implied child readers inscribed in the source and target texts. Both translators have inserted material intended for the child reader in the target culture to explain cultural practices or convey facts already familiar to the young reader of the source text. But what are the implications for the mediating translator of differing expectations of what is appropriate for the child reader, or questions concerning the ideological content of children’s literature? First, there is the issue of censorship. Historically, censorship was widely practiced in the course of translation for children, as demonstrated in international versions of Grimms’ tales (Joosen and Lathey, 2014). One scene commonly mitigated or omitted from translations of Aschenputtel (the Grimms’ Cinderella) for a child audience is the mutilation of the feet of Aschenputtel’s sisters. In the Grimms’ version, the first sister slices off her toe and the second her heel to make the golden slipper fit, so that the prince only realizes he has the wrong woman when blood overflows from the shoe of one and creeps up the stocking of the other. Translators or their editors frequently alter or omit this drastic act, just as the pecking out of the sisters’ eyes by doves at the end of the tale is missing from many versions. Cruelty and gore are subject to censorship, as indeed are sexual and scurrilous references. Remaining with the Grimms, in English translations the ‘Pissputt’ (pisspot) in which the fisherman and his wife live at the beginning of the Grimms’ tale The Fisherman and his Wife is often changed to ‘pigsty’


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or ‘hovel’. Indeed, the tradition of toning down the more gruesome and scatological aspects of Grimms’ tales continues into the twentieth century in the retellings by Wanda Gág discussed in Chapter 6. The desire to shield children from aspects of life openly discussed in juvenile literature in one country but deemed to be profane or harmful by another is an issue to which translators and their editors have to be sensitive, but which should not lead to choices contrary to a realistic assessment of child behaviour and understanding. In a well-known example, Stolt (2006: 72) cites an American publisher’s attempt to censor one of Astrid Lindgren’s stories. Young Lotta, desperate as all young children are to grow up, stands steadfastly on a dung heap, knowing that manure makes plants grow and hoping that it will accelerate the process for her. When American editors wanted to replace the dung heap with a pile of withered leaves, Lindgren sent them a caustic observation. If American children really didn’t understand that there were more effective means to hasten growth than withered leaves, she wrote, then she didn’t think much of American agriculture. The editors were duly shamed into reinstating the natural fertilizer. More importantly, from the child reader’s point of view, much of the delight and amusement at a toddler standing on a stinking pile of dung hoping to grow – children hearing or reading this story would be slightly older and would therefore thoroughly enjoy a sense of superior knowledge – is lost if leaves are substituted for manure. Nonetheless, translators and editors respond to a cultural climate concerning children’s reading material that is powerful, pervasive and persistent. Author and publisher Aidan Chambers (2001: 113–37) relates an incident where a second-year undergraduate student, after browsing through a translation from the Swedish of Maud Reuterswärd’s Noah is my Name (1991), ventured a negative opinion of the book because of an illustration where seven-year-old Noah sits on the toilet talking to his mother while she is naked in the bath. When asked why this disturbed him, the student replied ‘We don’t do things like that!’ Fortunately Chambers, publisher of the translation, and the translator, Joan Tate, had decided not to take account of such objections. Even more recently, the 2010 English translation by Joanne Moriarty of the first volume of the hugely popular series of books by Elvira Lindo about Manolito Gafotas, a young boy living in a working-class area of Madrid, removes references to drug addicts and AIDS, while a syringe found lying on the ground in the Spanish version becomes a knife in English. As these examples demonstrate, differing cultural sensitivities are particularly acute in relation to children’s reading matter, where there is regular media outrage at authors who seek to break the boundaries of what is deemed to be acceptable in children’s fiction within a given culture or country. Questions of religious and political allegiance, too, have long been significant in children’s literature and ideological control in the form of censorship is at its most transparent when monolithic, totalitarian regimes seek to indoctrinate the young and subject children’s literature, including translations, to varying degrees of manipulation. Fernández López (2006) has examined censorship

Narrative communication with the child reader 27 in translations during the Franco dictatorship in Spain 1936–75, when references to sex, politics and religion were removed from children’s books. Conservative publishing policies continued into the post-Franco era from 1975 and – in an intriguing example of intercultural ideological difference – Fernández López indicates that, whereas books by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were purified of purported racist and xenophobic elements in Britain in the 1980s, Spanish translations of the 1990s reverted to first, ‘unpurified’ editions of the English texts. In the early decades of the post-Franco era, attention in Spain was still focused on the legacy of political censorship rather than on racism, a preoccupation of British publishers at the time. Translators have acted as mediators, either in accordance with contemporary expectations of childhood in the target culture, or by making their own decisions in relation to the transmission, alteration or omission of ideological messages from elsewhere. For anyone new to translating for children, it is important to be aware of potential pressures from publishers, government agencies or religious bodies concerned with children’s welfare or political education, and to make informed and sometimes politically astute decisions on translation strategies. Discussion of the translator’s voice and presence in translated texts will continue in subsequent chapters, but the following is a summary of preliminary points: • • •

Integrate contextual explanation (explicitation) into a text as seamlessly as possible (cf. the Hirano example above). An introduction to fiction from another country can be written as a story to capture children’s interest (see Joan Aiken example). It is sometimes necessary for the translator to add information on the context of a historical novel to aid children’s understanding of the narrative. Any suggestion to censor a children’s book requires editorial discussion and debate.

Narrative communication and reader response theory Narrative communication, as Riitta Oittinen constantly reminds us, is a form of dialogue. In most research to date on translation for children, the child reader has largely been left out of the picture, except as an implied reader inscribed within the text as in the opening of Collodi’s Pinocchio cited above, or posited as an ideal or shadowy child reader by academics. Reader response theory, to be introduced briefly here, may assist translators to understand potential responses of young readers and the strategies authors use when addressing them; Chapter 7 takes this discussion further in its focus on evidence of children’s reactions to translations, children as translators and practical strategies translators have developed for engaging with their child audience. Chesterman’s (1998) plea for the application of the reader response theories of Wolfgang Iser (1974; 1978) and Louise Rosenblatt (1978) to the reception


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of translations is of great relevance in exploring children’s responses, since both argue that meaning does not reside solely in a text and its author’s intentions, but in a dialogue between reader and text. Cristina Sousa (2002) has applied reader response theories in an evaluation of the translator’s assessment of receptivity when translating children’s literature, and Riitta Oittinen (2000) has adopted Rosenblatt’s concepts of the ‘efferent’ and ‘aesthetic’ to explain her own practical approach to the translation task. According to Rosenblatt, who regarded reading as a ‘transactional’ exchange between a text and the reader’s expectations and context, there are two kinds of reading: the ‘aesthetic’ reading that generates associations, feelings, attitudes and aesthetic pleasure; and the ‘efferent’ reading, where the reader focuses primarily on a particular objective, whether information to be acquired, actions to be carried out or a problem to be solved. A translator’s first reading, Oittinen argues, falls into the first category, and the translation process itself into the second. Although translators probably find it impossible to avoid attending at least minimally to potential translation issues during a first reading, Patricia Crampton and Anthea Bell – both highly experienced and respected translators of children’s literature into English and recipients of the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation in the UK – refer to their own two-stage reading process. Their first reading (often for a reader’s report commissioned by a publisher) gives a sense of the voice and tone of the whole text, and there is a second reading as the act of translation takes place (see interviews in Lathey, 2010). This double reading applies to literature for children or adults, of course, but the first, ‘aesthetic’ reading is a useful way of engaging with a child’s outlook and sensibilities before starting the translation process. Chesterman (1998) cites studies of comprehension and sociological surveys as sources of information on responses to translations. Indeed existing qualitative studies on children’s reading at different ages – for example a set of interviews with children conducted by Fry (1985), a developmental survey such as that of Appleyard (outlined in the Introduction to this book), or indeed a personal account such as that of Francis Spufford in The Child that Books Built (2002) – offer insights into children’s requirements of and responses to the books they read, as well as a starting point for the design of research projects on children’s responses to translations. Quantitative surveys of children’s reading habits such as those by Maynard, Mackay, Smyth and Reynolds (2007) are additional, invaluable sources of information. Comparable studies in countries where translations are read far more widely than in the UK or US are likely to yield useful material. Where digests of such studies are readily available – and children’s reading material is often the stuff of newspaper headlines and articles – translators can keep themselves informed of trends and controversies in children’s reading choices. Nonetheless, children’s responses to translations remain largely a matter of speculation, a knowledge gap that has implications for the translator. Those translating for children for the first time may be tempted to fall back on received

Narrative communication with the child reader 29 wisdom on questions of readability or contextual adaptation, but they would do well to take note of the work of critics and educators with experience of interacting directly with young readers. A reading of Aidan Chambers’ Booktalk (1985), which addresses the role of predictability and indeterminacy in texts in educating children to become intellectually and imaginatively active readers, should assist trainee translators to avoid filling in gaps an author has created deliberately. Over-explanation for the child reader is a pitfall to be avoided, as will be demonstrated later in this book, since a child needs stimulating challenges to become an experienced and discerning reader. Indeed, it would be advisable to incorporate sessions on understanding the child reader into the professional training of translators who wish to specialize in children’s texts. Trainee translators and those new to translating for children should therefore take every opportunity to try out their drafts on child readers, whether they are older silent readers or younger children to whom the text can be read aloud. Reading a draft aloud is a good test of any literary translation, but particularly of literature for the younger child that will be read to children. Interviews with three translators of children’s books (Lathey, 2010) revealed that two of the three use aural techniques, and that even the third, Anthea Bell, who always types her translations, acknowledges a reading aloud ‘in my head’ as she searches for the new voice for each book (see Chapter 5 for further discussion of this strategy). These are not techniques specific to children’s literature. Indeed, Bell insists that, whether translating for adults or children, it is a matter of finding the right voice for each book, but there can be little doubt that when reading aloud a draft translation of a children’s book each translator is engaging with an imagined child reader. To sum up: •

Oittinen’s application of Rosenblatt’s ‘aesthetic’ and ‘efferent’ reading echoes the development of a two-stage reading process adopted by a number of translators. Practical applications of reader response theory as outlined in Chambers’ Booktalk are a useful reminder that a translator should replicate gaps and indeterminacies in a children’s text where these have been created deliberately. Reading accounts or digests of research on children’s reading tastes and histories will assist translators by throwing some light on children’s responses to fiction. A translator of children’s fiction needs to be up to date with children’s reading tastes by reading relevant journals, taking note of children’s book prizes, publishers’ catalogues and websites, book blogs by young people, etc. Whenever possible, read draft translations aloud to children or ask children to read drafts of your work.


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Stylistic and linguistic issues In translating for children between languages with different syntactic structures, scripts and modes of communication with young readers, issues arise that may have universal relevance or be specific to one language as already seen in Netley’s analysis of the Japanese translation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Since young children are inexperienced readers, authors in any language adapt their written style, vocabulary and syntax to the relevant age group. Three examples – a stylistic point that has broad relevance, the question of gendered animal pronouns and a linguistic feature unique to Japanese – will exemplify the specific linguistic demands of addressing the child reader. Writing for children requires the ability to express complex ideas with clarity and simplicity. Younger readers may be confused by multiple embedded clauses, non-finite constructions or the use of the passive voice, although none of these stylistic features should be ruled out completely, since there may be instances that warrant their use. Finnish scholar Tiina Puurtinen (1995) has investigated the stylistic acceptability to child readers, and to adults reading the texts aloud, of two translations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Finnish. Results generally confirmed an initial hypothesis that the translation with a more fluent, dynamic style would prove to be more acceptable to child readers and listeners than a version with more complex syntactic constructions. One example Puurtinen cites is the translation of a phrase using the past participle in English: [. . .] but surely there is no use for a Scarecrow stuck on a pole in the middle of the river. (Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900) The first translation, by Marja Helanen-Ahtola, reads: [. . .] mutta keskelle jokea seipään päähän joutuneella Variksenpelättimellä eitodellakaan ole mitään merkitystä. [but in the middle of the river on a pole stuck scarecrow is really of no significance] The second, by Kersti Juva: [. . .] mutta sellaisesta variksenpelätistä, joka roikkuu kepin nenässä keskellä jokea, ei ole mitään hyötyä. [but such a scarecrow, which hangs on a stick in the middle of a river, is of no use] (Puurtinen, 2006: 58; back translations by Puurtinen) Puurtinen comments that Helanen-Ahtola uses the Finnish premodified participial attribute, thus leading to ‘a heavy left-branching structure, unfit for

Narrative communication with the child reader 31 children’s literature’, whereas Juva uses a more easily identified relative clause. By examining a corpus of Finnish children’s literature, Puurtinen found that overall Juva’s translation with its natural, more fluent style was a closer match to the prevailing conventions and expectations of style in Finnish children’s fiction than Helanen-Ahtola’s with its use of more complex constructions. She did, however, discover in a small-scale test of readability a degree of differentiation according to age group and reader expectation, a result that highlights the need for further empirical research into children’s responses to differences in written style. Puurtinen’s findings are informative, but should not be misinterpreted. Translators should at all costs avoid the danger of simplifying syntax to the point of monotony in the manner of basal reading schemes. Puurtinen’s research shows, rather, that variation in phrasing and rhythm, indications of emphasis and a choice between verbal or nominal constructions are all important factors for both reading aloud and readability. It may indeed be the case that the occasional use of just such a left-branching structure as the one in Puurtinen’s example may be appropriate, for example in replicating stylistic experimentation in source texts for young adult readers. A second linguistic point is the use of gendered nouns, particularly in the many children’s books that feature animals. From animal fables (Aesop and La Fontaine) to Puss in Boots, the menacing fox and cat in Pinocchio, Paddington Bear or the many tales and rhymes for younger children with an entire cast of farmyard, domestic or wild animal characters, children’s fiction hums with the sounds of beasts (animal cries are discussed in Chapter 5). Translating between language pairs with and without gendered nouns is tricky when animals are given human characteristics and require, as Anthea Bell – translator into English from German and French – puts it, ‘a pronoun more personal than just “it”’ (Bell, 1986). Bell gives an account of her translation of a collection of folk and fairy tales featuring cats from German into English. Sometimes the biological sex of the cat was evident, for example when the noun used was ‘der Kater’ (tomcat); when humans clearly treated the cat as male or female; when a cat had kittens, or when she was enchanted and ultimately changed back into a beautiful woman. In a third of the stories, however, there was no such indication and ‘it was up to the translator to make a choice’ (1986: 21). In one instance a dog’s behaviour is contrasted with that of a cat, so Bell and her editor agreed to make the dog masculine and the cat feminine in line with conventions of the ‘outgoing, straightforward’ dog and the ‘sly, unpredictable’ cat (1986: 21). Yet Bell points to the sexist implications of this decision, and argues that the choice of pronoun makes a much more definite statement in the target than in the source language. Choices should therefore be made with great care, taking into account cultural contexts, social conventions concerning gender in the source language and their acceptability in the target language, and indeed the status of particular animals within different cultures as pets, a source of food or vermin. For anyone translating children’s fiction into Japanese, the Japanese language poses an age-related challenge. Translators need to consider the age


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range and level of education of young readers carefully, since this will make a difference to the Japanese characters they use. In addition to Kanji, the adopted Chinese pictograms that form the basis of the Japanese written language, there are two additional sets of characters that are used in books for children. Hiragana is used for indigenous Japanese words and grammatical elements, and Katakana for the phonetic representation of foreign words, names and onomatopoeia. Hiragana is important in children’s literature, particularly in picture books for the younger child, since the ideographs are visually less complex than standard Kanji characters. Children learn Hiragana characters first, and then gradually, between the ages of six and twelve, they learn one thousand and five Kanji characters. To assist children in this immense learning task, Hiragana equivalents may be placed above (for horizontal text) or beside (for vertical text) Kanji characters as a pronunciation aid. Children who do not recognize certain Kanji characters will then be able to understand the Hiragana version. Yuko Matsuoka’s translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling, 1997; ハリーポッターと賢者の石, trans by Matsuoka, 1999) has standard Kanji characters in vertical lines, but it also has a number of Hiragana characters in a smaller font to the right of some of the vertical lines. Moreover, foreign words such as Harry’s name are written in Katakana so that children know how to pronounce them. The use of Katakana to render foreign words or names phonetically is also valuable as a means of representing onomatopoeic sounds in the source text. Other languages also have features that have been adapted across time to the young learner, so that vocalization marks in Hebrew, for instance, assist in pronunciation and the early stages of reading.

Tense A further linguistic point to which translators of children’s fiction and picture books should pay particular attention is the manner in which a writer communicates the unfolding of narrative time to a young audience and, specifically, the varying use of the present or the past tense as a basic narrative mode in children’s literature. In many European languages the present tense is commonly used, particularly in writing for the younger child. Anthea Bell has commented on the ‘delicate matter’ of translating the historic present – that is the present tense as basic narrative mode – of French and German children’s stories into English. In Bell’s opinion the historic present in English is an exciting, but unusual, narrative strategy: I am most reluctant to use the historic present in English in a middle-ofthe-road kind of children’s novel, even if it is the main tense of a French or German original. In English, the historic present seems more a tense for a stylist than is necessarily the case in other languages. I like it myself; I like its immediacy. But I feel it needs to be approached with caution in translating children’s fiction. (Bell, 1986: 17)

Narrative communication with the child reader 33 Tense in narratives is linked to dominant literary conventions within languages, so the shifting of tenses in the process of translation may be one means by which a text is assimilated into the target culture. Bell is not alone in transposing tenses in children’s fiction. Joan Tate changes the basic narrative tense of Maud Reuterswärd’s Flickan och dockskåpet (1979), a Swedish novel with memories aroused by a doll’s house as its central theme, into the past in her English version (Tate, A Way from Home, 1990). She does, however, retain the present tense for interspersed passages where the dolls air their thoughts about successive owners. The imaginative and aesthetic effects of the narrative present in children’s texts certainly deserve close attention – particularly in the picture book. Even Bell cites visual narratives as an exception to her general wariness of the historic present in English. As co-translator with Derek Hockridge of the Asterix series into English, she regards the strip cartoon as a present tense genre because it resembles: ‘a dramatic performance unfolding before the reader’s eyes’ (Bell, 1986: 17). As the adult reads the text of a picture book, pointing to and commenting on illustrations, the child becomes an equally active participant in a three-way exchange (adult, book, child) that has all the qualities of a dramatic performance that takes place in the present. A striking example of the role tense plays in the reading aloud of a picture book to a very young child is to be found in the English translations of Jean de Brunhoff’s picture book Histoire de Babar (1931), a present tense narrative in French that was first published in English in two separate editions. Merle Haas, translator of the American version of 1933, retained the present tense of the original whereas Olive Jones, translator of the British Babar, opted for the past tense in an edition that appeared a year later. Two translators, translating into the English language at about the same time, made entirely different choices. Haas aligned her translation with the French cultural practice of using the present tense in children’s stories, while Jones appears to have shared the unease Anthea Bell expresses at using the present tense as a basic narrative mode. The death of Babar’s mother on the fourth and fifth pages of Histoire de Babar is one of the most memorable and shocking moments in literature for the youngest children. A child listening to a reading of the French original effectively watches as the huntsman shoots thanks to the present tense, ‘tire’ (shoots): Babar se promène tres heureux sur le dos de sa maman, quand un villain chasseur, caché derrière un buisson, tire sur eux. (de Brunhoff, Histoire de Babar le petit elephant, 1931: 10)


Narrative communication with the child reader [Babar is riding happily on his mother’s back when A wicked hunter, hidden behind some bushes Shoots at them.] (de Brunhoff, 1931; The Story of Babar the Little Elephant, trans Merle Haas, 1933: 3) One day Babar was having a lovely ride on his mother’s back, when a cruel hunter, hiding behind a bush, shot at them. (de Brunhoff, 1931; The Story of Babar the Little Elephant, trans Olive Jones, 1934: 6)

Changing the basic narrative tense of Histoire de Babar and the corresponding interplay of tenses, as Jones does, and emphasizing the ‘pastness’ of events by adding ‘One day’ distances the narrative perspective on events. It is impossible to establish the exact impact of this change, but the drama and immediacy of the narrative moment for the child who listens and imagines, together with the quickening of images, are enhanced in the case of the French original by use of the present tense. Since the present tense is frequently used in picture books and is the dominant narrative mode in writing for the younger child in many languages, the narrative function and aesthetic impact of tense is an important aspect of translating for children. Key points from the above examples are: •

• •

Pay close attention to the syntax of the source text and consider the degree of syntactic complexity likely to be tolerated by young readers of the translation. Consider carefully the implications of translating gendered nouns and pronouns in animal stories. Take careful note of tense in narratives for the younger child.

Communication with the child reader through narrative and stylistic choices is dependent on the harmonization of multiple voices and sensibilities, those of the author, translator and the potential child reader. Questions raised here will be pursued throughout this book, with the reference to Hirano’s inserted explanation of juku, for example, as an introduction to the next chapter on meeting that child reader’s needs in relation to unfamiliar cultural contexts.

Discussion points •

In what manner (insertions in the text, prefaces, afterwords, footnotes, etc.), if at all, should a translator intervene to make a translated text accessible to young readers? Does the age of the target audience make a difference,

Narrative communication with the child reader 35

• •

i.e. is a translator more or less likely to mediate a text for younger children than for young adults? Or is it the social and political content of the text rather than the target age group that determines the degree of mediation necessary? Should a translator ever censor a children’s book in the process of translation? What are the conditions that might make it appropriate to write a translator’s preface to a children’s book, and how might a translator address the child reader? Is an ‘aesthetic’ followed by an ‘efferent’ reading a useful strategy in your opinion? Does a busy translator have time for both? Would you read through a novel first before translating it?

Exercises •

Identify and discuss the qualities of the narrative voice present in the following three extracts. Consider conspiracy with the child reader, didacticism, subversion, irony and dual address. How might an adult’s response to the third extract differ from that of a young child? How might you replicate the narrator’s voice in each case when translating the extracts? Diamond learned to drive all the sooner that he had been accustomed to do what he was told, and could obey the smallest hint in a moment. Nothing helps one to get on like that. Some people don’t know how to do what they are told; they have not been used to it, and they neither understand quickly nor are able to turn what they do understand into action quickly. With an obedient mind one learns the right things fast enough. (George Macdonald, At the Back of the North Wind, 1984: 141) But in the streets, where the blades of grass don’t grow, everything is like everything else. This is why many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses and nurses; but I know. And so do you, now. (E. Nesbit, Five Children and It, 2004: 3) It rained and it rained and it rained. Piglet told himself that never in all his life, and he was goodness knows how old – three, was it, or four? – never had he seen so much rain. (A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926: 117)

Read a children’s novel written in your working language and featuring a child narrator. Try to pinpoint the idiosyncrasies and idiolect of the


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narrator’s voice. Note down specific phrases, vocabulary and narrative techniques that might be helpful when working a translation of your own. Translate the following passage into your working language and consider how you might replicate the child’s voice. Tracy Beaker lives in a children’s home and the narrative is her diary: My Book About Me. About Me My name is Tracy Beaker. I am 10 years 2 months old. My birthday is on 8 May. It’s not fair, because that dopey Peter Ingham has his birthday then too, so we just got the one cake between us. And we had to hold the knife to cut the cake together. Which meant we only had half a wish each. Wishing is for babies anyway. They don’t come true. I was born at some hospital somewhere. I looked cute when I was a little baby but I bet I yelled a lot. I am cms tall. I don’t know. I’ve tried measuring with a ruler but it keeps wobbling about and I can’t reach properly. I don’t want to get any of the other children to help me. This is my private book. (Jacqueline Wilson The Story of Tracy Beaker, 1991: 1)

Choose a historical novel for children written in any language to which you have access and set in its country of origin, and consider in what form you, as translator of the novel, might convey information essential to an understanding of the plot and historical context to a young reader of a translation. Conduct a small-scale research project on picture books (ten or more books with a few lines of text per page, not illustrated books) or stories for the younger reader written in any language to which you have access. Compare the use of tense in each book and consider its effects and how you might address the issue of tense. (See also Chapter 3 on translating the visual.)

Further reading Bell, Anthea (1986) ‘Translator’s notebook: Delicate matters’. Signal, 49: 17–26. O’Sullivan, Emer (1993) ‘The fate of the dual addressee in the translation of children’s literature’. New Comparison, 16: 109–19. O’Sullivan, Emer (2000) Kinderliterarische Komparatistik, Heidleberg: Winter; trans. A. Bell as Comparative Children’s Literature, 2005, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. See Chapter 5 on ‘The implied translator and the implied reader in translated children’s literature’. Puurtinen, Tiina (1995) Linguistic Acceptability in Translated Children’s Literature, Joensuu: University of Joensuu. Wall, Barbara (1991) The Narrator’s Voice: The dilemma of children’s fiction, London: Macmillan.


Meeting the unknown Translating names, cultural markers and intertextual references

Editors and translators have often made changes to translated texts, fearing that children may be alienated by ‘difficult’ names, new foods or unfamiliar cultural practices. Just how far a translator should mediate a work of fiction depends on the breadth of reading experience in the target audience: young people who rarely encounter other cultures in their reading material may indeed be wary of the unknown. The student of Aidan Chambers mentioned in Chapter 1 who was affronted by the naked mother and child in a Swedish book also complained that the text had not been ‘culturally translated’ and that ‘the money and suchlike were all Swedish’ (Chambers, 2001: 113). An expectation that a book should be adapted to the social context of the target language arises in this case because translations into English account for only a small fraction of annual publications for children (estimated at around two per cent in the UK, for example). In such situations a pragmatic degree of adaptation may be necessary to ensure that children read translations at all. Anthea Bell draws on her extensive experience as a translator of books for children into English to suggest that there are occasions when it is important to assess ‘the precise degree of foreignness, and how far it is acceptable and can be preserved’ (Bell, 1985a: 7). The British student’s demand for ‘cultural translation’ is unlikely to be shared, on the other hand, by a young person in Finland, where up to eighty per cent of books for the young are translations, or in many other countries where reading translated material is the norm. Cultural mediation is hardly necessary when readers have read translations from an early age, or when young readers are already familiar with a book’s country of origin because of close economic or cultural ties. Translators of British and American young adult fiction into other languages, for example, will be aware that because of the global domination of the English language, young readers will recognize culture-specific items from songs, films and TV series readily available via the internet or television. At the other end of the spectrum, translations from minority languages will often require a degree of mediation to introduce the language, culture and geographical location of the source text. Göte Klingberg (1986) was one of the first scholars to address the issue of cultural mediation in relation to child readers. In Children’s Fiction in the


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Hands of the Translators, Klingberg used the phrase ‘cultural context adaptation’ to describe the transformation of aspects of local culture in order to aid children’s understanding of the translated text. Lawrence Venuti’s (2008) broader concepts of ‘domestication’ and ‘foreignization’ are also often applied to children’s literature. A domesticating translator alters cultural markers to bring the text closer to the target culture, while a foreignizing translator leaves cultural terms and names untranslated and retains references to cultural practices that may be new to the child reader. Venuti’s argument against domestication – that it represents a kind of appropriation or cultural colonialism – is a powerful one but has to be reviewed with care in the context of books for the young where children’s lack of experience may require a greater degree of adaptation than is necessary in adult fiction. Opinion on the cultural adaptation and mediation of children’s texts remains divided. Historically there has been a generally agreed practice that translators and editors localize names, coinage, foodstuffs, intertextual references or even, in rare instances, the settings of children’s stories and novels. Klingberg, however, is prescriptive in rejecting adaptation; he recommends that the source text should enjoy priority and that the cultural context adaptation in children’s books should be kept to a minimum. In recent decades, translators have generally demonstrated a greater faith in children’s ability to accommodate difference than is evident in earlier translated texts. Nonetheless, the adaptation of cultural detail is still evident, for example in changes made to English foodstuffs in translations of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Such domestication ignores both the developmental factor that children have to digest new concepts and information on a daily basis even within their own localities, and the argument that adaptation of a foreign milieu removes an element of challenge and excitement from children’s reading.

Relocation Klingberg designated the most extreme form of adaptation as ‘localization’ (1986: 15), namely the deliberate and wholesale relocation of an entire text. Several historical instances of relocation did come to light during a rare opportunity to compare multiple translations of the work of a single children’s author at a symposium held in 1999 to mark the centenary of the birth of Erich Kästner, German author of the twentieth century classic Emil und die Detektive (1929). Published proceedings cite transpositions of Emil from its essential Berlin setting to the centre of Stockholm in the first Swedish translation (Boëthius, 2002); Pest in the first Hungarian version (Lipóczi, 2002) and Krakow in the Polish edition (Hałub, 2002). Radical localization of this kind compromises the integrity of a novel where the Berlin of the Weimar Republic with its exciting electric trams, overhead railways, cafés and cinemas are as essential to the novel’s impact as the quirky characters of provincial Emil and his streetwise Berlin gang. Although it is unlikely that publishers will insist on wholesale relocation in the twenty-first century, translators should be aware of precedents.

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Mediation: cultural explanation Fortunately, radical relocation, as Klingberg defined it, has all but disappeared as a translation strategy, but the mediation of a cultural setting begins with the ‘packaging’ of a book from cover illustration and design to the composition of a blurb, an introduction and other peritextual material. Editors and publishers have invented a number of strategies for bridging the cultural hiatus between source and target texts. To reassure young readers and their parents, for example, the name of quintessentially English children’s poet Walter de la Mare appears on the dustjacket of the first British edition of Emil and the Detectives (Kästner, 1929; trans Goldsmith, 1931). De la Mare’s status was a guarantee that attention would be paid to the unknown – and foreign – Kästner, and his preface to the novel both assisted the passage of a German author into the English cultural scene and gently assured young readers that nothing happened in the story ‘that might not happen (in pretty much the same way as it does happen in the book) in London or Manchester or Glasgow tomorrow afternoon’ (Kästner, 1929; trans Goldsmith, 1931: 10). Similarly, the cachet of a preface by A.A. Milne (author of Winnie-the-Pooh) to the first British edition of The Story of Babar the Little Elephant (de Brunhoff, 1931; Jones, 1934) reassures young readers and their parents that de Brunhoff’s French creation is worthy of its ‘naturalization papers’ (Milne, cited in de Brunhoff, 1931, trans 1934). When a publisher calls on the services of a wellestablished children’s author in the target culture for an endorsement of a translation, the result is likely to be positive in terms of sales (see Chapter 7 for further discussion of the marketing of translations in the children’s publishing industry). What, then, is the role of the translator in easing the transition between cultures? First, there are moments when an explanatory addition to the text is necessary. As outlined in Chapter 1, Cathy Hirano’s deft insertion of an explanation of juku (学習塾, cram school) is essential to Kazumi Yumoto’s narrative. Cultural explanation within a work of fiction is a subtle art, however, since there is always a risk of delaying narrative momentum, detracting from the narrator’s voice or creating an unwieldy digression. As a contrast to Hirano’s seamless insertion, O’Sullivan’s (2000: 324–5) example of Franz Sester’s addition of a detailed recipe for mock turtle soup to his 1949 translation into German of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland even includes an educational context. In Sester’s text, the German Alice is learning English and the teacher has just introduced ‘mock’ and ‘turtle’ as new vocabulary. The result is a lengthy and tedious passage that is at odds with Carroll’s wit and style.

Specific cultural markers: food Carroll’s mock turtle soup highlights one of the most common and significant challenges in translating fiction and poetry for children, that of translating


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foodstuffs. Wendy Katz’s frequently cited statement that ‘Food may be, in fact, the sex of children’s literature’ (1980: 192) makes it clear that food is an object of desire and has sensual and magical qualities in children’s fiction. It is, after all, Turkish delight that tempts Edmund into the power of the White Witch in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the labels ‘Eat me’ and ‘Drink me’ that lead Alice astray in Wonderland. International trade and the universality of certain dishes such as American hamburgers, Italian pizzas or Japanese sushi ensure that many children today are familiar with a far more varied cuisine than in the past, but there will always be foods that require a search for an equivalent or an alternative that has the same impact on the child’s tastebuds. Take, for example, the sherbet lemon Dumbledore offers Professor McGonagall in the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In this instance, and indeed in many other examples to be cited throughout this book, the Harry Potter series offers an extremely useful basis for comparison since it is a contemporary classic that has been translated into many languages. In view of the essential Britishness of the boarding-school setting and Rowling’s nostalgic glance at the foods and culture of the twentieth century, it also has a range of culture-specific content. A sherbet lemon is a hard-boiled, lemon-flavoured sweet filled with sherbet powder. Sherbet lemons were popular in J.K. Rowling’s childhood, so her intention is to call to mind the lemon taste together with the anticipation and actuality of the fizzing Table 2.1 Language and translator

Sherbet lemon

English back translation

French: Jean-François Ménard, 1998

un esquimau au citron

lemon-flavoured ice-cream (there has probably been a misinterpretation of ‘sherbet’ as ‘sorbet’, a flavoured water ice – a mistake also made in translations into other languages)

Spanish: Alicia Dellepiane, 1999

un caramelo de limón

tangy lemon sweet (lemon sherbet in Spanish might be ‘polvos de Limón’, and in Catalan ‘sidral de llimona’)

Japanese: Yuko Matsuoka, 1999


lemon candy

Chinese (Taiwanese edition): 彭倩文 (Peng Qianwen), 2000


‘lemon’ ‘snow’ ‘treasure’

German: Klaus Fritz, 1998

ein Zitronenbrausebonbon lemon sherbet; literally: ‘lemon fizzing sweet’

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sensation on the tongue as the sweet gradually dissolves. The five renderings of ‘sherbet lemon’ in Table 2.1 above reveal a range of strategies at work. Only the German translator seems to have found an exact match; others replicate the acidic lemon taste but not the sherbet centre (Spanish and Japanese), while in French and Taiwanese editions the sherbet/sorbet confusion determines the unlikely introduction of a frozen confection: Dumbledore is in a street at night and nowhere near a fridge or shop. Sometimes favourite childhood tastes are easily translated because there is a culinary equivalent in the target language, as in the case of the German ‘Zitronenbrausebonbon’ (above), or Pippi Långstrump’s batch of five hundred ‘pepparkakor’ – a thin and spicy Swedish biscuit that every Swedish child would know – which become gingersnaps in both Edna Hurup’s (1954) and Tiina Nunnally’s (2007) English versions. Some confections, however, simply do not exist in the target culture. Foods, and in particular sweet treats or drinks, matter enormously to young children and constitute an important part of the affective content of any children’s book. It is therefore well worth taking the time to research the precise type of sweet, candy or dessert cited in the source text and seeking either an equivalent, or an alternative that is equally evocative for readers of the translation.

Retaining elements of the source language: glossaries Cultural markers do not have to be translated. A translator may decide to retain words or expressions denoting foodstuffs, cultural practices or phrases of greeting in the source language, in line with Venuti’s advocacy of the ‘foreignization’ of the translated text. Borrowing terms from a source language, often highlighted in italics, is a strategy also found in adult fiction and readers will often deduce meaning from the context. Provided that the strategy is not overused, the retention of potent vocabulary either in a context that makes its sense obvious, or for the pleasure of an encounter with the new – or indeed simply as a reminder that the child is reading a narrative originally written in another language – will add to the linguistic and cultural experience of reading a translated book. Children do, after all, enjoy the sound of and sight of words that differ from the familiar letter patterns of their own language. Even Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was well aware of the intriguing visual and aural qualities of unfamiliar vocabulary when she included words such as ‘soporific’ and ‘galoshes’ in her tiny picture books for the youngest children. A glossary may, however, be necessary in some circumstances, particularly in translations of longer works of fiction for older children and young adults where a considerable amount of vocabulary is retained in the source language. In 1996, Dutch author Els de Groen wrote a cleverly plotted account of the meeting in the 1990s of five young people from the four different communities in conflict – Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian Muslim and Romany – at that time in the former Yugoslavia. Tuig illustrates the effective use by de Groen of


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words and phrases in what was then known as ‘Yugoslavian’ to emphasize the cultural and linguistic setting of the action. Translator Patricia Crampton (1997) decided to retain the glossary that Dutch author Els de Groen added to No Roof in Bosnia (1996). Crampton translated the definitions of terms taken from languages spoken in the region from Dutch into English, thus maintaining de Groen’s ‘alienation’ effect designed to remind the young Dutch reader of the Yugoslavian setting of the book, see Table 2.2 below. In the wartime setting of de Groen’s novel, the glossary and pronunciation guide – situated at the end of the novel – fulfill a range of functions. Young readers learn the pejorative names used by the various factions to designate their enemies, thus adding an emotional edge to the narrative. In items of cultural and topographical information, de Groen also offers a vivid reminder of both the novel’s cultural and wartime settings. The occasional addition of a guide to pronunciation may seem superfluous when a young reader is not learning the language in question, but there will be some children – potential future linguists and translators perhaps – who will want to know how to speak these intriguing words out loud. It is also worth noting that at the time of the book’s publication in 1997, the conflict was still in the news and the consciousness of most readers. Today de Groen’s text has already become a historical novel, so that future editions or translations may require a preface or afterword explaining the origins of the conflict. Rachel Ward’s explanatory glossary to Table 2.2 Balija C, c Ć, ć Č, č Chetnik djuveć gusle icon Jedan peva drugi svira kafana khoja kolodans mujaheddin papaks polje Š, š Serbofor stara groblja Stećak, stećci UNPROFOR Ustasha Ž, ž

term of abuse for Muslims pronounced ts pronounced tsh pronounced ch Serbian nationalist rice dish one-stringed instrument portrait of saints in eastern Orthodox church one sings, the other plays (from gypsy song) bar room of an inn pronounced ‘hodja’: Islamic teacher circle dance, in which participants hold hands fundamentalist Muslim guerrillas Serbs besieging Sarajevo field, plain pronounced sh derogatory nickname for UNPROFOR old graveyard Bogomil stones (singular and plural) UN peace-keeping force in former Yugoslavia Croat nationalist pronounced j

(No Roof in Bosnia, 1997: 157)

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her translation of Gudrun Pausewang’s Traitor (Pausewang, 1995; trans by Ward, 2004) is an instance of the use of this strategy for historical contextualization, where the protagonist’s actions in Germany during the Third Reich require detailed annotations to concepts such as ‘Führer’ and ‘Hitlerjugend’. Sarah Ardizzone also makes use of an appendix to the narrative when highlighting nuances of a migrant culture in her translation from French into English of Faïza Guène’s young adult novel Kiffe kiffe demain (2004; Just Like Tomorrow, trans by Ardizzone, 2006). The French of the young narrator of Moroccan heritage, fifteen-year-old Doria, is enlivened by vocabulary and expressions taken from North African Arabic that are essential to the fictional milieu of the Paradise Estate on the outskirts of Paris where she lives. Ardizzone retains and explains many of these items in a glossary that ranges from slippers, ‘babouches’ and foods such as ‘Merguez’ (a spicy North African sausage), to the origins of the term ‘kif-kif ’: Kif, meaning hash or marijuana, derives from the Arabic kaif for wellbeing and good humour. ‘C’est du kif’ meaning ‘it’s the same thing’, is a related phrase with its origin in the term ‘kif-kif’, or ‘more of the same’, brought back to France by soldiers who served in North Africa at the end of the nineteenth century. Faïza Guène’s original title, Kiffe kiffe demain, plays on both the downbeat sense of kif-kif and the enthusiasm behind kiffer, a contemporary ‘street’ verb meaning to feel high or to fancy somebody. Kiffer is hybrid French, the k giving it a deliberately Arabic feel. So Guène’s title means both ‘different day, same shit’ and ‘perhaps I might just like tomorrow’ (Ardizzone, 2006: 181–2) In view of the significance of ‘kif’ within the title of the source text and its link to marijuana, Ardizzone wanted to convey to young readers the ambivalence and edginess of its use on the streets in the Parisian high-rise suburbs. A gloss on specific terms at the end of the novel will certainly be of interest to young adult readers as they digest the impact of Doria’s sharp-eyed assessment of life on the estate. Strategies for translating cultural items include: • • •

Consider leaving cultural markers – coins, foodstuffs, settings – untranslated so that young readers can enjoy and appreciate difference. If necessary, replace culture-specific items with carefully researched local ones that are likely to have a similar impact on the young reader. Where a cultural reference is unlikely to be understood, but is essential to the narrative, create an intratextual gloss by weaving an explanation into the text. In cases where specific terms from the source language are used frequently, or are necessary to provide a social or historical context to the narrative, the addition of a glossary may be helpful to the reader.


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Where necessary (for example in a translation from a minority language or culture likely to be entirely unknown to young readers) introduce the source text in a preface that is likely to appeal to the target audience, preferably by addressing child readers directly. Footnotes are best avoided, but may occasionally be useful where an explanation cannot easily be included in the narrative. On rare occasions it may be necessary to omit a cultural reference that would involve lengthy and tedious explanation.

• •

Translating names Whereas characters’ names are rarely changed in the translation of adult fiction, translators writing for children often adapt them, for example by using equivalents in the target language such as Hans/John/Jean, William/Guillermo/ Guillaume, Alice/Alicia. This is a contentious issue, however, since names are a powerful signal of social and cultural context. If left untranslated, names constantly remind young readers that they are reading a story set in another country, whereas the use of an equivalent name or an alternative in the target language may lead to an incongruous relationship between names and setting. Nonetheless, editors and translators fear that children might struggle with foreign names, thus giving rise to a dilemma that Anthea Bell cites in her ‘Translator’s notebook’: The idea behind all this is to avoid putting young readers off by presenting them with an impenetrable-looking set of foreign names the moment they open a book. It’s the kind of problem that constantly besets a translator of children’s literature. (Bell, 1985a: 7) Publisher Aidan Chambers’ account of the translation of names in Laurie Thompson’s English-language version of Peter Pohl’s (1985) Swedish novel for young people, Johnny, my Friend (1991), indicates similar anxieties, as well as editorial disagreement and compromise: I was anxious that young readers should not be disconcerted by characters’ names when I knew they would have to face other textual unfamiliarities of a fairly complex order. So my opinion, though reluctant, was that we should anglicize any names that were totally unfamiliar but retain any that were readable and recognizable [. . .] (Chambers, 2001: 129) According to Chambers, his Swedish language advisor Katarina Kuick was against this domesticating strategy, arguing that it was time Englishspeaking children got used to foreign names. In support of Kuick’s argument, generations of English-speaking children have accommodated the names of

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Hansel (with or without umlaut) and Gretel or Pinocchio, as well as invented names in fantasy fiction. When highly motivated by a compelling narrative, even the youngest children will remember the visual appearance or sound patterns of unknown names. During the craze in the 1980s for spin-off books from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series, for example, many fiveand six-year-olds in British schools could read (and sometimes write) the names of ‘Turtles’ Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. Chambers’ final decision, however, was to choose ‘Johnny’ as the name for the androgynous ‘Janne’ (the name can denote a male or female in Swedish) in Johnny, my Friend. Given the ambiguity in Swedish as to the sex of the protagonist throughout the novel, the use of a definitively male name in the English version was not altogether successful. When debating the translation of names, then, the age-range of readers, their likely familiarity with translations and the author’s intentions in naming characters all have to be taken into account: there are no universal solutions. Children’s authors put a great deal of thought into the creation of names, whether these are extant, proper names of protagonists and locations, or magical, invented ones. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit, even went so far as to write a guide for translators to the names of his characters in The Lord of the Rings, including philological notes.1 Names of fictional children or adults may carry semantic content, aural associations, or express traits associated with particular characters. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Långstrump immediately evokes the image of a tall and gangly physique. Fortunately, ‘Pippi’ is usually retained in international editions of the book and her surname is translated literally, for example as ‘Longstocking’ (English) or ‘Langstrumpf ’ (German). Roald Dahl, too, creates meaningful and amusing names in his quest to convey the grotesque absurdity of adult behaviour. In Matilda Dahl uses this technique to invoke a fearsome headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, a name chosen to contrast with the sweet and self-effacing teacher, Miss Honey. ‘Trunchbull’, with its echoes of a police ‘truncheon’ or cudgel and the school ‘bully’ or a fearsome ‘bull’, highlights the necessity to convey the message in a name. B.J. Epstein’s personal communication with the Swedish translator of Matilda, Meta Ottosson, reveals how childhood memory plays a part in conveying the negative freight of ‘Trunchbull’: How did it come about that I translated Miss Trunchbull with Domderassonskan? I think it was this way: I had an impression of how she was after I read the book for the first time. When I was a child, there was a film called ‘Anderssonskans Kalle’. Kalle was a naughty boy and Anderssonskan was a real matron, a bitch who was both angry and grim [. . .] (Epstein, 2009: 202) This strategy was not applied in the Japanese version, however; Noriko Netley laments the loss of meaning resulting from the use of Katakana (used for foreign names and onomatopoeia, see explanation in Chapter 1) to render Trunchbull phonetically as ‘Za Toranchibulu’ (Netley, 1992: 199).


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Occasionally luck and verbal finesse combine to present a perfect solution. The French translator of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone achieved just such a coup with his ‘Choixpeau’ for the Sorting Hat used to select pupils to belong to a particular ‘house’ at Hogwarts (‘choix’ as a translation of choice designates the selection process indicated by ‘Sorting’ and the whole word is aurally analogous to ‘chapeau’, ‘hat’). Similarly, Anthea Bell has often spoken of the proud moment when she rendered Obelix’s dog in the Asterix series, ‘Idéfix’, as ‘Dogmatix’ in English. Such serendipity is rare, however, and it is much more likely that the translation of names will involve a complex orchestration of meaning and sound. Torstein Bugge Høverstad, translator of the Harry Potter series into Norwegian, describes the process of identifying ‘individual meaningful elements’ in a name, then finding equivalents ‘with similar lexicographical and/or associational values’ and reassembling these Norwegian elements in a way that ‘doesn’t clash too obviously with Norwegian naming traditions’ (2003–4: 14). Høverstad offers a detailed example of his search for a translation of the name Dumbledore, a dialect word for bumblebee: The Norwegian word is humle, which must obviously be part of any solution, but on its own it’s too short to convey entirely the original, which is a tiny sort of word painting of the sound this pleasant insect makes. The Norwegian word for this sound is surr, so could we call him Humlesurr? The right number and sequence of sounds, so we’re getting there . . . but he’s not the most straightforward person you could think of, so what about getting a little twist into the name as well? Snurr in Norwegian sounds nearly the same as the bumblebee’s surr, but actually means something like ‘turning rapidly’ – so we end up with Humlesnurr conveying the original idea and sound of the bumblebee, while adding a touch of nimbleness. (2003–4: 14) Høverstad’s thought-processes are indicative of the detailed linguistic creativity that may be involved in translating a name; in his version young Norwegian readers have the pleasure of an insect reference that may well, in fact, have been lost on many English-language readers. Høverstad also cites the need for consistency in naming multiple characters, some of them with only minor roles in the narrative, across the whole series of seven Harry Potter books. Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge rose to a similar challenge by keeping handwritten folders (now replaceable by an electronic database) to keep track of names of over three hundred characters as they translated successive Asterix albums from French into English. Uderzo and Goscinny’s particular brand of comedy makes great use of Latinate names. Bell relates how she and Hockridge discussed the problem of word order in the name of a young centurion, Gazpachoandalus, in the translation of Asterix en Corse, where the reversal of the adjective-noun combination in English would result in the loss of the Roman ‘us’ ending. A glance at their file listing ‘Names Not Yet Used’ revealed ‘Hippopotamus’: ‘We’ve never yet called

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anyone Hippopotamus; he’s a big hefty fellow, and it would be a simple one; quite small children might like it’ (Bell, 1980: 133). Keeping the child audience in mind, noting potential future names – these are strategies that resulted in a lugubrious change of name that loses the Spanish reference, but maintains the comic tone. In cases where names from the source language are retained, a decision that is more likely in fiction for older readers, a cast list in the opening pages of a book with a brief indication of the role of each character will assist readers to keep track of names they find it hard to memorize. In Alastair McEwen’s translation from Italian into English of Prima di Lasciarsi (Ambrosio, 2004; Before We Say Goodbye, trans McEwen, 2010), Gabriella Ambrosio’s novel about a suicide bombing in twenty-first-century Jerusalem, an alphabetical list of the main characters begins as follows: Abdelin, 38, Dima’s aunt and her fiancé’s mother; Palestinian Abraham, 59, a security guard; an Israeli Jew who was breast-fed by an Arab woman Adum a haulage contractor, Palestinian (Ambrosio, 2004; Before We Say Goodbye, McEwen, 2010: 7–8) Each character’s relationship with others is explained in this ready reference point – although in this case it is the setting of Jerusalem rather than the source language of Italian that determines characters’ names. May Massee, in her 1930 translation of Erich Kästner’s German classic Emil und die Detektive, took the concept of the cast list a stage further in a preface entitled ‘This Explains About Some of the Names’. Massee alerts her young readers to Kästner’s playful creativity to justify her retention of the German names: ‘We thought you might like to pronounce them’ (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, Massee, 1930: ix). To assist young readers to do so, she adds explanations that act as both a glossary and dictionary: First you must know that Herr is Mr., Frau is Mrs., and Fräu-lein is Miss. Then you must remember that e is often pronounced like long a and that i is often pronounced like long e so that Emil is pronounced as if it began with a long a. It’s a good name. Pe-ter-sil-ie means Parsley – a nice silly name in any language. . . . Kurzhals is short neck. Neu-stadt is New city. Diens-tag is Tuesday and means service day or sort of office day. (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, Massee, 1930: x–xi) Massee’s didactic explanations may seem over-detailed, but they represent one strategy for conveying the author’s humour and introducing children to aspects of the source language.


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Translating place names: a case study from the Harry Potter series Place names, too, may resonate throughout a novel by contributing to a depiction of its social milieu. The opening line of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for example, establishes the Dursleys as conventional, middle-of-the-road Englanders who live in the suburban conformity that is instantly recognizable to most British readers in the name ‘Privet Drive’: Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. (Rowling, 1997: 7) ‘Privet Drive’ signals to an English reader the orderliness and monotony of a suburban English childhood of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, where neatly trimmed privet hedges around the edge of a garden were a common sight, and living in a ‘Drive’ certainly indicated a higher social status than living in a ‘Street’ or ‘Road’. Like so many features of the Potter books, ‘Privet Drive’ represents a return to the conventional England of the early and mid-twentieth century, and therefore contributes to an image of the Dursleys as arch conformists. Familiarity with this setting is also a factor in the success of the series with adults, since not all children will appreciate the full implications of Rowling’s reference. So how have translators addressed the ironic reverberations of ‘Privet Drive’? One choice is to leave the street name in English, as Jean-François Ménard does in the French translation, even though French readers are unlikely to be privy to the associations of the name. An alternative is to use the botanical equivalent of the privet bush, for example ‘Ligusterweg’ (literally: ‘Privet Way’) in the German version by Klaus Fritz. Given the Latinate nomenclature of the plant world, it is no surprise to find ‘Gestationis Ligustrorum’ in the Latin version too. Either way, the social associations of Privet Drive are lost. As in the case of Dahl’s ‘Miss Trunchbull’, ‘Privet Drive’ in the Japanese translation is simply a Katakana or phonetic equivalent プリベット通り (the more complex Kanji character denotes ‘street’) that also fails to convey a sense of the suburban milieu to the Japanese reader. The most radical change in social status, however, occurs in an early Russian translation by I.V. Oranskii (2001). Oranskii seems to have understood ‘Privet’ as ‘Private’, then transliterated ‘Private’ and ‘Drive’ as Прайвет Драйв (with thanks to Russian scholar Jane Grayson for this clarification). The relevant section of the first sentence of the novel, в доме номер четыре по улице Прайвет Драйв

therefore translates literally as:

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at house number 4 on the street Private Drive Unless the Russian reader knows what ‘private’ and ‘drive’ mean in English the street name is simply a name, and ‘private’ would, of course, at a stroke elevate the social status of the suburban setting to that of the private estate. It is almost impossible to convey the connotations of ‘privet’ without resorting to cumbersome explanations or footnotes that would halt the narrative flow, so an additional emphasis on the conventional behaviour of the Dursleys elsewhere is necessary to compensate for the loss of the ‘privet’ effect. What matters, as Eirlys E. Davies argues in her article on the translations of culturespecific references in the Harry Potter books (Davies, 2003), is the overall effect that translators achieve through the knowledge and craft of the practiced wordsmith. The following is a list of strategies available to the translator when working on names of characters and other proper nouns in children’s fiction: •

Leaving names untranslated will offer young readers a sense of difference, although this strategy may lead to difficulties in pronunciation when a text is read aloud, and any semantic content in names will be lost to the reader of the target text. When young people are very familiar with the culture of the source language, there is no reason at all to seek alternative names. Many young people in Taiwan, for example, readily adopt a Western name when they travel outside the country, so many English-language names in contemporary fiction can be left untranslated. Where young readers are faced with a large number of names in the source language, a cast list at the beginning of a book – or even printed as a book mark if costs allow – will assist them to keep track of characters. The transliteration or phonetic representation of names between languages with different scripts will retain an aural sense of the source culture, for example the representation of Japanese names ‘Tomomo’ and ‘Kinko’ in Cathy Hirano’s English translation of Kazumi Yumoto’s The Friends; in translations into Japanese from other languages, the use of Katakana assists this strategy. Place names should be translated according to accepted conventions of transliteration, for example Beijing as the accepted English rendering of the capital of China. A translator may decide to domesticate by choosing alternative names familiar to readers of the target language. This has significant disadvantages: the wholesale replacement of names in the source language with common names in the target language will seem very odd in the cultural and geographical setting of the source text. Direct translation of the semantic elements of a name may be necessary in order to convey an element of characterization or a message significant to the narrative (for example Pippi Långstrump).


Meeting the unknown

In some instances the selection of alternatives that replicate the effect of names in the source text, for example Bell and Hockridge’s substitution of the humorous ‘Hippopotamus’ for ‘Gazpachoandalus’, may be advisable. Occasionally it is possible to make a radical change while still retaining a flavour of the source language. Astrid Lindgren’s young Swedish detective Kalle Blomqvist becomes Bill Bergson in English, retaining in ‘Bergson’ a Swedish element that is both easily read and pronounced by English-speaking children.

Intertextuality and intervisuality Authors naturally make conscious or unconscious reference to other books in their own (or sometimes other) languages; the recent international success of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy that begins with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for instance, presents a case of intertextual reference across age boundaries. Astrid Lindgren’s anarchic Pippi Longstocking, a revered icon in Sweden, was undoubtedly one model for the character of Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, just as Lindgren’s sleuth Kalle Blomqvist furnished the name for Larsson’s detective Mikael Blomkvist. Children’s authors, too, use intertextual and international reference to add to the playfulness or nuances of meaning in a story. Lindgren herself drew on the roof-climbing exploits and red hair of her own favourite childhood heroine, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, when she created Pippi. In children’s fiction, then, references to fairy tales, classic children’s texts, rhymes and songs may form a significant strand of meaning in a longer narrative or a picture book. But just as Larsson’s references to Pippi and Blomqvist were lost on many non-Swedish readers of the translations of Larsson’s trilogy, so translated children’s texts risk losing the resonance of allusions that become meaningless because of readers’ limited knowledge of the source culture. Translators have to decide whether to omit such references, to find equivalents, to translate them literally, or to offer explanations. Finding equivalents to intertextual allusions in a source text requires an understanding of which texts are likely to be familiar to children in a particular age group in the target culture. Three translators of Collodi’s Pinocchio into English have adopted differing strategies when translating the titles of Italian books mentioned in a particular scene. On one of his many ill-fated attempts to reform and attend school, Pinocchio is tempted to the beach to see a shark by his fellow pupils. When there is no shark to be seen, Pinocchio reacts angrily to the realization that he has been tricked and a fight ensues. The puppet’s hard wooden feet cause many bruises, so his enemies keep their distance and hurl schoolbook missiles at him. At this point Collodi wryly seizes the opportunity to insert two books of his own authorship (Giannettini and Minuzzoli) into the narrative. Translators of Collodi’s classic into English are aware that child readers will not know the Italian texts listed and adopt a range of solutions:

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Allora i ragazzi, indispettiti do non potersi misurare col burattino a corpo a corpo, pensarono bene di metter mano ai proiettili e, scioltii fagotti de’ loro libri di scualoa, cominciarono a scagliare contro di lui i Sillabari, le Grammatiche, i Giannettini, i Minuzzoli, i Raconti del Thoar, il Pulcino della Baccini e altri libri scolastici. (Collodi, Le avventure di Pinocchio. Edizione illustrate, 2002: 144–5) [The boys, becoming furious at not being able to measure themselves hand to hand with the puppet, had recourse to other weapons. Loosening their satchels they commenced throwing their school-books at him – grammars, dictionaries, spelling-books, geography books and other scholastic works.] (Collodi, 2002; The Story of a Puppet or the Adventures of Pinocchio, trans by Murray, 1891: 146) [The bad boys, angry because they could not get near Pinocchio, began to use other weapons. They unstrapped their schoolbags, and began to throw their books, primers and grammars, dictionaries, geography and other school books.] (Collodi, 2002; Pinocchio, trans by Harden, 1944: 143) [Therefore the boys, who were annoyed at not being able to fight with the puppet hand-to-hand, decided to use missiles. Untying their bundles of schoolbooks, they began to hurl at him their Primers and Grammars, their Alices and Huckleberry Finns, their Lamb’s Tales and Black Beauties, as well as other schoolbooks.] (Collodi, 2002; The Adventures of Pinocchio, trans by Lawson Lucas, 1996: 98) [The gang, frustrated at not being able to confront the puppet at close quarters, opted for aerial bombardment. They untied their bundles of schoolbooks and began to pelt Pinocchio with grammars and dictionaries, maths books and Histories of the Nation.] (Collodi, 2002; Pinocchio, trans by Rose, 2003: 117–18) Mary Alice Murray, the first translator of Pinocchio into English, sets a pattern followed by Ernest Harden in 1944, and indeed by Emma Rose in 2003, by retaining Collodi’s neutral ‘grammars and dictionaries’ or adding the equally non-specific geography, maths books or ‘Histories of the Nation’. Lawson Lucas, too, begins with untitled primers and grammars, also illustrating the phenomenon of the borrowing of phrases from previous translations (see discussion of retranslation in Chapter 6). Subsequently, however, she resorts to her own childhood and a general knowledge of British children’s literature. The titles she chooses are inappropriate: boys would be most unlikely to carry around copies of Black Beauty, the story of a horse that has always been highly popular with girls, and Twain’s Tom Sawyer would have been a better choice


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than Huckleberry Finn, which – although Twain began writing it as a child’s book – is a lengthy, satirical narrative that became an adult classic. In this instance it is probably safer to opt for neutral dictionaries or textbooks to avoid choosing titles that may date quickly or seem out of place in an Italian setting. A second example where a translator has taken great pains to find appropriate references or to compensate is the Dutch translation by Ernst van Altena of the picture book The Jolly Postman and its sequels by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (1986), as analyzed by Mieke Desmet (2006). The Jolly Postman is a physically interactive text. Certain pages form envelopes that contain letters, an advertisement, a birthday card and even money (a pound note as a birthday gift for Goldilocks), all delivered by a postman to characters from a range of fairy tales and nursery rhymes familiar to British and Englishspeaking children. Desmet discusses in detail van Altena’s strategies for rendering these essential intertextual references to culture-specific tales, songs and verse, arguing that he has achieved a commendable balance ‘between rendering the Britishness and local colour of the source texts and positioning the target texts in the target literary culture’ (2006: 127). Van Altena uses substitution, for example by replacing a reference to the rhyme “Little Miss Muffet” with “Biebelbonse Berg”, a poem by the famous Dutch children’s poet and author Annie M.G. Schmidt, and the lawyers Meeny, Miny, Mo & Co – named after the English counting rhyme “Eeny, Meeny, Miny Mo” – become “Olleke, Bolleke, Rubisolleke & Co” as in the Dutch nursery rhyme. On the other hand, literal translation rather than substitution is appropriate for the titles of the international classics Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, both likely to be known by the target readership. In an instance of compensation, van Altena adds ‘Engel-land’ to the postmark of one of the letters which, as Desmet point out, both translates as ‘angel’ land and constitutes an ‘intertextual and metatextual reference to the country of origin of the source text’ (Desmet, 2006: 129). Desmet also adopts the term ‘intervisuality’ to cover visual references to illustrations in earlier children’s books or to other cultural phenomena; intervisual references cannot be ignored or omitted in visual texts including picturebooks and comic strips. Jehan Zitawi (2008), for example, discovered footnotes explaining visual references to characters from R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas in an Egyptian comic-strip version of a Disney story. Indeed, written text often makes reference to visual allusions and vice versa, thus presenting translators with an additional challenge. The Jolly Postman books include multiple references to a range of Englishlanguage rhymes and fairy tales for which van Altena is able to substitute Dutch children’s rhymes, songs and stories. However, in cases where just one wellknown text from the source culture is the subject of frequent references that form an essential strand in the narrative, as in Mikael Engström’s Isdraken (2007), a different strategy is necessary. Engström’s novel tells the story of Mik’s escape from an inhospitable home, even though it means leaving his adored older brother behind. As Mik battles his way across Sweden’s icy winter

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landscape to the haven of his favourite aunt’s house, Engström reminds his young Swedish readers of Astrid Lindgren’s Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart). Susan Beard, translator of the English edition of Isdraken (Thin Ice, 2011), recognized the significance of this reference, and introduces the novel with a preface headed ‘The Brothers Lionheart’: While you are reading this story, you will notice that it sometimes mentions a book called The Brothers Lionheart, which is by the famous Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. You don’t really need to know the story of the Lionheart brothers to understand this one, but here’s some information about it, which you might like to check out as you go along. (Engström, 2007; Thin Ice, trans by Beard, 2011) What follows is a précis of the novel’s plot, with salient facts about the relationship between the two brothers who both die, enter a new world and battle with a dragon (hence the reference to a dragon in the Swedish title of Engström’s novel), before dying a second time to enter yet another afterlife. Although the addition of a preface is not an ideal solution to the problem caused by a potent intertextual reference, it does provide essential information and reassure young readers faced with numerous allusions to Lindgren’s novel that ‘you don’t really need to know the story of the Lionheart brothers’. To sum up, strategies for addressing intertextual references in a children’s book include: • • • •

• • •

Deletion of intertextual references when an equivalent cannot be found, with the option of compensation. Compensation through the introduction at a different point in the text of an intertextual reference to a work familiar in the target culture. Substitution of well-known stories or rhymes from the target culture. Literal translation of a title even when there is no equivalent, in order to indicate the type of story referred to in the source text, for example van Altena’s translation in The Jolly Postman books of the story title “Jack and the Giant” as Jack en de reus where no such story exists in Dutch (Desmet, 2006: 125). Retaining references to the titles of international classics or the names of their protagonists, for example Pinocchio, Heidi, Alice in Wonderland, etc. Explanation of an essential intertextual reference in a preface, a footnote or woven into the narrative where possible. When translating intertextual references within a picture book, be careful to maintain the relationship between text and pictures and to attend to text within images (see also discussion of this issue in the next chapter).

In each translation project it is imperative to consider the likely reading history of the target age group, and to assess the requirements of that audience against the integrity of the source text and its references.


Meeting the unknown

Discussion points •

Is the balance of foreignization and domestication likely to be different in a translation for children from that in a translation intended for adults? What have you noticed about this balance in the translations for children and adults you have read and how might you as a translator adjust your practice (if at all) for a child readership? In cases such as that of The Jolly Postman, a book intended for younger readers and listeners familiar with a wealth of songs, rhymes and stories from a specific culture and visual clues that confirm those references, might it simply be impossible to achieve a satisfactory translation? Would it be necessary (or desirable) to add an introduction to such extensive references for adults reading the book to a child?

Exercises •

• •

Choose a children’s book with plenty of references to food (meals in the Harry Potter series for those translating from English, for example) as a source text and decide how you would render those foodstuffs, including particular flavours and associations, in your working language. Choose a children’s book in any language you can read and decide how you might (or might not) translate characters’ names throughout the text. Find a source text written for children that includes intertextual allusions and decide how to render them in your working language.

Note 1

‘Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings’ Tolkien Gateway http://tolkiengate [accessed 12 April 2015].

Further reading Bell, Anthea (1985a) ‘Translator’s notebook: The naming of names’. Signal, 46: 3–11. Desmet, Mieke (2006) ‘Intertextuality/intervisuality in translation: “The Jolly Postman’s” intercultural journey from Britain to the Netherlands’. In The Translation of Children’s Literature: A reader, edited by G. Lathey, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 122–33. Epstein, B.J. (2012) Translating Expressive Language in Children’s Literature: Problems and solutions, Bern: Peter Lang. González Cascallana, Belén (2006) ‘Translating cultural intertextuality in children’s literature’. In Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and strategies, edited by J. van Coillie and W. Verschueren, Manchester, St. Jerome, 97–110. Nord, Christiane (2003) ‘Proper names in translations for children: Alice in Wonderland as a case in point’. Meta, 48(1–2): 182–96. van Coillie, Jan (2006) ‘Character names in translation: A functional approach’. In Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and strategies, edited by J. van Coillie and W. Verschueren, Manchester: St. Jerome, 123–40. Yamazaki, Akiko (2002) ‘Why change names? On the translation of children’s books’. Children’s Literature in Education, 33(1): 53–62.


Translating the visual

What is the use of a book without pictures or conversation? (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)

Illustration, together with the visual impact of lettering and text, has been a significant aspect of children’s reading matter from the earliest days of a separate literature for children. Booksellers, publishers and authors have long been aware that pictures, decorative additions or a striking page layout will attract and retain the attention of young readers. References to illustrations in the translation of Jean de Brunhoff’s Babar books in Chapter 1 and the Ahlbergs’ The Jolly Postman in Chapter 2 have already drawn attention to the creative demands that the aesthetic and visual aspects of children’s literature place on the translator. As early as 1659 Charles Hoole, translator into English of the influential German–Latin pictorial encyclopedia Orbis Pictus by Czech educator Johann Comenius, identified in his translator’s preface a three-way tension between source language, target language and illustrations. Hoole expresses regret that ‘the book being writ in high-Dutch, doth express many things in reference to that Countrey and Speech, which cannot without alteration of some Pictures, as well as words, be expressed in ours’ (Comenius, 1659, tenth page of the unpaginated preface). Pictures and target-language text have to be brought into line without the ‘alteration’ of pictures to which Hoole refers – although pictures are sometimes changed to a greater or lesser degree, as examples in this chapter will indicate. More than three centuries after Hoole’s comments, translator Anthea Bell describes images in a similar manner as a third dimension that comes into play when translating an illustrated or picture book, making the translator’s ‘tightrope walk’ (Bell, 2006) even more precarious than usual. Translators have to engage with a complex orchestration of text and image, both in illustrated books and in the modern picture book, that requires an informed understanding of the illustrator’s art, multimediality and semiotics. Finnish translator Riitta Oittinen (2000), keenly aware of this issue in her role as a professional children’s author and illustrator, goes so far as to suggest that translating all forms of illustrated literature requires a specialization in translation studies combined with art appreciation. Such specialized training


Translating the visual

is likely to remain an ideal, but what are the issues that arise during the translation of an illustrated book that lead Oittinen to make such a suggestion? Much depends on how the book is conceived, whether as an illustrated book where text dominates, or as a picture book where the relationship between text and image creates a satisfying whole.

Translating the illustrated book To begin with illustrated books and their impact on the child reader, author Russell Hoban recounts a powerful memory of illustrations: What the best book illustration always does, is to take the mind to a special and peculiar place where mystery lives and words can’t go, then return it to the word place sensitized, responsive, and newly perceptive of the world. (Hoban, 1991: 9) The effect of artwork in children’s books may last a lifetime, and is not simply a dispensible or decorative accessory to text. Longer prose fiction for children – novels and collections of stories as well as poetry anthologies – includes line drawings, decorative vignettes or full-page colour plates. Artists, editors and authors pay considerable attention to choosing the illustrative moment in a narrative and to the placement of pictures. One instance of a carefully planned relationship between text and images, the kind of symbiosis present in E.H. Shepard’s illustration of Winnie-the-Pooh, is found in Erich Kästner’s Emil und die Detektive (1929). Walter Trier’s set of line drawings with captions by Kästner, strategically placed before the novel begins, introduces key players in the novel as well as several of the Berlin sites where dramatic scenes occur, thus exciting the anticipation of the young reader. Two different British versions (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, trans by Goldsmith, 1931; Hall, 1959) lose this visual dramatis personae, since Trier’s images are scattered throughout the narrative in translations, sometimes in positions that make little sense. In the translation of Emil published in the US in 1930, on the other hand, Trier’s arresting drawings are placed exactly as in the original German edition, as indeed is the case in a new US translation published in 2014. It may seem that the translator has little say in such editorial decisions and that May Massee, as both translator and commissioning editor of the 1930 US version, was in a privileged position, but the lesson to be learned from the impoverished British edition is that it is worth campaigning for the optimal placement of illustrations and the translation of captions. If an editor considers tampering with existing artwork, as happened with the first Swedish translation of Emil that was relocated to Stockholm and Trier’s pictures altered accordingly (Boëthius, 2002: 120), then a translator should certainly protest. An alternative to altering or repositioning existing artwork is for the publisher of a translation to commission an entirely new set of illustrations.

Translating the visual 57 This has long been common practice in the case of retranslations of classics or of fairy tales. Indeed, one of the best-known historical translation howlers arose from one of the nineteenth-century illustrated English-language versions of selected tales by the Brothers Grimm. Lucy Crane’s mistranslation of ‘Geisslein’ into English as ‘goslings’ in the tale ‘Der Wolf und die sieben jungen Geisslein’ (literally: the wolf and the seven young goats) resulted in a vignette drawn by her brother, the renowned illustrator Walter Crane, of geese rather than goats, although this was corrected in subsequent editions. Fortunately, such aberrations are rare. Indeed, re-illustration may offer new insights or alter the tone of a book entirely, so that cooperation between translator and illustrator can only be beneficial. Sara Fanelli’s collage illustrations to the English retranslation of Pinocchio (Collodi, 2002; trans by Rose, 2003) offer a fresh, quirky visual interpretation of the story that perfectly matches Emma Rose’s modern translation. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that there was any contact between artist and translator in the re-illustrated German version of Astrid Lindgren’s Emil stories. Birgit Stolt (2006) describes how these tales about a young boy in rural Sweden in the early-twentieth century changed in two significant ways in German translation. First, Emil was renamed Michel to avoid confusion with Kästner’s Emil, and second the bourgeois small-town milieu in illustrations to the German edition entirely misrepresents Lindgren’s down-to-earth descriptions of rural life. When a translator is working on an edition of illustrated stories where images are as important as written text, for example a picture book edition of a single fairy tale, the challenge lies in coordinating text and illustrations. Everything depends on which scenes the artist has chosen to illustrate and how these moments are spaced throughout the narrative. If the translation is longer or shorter than the source text, some manipulation of the relationship between text and images may be necessary. When translating a German prose version of Robert Browning’s narrative poem “The Pied Piper” in an edition beautifully illustrated by Annegret Fuchshuber, Anthea Bell found that her preferred solution – to reintroduce the original English text – simply would not work: The first thing I did was to try to do myself out of a job by looking carefully at the illustrations and layout, to see if there was any chance that the publishers could possibly print Browning’s poem with them, but there wasn’t: the arrangement of pictures just didn’t fit. (Bell, 1985a: 7) The result would have been a very uneven redistribution of Browning’s text across the book, so Bell had to translate the German prose version of Browning’s poem in a decision dictated by the illustrations. In a similar instance, Bell (1985b) relates how she had been ‘providing the text’ (1985b: 140) in English to a Japanese picturebook version of the Grimms’ Snow White illustrated by Chihiro Iwasaki. Not knowing any Japanese, she translated Snow White directly from the Grimms’ German. However, she then had to spread


Translating the visual

a limited number of words across no less than four illustrated double-spreads covering the queen’s wish for a child white as snow, red as blood and black as ebony, and the birth of that child. The placement and positioning of text in relation to pictures may, then, require some thought and juggling on the part of the translator.

The modern picture book The picture book as we know it today gradually emerged from a visual tradition dating back to didactic texts such as the Orbis Pictus by Comenius, to caption books and visual narratives in the form of broadsheets that were eagerly viewed by children in many cultures from the sixteenth century onwards. In the late-nineteenth century, new processes of colour printing replaced handcoloured editions and paved the way for the picture book for the younger child; in the early-twentieth century artists began to integrate text and pictures to create an artistic whole that was not just an illustrated version of a pre-existing tale. Thanks largely to the influence of Russian graphic artists, the modern picture book gradually emerged in the 1920s and ‘30s, with the Babar books of Jean de Brunhoff as seminal examples. In How Picturebooks Work, Maria Nikolajeva and Carole Scott attempt to codify the genre, using the single word ‘picturebook’ to separate it from the illustrated book, or the book with pictures where the text is predominant and constitutes a meaningful story without any artwork. A picturebook is the result of a relationship between text and images such that neither would make sense in isolation. Text is often, though not always, minimal and limited to a few lines per page; narrative momentum may be generated through an ironic commentary of images on text or vice versa. Nikolajeva and Scott’s (2001) analysis of ‘the dynamics of the picturebook, how the text and image, two different forms of communication, work together to create a form unlike any other’ (2001: 2) offers an invaluable introduction to anyone wishing to undertake a translation of a book of this kind, as indeed does Riitta Oittinen’s (2000) discussion of the translator’s response to images in Translating for Children. The constraints of the contemporary children’s book market may affect both the nature and sequence of the translation process in the case of the picture book. Because of the expensive colour printing involved, modern picture books are often co-productions between publishing houses in different countries, with text in the appropriate language inserted at the last stage of the printing process. As a result, there is some evidence that publishers have instructed illustrators to avoid obvious visual cultural markers such as street furniture or police uniforms (O’Sullivan, 2000: 292), a development that is likely to result in an unwelcome homogeneity in the picture book market. In books with minimal text, editors have even resorted to the in-house replacement of the source text with a narrative to accompany each full-page illustration without recourse to a translator. This practice is exemplified by the English translation

Translating the visual 59 of the Japanese picture book known in English as Momoko’s Birthday (1973) by Chihiro Iwasaki, the illustrator of Snow White mentioned above. Tomoko Masaki, then a Japanese student in a translation class I taught many years ago, informed me that what appeared to be a joyous account of a birthday party was in fact a tragic little tale. The heroine of the source text (Momoko in the English version) accidentally blows out the candles on her friend’s birthday cake and runs away from the party in great distress, a mood reflected in the pale, washed-out colours of the relevant illustrations. In the text of the English version, however, it is the birthday child who happily blows out the candles during the party as the reader might expect, so that nothing untoward has occurred. An anonymous ‘translation’ has completely misrepresented the content of the book so that there is a mismatch between the upbeat text and the melancholy tone of Iwasaki’s illustrations.1 Further examples of both successful and unsuccessful practice highlight the finesse required to translate visual texts. Desmet’s discussion of intertextuality and intervisuality as cited in Chapter 2, for example, offers a positive example of a Dutch translator’s solutions to visual references to English nursery tales and rhymes. On the other hand, O’Sullivan (2000) reveals what can happen to the integrity of a picture book when a translator is not sensitive to the relationship between text and image. A grandfather’s empty chair on the final, deliberately textless, double spread of John Burningham’s Granpa (1984), an elliptical dialogue between a grandfather and granddaughter, may or may not signify that Granpa has died. The addition of text in the form of a sentimental reflection on death in the first German translation of the book limits that ambiguity, and curtails the openness of an image that invites a range of potential responses from the child reader. The opportunity for a young reader to make his or her own interpretation of the spaces between text and illustrations in a book such as Granpa, or in some instances to appreciate the ironic counterpoint between the two, is essential to children’s developing appreciation of literature. Children learn invaluable reading lessons from picture books that are not just about improving basic literacy, but also teach young readers to participate in the creation of meaning. Irony is inherent in a book where illustrations indicate narrative developments that the text does not, or dramatic irony when the reader, through close observation of the images in a picture book, knows more than the protagonist of the story. Adding text to explain these strategies does a disservice to the book and to the child reader. It is therefore essential that a translator should reproduce the counterpoint between text and pictures that allows children to fill these gaps and to understand the interplay between the visual and the verbal. An example where the translator has successfully resisted the urge to add extraneous information is that of Anthony Browne’s Changes (1990), translated into German as Alles wird anders (1990) by Peter Baumann. The child protagonist, Joseph Kaye (renamed Stefan by Baumann in a surprising decision to ignore the reference to Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial with its hero


Translating the visual

Joseph K), is waiting for his father to bring home his mother and new baby sister. Before leaving to fetch them, Joseph’s father says a few momentous words to his son: he’d said that things were going to change (Browne: 1990: 6) which Baumann translates straightforwardly as: hatte er gesagt, dass jetzt alles anders werde [he had said that now everything would be different] (Browne, 1990; Alles wird anders, trans by Baumann, 1990: 6) Neither Browne nor Baumann makes any reference to the fact that Browne’s images have already begun to change in a surreal manner: on the very first page the kettle sprouts a cat’s tail, ears and paws. After Joseph’s father leaves, the only text is Joseph’s question on the left-hand side of the double spread ‘Was this what he had meant?’ (Browne, 1990: 8) as the sofa slowly turns into a faintly drawn crocodile beneath him. On the textless right-hand page of the spread the armchair grows hands, a crocodile’s tail is visible, and the cat stalks by with a snake’s head. Replicating Browne’s text, Baumann’s ‘War es das, was er gemeint hatte?’ ignores the extraordinary occurrences in Browne’s hyper-realistic, enthralling and disturbing pictures. Baumann has allowed the images to speak for themselves, just as Browne does in the source text, so that they resonate as signs of Joseph’s anxiety about the new addition to the family. Thus Browne creates, and Baumann maintains, a thoughtprovoking puzzle for young viewers without any adult interpretation. Unlike the translator of Granpa, Baumann demonstrates respect for the subtlety of a dialogue between text and pictures.

Strategies for translating visual texts •

In an illustrated book, examine the role and placement of illustrations in the source text and make suggestions to potential editors concerning the replication of that relationship in the translated version. When working for a publisher who has commissioned a new set of illustrations, discuss at the start of the project the possibility of collaboration with the illustrator. Before translating a picture book for the first time, read prize-winning examples of the genre in languages to which you have access and, if possible, share them with children. When translating a modern picture book, take into account the harmony or counterpoint between text and image on each double spread of the source text.

Translating the visual 61 •

Take care not to add text to a page where the author and/or illustrator deemed it to be unnecessary, and avoid the temptation to insert text to explain what is happening in the pictures.

Translating the comic strip and the picture book The modern picture book with its minimal text, high-quality artwork and high expectations of the young viewer and reader has developed alongside popular visual narratives such as the comic strip and graphic novel. Indeed, the unfolding visual narrative in all its guises, from Heinrich Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter to Japanese manga, has played a significant role in the development of a visual literacy in young readers that is essential in the twenty-first-century era of film, TV, computer icons, apps and video games. Interpreting images as well as text, learning conventional and innovative symbols for expressing movement, mood and salience are all promoted by the picture book and the comic strip, so that translation strategies are common to both genres. The term ‘comic strip’ indicates the humorous origins of the genre in newspaper cartoons. Anthea Bell’s instructive list of the principles she and Derek Hockridge adopted when working on English versions of the Asterix albums of Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny therefore emphasizes the translation of jokes as well as the interaction of dialogue and drawings: a. The idea is to render, as faithfully as possible, the feel of the original. b. With humour of this intensely verbal nature, the translation must follow the spirit rather than the letter of the original; we must therefore often find jokes which are different, though we hope along the same lines as the French jokes. c. They must, of course, suit Albert Uderzo’s wittily detailed drawings, in particular they must fit the expressions on the speakers’ faces. d. From the purely technical point of view, they must be about the same length as the original wording, or we shall create difficulties for the letterer trying to get the English text into the speech bubbles. e. Very important: we will try for the same kind of mixture of jokes as in the French . . . there is simple knockabout humour, both verbal and visual, which goes down well with quite young children; there are puns and passages of wordplay for older children; and there is some distinctly sophisticated humour . . . for the adult or near-adult. f. We will also have the same number of jokes as in the French. If we just can’t get one in at the same point as in the original, we’ll make up for it somewhere else. (Bell, 1980: 132) Visual narratives are not always so light-hearted. Whereas for younger children comic books may well depend to a great degree on wordplay and slapstick humour conveyed both verbally and visually, the market in graphic


Translating the visual

novels for young adults sometimes addresses rather more serious or darker themes. The graphic novels Persepolis (2000) and its sequels by Marjane Satrapi, for example, depict the struggle for independence of a young girl who leaves her homeland of Iran and have been translated from French into a number of languages. Whatever the subject matter, the specific constraints of translating the comic-strip format are well documented in Klaus Kaindl’s article ‘Thump, Whizz, Poom: A framework for the study of comics under translation’ (1999a), or the collection of papers edited by Federico Zanettin in Comics in Translation (2008). Challenges listed in these works include the necessity, prior to recent technological advances, of fitting translated text into the space available in speech bubbles; the exclusivity or predominance of dialogue in the written text and the frequent use of onomatopoeia in action sequences. In common with the picture book, comic strips require translators to match text and image, requiring some adjustment in the target language. Finally, in some comic strips, including the Tintin and Asterix series or picture books such as Jean de Brunhoff’s Histoire de Babar, there is an additional editorial challenge in the recreation of a hand-lettered look to the text. In an attempt to present a ‘translation relevant anatomy of comics’, Kaindl (1999a) groups these aspects into the three basic elements of the comic strip, namely the linguistic, the pictorial and the typographic. Selected aspects of all three categories will be discussed in relation to comic strips, graphic novels and the picture book. Linguistic elements: dialogue In the comic strip, extradiegetic narration from outside the story may be minimal; in the Belgian-French Tintin albums by Hergé, for example, an occasional phrase such as ‘Quelques instants plus tard . . .’ or ‘Et peu après . . .’ (Hergé, 1960: 7) enclosed in a pale yellow panel and distinguished from speech bubbles by a different script, indicates the passage of time, but this is the full extent of a narrator’s intervention. On the other hand, Marjane Satrapi includes a good deal of first person narrative at the top of each frame at the beginning of her graphic novels in order to set the political scene in her Persepolis books. Nevertheless, here too dialogue is the primary linguistic and narrative mode. Verbal exchanges between characters contained in speech bubbles are essential to the unfolding visual narrative in the comic strip. Characters are created through dialogue as well as pictorially, so that repeated expressions, exclamations or preoccupations become a code, or idiolect, that defines them as individuals. Moreover, given that spoken language will vary according to setting and may well include dialect and a range of social registers, a high degree of verbal dexterity and familiarity with relevant registers is required of translators. This issue will be discussed in further detail in the next chapter, with examples from comic-strip albums, picture books and prose texts, but a brief mention of the Tintin albums indicates the concern of translators that urban dialect will be difficult for young readers to follow.

Translating the visual 63 In an interview conducted by Chris Owens with British translators of Hergé’s Tintin albums into English, Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner, Lonsdale-Cooper comments on the necessity to remove dialect markers in view of the age-range of their audience: ‘because linguistically for a children’s book, you can’t just translate – the jokes are untranslatable, some of the text was in Brussels patois and had to be turned into appropriate English’.2 Owens’ interview with Lonsdale-Cooper and Turner also throws light on the translation of dialogue in speech bubbles: The system was that I translated the books and wrote my translation longhand in pencil, and sent it to Michael Turner. I counted to make sure every box was the correct length before it went to him, and if he had suggestions to make, he scribbled them on the manuscript. Then we sat down together and read it back to front, and back to front to each other but the names, or the swearwords, or whatever, we just invented as they came along. (Owens, 2004) Turner goes on to make the aural component of the process absolutely clear: We felt working together on this, the best thing was to read it aloud, and I think that was one of our most sensible decisions. We would go through the text and repeat it out loud, and it was then that quite a number of the names were coined, as well as things like Haddock’s foul language. I think it was a more important step than we realized [at the time], but it certainly made a difference and we’ve followed that ever since – the aural approach as being very important. (Owens, 2004) Such comments indicate the nature of the comic strip as a performative art comparable to that of picture books for the very young (see comments on the translation of Babar in Chapter 1), as well as the aural creativity inherent in the translation process. A comic strip is a drama with multiple characters whose voices must be easily distinguished, so that the dialogue of each protagonist has to ring true to type. The most effective way to test the reliability of translated speech is to ‘act out’ passages of dialogue by reading them aloud, a strategy that is not uncommon among those who translate books to be read aloud to children. Personal experience has shown that children who cannot yet read alone will demand to have a Tintin volume read to them and, although reading long stretches aloud is taxing, there can be little doubt that the translators’ attention to ‘read aloud’ qualities assists the performer. Pictorial elements: onomatopoeia Nowhere is the intersection of the linguistic and visual in the picture book or the comic strip more apparent than in the use of onomatopoeia where, as


Translating the visual

Zanettin puts it, ‘Words, on the other hand, do not only have a purely “verbal” meaning but are also embodied with a visual, almost physical force’ (2008: 13). The shape, impact, design and placement of letters designating sound in a comic-strip panel are a visual element quite separate from the dialogue in speech bubbles or any extradiegetic narration. A translator has to decide whether to retain such expressive utterances and sound effects in the source language, or to use equivalent expressions of pain, anger or joy in the target language. Kaindl’s research suggests that of the linguistic elements in a comic book, it is onomatopoeia and inscriptions within the artwork that are the most likely to be retained from the source text (1999a: 275), although practice differs across the genre and across languages. On the one hand a survey of German publishers of comics indicated that onomatopoeia was almost always retained in comics of the superhero, horror story or adventure type, but was likely to be replaced in funny comics (Kaindl: 275), and on the other Jehan Zitawi’s study of the translation of one hundred and eight Disney stories into Arabic published in Egypt, Kuwait and Dubai revealed ‘almost no cases of retaining onomatopoeia in its original form’ (2008: 142). Zitawi found, for example, that when Donald Duck, disguised as a woman, trips over in his high heels, the sound of his fall is represented as ‘TAAKH!’ rather than the ‘TUNK!’ of the source text. Zitawi speculates that such an alteration is attributable to the dominant sounds in different languages, since ‘even similar transliterated consonants will have different sounds’ and that ‘perhaps for an Arab child still developing his/her ability in Arabic “TAAKH!” would more easily reflect the sounds that s/he is learning’ (2008: 141). In the Tintin albums, Turner and Lonsdale-Cooper either leave instances of onomatopoeia unchanged, or adopt customary English equivalents. In Tintin in Tibet, for example, the French ‘Boum’ simply changes to ‘Boom’ and ‘CRAC’ to ‘CRACK’ (1962: 43), whereas pebbles hit water with a ‘SPLASH’ to replace the French ‘PLOUF’ (1962: 17). Translators working on onomatopoeia in comic-strip narratives or picture books need to familiarize themselves with standard expressions in both source and target languages before making strategic decisions on whether, or how, to translate such a vivid use of language. Pictorial elements: inscriptions within images Inscriptions within images are found in both picture books and comic strips – as already indicated in the example of changes to the postmark on letters in the Ahlbergs’ The Jolly Postman (see Chapter 2), where a translation of a postmark allowed the translator to add wordplay. Where picture books are the result of a co-production, with translated text added to a pre-existing set of illustrated pages, it may be impossible to change lettering that forms a part of specific images. To appropriate a picture book wholesale into the target culture by altering inscriptions would in any case be to deny child readers the sense of difference that is one of the joys of reading translations. Titles of shops and other environmental print act as reminders that a translated text is

Translating the visual 65 set in its country of origin. Anthony Browne’s picture book Voices in the Park (1998), for example, is recognizably set in Regent’s Park and the zoo in London, so it is rather incongruous in the German version (Stimmen im Park, 1998, translated by Peter Baumann) to see that a Santa Claus figure sitting in the street in one full-page picture holds a placard that reads ‘MUSS FRAU UND MILLIONEN VON KINDERN UNTERSTüTZEN’ (English source text: ‘WIFE AND MILLIONS OF KIDS TO SUPPORT’). Someone begging on a London street is hardly likely to seek donations in German, so the translation into German jars with the setting. Translation of the placard text is not essential to an understanding of the narrative and could be left in English. Zitawi notes a range of practice in relation to language or numbers in the artwork in translations of Disney comic strips into Arabic. The Beagle Boys, a family of organized criminals, retain English prison numbers on their shirts in one Arabic version, although numbers in Arabic are drawn on top of the English ones so that it is difficult to read either; in a second version the numbers are deleted, and in a third they are retained but re-ordered – which makes it hard to identify particular Beagles (Zitawi, 2008: 148). Such variety highlights the role of pictorial digits or inscriptions within a story, and the need for a solution that supports narrative development. However, in cases where images of posters or banners, the content of letters or newspaper articles convey vital information, text does have to be translated. Hergé’s L’Ile Noire presented its British translators with a particular conundrum, that of a Tintin album set in England and Scotland, but which was written in French. As befits the British context, inscriptions within panels or on buildings in the original French version are consistently written in English, as in ‘Fire Station’, ‘Halchester Flying Club’ and pub signs, so translators Lonsdale-Turner and Cooper could simply leave them untouched in the translation into English. However, a panel in the source depicting the front page of ‘The Daily Reporter. Glasgow Edition’ text includes a story that is written, anomalously, entirely in French, since French readers need to know the content. Here the translators had to perform a fictional back translation to recreate the newspaper article in English. Typographic elements: hand-lettering and cursive script A feature of picture books for the younger child is the use of cursive or handlettered script, usually that taught in schools in the country of origin, as part of the overall artistic effect. The Babar series (1931) is instantly recognizable from its apparently handwritten French text, which is reproduced exactly in the English version (Jones, first issued in 1934), though not in the American edition of 1933 that uses a regular typeface (Haas, 1933). Although the American translator retained the present tense of the French text (see Chapter 1), she was perhaps unable to persuade the publisher to replicate the handwritten effect. Fortunately, some editors are willing to devote time and money to the production of a picture book that matches the aesthetic and production values of the source text. In the English version of Tove Jansson’s picture book Hur gick det sen? (1952), translated from Swedish as The Book


Translating the visual

about Moomin, Mymble and Little My (2001), the handwritten effect is replicated with non-cursive calligraphy credited to Peter Blegvad. In an edition that includes cutout holes affording glimpses of future action, translator, calligrapher and editor have all contributed to the book as artefact that does credit to Jansson’s idiosyncratic imagination. In the comic-strip album, hand-lettering or the choice of a font with unusual features lends a vitality and individuality to characters’ spoken language. In a comment that draws attention to a possible reason for the replacement of handwritten text with type in the American Babar of the 1930s, Kaindl suggests that the informality of hand-lettering was suspect in German publishing houses of the mid-1950s: the text in nearly all translated comics was written in typescript rather than handlettering, in order to make comics look more like a printed book, which as a medium of publication enjoyed much greater social acceptance than the small, flimsy comics. (Kaindl, 1999a: 272) Lonsdale-Cooper and Turner, translators of Tintin into English, also cite the wariness of educators and others towards comics in the mid-twentieth century; this is an instance of the didactic and social constraints that have at times affected popular literature and reading material enjoyed by the young. Nevertheless, editors of both picture books and comic-strip albums have recognized the essential role of calligraphers and hand-letterers. Turner and Lonsdale-Cooper worked closely with a dedicated and patient cartographer, Neil Hyslop, who was responsible for hand-lettering a text for their translation of the Tintin albums that differs from the right-slanting French version and resembles a non-cursive handwritten with an italic pen; for the brief narrative captions the same cursive copperplate hand is used as in the French editions. Lonsdale-Cooper remembers trying out various styles of lettering at first to see which style might be suitable and would appeal to librarians and teachers: once again the spectre of disapproving adults looms large. Each batch of lettering had to be checked ‘on a sort of cellophane’ over plates with blank boxes sent from Belgium. Too much or too little text required adjustments by the translators. Thus ‘Milou’ in the original French became ‘Snowy’, a compromise dictated, so Lonsdale-Cooper explained to Harry Thompson (1991: 32), by the need to find a five-letter name that would fit the speech bubbles where Tintin addressed his dog. Thanks to technological advances, it is now possible to manipulate text and change fonts quickly. Zanettin summarizes these fundamental developments in the process for translating comic books as follows: Traditionally, the translator would provide the publisher with a printed translation of the verbal content, which would then be reviewed by an internal editor and handed to the letterer. After having scratched away the

Translating the visual 67 original text from the balloons in the films with a razor blade, the letterer would write the translation by hand in the empty balloons before the films went to the printing press. Today the translation is received as a text file, and lettering is usually done with the help of a graphics programme, by erasing the original text and importing the translated dialogues in the area of the balloons on the graphic file. If need be, the original handwritten characters can be scanned and reused as fonts in a translated comic book, and dialogues can be ‘shrunk’ to fit into balloons. (Zanettin, 2008: 21) It is, in the end, the task of the translator, editor and publisher to work together, using all the available technology to reproduce the harmony between pictures and the visual appearance of text that is a hallmark of the comic strip, the graphic novel and the modern picture book.

Transformation of the book as artefact Finally, a few words on the book as artefact and the translator’s role in its recreation for the target audience. When working on the translation of picture books and visual narratives of all kinds, the translator is part of a production team where the materiality of the book itself is of prime importance. The role and power of the translator in this web of commercial and artistic transactions will vary enormously. Composing translated text to be added to a massmanufactured co-production, for example, is a very different scenario from being centrally involved in the recreation of the work of a revered author in a gift-book edition. Wherever possible, translators should be a party to discussion on the appearance and construction of a book, so that the final product is either as close as possible to the conception of the author and artist of the source text, or represents a coherent and creative reinterpretation. It is important to remember that artwork may be compromised by material alterations to the book, as in the case of Quentin Blake’s counting book Cockatoos (1994). The Italian edition was reprinted in a smaller size, thus cropping the illustrations by about a fifth. Cropping resulted in the disappearance of a cockatoo on one page, yet the number of cockatoos on each page has to match the number in the text to maintain the counting sequence in the book. So the cockatoo was repositioned, and appears to have flown from one branch to another between the English and Italian editions. Matching text to illustrations presents some unexpected challenges. Book design and printing are an integral part of the transfer of a picture book or indeed an illustrated book from one culture and language to another. The fact that languages are read in different directions, for example, may have striking implications for the translator. Since Arabic is read from left to right, Zitawi describes how each panel in Disney comic-strip stories originating in Kuwait and Dubai was printed in reverse, so that right-handed characters became left-handed, a reversal that affects the representation of cultural


Translating the visual

practices in relation to the use of the right or left hand. However, the Egyptian publisher in Zitawi’s sample used a different, older technique to re-order panels, so characters’ positions were not altered (Zitawi, 2008). This phenomenon is also apparent in comics translated into Japanese, as discussed by Kaindl in an article entitled ‘Warum sind alle Japaner Linkshänder?’ (Why are all Japanese people left-handed? 1999b). Translators working on visual material with text in languages with different scripts should certainly be aware of such complications. In terms of book design, Jean de Brunhoff conceived his Babar books as large handwritten albums, just as Beatrix Potter created her tiny books for small hands; each format has its place in a child’s experience of the book; both have been reproduced in smaller and larger editions respectively in translation as well as in their countries of origin. Editorial transformations to the size, format, covers or endpapers of translated novels or picture books are part of a marketing strategy designed to ease their passage into the target culture, but translators need to be aware of the picture book as a crafted artefact, and ready to defend its integrity when necessary.

Further strategies for translating the picture book and the comic strip •

• •

When translating dialogue in a comic strip, read aloud selected exchanges between characters (or, better still, persuade others to read the text of specific characters with you) to test whether the dialogue sounds authentic and in keeping with the persona of the speaker. Read a number of comic albums in the language into which you are translating so that you become familiar with standard forms of onomatopoeia. Inscriptions within images are representative of the setting of the narrative and should therefore be retained in the source language, but where essential information is conveyed, a translation may be necessary. Where the source text includes a hand-lettered or handwritten effect, persuade editors of the need to choose an appropriate font for text that has the appearance of hand-lettering. Wherever possible, participate in editorial discussion as to the final appearance and marketing of the translated book.

Discussion points •

What role do you consider the translator should ideally play in the production of translated picture book – as straightforward provider of text or contributor to an editorial team? What is your opinion of Riitta Oittinen’s call for specialized training for translators of visual texts?

Translating the visual 69

Exercises •

After carefully observing the interaction between pictures and written text, translate a picture book into your working language. Keep a record of the challenges you encounter for discussion with fellow students or translators. Read a comic strip or graphic novel for a child or young adult audience and translate one selected double spread. If possible, photocopy the double spread and work within the space of speech bubbles (by cutting similar shapes in blank paper) or attempt to replicate hand-lettering if appropriate. Again, keep a record of challenges and strategies.

Notes 1 2

I am grateful to Emer O’Sullivan for researching the details of this telling incident; for a full account see O’Sullivan’s keynote lecture at the 2012 IBBY Congress on YouTube, [accessed 30 June 2015]. 10 July 2004, published on the ‘Tintinologist’ website articles/mt-llc-interview.html [accessed 13 February 2013].

Further reading Kaindl, Klaus (1999a) ‘Thump, Whizz, Poom: A framework for the study of comics under translation’. Target, 11(2): 263–88. Nikolajeva, Maria and Scott, Carole, eds. (2001) How Picturebooks Work, New York and London: Garland. Oittinen, Riitta (2003) ‘Where the wild things are: Translating picture books’. Meta Translators’ Journal, 48(1–2): 128–41. O’Sullivan, Emer (2006) ‘Translating Pictures’. In The Translation of Children’s Literature: A reader, edited by G. Lathey, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters: 113–21. Zanettin, Federico, ed. (2008) Comics in Translation, Manchester: St. Jerome Press.

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Translating dialogue and dialect

Dialogue is central to the development of character and plot in modern children’s fiction. Spoken exchanges drive narrative momentum, but they also offer respite from lengthy descriptive or explanatory passages that may seem daunting to younger readers. Authors represent children talking to themselves, to their peers or to adults, and in doing so encompass a range of voices, from the humorous inaccuracies and misunderstandings of a very young child to the ephemerally fashionable cult language of the teenager. Capturing the toddler’s lisping cadences presents one kind of challenge, but the nuances of young people’s usage of urban or regional dialect and rapidly changing contemporary slang are notoriously difficult to translate, originating as they do in the desire of its speakers to create socially exclusive bonds. Fictional child characters may also be migrant children, with the accents of their heritage languages and the linguistic innovation of second language learners. A translator working on spoken language in children’s books therefore needs to become acquainted with small children’s speech patterns and to listen to the exchanges of their elder siblings on city streets in order to create a convincing young people’s vernacular that will not date too quickly. Cathy Hirano, translator of Japanese fiction for young people into English, argues that translating conversation often requires ‘more ingenuity than descriptive passages’ (2006: 230), citing degrees of politeness and familiarity in Japanese as specific challenges in conveying the intricacies of register and civility. Hirano already has a distinct advantage over some translators, since she spends time every day talking with her own children (who speak both English and Japanese) and their friends. Not every translator is able to gain such an immediate and regularly updated understanding of speech patterns and current cult phrases, but Hirano does not depend on this strategy alone. When translating Kazumi Yumoto’s The Friends (1996), she became aware that the banter of children that Yumoto captures so adeptly would sound strange in English. Hirano cites a passage where one of the boy protagonists finally succeeds in persuading his friends to spy on the old man whose progress towards death they have decided to follow. First, she presents a direct translation, commenting that it does not convey any of the humour of the exchange:


Translating dialogue and dialect いいけど」 「… って?」山下がおずおずきいた。 … 「つまりさ」ぼくは山下の食い入るような目を避けた。「本人には絶 対迷惑をかけないってことで… 」 … 「えーっ!」 「やたーっ!二対一!」河辺が躍り上がった。

‘All right.’ ‘ . . . say?’ Yamashita is nervous. ‘To be more precise,’ I avoid Yamashita’s accusing eyes. ‘It must not cause trouble for the old man.’ ‘Ehh?’ ‘Did it! Two against one!’ Kawabe dances a little jig. This is the final, published version of the same passage as translated by Hirano: ‘All right’ I say. ‘All right what?’ Yamashita asks nervously. I avoid Yamashita’s accusing eyes. ‘But only on condition that it doesn’t bother the old man.’ ‘No!’ Yamashita explodes. ‘Yes! Two against one!’ Kawabe shouts gleefully, and he dances a little jig. (Hirano, The Friends, 2006: 230) It may seem that there is not a huge difference between these two passages or, indeed, that the second could have been made even more colloquial, for example by replacing ‘on condition that’ with ‘if’. However, ‘All right what?’ is convincing as the riposte of a teenage boy and the exclamation ‘Yes!’ in the final line is certainly an improvement on ‘Did it!’ Deletion of the rather formal ‘To be precise’ maintains the casual tone of the conversation. Since her version of Yumoto’s novel was to be published in the US, Hirano adopted the strategy of reading American children’s books and watching American movies as she translated. This is a practice to be recommended, as indeed is Hirano’s strategy of closing her eyes, visualizing American children and imagining what they would say in such a situation. An alternative is to consult electronic corpora of spoken English (see summary of strategies below) and similar corpora in other languages.

Translating spoken language: linguistic constraints Before taking a closer look at social register and regional variation in spoken language in children’s books, a few instances related to specific languages (Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese) and to forms of address used in dialogue

Translating dialogue and dialect


between children and adults across a number of languages will indicate the range of strategies that a translator may have to consider. There is a clear distinction between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) as taught in schools and colloquial Arabic, which is regarded as low status and is not usually represented in MSA. Although colloquial Arabic (in Egypt in particular) is increasingly used in fiction, specifically for dialogue, it rarely filters into children’s literature, and even the dubbing of dialogue in films tends to be in fusha (standard Arabic). One issue is the regionality of non-standard Arabic. Translator and children’s author Fatima Sharafeddine wanted to translate texts from English into colloquial Lebanese, but publishers insisted on MSA in order to ensure distribution across the Arab world. Eventually Sharafeddine found a hybrid compromise: as an example, ‘scooter’ becomes ‘‫( ’دريجة‬a small bicycle).1 Dünges (2011) cites a further example where Lebanese author Idrïs experimented with dialect at word level (2011: 178–9), but was accused by some teachers and parents of ruining classical Arabic. Translators into Arabic, therefore, have to negotiate the accessibility of the vernacular in different Arab countries in relation to children’s reading matter specifically, and to consider ways in which children’s own language could be represented. The emergence of what Anissa Daoudi (2011) has called ‘e-Arabic’, a form of the language familiar to the younger generations of internet users, also has implications for the translation of young adult fiction from Arabic. A mixture of ‘numbers, characters from the Latin alphabet, Arabic script characters, emoticons, and words from other languages (e.g. English or French)’ as well as colloquial Arabic (Daoudi, 2011: 191), e-Arabic is present in the young adult novel Banat Al Riyadh (2005) by Rajaa Al Sanea. According to Daoudi, the English translation of this novel by Marilyn Booth (Girls of Riyadh, 2007) is aimed at older readers than the Arabic source text ‘to convince the Western world and Western readers of the existence of a new “young” Saudi Arabian identity’. Both the content and style of Banat Al Riyadh have proved to be controversial; by using e-Arabic Al Sanea has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging the status of formal standard Arabic on behalf of the younger generation in Arabic-speaking countries (Daoudi, 192). A translator in Booth’s position, translating from Arabic, therefore has to make a number of decisions concerning the likely audience of the target text and how to replicate the political, cultural and social implications of e-Arabic. Hebrew is bound by different pedagogical and political constraints in relation to social register, but also has a history of opposition to the representation of the vernacular in texts for children. Miryam Du-Nour (1995) describes the representation of colloquial language as one of the most difficult issues in the history of translations for the young into modern Hebrew. Children’s books have been regarded as a medium for teaching children to read and to appreciate literary style as part of the process of revival of an ancient language. Drawing in part on his own experience as a translator into Hebrew of stories by Astrid Lindgren, Basmat Even-Zohar offers insights into the


Translating dialogue and dialect

constraints imposed on the translator by editors, proofreaders and vocalization experts when rendering the dialogue of Lindgren’s narratives in Hebrew. Vocalization, Even-Zohar argues, is the most archaic feature of the written standard language ‘yet it cannot be avoided in texts for children, who are meant to use the signs as reading aids’ (1992: 243). Even-Zohar does, however, predict a gradual infiltration of the vernacular into children’s literature in the interests of realism. Shavit demonstrates this gradual development towards the use of spoken modern Hebrew rather than high-status, literary Hebrew in successive translations of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (Shavit, 2012: 24). In a comparable instance of the pedagogical role of language and literature in Japanese, the formal, serious qualities of the ‘written style’ of Japanese, which children start to learn when they are eight or nine years old, include vocabulary and expressions unlikely to be used in ordinary conversation. In the past, translators of English texts into Japanese therefore omitted vernacular expressions. Noriko Shimoda Netley (1992) found an instance of this kind of sanitization in a Japanese translation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, where Dahl’s scurrilous expressions and the verbal abuse uttered by various characters are toned down, thus losing the comical, irreverent perspective of the novel. Netley comments that ‘insulting words sometimes sound too strong in Japanese’ (1992: 199) and identifies a considerable difference between the ‘colloquial and casual’ style of Dahl’s written English – both narrative and dialogue – and the formal style of the Japanese version (1992: 197). A second aspect of the Japanese language that is highly relevant to the representation of dialogue is the wide range of forms of interpersonal address and their role in the politeness maxims of Japanese culture. Cathy Hirano entitled her article on the translation of Yumoto’s novel The Friends, “Eight ways to say You: The challenges of translation”, citing a number of different forms of the second person pronoun in Japanese. First there is a form used only by male speakers, then a polite form for someone of higher status, a familiar form for someone of lower status and so on. She gives her readers a telling instance of the significance of the type of personal pronoun used in a conversational exchange. In Hirano’s translation of a second novel by Yumoto, The Spring Tone, thirteen-year-old Tomomi is petting a stray cat when a rather fastidious boy from her school, Kinko, passes by. Kinko tells her that he blames the proliferation of stray cats on those who feed them, while Tomomi argues angrily that people who abandon their cats are at fault. Hirano gives a literal translation of an exchange between the two and the internal riposte by Tomomi that follows: ‘Was that your brother?’ ‘Yeah, so what?’ He said ‘your’. Why is he putting on airs, that jerk? This makes no sense in English, but the boy has used 君 (kimi) for ‘your’. Hirano comments that when used by a child to other children this seems rather

Translating dialogue and dialect


affected, so Tomomi is angry at Kinko’s elevated tone. Hirano recreates this social nuance by adding a formal phrase as follows: ‘That was your brother, I presume?’ ‘Yeah, so what?’ You presume indeed. You jerk. (Hirano, 2006: 229–30) The archaic ‘I presume’ has the same effect as the use of a pronoun normally used by adults – for example teachers – to address children. Different forms of the second person pronoun and their usage in conversation with or between children also affect translation between European languages. Although a more casual attitude to modes of address has developed over time, a respectful use of the polite form of ‘you’ between unacquainted adults or by children to adults who are not part of their family is still evident in a number of languages, for example in addressing teachers and people in positions of authority. Nancy Jentsch (2006) has noted differences in this respect in the translation of the first books of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series into German, French and Spanish. In the Spanish version, Harry’s friendship with Hagrid is soon marked by the use of ‘tú’ after an initial use of the more formal ‘usted’, with Ron and Hermione following suit; in the German books, all four characters use the informal ‘du’ with each other from the start. In the French version, Hagrid addresses the children informally as ‘tu’, while they maintain a respectful ‘vous’ when speaking to him. Jentsch comments that the Spanish and German versions convey the special quality of this relationship between an adult and three children by the early use of ‘tú’ and ‘du’, whereas the formal address used by the children in the French translation detracts from it. Degrees of politeness as expressed in forms of address between characters, and particularly between child and adult characters, are instances where translators have to take account of cultural habits and to develop consistent and carefully considered strategies.

Translating slang and ‘street talk’ Translating slang, the vernacular and dialect has long been a challenge for translators of fiction, poetry and drama for all ages, but one factor that translators for adults are less likely to encounter is editorial pressure to censor and standardize spoken language. This has already become apparent in examples outlined above; parents, teachers and librarians may be concerned that children should read only dialogue or prose of high stylistic quality that does not include slang, dialect or indeed scurrilous language. Patricia Crampton wryly relates having to downgrade (at her publisher’s insistence) a reference to a ‘morronfjärt’ (morning fart) in a triumphant exclamation by Ronia’s father, to a ‘belch’ in her English translation of Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter (Lindgren, 1981; Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter, 1990: 85). Recreating the tone, register and verisimilitude of passages of


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dialogue in the target language therefore requires a great sensitivity to social register as well as an awareness of attitudes towards the acceptability of the vernacular in children’s fiction in the target culture. By surveying studies of teenage speech in English, Dutch and German, Jan van Coillie identified some typical linguistic markers that apply to most languages and indeed to fiction for all children and young people: Intensifying language Insults and swear words (as vocatives) Neologisms and playful language Informal language, slang Special greetings Words from foreign languages Clip words (abbreviated nouns or adjectives, footie for football, OK etc.) (van Coillie, 2012: 219) All of these features should be borne in mind by the translator and are addressed in this chapter or elsewhere (neologisms and playful language, for example, are discussed in Chapter 5). The following examples, both historical and contemporary, illustrate cultural and pedagogical influences on the translation of language variety, and a range of strategies adopted by translators. A significant historical instance of a change of social register in the representation of spoken language is found in the British translation of a German modern children’s classic, Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives of 1931. This shift reflects both anxieties about the contaminating influence of the vernacular and the phenomenon of affiliation to models in the target culture noted by Zohar Shavit in her Poetics of Children’s Literature (1986). Published just ten years after the condemnation by the Newbolt Report on the teaching of English in primary schools in 1921 of ‘the powerful influences of evil habits of speech contracted in home and street’ (HMSO Newbolt Report on The Teaching of English in England, 1921: 59), translator Margaret Goldsmith’s version of Emil transforms Kästner’s stylized Berlin street slang into the dialogue of the English boarding-school story that was popular in the UK at the time. Both Emer O’Sullivan (2000) and Gerda Faerber (1999) have analyzed critically the English vocabulary and phrases that belie the lower middle class milieu Kästner created. A brief example will suffice to illustrate this shift in British versions and the American translations that remain closer to the register Kästner used. When Emil persuades Gustav, a member of a Berlin street gang, to help him to capture the thief who stole his money, the new ally is delighted:

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‘Also, ich finde die Sache mit dem Dieb knorke. Ganz Grosse Klasse, Ehrenwort! Und, Mensch, wenn du nischt dagegen hast, helfe ich dir’ (Kästner, 1929: 78) [‘Well I think the thing with the thief is fantastic. Just great – I mean it! And, man, if you’ve got nothing against it, I’ll help you’] (literal translation) ‘Well, I think this thief affair is going to be tophole. First-rate. And, I say, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll help you’ (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, trans by Goldsmith, 1931: 95) Obsolete slang such as ‘knorke’ is transposed into the upper middle class register in the use of ‘tophole’ and ‘first-rate’ and ‘I say’. A new translation by Eileen Hall in 1959 did little to alter the inappropriate register of the children’s exchanges. Translations such as those of Goldsmith and Hall indicate that in specific eras – in this case the UK in the first half of the twentieth century and beyond – there is a tendency to choose a higher social register in translation than that used in the source text. Both translators were bound by conventions concerning the appropriate register for younger child readers at the time of translation, so they affiliate to contemporary models – in British English translations of Emil to the British boarding-school story of the period. May Massee’s American translation (published a year before Goldsmith’s), on the other hand, strikes a far more authentic note. Emer O’Sullivan suggests that Massee drew on her reading of American dime novels for the vernacular she employs (O’Sullivan, 2000: 217): ‘This looks like a swell stunt to me – some class, I’ll say. And man, I’m with you, if that’s all right with you.’ (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, trans by Massee, 1930: 77) W. Martin updates the passage for twenty-first century readers in a new translation published in 2014, stating in a translator’s note that his aim was to achieve a ‘contemporary, coloquial American idiom’ (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, 2014: 160): ‘Listen, this thing with the robber is cool. It’s awesome, actually! So unless you have a problem with it, I’d like to help out.’ (Kästner, 1929; Emil and the Detectives, trans Martin, 2014: 80) ‘Cool’ and ‘awesome’ replace Massee’s ‘swell’ and ‘some class’. Both American translators do at least attempt to adjust children’s language in the novel in the interests of the contemporary child reader.


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In an English-language source text published some sixty years after Emil, Laurie Thompson and his editorial team decided to try to achieve a partial degree of historical accuracy when translating the 1950s Stockholm dialect in Peter Pohl’s Swedish novel Janne min vän (Johnny, my Friend, 1991). Text that is fiction set or published in the recent historical past presents specific challenges to the translator, who may decide to update spoken language or to attempt to create authentic period dialogue. Thompson chose the latter strategy when working on the translation for editor, publisher and author Aidan Chambers. Fortunately, Chambers kept all correspondence and a log on translation projects for his business partner David Turton in Australia; he also wrote an account of the detailed discussions on specific translation points with Thompson. Thompson noted the problem of achieving the right level of colloquialism in the covering letter to his first sample translation sent to Chambers: There are frequently no direct English equivalents for the individual slang words and phrases, so it is often a case of trying to give the whole paragraph a similar tone rather than worrying too much about specific phrases. I’m trying to remember the kind of colloquialisms current when I was at school [in the 1950s, when the story is set], while avoiding giving too dated an impression. (Chambers, 2001: 131) In fact, for Johnny, my Friend, a four-way collaboration took place between Chambers as editor and publisher; his Swedish language consultant Katarina Kuick who first suggested publishing the novel in English; the author Peter Pohl, and the translator Laurie Thompson. Just as American translator Massee acknowledges in her introduction to Emil and the Detectives the help of two German friends who acted as advisors on the street language of Berlin in the late 1920s, Kuick was a trusted intermediary who could interpret the fine distinctions of Stockholm slang. In this case the relationship between all participants in the translation enterprise was close-knit. As a first step, Kuick and Chambers met with Pohl who answered an initial set of translation questions, then Thompson was chosen as translator, and he in turn visited Pohl in Sweden. Despite these fortunate and unusual circumstances, Thompson’s task was not an easy one. One example of the linguistic sensitivity required is Thompson’s use of the slang term ‘bobby’ instead of ‘policeman’ which, though current in 1950s Britain, was changed in the final draft to the American ‘cop’ – a more likely choice for young people influenced at the time by Hollywood crime movies and eager to gain credibility with their friends (Chambers, 2001: 133). Reproducing the vernacular in a novel first published in 1929 (Emil und die Detective) or set in the recent past (Janne min vän) raises pedagogical issues concerning the type of language suitable for children’s books and a fine-tuning of historically authentic dialogue. In translations of contemporary fiction

Translating dialogue and dialect


representing young people’s language of the late twentieth and early twentyfirst centuries, there has been in many countries a liberalization of educational policy on spoken language, thanks to a new understanding of children’s abilities to switch between different registers when necessary. This has resulted in a marked increase in the representation of slang and street language in children’s fiction. It is therefore even more important that translators should become acquainted with current phrases and expressions used by young people or that, following Massee and Thompson, they should use the services of an intermediary. Both translators benefitted from the advice of native speakers of the source language who were more likely to be in tune with the urban slang of the text to be translated; it is, after all, impossible to become familiar with the full range of registers in any language. Translations of the Harry Potter books indicate, however, that the trend towards the acceptance of spoken language varieties in children’s books is by no means universal. Throughout the series, Hagrid speaks a non-standard English that is not characteristic of any particular locality. During Hagrid’s very first appearance in Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, he tells Professor Dumbledore about his motorbike journey with baby Harry: ‘[. . .] I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin’ around. He fell asleep as we was flyin’ over Bristol.’ (Rowling, 1997: 16) The omission of the final ‘g’ from ‘swarming’ and ‘flying’ and the first person plural ‘we was’ rather than ‘we were’ are probably meant to indicate that Hagrid has working-class origins and certainly that he is of lower social status than the highly educated Dumbledore. An international gathering of Harry Potter translators on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the International Federation of Translators in Paris in 2003 revealed a range of responses to the representation of Hagrid’s vernacular. Serbian translator Vesna Stamenkovic Roganovic, who worked on the series with her son, was quite prepared to use regional dialect but rejected a solution that would make Hagrid seem to be ‘a Serbian peasant rather than an English giant’. So the translators created an innovative ‘Hagrid pidgin’: [. . .] it is very peculiar, yet recognizable to our kids. We had in mind the sound of many people that settled in our Belgrade, after the Second World War, coming from different parts of the country; sooner or later, most of them would adopt their own local dialect, Northern, Southern, Eastern Bosnian, or Macedonian, with other newcomers’ words and pronunciations, as well as with the common Serbian speech of the new environment. The result was a unique leitmotif-speech, equivalent to the musical theme for Hagrid in the films of Chris Columbus. (cited in Stamenkovic Roganovic, 2003–4: 16–17)


Translating dialogue and dialect

On the other hand, the Thai translator of the series, Sumalee Bumroongsook, decided not to use regional dialect to depict Hagrid’s speech simply because ‘Thai readers are not accustomed to reading regional accents in print’ (Bumroongsook, 2003–4: 20). These two examples are a reminder that there are no ready-made functional equivalents across languages; translators must always be sensitive to cultural practices and historical circumstances. On examining a number of other translations it appears that a lingering reluctance to reproduce colloquial language results; for example, in the French translation, Hagrid uses standard grammar and pronunciation: ‘[. . .] je me suis débrouillé pour le sortir de là avant que les Moldus commencent à rappliquer. Ils’est endormi quand on a survolé Bristol.’ (Rowling, 1997; Harry Potter à l’école des Sorciers, trans by Ménard, 1998) Anne-Lise Feral attributes the French translator’s strategy here, and in the unnatural retention of ‘ne’ in negative clauses and ‘nous’ as a personal pronoun in the spoken language of child characters, to ‘the importance of grammar in the school curriculum in France where pupils spend a minimum of eight years learning the complex mechanisms of their own language’ (Feral, 2006: 463). In the German version Hagrid merely drops the final ‘e’ of ‘habe’, which is a common feature of spoken German and not necessarily indicative of social standing: ‘[. . .] ich hab ihn gerade noch herausholen können, bevor die Muggel angeschwirrt kamen. Er ist eingeschlafen, als wir über Bristol flogen.’ (Rowling, 1997; Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen, trans by Fritz: 1998) It seems that a distinct uneasiness at using non-standard language in a children’s book is still evident in these two instances, although in other books in the series the German translations of Hagrid’s speech do include colloquialisms. Martin B. Fischer indicates, too, that in the case of the Spanish Catalan edition translated by Laura Escorihuela, it was the publisher who did not want any deviation from Catalan standard norms. Although Hagrid uses some Catalan colloquial expressions such as ‘aviam’, ‘llavorens’ and ‘calés’ in the series, on the whole he speaks in standard Catalan (Fischer, 2012: 58). Depending on regional and political circumstances, young people’s fictional dialogue may also include the voices of bilingual and migrant children who incorporate the vocabulary, phrases and intonation of their heritage language into their own version of the language spoken on the streets so that translators may be working with multilingual texts. Sarah Ardizzone has completed English versions of young adult novels written in two very different genres, both of which feature the French urban slang of young people of North

Translating dialogue and dialect


African origin. Ardizzone has taken research into street language further than most translators. Before translating several of the bestselling Golem series of five novels by the siblings Marie-Aude, Lorris and Elvire Murail set in an imaginary and unspecified urban ghetto in France, Ardizzone spent three months in the Algerian community in Marseilles, which has a similar urban scenario to that found in the books, financed by a grant from the French Book Office. She became familiar with the particular brand of Maghreb-influenced ‘verlan’ (back slang) whereby words are reversed, and which is spoken in the extended low-rise housing blocks (or ‘barres’) of that city. Ardizzone has written about her acquired understanding of verlan for the Golem books, including the common issue in young adult fiction – already noted in Johnny, my Friend – of finding an appropriate equivalent for the slang term for ‘police’: [. . .] a femme becomes a meuf a mec (guy) becomes a keum, a prof(esseur) is a feupro and les flics are keufs. Take that last example: an old skool [sic] English translation would be ‘pigs’, but given the US influence on UK slang, you might want to refer to them as Feds. (Adams/Ardizzone, 2005: 13) Once again an American term, ‘Feds’, is chosen rather than the British ‘pigs’ in recognition of the continuing influence of US films and TV detective series. Moreover, to make the dialogue of the Golem books work for a streetconscious British readership, Ardizzone sought out teenage ‘slang advisors’ in the Afro-Caribbean community of Brixton, south London. These young people introduced her to the rhythms, vocabulary, moods and humour of current slang, while warning of its inbuilt obsolescence. Ardizzone’s task was to ‘engineer an equivalent: but preferably with a longer shelf-life’ (2005: 13). She cites the words of Carlos Fuentes, taken from his 2004 NESTA Max Sebald lecture on translation: ‘Translators can’t convey the slang of our times accurately, because slang is language in constant transformation. So we have to give slang an “onomatopoeic resonance” by transforming language into comical expression’ (cited in Adams/Ardizzone, 2005: 13). Ardizzone transfers the setting of the Golem books to a British social housing estate. As indicated in Chapter 2, such radical relocation is a rare occurrence and is only justifiable in this instance because the setting is unspecified and the genre that of fantasy. Relocation also avoids the incongruity of English slang spoken on French streets. Phrases taken from Afro-Caribbean south Londoners are appropriate in the locality of the target text, so Ardizzone renders the backslang term ‘keums’ (backslang for ‘mecs’ or ‘guys’) in the phrase: On s’éclate, les keums, dit-il, une fois de l’autre côté. (Murail, Murail and Murail, Golem 5 Alias, 2002: 128)


Translating dialogue and dialect

as: ‘Nuff respect!’ he said from the other side. (Murail, Murail and Murail, 2002; Golem 5 Alias, trans by Ardizzone, 2005: 131) Later in the scene Ardizzone uses ‘brethren’ as an alternative rendering of ‘keums’ and ‘Nuff respect’, meaning ‘enough respect’, is another phrase taken directly from her young advisors. Ardizzone has also translated a novel written in a different mode, that of social realism, which retains its Parisian setting in translation. In her translation of Kiffe kiffe demain (2004) by the young French-Algerian author Faïza Guène as Just Like Tomorrow (2006), Ardizzone makes use of a different strategy by appending a glossary of Arabic words and expressions as discussed in Chapter 2. She also takes the unusual step of including ‘A Note on the Slang’ to her young readers at the end of the novel. Ardizzone explains the use of ‘Arabe’ as a term for a second or third generation French national of North African origin, which in back slang becomes ‘beur’, or is even flipped again by those at the cutting edge to become ‘rebeu’. Then she offers some examples of translations for vernacular phrases: Examples might be ‘oh my days’ to register shock and wonder; ‘bare’ or ‘over’ meaning ‘very’; ‘safe’ or ‘heavy’ to refer to something positively; or ‘buff’ meaning ‘good-looking’. Sadly, I never got a chance to use ‘minging’ for ‘no good’. (Guène, 2004; Just Like Tomorrow, trans by Ardizzone, 2006: 184) A dedication at the beginning of the book: ‘The translator would like to thank Cleo Soazandry and all the slangstas at Live Magazine’ makes it clear that most of these English expressions are, as in the Golem books, taken directly from the young people of Lambeth, south London. Here is an example of Ardizzone’s ability to capture the tone and voice of fifteen-year-old Doria, the narrator of Kiffe kiffe demain: Les poufiasses du lycée, la bande de décolorées, surmaquillées avec leurs soutiens-gorge rembourrés et leurs chaussures compensées, ells se sont bien foutues de ma gueule. Le truc écrit en anglais sur le pull, c’était ‘sweet dreams’. Ça veut dire ‘fais de beaux rêves’. Cette saloperie de pull mauve, c’était un haut de pyjama. Je savais que j’aurais dû être plus attentive pendant les cours de miss Baker en sixième. (Guène, 2004, Kiffe kiffe demain, Kindle edition) The fat slags at school, that crew of peroxide blondes with their padded bras and platform heels, never let me hear the end of it. Turns out what

Translating dialogue and dialect


was written in English on the sweatshirt meant ‘sweet dreams’. That bitch of a mauve sweatshirt was actually a pyjama top. I knew I should of paid more attention to Miss Baker’s English lessons in Year 6. (Guène, 2004; Just Like Tomorrow, trans by Ardizzone, 2006: 66) Ardizzone renders ‘poufiasses’ as ‘fat slags’, a derogatory term for a female, and uses the hip ‘crew’ rather than the more usual ‘gang’ or the bland ‘group’ for ‘bande’; she also replaces Guène’s conditional perfect ‘j’aurais dû être plus attentive’ (literally: I ought to have been more attentive), with ‘should of’ to represent a common pronunciation of ‘should have’. Although the English version of this passage is convincing as the voice of a young girl living on a social housing estate, translators should be aware of the potential incongruity of south London slang on the lips of young speakers in urban France. Translator Daniel Hahn has called the translation of nonstandard language a ‘sleight of hand . . . using slang but avoiding any particular markers that’ll seem to locate the characters too sharply somewhere they’re not’, a sentiment echoed by Anthea Bell who prefers to create a ‘non-specific demotic’ that is not linked to any particular place. Each book, she argues, requires its own strategies. Bell has even, in one instance, created a non-standard dialect where a character speaks the standard language in the source text. When working on a novel by Willi Fährmann about a young boy sailing to the US in the 1870s to find work, she found that the standard German of an old sailor’s conversation with the boy seemed stilted when written in standard English: I therefore worked on creating him a colloquial idiom of vague provenance; I did not want to pin him down with an actual dialect, either English or American (the translation being for both sides of the Atlantic), but aimed for something which might sound like the way a shrewd but uneducated old sailor would tell his tales. I tried to get this effect partly by giving him the historic present for his narratives, along with various elisions, inversions and colloquial tricks of speech. They may not have been present in the German, but I hope that they faithfully reflected the author’s intention in the portrayal of his character. (Bell, 1986: 18) As always, the translator has to find a way to replicate the potential effects of the source text with the child reader in mind. This is certainly true of books for younger children, where representations of dialect may prove to be difficult for an inexperienced reader to decipher, so the stylization of both urban slang and regional dialect has to be tackled with care.

Translating regional dialect Translating regional dialect has much in common with translating urban or age-related language varieties. The same pitfalls can trap the unwary translator


Translating dialogue and dialect

into producing dialogue that seems stilted or even ridiculous. The dangers of rendering, say, a Spanish Andalusian dialect as Bavarian German in a text with a Spanish setting are obvious. As Anthea Bell has pointed out, such a transition risks undermining the whole translation enterprise: What, thinks the reader, is this man from Cologne (or Marseilles or wherever) doing speaking broad Yorkshire (or Deep South or whatever)? Come to that, what are the rest of these people in Central Germany or the south of France doing speaking English at all? And come to that, these are not the author’s own words, and what am I doing reading anything so artificial as a translation anyway? (Bell, 1986: 18–19) A transposition into a local dialect of the target language is therefore best avoided, with the use of stylized non-standard dialogue as the only solution in many cases. Bell and Derek Hockridge generally did not use British dialects for the French regional accents in the Asterix albums, for example, even where this meant the rewriting of some frames or ‘in one case, of an entire page where the French jokes depended on an Auvergnat accent’ (Bell, 1980: 130). Occasionally, however, there may be a sound literary argument for introducing local features. In her translation of Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter, Patricia Crampton decided to render the speech of one of the many sets of mythical creatures – the rumphobs – as a dialect taken from her local Wiltshire in the southwest of England (Crampton, 1990). By doing so she conveys the humour of this welcome interlude to the intensity of the central, fraught relationship of the narrative between Ronia and the son of her family’s arch-enemy. When Ronia’s foot gets caught in the rumphobs’ underground home, they hang their baby’s cradle on it, shrieking: ‘She do go!’ ‘She do swing there! . . . Lil’ boy he be rockin’ proper, see!’ (Lindgren, 1981; Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter, trans by Crampton, 1990: 84) Use of the auxiliary ‘do’, and the tag ‘see’, both typical of the dialects of southwest England, does indeed make the rumphobs seem ridiculous – but Lindgren’s intention was indeed to make her young readers laugh at these incongruous creatures. In a second example, the English translation of Hergé’s adventure L’Ile Noire (1943), dialect is introduced where it is not present in the source text for reasons of authenticity and congruity with the accompanying images (see discussion of translating the text in these images in Chapter 3). This entire album has an English and, in the last phase of the adventure, a Scottish setting and thus presented its translators with a paradoxical challenge in relation to cultural adaptation. In The Black Island (Hergé, 1943; trans 1966), Lonsdale-Cooper

Translating dialogue and dialect


and Turner faced the task of transposing the French dialogue (masquerading as English) into actual English, and in particular the invention of a Scottish accent to replace the standard French for the characters Tintin meets once the action moves to Scotland. The Scottish pub landlord responds to Tintin’s request for a bed for the night with ‘Aye, for sure’ rather than the rather formal ‘Certainement’ (Hergé, 1943; trans 1966: 41) in French. Sailors who refuse to take Tintin to Black Island tell him: ‘Personne ne voudra vous y conduire’ and in the English-Scottish translation: ‘there’s no maun heer that’ll dare go neer that curst place’ (Hergé, 1943; The Black Island, trans by Turner and Lonsdale-Cooper, 1966: 42) Lonsdale-Cooper and Turner deliberately represent Scottish pronunciation as well as incorporating dialect vocabulary at other points, for example: ‘ken’ instead of ‘know’ and ‘gang’ instead of ‘go’. Hergé had demonstrated no such intention to distinguish between English and Scots speakers in the French source text, and indeed would have found it impossible to do so without the jarring use of a regional French dialect and an inevitable mismatch with the images of Scotland. In this unusual example, the translators therefore create an extra but necessary layer of humour in the script for Englishlanguage readers who would find it rather odd if Scottish characters spoke standard English. In a further twist to this particular translation story, the Scottish publisher Taigh Na Teud issued two new versions of The Dark Isle (Hergé, 1943) in 2013: one translated into a representation of English spoken with a Scottish accent (The Derk Isle ‘Translatit by Susan Rennie’) and another in Scottish Gaelic (An T-Eilean Dubh ‘Air Eadar-Theangachadh le Gillebrìde Mac ‘Illemhaoil’). To sum up, Crampton, Lonsdale-Cooper and Turner use dialect for specific aesthetic reasons: to recreate the humour of the source text in both cases and to match images in the case of the Tintin album.

Translating idiolect Tintin’s translators across the world encounter a regional form of French described by Jan Baetens in his aptly entitled article “Tintin the Untranslatable” as a Bruxello-Flemish dialect (‘Marols’, or ‘Marollien’) (2001: 366), but they also have to address the invented idiolects associated with particular characters. Thomson and Thompson’s repeated phrase ‘to be precise’ (‘je dirai meme plus’) is one such instance, but Captain Haddock’s colloquial register and rich resource of curses demands innovation. In Tintin in Tibet (Hergé, 1960; trans 1962) Haddock’s ‘foul language’ (see Chapter 3) offers a guaranteed moment of pleasure in the read-aloud performance and is one of the highlights of the


Translating dialogue and dialect

Tintin series for the young; it calls for both linguistic playfulness and extensive research. According to Harry Thompson’s biography, Tintin, Hergé and his Creation (1991), Tintin’s English translators resorted not just to off-the-cuff coinages to replace Haddock’s habitual and florid curses, but also to Roget’s Thesaurus ‘and four other books on Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper’s shelves including Petersen’s Prehistoric Life on Earth, and Reptiles, Mammals and Fishes of the World by Hans Hvass’ (Thompson, 1991: 101). Taking Tintin in Tibet as an example, by page 5, Haddock has already uttered his trademark ‘billions of blue blistering barnacles’ (‘mille millions de mille sabords’, p. 3) and ‘ten thousand thundering typhoons’ (To preserve alliteration, this is a numerically reduced rendering of ‘mille milliards de tonnerres de Brest’, p. 5). It is, however, Haddock’s prolonged and vituperative verbal reaction to the yeti’s consumption of his whisky that no doubt had Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper reaching for her Petersen and Hvass. Just one speech bubble (Tintin in Tibet: 26) illustrates a number of strategies including direct translation, alternatives and omission in order to maintain an approximate equivalence in the number of letters used (Lonsdale-Cooper’s reference to counting ‘to make sure every box was the correct length’ makes clear the expediency of spatially matching the French): ‘Macrocéphale! . . . Amphytrion! . . . Rocambole! . . . Ectoplasme! . . . Phylloxéra! . . . Cannibale! . . .’ (Hergé, Tintin au Tibet, 1960) is translated as: ‘You odd-toed ungulate! . . . Macrocephalis baboon! . . . Phylloxera! . . . Cannibal!’ (Hergé, 1960; Tintin in Tibet, trans by Lonsdale-Cooper and M. Turner, 1962) The translators omit the Greek king (‘amphytrion’), Spanish garlic (‘rocambole’) and ‘ectoplasme’ while introducing the splendid ‘odd-toed ungulate’. However, it is the sound of Haddock’s invective and the demarcation of each word by exclamation marks or ellipses that gives his explosion of wrath its expressive force. Fortunately, as sole translators of Tintin, Turner and Lonsdale-Cooper were able to maintain a lively consistency in the use of specific phrases from album to album and kept handwritten glossaries for Captain Haddock and the two Detectives, which Lonsdale-Cooper still possesses. Reminiscent of Haddock’s curses is the abuse delivered by the tyrannical Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Victòria Alsina (2012) has analyzed an idiolect that is always delivered in short, clipped sentences and is

Translating dialogue and dialect


characterized by verbal abuse and tags that indicate vehemence. Alsina offers an example of the Spanish and Catalan versions: ‘This clot’ boomed the Headmistress, pointing the riding-crop at him like a rapier; ‘this black-head, this foul carbuncle, this poisonous pustule’ (Dahl, Matilda, 1988: 142) Este cretino – bramó la directora, dirigendo la fusta hacia él como si fuera un estoque –, esta espinilla, este ántrax asqueroso, esta pústula venenosa (Spanish version, 124, cited in Alsina, 2012) – Aquest imbècil – tronà la directora, apuntant-lo amb la fusta com si fos una espasa –, aquesta berruga, aquesta nafra, aquesta pustule (Catalan version, 120, cited in Alsina, 2012) She comments that both translators have retained the clipped phrases and created violent, invented terms of abuse rather than resorting to ready-made invective.

The spoken language of younger children Akin to idiolect in its individuality is the early language of a very young child. The fictional child narrators discussed in Chapter 1 were sufficiently in command of their native language to relate an entire story or write a diary, but the rhythms, repetition and fragmentary utterances characteristic of a twoto four-year-old are limited to snatches of dialogue. As any parent knows, very young children pass through a stage of asking monumental questions about the way the world works, many of them unanswerable by a Nobel Prizewinning scientist or the most gifted student of human behaviour. As well as capturing these spontaneous thoughts and queries, authors of children’s fiction seek to convey the humour and sometimes the pathos of voices not yet fully in command of the language they speak. It takes great skill and sensitivity on the part of the writer, and therefore of the translator, to tune into a young child’s voice, imagination and concerns. In the text of picture books, the words, elliptical phrases and silences of a young child may be central to the narrative, as is the case in John Burningham’s Granpa (discussed in Chapter 3). Translator Irina Korschunow’s addition of text to Burningham’s final double spread is not only unnecessary and limiting; it is also out of keeping with the brief snatches of dialogue – or rather parallel monologues – in the rest of the book between a grandfather and his grandchild who, to judge by the pictures, is three or four years old. Exchanges between the two are elliptical and brief, with the child’s utterances mostly in the form of questions. Korschunow’s insertion consists of a lengthy interior monologue


Translating dialogue and dialect

of five consecutive sentences that jars with the form and structure of the child’s spoken language thus far. An even younger child is heard in Alf Prøysen’s stories about a little old woman who shrinks: Teskjekjerringa – a name that translates into English literally as ‘Mrs. Teaspoon’. Marianne Helweg, translator of the well-known English versions of Prøysen’s tales, changed the protagonist’s name to Mrs. Pepperpot to recreate the striking alliterative sound of the original title. These stories, published in Norwegian between the late 1950s and early 1960s, have enjoyed – and still enjoy – international success as read-aloud material. In the story “Teskjekjerringa er detective” (1960), where Mrs. Pepperpot attempts to track down the culprit stealing potatoes from her vegetable patch, a toddler’s speech provides an amusing interlude. As usual, Mrs. Pepperpot shrinks to the size of a teaspoon (or pepperpot) at the most inopportune moment: while crouching over a bucket of potatoes she falls into it, thus becoming invisible to the potato stealers – three hungry siblings from a nearby dwelling. The youngest child, a boy, is a toddler still at the early stages of language development, so when he finds the human potato, Prøysen has the little boy lisp, using ‘l’ instead of ‘r’ and refer to ‘en snakke-potet’, an invented word composed of the elements ‘snakke’, to talk, and ‘potet’, ‘potato’. According to Norwegian scholar Professor Janet Garton, to whom I am indebted for insights into the Norwegian original, this is not nearly so funny as Helweg’s translation. Helweg creates a complete scene based on the child’s mispronunciation that includes an overt reference to it: ‘I dood! I dood!’ piped the little fellow who couldn’t say his ‘k’s’ and ‘g’s’. ‘I find lots o’ tatoes!’ and he scrambled after the others [. . .]’ (Prøysen, 1960; Mrs. Pepperpot Turns Detective, trans by Helweg, 1968: 74) Once he finds Mrs. Pepperpot among the potatoes, the boy asserts that she is his potato to ‘teep’ (keep), so he holds her very carefully during the following exchange: ‘You my ’tato?’ he asked. Mrs. Pepperpot nodded. ‘That’s right. I’m your ’tato.’ The little boy’s eyes grew round with amazement. ‘You talking ’tato?’ he asked. ‘That’s right,’ said Mrs. Pepperpot again. ‘I’m a talking ’tato’. ‘Tan I eat you?’ he asked, looking at her very closely. (Prøysen, 1960; Mrs. Pepperpot Turns Detective, trans by Helweg 1968: 76) It seems that Helweg, again through the use of alliteration in ‘talking ‘tato’, has added to the humour of ‘snakke-potet’. By drawing attention to the toddler’s speech she guarantees the attention of young children who have only just moved beyond this stage and will enjoy a moment of superiority.

Translating dialogue and dialect


Helweg’s purpose is the preservation of a humorous tone which may unavoidably be lost elsewhere, so she has used a compensating strategy to mimic a toddler’s speech in a scene that is funny whether read aloud or silently. Both this and the inappropriate addition to Granpa demonstrate the need for a translator to become familiar with the talk and thought patterns of very young children. As always, the best advice to a translator is to spend time with children in order to become acquainted with their spoken communication and use of gesture, and to read the work of authors recognized for that rare ability to recreate successfully the speech of the younger child. In contrast to negotiating the cultural, geographical, historical and even pedagogical niceties of regional dialect or urban slang, translators of idiolect and young children’s speech have free reign. A translator’s capacity for invention is essential when translating a text where child readers relish language precisely because of new, complex and arresting vocabulary, whether invented by a toddler or originating in a zoological dictionary. Young children’s amusing proto-language or idiolect such as that of Haddock or Miss Trunchbull require much wit and linguistic flair on the part of the translator. The following is a summary of strategies for translating dialogue and dialect: •

• •

When urban slang is prominent in a source text, advice from an intermediary in the source culture (for example Laurie Thompson’s Swedish advisor Katarina Kuick) who is familiar with the kind of dialogue to be translated is useful, as indeed are advisors in the target culture (Sarah Ardizzone’s London crew of young advisors). Research with young people or eavesdropping on their conversations on public transport, in cafés or by following social media etc. will introduce you to current terms and phrases in the target language. Consulting relevant corpora, for example the HERMES Twitter corpus, the Birmingham blog corpus, the Cambridge and Nottingham e-Language corpus (CANELC) or the COLT-Bergen Corpus of London Teenage Language may well be useful for recreating authentic speech and forms of electronic communication where relevant. To test the impact of the vernacular you have created, try out passages of dialogue on children or young people. As always, the reading aloud of translated passages of dialogue alone, or where possible with others, will highlight any incongruity or inauthenticity in passages of dialogue and assist in the creation of fluent exchanges. Read novels (for the young or for adults) that incorporate non-standard varieties of the target language and note the strategies authors use to represent spoken language. Watch current films or TV series in the language into which you are translating that feature young people and listen closely to their dialogue.


Translating dialogue and dialect

Afterwards, close your eyes and imagine an exchange between children or young people (better still, between characters in the book you are currently translating) in the target language. When working on a series of books about the same characters, keep glossaries of characteristic terms and phrases for specific protagonists to ensure consistency. Bear in mind the strategy of introducing dialect where it does not appear in the source text for specific purposes, for example to compensate for humour or emphasis lost elsewhere. Where appropriate, consider carefully forms of address and the use of pronouns in dialogue between characters, particularly between children and adults, and how these might be rendered in the target language. Sarah Ardizzone has some sound advice in a series of Translation Tips on the English PEN website.2 ‘If you’re translating SLANG, remember it has a sell-by date. So you might want to use “vintage” or “re-cycled” slang – words that come back round again, and are likely to keep doing so. Also, watch out for DOSAGE. Too much slang may mean you’re excluding too many of your readers. Make sure the context – the wording around the slang – is always clear enough for readers to be able to guess intelligently at the meaning of the slang word.’

• • • •

Discussion points • • •

Should a translator always attempt to replicate street slang? What about instances where the novel is set in the recent past? Is it best to avoid translating regional dialect (by finding a localized equivalent in the target language) in texts to be translated for children? What is your opinion of the insistence of some publishers and other stakeholders on standard, ‘prestige’ forms of a language in translations for children? What effects might this prescriptive approach have on children’s appreciation of literature and on the development of the child’s eye and ear for difference?

Exercises •

Translate the following passage from Doing It by Melvin Burgess (2003) into your working language and be prepared to justify your translation strategies to colleagues or fellow students and translators. Four young male friends are smoking cannabis and discussing the girlfriends of two of them: ‘Seeing Deborah tonight?’ whispered Dino. ‘Yeah.’ ‘How’s it going?’ ‘Dunno.’

Translating dialogue and dialect


‘Good luck with it, mate.’ ‘Thanks.’ The spliff end flared up in the hushed darkness. They could just about see each other in outline. ‘You seeing Jackie?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘How’s it going?’ ‘Great.’ ‘Great.’ ‘Hey,’ whispered Jonathon a moment later. ‘Look at these two. They’re the two non-shaggers.’ (Burgess, 2003: 188–9) •

How might you translate Hagrid’s non-standard English in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (see passage cited in this chapter), and indeed throughout the series, into your working language?

Notes 1 2 [accessed 16 July 2014]. [accessed 20 May 2014].

Further reading Adams (Ardizzone), Sarah (2005) ‘Translating monsters’. In Outside In: Children’s books in translation, edited by D. Hallford and E. Zaghini. Chicago, Il: Milet Publishing. Baetens, Jan (2001) ‘Tintin, the untranslatable’; trans Alyson Waters, SITES 2: 236–271. Fischer, Martin B. and Wirf Naro, Maria (2012) Translating Fictional Dialogue for Children and Young People. Berlin: Frank & Timme.

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Translating sound Reading aloud, poetry, wordplay and onomatopoeia

Translating books for reading aloud to the younger child has much in common with the translation of poetry, or indeed any kind of prose where aural, aesthetic or rhetorical power is a primary consideration. In Chapter 1 of this book, Puurtinen’s analysis of the read-aloud qualities of two different Finnish versions of The Wizard of Oz highlighted the rhythms and syntax of translated prose that appeals to both adult performer and young listener. And, as practising translator Riitta Oittinen reminds us, ‘Listening to books being read aloud is the only way for an illiterate child to enter the world of literature’ (2000: 32); it is also the best method for parents or teachers to introduce even competent young readers to the work of an unfamiliar author. Since children of all ages often hear stories rather than read them, translators have a particular responsibility to produce texts that read aloud well. Indeed, Danish translation scholar Cay Dollerup has argued that translating for reading aloud ‘is an art requiring great competence of translators’ (2003: 82). Sound and rhythm play a fundamental role as children discover the delights of language and narrative. Young children are eager imitators of whatever sound-systems surround them; they learn language naturally through practice and play, with the encouragement of their fluent elders. Ruth Weir’s classic account of her son Anthony’s pre-sleep monologues, Language in the Crib (1962), demonstrates the sheer joy of a two-and-a-half year-old’s experimentation with sound patterns as he rehearses the phonology and basic grammar of his native language. Babbling, repetition and playing with spontaneously created sounds, phrases or fragments of speech learned from adults constitute a young child’s natural repertoire. As discussed in Chapter 4, children’s authors attempt to replicate that repertoire when seeking to create authentic child speech, just as they recognize in child readers an appreciative audience for their inventive games with language. Repetition, rhyme, onomatopoeia, wordplay and nonsense are, therefore, all common features of children’s texts and require a high degree of linguistic creativity on the part of the translator. In this chapter the focus will be on sound: on the aural and read-aloud qualities of translated prose; on animal cries as a common feature of books for younger children; on translating wordplay that is often dependent on sound and, finally, on the translation of children’s poetry and nonsense rhymes.


Translating sound

Translating ‘aloud’ A common strategy when translating for children is that of reading newly drafted passages aloud to find an appropriate rhythm or syntactic structure in the target language. Michael Turner’s comment that the decision he and Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper made to read draft translations of Tintin albums aloud to each other was one of the most productive aspects of their collaboration confirms the point made in Chapter 4 that the most effective way to test the verisimilitude of translated speech is to ‘act out’ passages of dialogue by reading them aloud. It is not only dialogue, however, that benefits from the spoken voice, since any text to be read aloud should be practised and honed until the translator achieves maximum narrative impact and potential aesthetic pleasure for the young listener. Speaking text aloud alerts the speaker to disharmonies that may go unnoticed on the written page. Any parent or teacher who reads aloud regularly to children will testify to the difference between a story that reads aloud well, and one that does not. Interviews with translators of children’s and young adult fiction Patricia Crampton and Sarah Ardizzone, conducted in 2007 and 2008 respectively (Lathey, 2010), reveal that both have used aural translation techniques, albeit at a different point in the translation sequence. Until she ended her translation career at the turn of the millennium, Patricia Crampton dictated her translations directly into a tape-recorder, sent the tape to be typed and revised the copy once it arrived. Dictation enabled her to ‘perform’ the translation as she created it, with revisions taking place in her head at this stage; advances in technology and the use of a computer – which Crampton resisted – may well have assisted this process. Sarah Ardizzone’s working method, on the other hand, has five stages, with reading aloud as the third. After an initial reading of the book – often in order to prepare a reader’s report – she types a ‘stream of consciousness translation’, using the forward slash to indicate alternatives. Next she reads through the draft to eliminate as many slashes as possible. At the third stage she tries to make the text work in English by reading sections aloud: You’ll do something that reads like hell but is a relatively faithful version. Then you’ll start to make it start speaking for itself in English and then you’ll worry that it’s too far away from the French and try to rein it back. You want it to have its own voice and sing for itself, but not be disrespectful. It’s trying to balance that tension.1 Ardizzone then gives the text another ‘rinse’ and puts it aside to ‘stew’ before a final ‘rinse’, describing the whole process as akin to painting the interior of a house, since it involves both a ‘building up and stripping down’. She wants the translated text to read well in English, but at the same time to ensure that there is a degree of ‘décalage’, or disjuncture, at a linguistic level – a disharmony that is a reminder of the source language. She uses a variety of

Translating sound


phrases such as ‘jet-lag’, ‘being out of kilter’ and ‘slippage’ to convey the sense of a ‘healthy clash and jostle’ as two languages meet: ‘If something fits too snugly then I’ve lost the clash’ (Lathey, 2010: 190). Combining these two aspirations – a text that is a pleasure to read aloud but that does not lose the tension of the very fact that it is a translation – is a considerable feat. However, when back problems made sitting at the computer uncomfortable, Ardizzone adopted Crampton’s dictation method using voice-activated software, a practice she continued even when the back improved. These two examples of translators specializing in fiction for the young indicate the significance of reading aloud as well as variation in translation methods and intentions. In addition to the demands of reading aloud according to the age and literacy competence of child readers, certain children’s writers achieve a form of prose poetry or linguistic inventiveness that demands a level of creativity akin to that required by the translation of poetry. Prose for children is often playful, whether in an author’s use of puns, idiomatic expressions, repetition or expressive emphasis. Children’s authors invent words to enhance the rhythm, humour and aural qualities of their prose. Roald Dahl, for example, is a master of the neologism in many of his books, especially The BFG where Dahl introduces his readers to ‘snozzcumbers’ and where the eponymous giant distinguishes between people, ‘human beans’, and animals such as ‘jiggyraffes’ and ‘cattypiddlers’ that belong in a zoo. Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s literary style and invention make her fiction a joy to read aloud, and she too uses vocabulary innovatively. Patricia Crampton (1990) has written about the choices she faced when translating a number of Lindgren’s books, for example the expressive ‘jubelskrik’, a primal exclamation that Lindgren uses in the last line of Ronja Rövardotter (1981; Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter, 1983) to epitomize the advent of spring and Ronja’s existential rapture. Crampton describes how she settled for ‘shout of joy’, but later amplified it into a yell (Crampton, 1990: 85). Poetic phrases within Lindgren’s prose also demand creative solutions. A short story of a child’s grim poverty, Spelar min lind sjunger min näktergal, includes an overheard refrain that gives hope to the central character, Maria: Spelar min lind, sjunger min näktergal (literal translation: plays my lime-tree, sings my nightingale) Crampton’s first attempt at this phrase was: Plays my linden, sings my nightingale which retains the accent on the first syllable and the inversion, but introduces an archaic name for the tree in question. After trying out ‘lime-tree’ and finding that it simply did not work rhythmically, Crampton decided on: My linden plays, my nightingale is singing


Translating sound

and took the latter phrase as the title of the translation published in 1985. The result is one syllable longer than the original line and does not, so Crampton admits, quite have its ‘lilting rhythm’ (1990: 85). The continuous present in English alters the rhythm of Lindgren’s phrase, but has a resonance of its own. Opinion concerning this solution will be divided; any readers of this book who read Swedish might like to attempt a translation of this phrase. Essential, too, to the cadences of Lindgren’s prose is her stylistic technique of expressing emotion directly, as already indicated in an extract from Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart) in Chapter 1. In the picture book The Dragon with Red Eyes, the penultimate paragraph includes a similar exclamation: Och därefter – o vad det var underligt – därefter flog han sin väg. rendered by Crampton as: And then – oh it was so strange – then he flew away. Both the stylistic technique of repetition, commonly used by Lindgren and evident here in ‘därefter’ (‘thereafter’, or ‘then’), and the ‘oh’ of the narrator’s expression of wonder, contribute to the ‘delicate melancholy’ (Crampton, 1990: 85) of the sentence.

Onomatopoeia: animal cries Texts read aloud to a young child include expressive language of all kinds, whether as part of spoken exchanges, as the approximation of sound effects using the human voice or, since animal characters are extremely popular in stories and rhymes for younger children, the utterance of animal noises. Onomatopoeia has already been discussed in relation to the comic strip in Chapter 3, but the translation of animal noises for the young has a far longer history. When translating literary effects that depend on aural qualities, as in the case of animal sounds, translators have to switch from one phonological system to another, transposing the barks, squeals, roars and neighs of a complete menagerie into the commonly accepted equivalents in their own tongues. In 1659 London schoolmaster Charles Hoole, first English translator of the Orbis Sensualium Pictus by Comenius, grappled with this conundrum in captions to pictures of animals and birds representing different letters of the alphabet, together with an indication of the sounds they utter. Hoole leaves intact the alliteration and onomatopoeia of the Latin source text, so the cat utters a ‘nau nau’, and the dog a rather low key ‘err’ (Comenius, 1659: B3). How conventions for the human representation of animal cries in different languages were first established can only be the subject of speculation, but an articulated cry such as that of a cockerel maintains its characteristic rhythmic pattern across a number of languages: ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo’ in English;

Translating sound


‘coquerico’ in French, ‘qui-qui-ri-qui’ in Spanish and ‘kikeriki’ in German. Similarly, there may be an aural equivalent for other animals between two or more languages: a Spanish pig in the Venezuelan picture book Cui-cuicuidado! Animales al volante by Marilyn Pérez Falcón and María Elena Repiso (2002) happily utters an ‘oinc oinc’ that matches the English ‘oink oink’. But there are differences, too: the Spanish-barking dog in the same book utters an ‘guau’, a sound very different from an English ‘woof woof’, ‘ruff ruff’ or the quaint ‘bow-wow’. Sometimes these distinctions are even more marked. According to Professor Catherine Ball’s comprehensive Georgetown University website on animal noises, ‘gonggong’ is the sound customarily attributed to Indonesian dogs, ‘mung-mung’ to Korean and ‘hav, hav’ to Turkish canines.2 It is common translation practice to use the conventional equivalent in the target language, but a more playful approach might catch children’s imaginations. A transliteration of a Spanish or German cockerel’s cry into ‘kikeriki’ in an English translation would certainly intrigue a young child already familiar with ‘cock-a-doodle-do’. A unique collaboration between an American and a Japanese picture book artist exemplifies the potential of this strategy. Eric Carle and Kazuo Iwamura, both highly respected and successful illustrators in their own countries, came together to create Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! A story of friendship in two languages (2001). While there is no translation involved on the part of the authors, they conceived and illustrated a book that tells the same story in two directions, in English from the front of the book and in Japanese from the back. It depicts the progress of two bands of animals, all uttering typical sounds in their respective languages and marching towards a grand finale in the central, fold-out section of the book where two artistic styles and two languages finally meet. The crescendo is a grand celebratory song dominated by animal cries. Each page of the English or Japanese text has the same content and the same animals, albeit drawn and coloured in the style of either Carle or Iwamura. Japanese text in Katakana such as the cockerel’s cry, コ ッ コ ッ コ ケ ー コ , is transliterated so that English readers can pronounce the animal sounds, ‘kok kok ko keh ko’. A Japanese child learning English would, perhaps, be able to read the English section of the book by Eric Carle, and English-speaking children, who are less likely to learn Japanese, can nevertheless appreciate and enjoy rehearsing the approximation to Japanese phonology and the Japanese script. Translators can take from this example the idea that it may not always be necessary to adopt standard animal cries. A touch of foreignization in such instances is likely to spark interest in sound and language and enhance children’s interest in and awareness of different languages. To sum up, strategies for translating for reading aloud include: •

Reading passages of longer texts aloud to listen out for awkward phrases and to ensure that translated prose is a pleasure to read and includes rhythms and cadences that echo those of the source text.


Translating sound

Reading aloud drafts of translated stories to children to evaluate their responses. Recording a draft translation on any device and listening to the playback. Translating aloud by using voice-activated software. Sarah Ardizzone’s Translation Tips on the English PEN website3 include recommendations on the aural qualities of texts:

• • •

Get technical. Think about CRAFT. For example, if the original author uses a lot of alliteration or assonance or soft rhymes or if they imprint a distinctive rhythm on the way they write, then you need to capture everything you can of this in the English. But remember not to get stuck by being too literal. If it doesn’t work using assonance or a rhyme or rhythm or even a joke in the same place as it occurs in the original text, maybe you’ll be able to introduce that effect somewhere else in your translation instead.

Deciding whether to use standard animal cries in the target language or, where there is a difference between representations of animal cries in the two languages, to retain those of the source language.

Figurative language and wordplay Stylistic qualities of prose that depend on, or are enhanced by, reading aloud include wordplay and idiomatic expressions. Children’s authors take idiomatic expressions and puns as a starting point for creativity, knowing that young readers are likely to have heard them in conversation. For children to find that words may have more than one meaning, and that this is a source of aesthetic pleasure and irony, is to learn to appreciate the writer’s craft and to increase their metalinguistic awareness. Puns that depend on homophones, either words that sound the same but have different meanings (‘sea’ and ‘see’), or which are spelled and pronounced in exactly the same way but have different meanings (‘chest’ as the upper front portion of the body or a large box for hiding treasure), are a source of great amusement and irony in children’s fiction and poetry. Opinions differ as to the age at which children can appreciate metaphor, irony or dual meanings, but even the youngest children will happily echo idiomatic phrases used by their parents and, although interpreting the words literally at first, soon enjoy learning about ‘hidden’ messages. One classic and frequently translated British picture book for the younger child is by John Burningham, Mr. Gumpy’s Outing (1970), and relies in part on the use of puns. Mr. Gumpy takes a group of children and a host of farmyard animals for a trip in his boat. As each set of animals asks to be taken along, Mr. Gumpy agrees, on condition that they behave with decorum: the rabbits must not ‘hop about’, for example. There is, however, a double meaning to his admonition to the pig not to ‘muck about’ and the chickens not to ‘flap’:

Translating sound


‘Very well, but don’t muck about.’ ‘Yes, but don’t flap,’ said Mr. Gumpy. (Burningham, 1970: unpaginated) To ‘muck about’ is a reference both to the habit of pigs to wallow in mud, but is also used of humans who mess around or behave in a silly fashion, whereas ‘to flap’ carries both the literal meaning of flapping wings and the figurative connotation of humans who become over-anxious. Both meanings resonate in the chaotic scenario that ensues when Mr. Gumpy’s passengers all start to misbehave at once. In the German translation by Josef Guggenmos, Die Kahnfahrt (Burningham, 1970; trans 1973), Mr. Gumpy’s reply to both sets of animals loses its double meaning. His reply to the pig is: ‘Gut. Aber mach keinen Dreck!’ (Literal translation: ‘Good. But don’t make a mess!’) and to the chickens: ‘Ja, aber flattert nicht herum.’ (Literal translation: ‘Yes, but don’t flap around.’) In neither case does the German phrase carry the second meaning present in the English text. As both renowned children’s poet and translator into German of English verse by Robert Louis Stevenson and Edward Lear, Guggenmos was uniquely qualified to address the playful language of Burningham’s text, yet was not able to find appropriate puns in German. Compensation elsewhere in the text is the only possible strategy for retaining a tone of quirky humour in such cases. Creativity, compensation and adaptation are essential when translating wordplay of this kind. In her ‘Translator’s notebook’ on the translation into English of the Asterix series, Anthea Bell comments that: [. . .] the translation of something which depends as much as Asterix on wordplay and puns has, in any event, to be very free, often more of an adaptation, if anything like the same humorous effect is to be produced in English. (Bell, 1980: 129–30) In the quest to convey the humour of the series, Bell indicates in the list of basic principles she agreed with Derek Hockridge (reproduced in full in Chapter 3) that the task in translating verbal dexterity was to find different jokes that nevertheless maintained the type of humour displayed by Uderzo and Goscinny. Compensation is therefore a primary strategy in a translation task of this kind. Occasionally there are what Bell calls ‘obvious gifts’, such as the representation of the sound of the hiccup, which allowed the translators to insert a joke to replace one lost elsewhere:


Translating sound [. . .] while the conventional French means of representing a hiccup is ‘Hips!’ its English equivalent is ‘Hic!’, so that drunken Roman legionaries can be allowed to hiccup in Latin: ‘Hic, haec, hoc.’ (1980: 132)

Similarly, Bell and Hockridge seized the opportunity of a swordfight in Le Cadeau de César to replace references to Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac with allusions to Hamlet’s battle with Laertes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, at the same time indulging in a pun on the word ‘foil’, the weapon used in the sport of fencing. They insert ‘Give us the foils’ (even though the weapons pictured are heavy, short swords rather than elegant rapiers) into one speech bubble and ‘Foiled again!’ (using the verb ‘to foil’, meaning to defeat or to frustrate a plan) into another. Domestication of the literary reference accompanies compensation for the untranslatable French puns linked to sword fighting and Cyrano. Bell and Hockridge frequently adopt this strategy of inserting puns where none existed in the source text in order to match as closely as possible the tally of wordplay created by Uderzo and Goscinny. Idiomatic expressions taken from spoken language are a source of humour, too, as Uderzo and Goscinny were well aware when using stock English phrases of the mid-twentieth century ironically in the speech of British characters in Asterix chez les Bretons (1970), for example in calques such as ‘c’est un morceau de chance’ (that’s a piece of luck) and ‘gardez votre lèvre supérieure rigide’ (keep a stiff upper lip). Bell and Hockridge had little alternative but to translate the two clichés directly back into English in Asterix in Britain (2004), with the intention of replacing the humour enjoyed by French readers elsewhere in the text. The following sequence may assist in the translation of idioms and wordplay: 1 2 3 4

5 6 7

The first task of the translator is to recognize idiomatic expressions and puns in the source text (see Baker, 2011 for advice on recognizing idioms). Second, make an assessment of the function and resonance of the idiom or pun within the relevant passage or indeed within the text as a whole. Next, the translator needs to decide whether there is an equivalent idiomatic expression or pun in the target language. If replacement is not possible, literal translation of the idiomatic expression or play on words is the next option, possibly with an accompanying explanation woven into the text, although this is only to be recommended in circumstances such as those outlined above, otherwise there is the risk of confusing or alienating the child reader. The most likely option in the case of an idiomatic expression is to convey its meaning in the target language. Deletion of the pun or idiom may sometimes be the only option. In this case, or when a double meaning is lost in translation, the translator has to decide where it might be possible to compensate for any loss of

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humour or irony by using an idiom or pun familiar to children in the target culture elsewhere in the translated text. When translating illustrated texts, keep in mind the relationship between text and images whatever translation strategy you adopt. Occasionally it may be necessary to sacrifice visual congruity, as in the Bell and Hockridge example of ‘foils’ cited above.

Translating children’s poetry From lullabies to songs, nursery rhymes, nonsense verse and rhyming incantations within prose narratives, children delight in poetry from their earliest days. They are, moreover, natural poets, as anyone listening to the early speech of toddlers or the inventive coinages of younger children – or indeed the rap, love poems and song lyrics of teenagers – will acknowledge. Whether rehearsing a favourite rhyme aloud or using rhythm, repetition, rhyme and metre as aids to predict the next word during the process of learning to read, poetry is essential to the child’s linguistic repertoire. Translators of children’s books will occasionally be commissioned to translate collections of poetry for children by individual poets, anthologies of poetry, picture book versions of counting rhymes, children’s songs, lullabies and nursery rhymes, or verse within traditional tales and fairy tales. Since poetry and song are generally acknowledged to be the most difficult of literary arts for the translator, it is often children’s poets who translate children’s verse – German poet Josef Guggenmos, for example, has translated Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses into German as Mein Königreich (1969), and Erich Kästner, who wrote poetry for adults as well as children’s novels, produced a German version of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats in 1952. An accomplished poet as translator has the expertise and experience to create a new and aesthetically satisfying poem in the target language. Whether a poet or not, the translator of children’s verse may employ a range of processes, for example creating a fresh poem inspired by an initial, literal translation (a crib) or attempting to maintain rhythm and metre by altering semantic content. All depends, of course, on the nature of the poem and the relative significance of its musicality and meaning. In some instances metre may have to be sacrificed in the interests of the poetic message, with a focus on meaning that is expressed in an appropriate metrical form in the target language. In verse for younger children, however, the replication of musicality, sound and form are often the translator’s primary concern. This is certainly the case where verse includes nonsense, so that sound and rhythm are the most important elements. Addressing both the form and musicality of a poem requires translators to be in command of poetic techniques employed in both source and target languages, including form (free verse, limerick, set rhyme schemes, etc.), the use of alliteration, assonance and the whole panoply of strategies for creating sound patterns to delight the young listener. Poetry must


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be translated for reading aloud, since that is its purpose for both the reader – who also becomes a performer – and the listener. Maintaining poetic form, rhyme, metre as well as meaning is a tall order for any translator, as Susan Kreller demonstrates time and again in her excellent, detailed study of the translation of children’s poetry into German in the twentieth century (Englischsprachige Kinderlyrik: Deutsche übersetzungen im 20. Jahrhundert, 2007). To take just one example, Kreller reproduces a number of different German translations of a limerick by Edward Lear: There was an Old Man with a beard, Who said, It is just as I feared! Two Owls and a Hen, Four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard! (Kreller, 2007: 273) The limerick, with its five lines, aa/bb/a rhyme scheme, anapestic rhythm, short central lines and scurrilous or comic content, has been a popular poetic form in the English language since the eighteenth century. All four German translators retain the rhyme scheme and the form – five lines, three long and two short – of Lear’s poem, but there are differences in metre. Kreller points out that Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s translation maintains Lear’s metre in its first line, replicating the iambic ‘There was’ (unstressed syllable/stressed syllable), followed by two anapests (two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable) ‘an Old Man with a beard’, but changes to a trochaic metre (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable) in the second line: Sobald dieser Jüngling gewahrt, Was sich bei ihm zusammenschart An Hühnern, Pirolen, Eulen und Dohlen, Verflucht er gewiss seinen Bart. (Enzensberger, 1977, cited in Kreller, 2007: 274) Breaking the line into groups of two syllables Was sich/bei ihm/zus-amm/enschart gives a sense of this stressed/unstressed pattern even to those unfamiliar with the German language. Moreover, Enzensberger changes the Old Man to a young one and includes the exotic golden oriole in order to rhyme ‘Dohle’ (jackdaw) with ‘Pirole’. A back translation of Enzensberger’s version of the limerick makes this clear: [As soon as this lad becomes aware of all that had gathered around him – hens, golden orioles, owls and jackdaws, he’ll definitely curse his beard.]

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H.C. Artmann’s translation illustrates just how different translation solutions can be: Ein Herr ohne Brille mit Bart Rief: Teufel, mir bleibt nichts erspart, Ein Nachteulenpärchen Ein Huhn und fünf Lerchen Benisten ganz frech meine Bart. [Literal translation: A man without glasses but with a beard shouted: Devil, I’m spared nothing, a pair of night owls, a hen and five larks have all cheekily nested in my beard.] (Artmann, 1964, cited in Kreller, 2007: 273) Kreller comments that Artmann, too, maintains form and rhyme scheme while, like Enzensberger, adding an extra syllable to the two short lines. Also noteworthy, however, is Artmann’s clever insertion of the diminutive form of a ‘pair’ of night owls (‘Pärchen’), which facilitates the rhyme with ‘Lerchen’ (larks), and the addition of an extra lark to make five (fünf) – probably to avoid the two syllables of ‘vier’ (four). Artmann also adds a pair of absent spectacles (‘ohne Brille’) to replace the traditional limerick opening ‘There was’, but his version in all other respects is much closer to Lear than Enzensberger’s. As is evident from these translations, both Enzensberger and Artmann are poets who have published verse for children, and are therefore familiar with the constraints and potential of their craft. Verse with a regular rhythm but no rhyme might seem to be far easier to translate, yet poses problems of its own. The current vogue for verse that addresses children’s everyday concerns and follows the patterns of contemporary spoken language results in a concentration on repetition and rhythm as primary poetic techniques. British author Michael Rosen is a highly successful author of this kind of verse: his poem “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” has a strong walking or marching rhythm that echoes the strides of a young family as they step out into the countryside pretending to track a mythical bear. Rosen frequently performs the poem himself with gesture and movement in time with the insistent beat: We’re going on a bear hunt We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. (Rosen, 1989: 1) Repetition of ‘We’re’ at the beginning of three of the four lines and ‘We’re going’ in two of them creates a strong opening to the poem, and the line ‘What a beautiful day!’ becomes a refrain repeated in later verses. In German translation the first lines lose their rhythmic force:


Translating sound Wir gehen auf Bärenjagd Wir fangen einen ganz Grossen. Und wenn ihr uns fragt, wir haben keine Angst in den Hosen. (We’re going on a bear hunt/we’ll catch a really big one/And if you ask us/we have no fear in our trousers) (Rosen, 1989; Wir gehen auf Bärenjagd trans by Inhauser, 2002: 1)

No matter how these lines are read aloud, it is difficult to create any kind of rhythmic pattern apart from the partial rhyme of ‘Grossen’ with ‘Hosen’. Losing both rhythm and the playfulness of ‘What a beautiful day!’ as part of the ‘pretend’ game, this translation focuses simply on conveying the meaning of the majority of the lines. When reading the poem aloud in English, it soon becomes apparent that rhythm is an essential component of its effect, and should therefore be the major focus for the translator. Each poem has to be considered and savoured before the translator decides what must be preserved and what may, if necessary, be sacrificed. Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is published as a picture book. As with prose narrative in picture books, it is essential to ensure that the content of the translated verse matches illustrations; Edward Lear’s illustrated ‘Old Man’, for example, is not ancient, but clearly not a young lad (‘Jüngling’) as in Enzensberger’s translation. One picture book written in verse offers an example of a two-stage translation process as well as illustrating the significance of information contained in images. Poet Sophie Hannah has produced an English version of Hur gick det sen? Boken om Mymian, Mumintrollet och lilla My (1952), written and illustrated by Swedish-speaking Finn Tove Jansson, and entitled in English The Book of Moomin, Mymble and Little My (2001). As the blurb on the back inside cover informs readers, Hannah wrote her version ‘with the help of a literal translation by Silvester Mazzarella’. Such indirect or intermediate translation, where a translator and poet work together or in sequence may well be the best option when it is difficult to find a children’s poet who also happens to know the source language well enough to translate, and offers plenty of potential for author–translator collaboration and negotiation. The combination of poet-translator is far more likely to exist in some language pairs than others: the number of poets translating Edward Lear’s verse into German, for example, is indicative of the widespread knowledge of the English language in Germany, whereas the number of Englishspeaking poets who know Swedish or German is likely to be limited.

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On the first double spread of Jansson’s tale the tiny figure of an anxious (anxiety is indicated by worry lines above his eyes) Moomintroll hurries home through the dark forest with a can of milk. A reading of Jansson’s Swedish verse, a literal translation into English and Hannah’s final rendering in verse makes it clear that Hannah has worked with Mazzarella’s English text to produce verse that retains Jansson’s aa/bb/cc rhyme scheme, although Jansson rhymes all four of the final lines on the page: Från mjölkbutiken, klockan fem, ett litet mumintroll gick hem. En kanna full med mjölk han bar och vägen lång och kuslig var och vinden suckade och ven i skogens alla mörka trän – det var ej långt från skymningen. VAD TROR DU ATT DET HäNDE SEN? (Jansson, ‘Hur gick det sen?’ Boke nom Mymian, Mumintrollet och lilla My, 1952: 2) From the dairy, at five o’clock, a little Moomintroll went home A churn full of milk he carried and the road long and eerie was and the wind sighed and whined in all the forest’s dark trees – it was not far from gloaming. What do you think happened next? (Literal translation by Gunnar Florin; Mazzarella’s version was not available)

Here’s little Moomintroll, none other, Hurrying home with milk for Mother. Quick Moomintroll, it’s nearly night. Run home while there’s a bit of light Don’t hang around in woods like these. Strange creatures lurk between the trees. The wind begins to howl and hiss. NOW, GUESS WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THIS? (The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, trans by Mazzarella and Hannah, 2001: 2) By reading the literal translation and comparing it with Hannah’s, we can see that Hannah loses the exact time, ‘five o’ clock’, and inserts ‘none other’ to create a rhyme with ‘mother’. To indicate the onset of night she creates the


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effective ‘nearly night/bit of light’ rhyme, just as by replacing the customary ‘happens next’ with ‘happens after this’ and causing the trees to sound a threatening ‘hiss’, she deftly brings the verse to a close with a final rhyming couplet. In order to maintain the rhyme scheme, however, Hannah adds a sense of urgency and danger throughout the verse – ‘Hurrying’ ‘Quick’ ‘Don’t hang around’ ‘strange creatures’ – whereas the note of threat is communicated in the Swedish version entirely through the pictures. In this instance the complementary interaction of text and pictures has been sacrificed to the demands of creating a satisfactory rhyme. When juggling four dimensions of meaning – source language, target language, images and poetic form, a translator has to make choices that may involve the sacrifice of one aspect of the text’s layers of communication. A set of children’s verses that has enjoyed international, if controversial, success including multiple adaptations and parodies is Heinrich Hoffmann’s Der Struwwelpeter. These ironic cautionary tales, first published in Germany under the title Der Struwwelpeter in 1848 and written to amuse Hoffmann’s infant son, have fascinated and repelled children and adults alike. A brief look at a translation by American author and versifier Mark Twain (completed in 1891 but not published until 1935 as Slovenly Peter) offers an ironic commentary on the process of translating verse through instances of awkward, expedient solutions to the exigencies of a rhyme scheme, as well as ironic asides to the child reader. It is a moot point whether Twain intended his version for an adult (as an ironic comment on Hoffmann’s verse and on the art of translation) or a child audience, but he did in fact present it to his children on Christmas day 1891 and, according to his daughter, read the verses aloud to them in a dramatic manner. Twain wanted above all to retain Hoffmann’s rhythms, as he stated in his introduction: ‘[. . .] rhymes that jingle felicitously are very dear to a child’s ear. In this translation I have done my best to fetch the jingle along’ (Hoffmann, 1848; trans 1935: 9). Twain translates the final couplet of the first verse of “Die Geschichte vom wilden Jâger” (“The Tale of the Terrible Hunter”): nahm Ranzen, Pulverhorn und Flint und lief hinaus ins Feld geschwind [literally: took his bag, powder, horn and gun and ran quickly into the fields] (Hoffmann, 1848: 12) as: He took his game-bag, powder, gun, And fiercely to the fields he spun.* (Hoffmann, 1848; Slovenly Peter, trans by Twain, 1935: 28)

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The asterisk leads readers to the following note: ‘Baby, you must take notice of this awkward form of speech and never use it, except in translating. M.T.’ Twain was well aware that he had stretched the meaning of ‘to spin’, using the past tense to rhyme with ‘gun’. In similar tongue-in-cheek fashion, Twain admits defeat in the face of an invented compound in a couplet from “Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” (“The Story of the Thumb-Sucker”): Springt der Schneider in die Stub Zu dem Daumen-Lutscher-Bub (Hoffmann, 1848: 16) [the tailor jumps into the room towards the thumb-sucking boy] as: Whoop! The tailor lands her-blam! Waves his shears, the heartless grub, And calls for Dawmen-lutscher-bub. (Hoffmann, 1848; Slovenly Peter, trans by Twain, 1935: 34) Twain’s strategies are not to be generally recommended, but they are a reminder that children’s texts of any genre may serve a dual adult–child audience, and that Twain’s playfulness in adhering to rhyme patterns come what may is itself a wry comment on translating children’s verse.

Translating nonsense verse Nonsense verse has long been associated with children because of the pleasure they take in sound for its own sake and in the absurd; they soon learn that by manipulating language they can appear to make almost anything happen. Yet despite the appearance of no fewer than fifty-eight versions of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on the internet in languages from Choctaw to Estonian and Welsh,4 it has often been argued that nonsense verse cannot be translated. Umberto Eco has even stated that ‘invented language like the poetic languages of Morgenstern and Hugo Ball, where no translation is possible, because the phonosymbolic effect depends precisely on the absence of any semantic level – and therefore it is pointless to translate’ (2001: 108). Yet nonsense poetry is highly varied and may indeed have a semantic level, although at times it relies on pure sound, on sheer contradiction or semantic impossibility. Some nonsense verse includes a mixture of standard and invented vocabulary, or the organization of nonsense words into recognizable syntactical and grammatical structures, so that the reader can follow a narrative of sorts. This is certainly the case in “Jabberwocky” and the limericks of Edward Lear. Other nonsense poetry parodies well-known verse. It is possible to translate even the most meaningless verse as long as translators keep children’s developmental fascination with the potential of language in mind.


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Eco’s assertion that the poetry of Christian Morgenstern (1871–1914) cannot be translated is confounded by Anthea Bell’s translation from German into English of a collection of Morgenstern’s children’s verse, Lullabies, Lyrics and Gallows Songs (Bell, 1995), selected and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. In an account of the challenges of translating Morgenstern’s poetry (Bell, 1998), Bell compares his work to that of both Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. The sound poem “Das grosse Lalula” (“The Big Laloola”) illustrated in an appropriately quirky manner by Zwerger, and described by Morgenstern as ‘a phonetic rhapsody’ (Bell, 1998: 10), has no recognizable syntax or grammatical constructions at all. ‘Translation’ is possible into English simply because the two languages are closely related, so that Bell’s English version replicates the aural quality of the German original with minimal alterations. In the poem “Das Grosse Lalula” Bell replaces the long ‘u’ of ‘Lalula’ with a double ‘o’ in ‘Laloola’. In the third line of the poem she renders the German ‘Bifzi, bafzi’ as ‘Biftsi, baftsi’ – thereby reproducing in English the ‘ts’ sound of the German ‘z’. Bell does not adopt this strategy throughout the poem, however, as can be seen from the rest of the verse: German Kroklokwafzi? Semememi! Seikronto – prafriplo: Bifzi, bafzi; hulalemi: Quasti basti bo . . . Lalu lalu lalu lalu la!

English Kroklokwoffzie? Seemimeemi! Siyokronto – prufliplo: Biftsi baftsi; hulaleemi: quasti basti bo . . . Laloo laloo laloo laloola! (Morgenstern 1992; trans Bell, 1995: 21)

She chooses not to use the voiced fricative ‘v’ in English that would convey the sound of the ‘u’ in the German ‘qu’ (pronounced ‘kv’). This may well be because translation of this kind of poetry has to take account of the visual element that reaches its extreme form in concrete poetry: the arrangement of letters on the page is part of the appeal of nonsense verse. To return to Eco’s comment, I would argue that the process Bell undertakes when rendering “Das grosse Lalula” into English can be called translation, since Bell is operating between two languages. She makes choices that are appropriate both to the aural and visual qualities of Morgenstern’s original poem, and to the needs of its young target-language audience. Bell’s translation of other poems in the collection ranges from non-intervention in “Fisches Nachtgesang” (“Fish’s Night Song”), which consists entirely of patterns of dashes and brackets printed sideways to replicate waves and bubbles made in the water by the fish’s song, to a child’s animal calendar where Bell replaces Morgenstern’s ‘Jaguar, Zebra, Nerz, Mandrill’ (jaguar, zebra, mink, mandrill monkey) with ‘Jaguary, Zebruary, Moose, Apeman’. Where there is a syntactic and grammatical framework to a nonsensical vocabulary, Bell gives free reign to her creativity:

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Gruselett Der Flügelflagel gaustert Durchs Wiruwaruwolz, Die rote Fingur plaustert, Und grausig gutzt der Golz. (Morgenstern, Kindergedichte und Galgenlieder ausgewählt und illustriert von Lisbeth Zwerger, 1992, unpaginated) (It is only possible to give a sense of associations to certain invented words, for example ‘Gruselett’ is linked to ‘gruselig’ [weird, creepy]; ‘Flügel’ are wings and ‘grausig’ means gruesome or ghastly.) Gruesong The Flidderfloppet gloameth Through igglywangled wole. The great red Fangyre boameth, And ghastly geeks the Grole. (Morgenstern, 1992; Lullabies, Lyrics and Gallows Songs. Selected and Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, trans by Bell, 1995: unpaginated) Bell’s idiosyncratic translations of this poem, “The Big Laloola” or the child’s calendar, indicate that the translator has to rely on literary and linguistic knowledge and familiarity with children’s poetry to ensure a child-friendly translation of sound poetry and nonsense verse. The strength of such verse lies in the freedom and creativity expressed, so the translator, too, should take a liberal approach to the task while maintaining the essence of the poet’s technique. The only sure test of any kind of children’s poetry – or prose originally written to be read aloud – is the response of children to a trial reading or performance. Reading aloud to friends and colleagues is a first step, but children will be the best and most honest audience. Translating poetry requires above all a love of and familiarity with children’s verse and the will to experiment, but the following may also help: • •

Familiarize yourself with classic and contemporary children’s poetry written in all the languages to which you have access. If you are new to translating poetry, find a handbook on poetic techniques that will introduce you to metric forms, etc. Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the poet within (2005) is an entertaining introduction with exercises. Pay close attention to the rhythm and metre of any verse you are translating and read aloud the source text several times.

110 •

• •

Translating sound If you are translating rhyming verse, decide on the relative importance of rhyme and semantic content. Will it be necessary to sacrifice elements of meaning in order to create rhymes in the source language? Might it be better to seek an alternative metre in the source language? Online rhyming dictionaries are a useful tool. In some situations working as part of a translating team or pair (see the example above of Mazzarella and Hannah in the translation of Tove Jansson’s rhyming picture book) is advantageous. Read aloud your draft translation as many times as possible to yourself, to other adults and, above all, to children.

Discussion points •

Discuss the usefulness of reading text aloud during the translation process. Is it a strategy you employ regularly? If so, what effect does it have on the revisions you subsequently make to a translation? Is reading aloud a strategy you would only use for translating stories for young children and poetry, or would you also use it at times when translating fiction for adults? If so, why? What is your response to Eco’s statement that it is ‘pointless’ to translate ‘invented language’ where ‘the phonosymbolic effect depends precisely on the absence of any semantic level’? Is it only possible to translate nonsense and sound poetry between pairs of closely related languages?

Exercises •

Choose a text that has clearly been designed to be read aloud to a younger child and translate a short chapter or passage. Either translate the text aloud, using voice-activated software, or pause to read your translation aloud as often as possible. Test the response of listeners – preferably children. Choose a piece of nonsense poetry or prose for translation into your working language. Note down all the strategies used to create a rhythm, specific aural effects or wordplay. Translate the following opening verse of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” into your working language: Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Find out whether there is already a version available on the internet and if so, compare your translation to the web version.

Translating sound •


How might you translate the opening lines of Michael Rosen’s “We’re going on a bear hunt” into your working language with a primary focus on a marching rhythm? We’re going on a bear hunt We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. (Rosen, We’re going on a Bear Hunt, 1989: 1)

Notes 1 2 3 4

This quotation is taken from: ‘Cheddar or Brie?’ Interview with Madelyn Travis on Booktrusted website =18 [accessed 18 June 2007]. [accessed 12 May 2006]. [accessed 20 May 2014]. [accessed 26 November 2013].

Further reading Baker, Mona (2011) In Other Words: A coursebook on translation (2nd edn), New York and London: Routledge. Bell, Anthea (1998) ‘Translating verse for children’. Signal, 85: 3–14. Dollerup, Cay (2003) ‘Translation for reading aloud’. Meta, 48(1–2): 81–103. Epstein, B.J. (2012) Translating Expressive Language in Children’s Literature: Problems and solutions, Bern: Peter Lang. Fry, Stephen (2005) The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the poet within, London: Hutchinson. Goucha, Maria João (2005) ‘Translating illustrated poems for children’. Translating Today, 3: 22–4. Kreller, Susan (2007) Englischsprachige Kinderlyrik: Deutsche Übersetzungen im 20. Jahrhundert, Bern: Peter Lang. Nasi, Franco (2013) ‘Creativity on probation: On translating a nursery rhyme’. Translation Review, 83(1): 35–49.

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Retellings, retranslation and relay translation

Children’s literature has always been vulnerable to a high degree of adaptation, thanks to its subordinate position in the literary hierarchy and its classification as ephemeral, or ‘popular’ literature (Shavit, 1986). Abridgements, adaptations, retellings and multimedia versions of well-known children’s stories are common, so that a spectrum of adaptation from minor alterations to radical rewriting has long been associated, for example, with fairy tales and the classics of children’s fiction. Desmet’s (2007) investigation into the radical adaptation of both classics and popular series fiction for girls translated from English into Dutch confirms Shavit’s hypothesis that editors, publishers and translators take far greater liberties with children’s than with adult texts. Interestingly, Desmet also found that translations of prize-winning, and therefore high-status, contemporary novels on the whole remain closer to source texts than abridged and adapted classics or popular series. The free translation and alteration of popular children’s stories has led to a proliferation of versions. Characters belonging to a children’s canon that is familiar across the world, such as Cinderella, Pinocchio, Alice, the Moomins, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Little Prince, encourage the common perception that children’s literature is an international literature. Yet the exchange of children’s stories is often a one-way traffic: the global domination of Western children’s literature that continues with the Harry Potter series, now acknowledged as a modern classic, can hardly be described as truly international. Journeys by ‘classic’ children’s stories from the east and the south to Western Europe and the US are few and far between: the much debated relay translation of The Arabian Nights (see the section ‘relay translation’ below) and a translation of the Chinese ballad of Mulan, the basis of the animated Disney film and picture book, are notable exceptions. The protean nature of many classic children’s stories results in transformations that may reduce a carefully crafted text to a basic plot line and a complex character to a mere cipher, but there is also great potential for literary creativity in translating or retelling well-known tales for children. Indeed, the openness of the most familiar characters and plots of children’s literature – in particular those of fairy tales – to endless recreation calls to mind Bakhtin’s concept of ‘unfinalizability’ and is a reminder that there will never be an ultimate, fully


Retellings, retranslation and relay translation

realized Cinderella. At various points in the transformation of familiar characters, translators are called upon to render a particular version of a fairy tale or the text of an authored children’s classic into the target language in a new version that will fulfill a specific purpose – perhaps the presentation of a freshly illustrated and translated version for the Christmas market, or a new edition of a classic story in the everyday language a child of the twenty-first century will find easy to read. Alternatively, the demand may be for an abridged version that will become the text for a picture book edition. It is not always easy to establish the dividing line between a translation and a rewriting, given that some translators take a very free approach to the task, as examples in this chapter will demonstrate. Oittinen even argues that ‘the main difference between translation and adaptation lies in our attitudes and points of view, not in any concrete difference between the two’ (2000: 80). One fundamental difference is that a translator does, of course, work from a source-language text, whereas a rewriter may base a new version on an existing translation. A translator who does return to the source text may have been asked to abridge or update the language of a new edition. Klingberg discusses modernization as one of the central concepts in the translation of children’s literature, a process that may include the updating of language perceived to be old-fashioned, and ‘attempts to make the target text of more immediate interest to the presumptive readers by moving the time nearer to the present time or by exchanging details in the setting for more recent ones’ (Klingberg, Ørvig and Amor, 1978: 86). Alternatively, a translator may have his or her own linguistic, literary or ideological agenda for creating a new translation. Brazilian author Monteiro Lobato’s translations of classic English-language children’s books in the early-twentieth century, for example, served a multiplicity of purposes. First, Lobato wanted to translate from English in opposition to the dominant tradition of translating French texts; second he wanted to translate into Brazilian Portuguese rather than standard Portuguese and third he adapted texts to include a subversive narrative framework. In his version of Peter Pan, for example, two children, their liberal-minded grandmother Dona Benta and various dolls engage in dialogue that is critical of Brazil’s lack of economic progress (Milton, 2006). Whatever the impetus for a new translation or retelling may be, it is salutary to return to first principles. Oittinen poses basic questions concerning adaptation or retranslation when recounting her own venture into recreating some of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories as films: ‘Did I harm the originals or their author in the process? Did I spoil the children’s reading experience by offering them “incorrect, unoriginal” interpretations? Or did I give my readers a fresh new viewpoint of the story?’ (2000: 83). All these questions are central to the process of adaptation and revision, and are worth bearing in mind throughout the following discussion of the varied forms of translation involved in the international publication of fairy and folk tales, and the retranslation of classics.

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The translation of fairy tales and folktales The global popularity of Western fairy tales, particularly those of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm – Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty – results in what Jack Zipes has called ‘a non-recognition of translation’ (Zipes, 2006: 198). Zipes, writing on Grimms’ tales, asserts that: ‘When most children and adults hear or read “Hansel and Gretel”, they rarely think that they are reading or listening to a translation’ (2006: 197). Nor are most readers aware of the degree to which translators, let alone retellers and adapters, have altered the German source texts of the Brothers Grimm, merged different versions of the same tale, or drawn on existing translations. Peter Carter’s so-called ‘fresh translation’ (bookjacket) into English of Grimms’ Fairy Tales (1982), for example, has the prince in Cinderella see the ugly sister’s mutilated toe through Perrault’s glass slipper, when the Grimms’ slipper is in fact golden. Incidentally, Perrault’s slipper was indeed made of glass (‘verre’); the legendary ‘mistake’ attributed to Perrault or his publisher of using ‘verre’ instead of ‘vair’ (fur or, specifically, squirrel fur) seems to date back to a comment by Théophile Gautier, and was subsequently considered to be a mistranslation in commentaries on English versions (see Hoffmann, 2015, forthcoming). A recent version of a selection of Grimms’ tales by celebrated author Philip Pullman, Grimm Tales for Young and Old (2012), does stick exclusively to Grimms’ tales, but draws on a number of existing versions of the German texts. In personal email correspondence, Pullman explained that he had referred to translations by Jack Zipes, Ralph Manheim, David Luke and D.L. Ashliman, ‘triangulating’ between these versions as he retold the tales, while keeping open beside him the 1857 German text as a further reference point. In Carter’s case a translator chose to merge two different versions of the same tale, whereas Pullman worked from existing translations to produce his own fluent versions with minor amendments justified in notes appended to each tale. Since the fairy tale is one of the bestselling genres in children’s literature, it is important for translators to be aware of the range of expectations in the world of children’s publishing. The marketing for Peter Carter’s version focused on the word ‘translation’, even though his version is clearly a retelling, in order to give the publication a cachet of authenticity; Pullman’s edition, on the other hand, is presented as a set of retellings (‘A clear and humorous retelling’ – blurb to the Penguin Classics edition), yet in fact it remains – thanks to the translators he cites – closer to the source text than does Carter’s supposed ‘translation’. A translator who receives a commission to produce a new version of a specific fairy tale, or indeed a selection of tales, should therefore clarify with editor and publisher exactly what kind of ‘translation’ is expected. Although folk and fairy tales were originally told and recorded for readers and listeners of all ages, they have over time come to be associated with child readers, so translator and publisher have to agree on a target audience; this will affect the selection of tales as well as the nature of the translation.


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Whereas Pullman reverts to the original purpose of the tales collected by the Grimm Brothers by dedicating his retellings to ‘young and old’, artist Wanda Gág’s intention was to translate solely for the child in her illustrated selection of Grimms’ tales published in English in 1936 under the title Tales from Grimm. Freely translated and illustrated by Wanda Gág (further volumes appeared in 1938, 1943 and 1947). Gág outlined in her preface a three-point strategy for child-friendly translation: • • •

to free hybrid stories of confusing passages; to use repetition for clarity; to employ dialogue to sustain interest in places where she considered the narrative to be too dense for children.

She also announced her decision to practise censorship by toning down what she called ‘goriness’. Gág was driven by an artistic desire to produce a small, illustrated collection for young readers or listeners below the age of twelve written in fluent, rhythmic prose for reading aloud, so the list above is only pertinent to her own translation. Each new edition of popular fairy tales, whether initiated by artist, publisher, reteller or translator, will have its own impetus and related strategies. Alongside the widespread dissemination of the tales of Perrault and the Grimms, the international and interlingual circulation of folk tales takes place in many parts of the world in widely differing scenarios. Judith Inggs reports that contemporary collections of translated or retold folk tales, as well as tales published in indigenous African languages (for example a collection by K.V. Sigenu published first in isiXhosa and then translated by Sigenu into English), ‘constitute a considerable proportion of the relatively small number of books published for children in South Africa each year’ (Inggs, 2009: 137). In other geopolitical situations, the collection of oral or written versions of unknown tales and their translation – possibly through an intermediary – becomes almost an ethnographic endeavor. Instances of the translation into English of folktales from Russia in the twentieth, and Somalia and Ethiopia in the twentyfirst centuries, will illustrate the strategies writers and translators have employed to convey national and regional tales from one language into another, and offer food for thought to publishers and translators keen to introduce to young readers tales from a wide range of cultures. Arthur Ransome (1884–1967) is known in the UK as the author of the Swallows and Amazons adventure stories set in the English Lake District. Less well-known are his journalism and trip to Russia in 1913 with the express intention of learning Russian in order to retell Russian folktales from source texts. Ransome set about achieving his aim with gusto in his early days in Russia, principally by befriending Russian children, purchasing Russian reading primers and developing fluency as a reader, rather than a speaker, of the language. His autobiography (1976) presents both what might seem to be a cavalier approach to translation, and a rationale that places the child reader

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firmly in the foreground. Ransome’s description of his translation strategy is worth citing in full because of his evolving understanding of the needs of child readers: One way or another, bad linguist as I am, I was able at the end of a very few weeks to begin filling notebooks with rough translations of stories from Russian. The first of these were more or less word-for-word translations into English from a good collection of Caucasian tales that I had found in paper-bound parts in a shop on the Nevsky Prospect. I was to find later that direct translation is not the way to tell Russian stories to English children, and for a reason that should have been obvious from the first. The Russian peasant storytellers, telling stories to each other, could count on a wide range of knowledge that their listeners, no matter how young, shared with them. Young English listeners knew nothing of the world that in Russia listeners and storytellers alike were able to take for granted. Continual explanation would have been as destructive of the tales as an endless series of asides. The storyteller, if he were to tell the tales as they should be told, had to stand between two worlds and never allow himself to feel that he was showing one world to the other. In the end I used to read as many variants of a folk-story as I could find and then lay them all aside while writing the story for myself. (Ransome, 1976: 62) Ransome’s solution to the issue of culture-specific material was to read as many versions of each tale as he could, and then to retell it from memory. The result of this distillation of a number of Russian versions of each tale was a set of interlingual retellings, Old Peter’s Russian Tales, published in 1916, to which Ransome added a narrative framework in which old Peter sits in the warmth of a log hut in the snow-covered forest, telling stories to his grandchildren Maroosia and Vanya. Peter France (1995) emphasizes Ransome’s storytelling voice and the addition of emotional and visual detail, citing Ransome’s transformation of the opening phrase of “Prince Ivan, the Witch Baby, and the Little Sister of the Sun” from the detached statement typical of folk tales: Then the Tsarevich wept yet more. (literal translation by Leonard A. Magnus) to: Little Prince Ivan cried bitterly, for he was very little and was all alone. (Ransome’s translation, cited in France, 1995: 39) Such sentimentality would not be welcome to the folklorist, but thanks to Ransome’s reputation as a children’s author and his captivating narratives, the collection has remained in print since 1916.


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Ransome was not alone in rewriting Russian tales from memory. James Riordan’s The Mistress of the Copper Mountain: Tales from the Urals by Pavel Bazhov (1974) originated in an oral storytelling session of tales from the Ural mountains by a headteacher and her pupils when the young Riordan was bedridden in Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk; Riordan, 2006: 74). On returning to England, Riordan rewrote the tales from memory, checking them against Pazel Bazhov’s Russian Uralskie skazy, and asserting his intention to create a set of tales that children would enjoy without being disloyal to the original Russian. He prefers not to call this process ‘translation’: ‘Incidentally, I dislike the word “translator”; it does not do justice to someone who provides a folk tale text in another language. Maybe “communicator” is more appropriate.’ (2006: 74). Riordan subsequently returned to Russia for five years, participating in folk tale sessions across Russia that resulted in five further volumes of tales in English. Familiarity with many tales enabled him to recognize ‘grammatical peculiarities of folk tale language’ in Russian, such as the frequent use of diminutives, the pairing of nouns with virtually the same meaning (‘put-doroga’: path-way) and a variety of stock epithets (‘kosoi zayets’: cross-eyed hare or ‘sery volk’: grey wolf). Riordan’s conclusion on conveying folk tales between languages is that ‘to speak the language is not enough: you must know the culture and the sound of a people, live cheek by jowl with them and, as the Russians say, consume a pood of salt with them’ (2006: 75). Elizabeth Laird certainly shared a pood of salt with the peoples of the Ethiopian region, both while living there as a teacher and on her return forty years later to collect folk tales. As she knew no more than the basics of the many languages spoken in the area, Laird used a number of translators as intermediaries, funded by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and the British Council. The aim was to produce stories and reading materials in English for children in Ethiopia, but the project also resulted in a UK-based website ( and UK publications. The Ogress and the Snake and Other Stories from Somalia (2009) is targeted specifically at young readers, whereas The Lure of the Honeybird: The storytellers of Ethiopia (2013) includes information on the storytellers and their localities as a prelude to each tale. Both are welcome in the UK where schools in a number of areas have pupils of Somali origin. For translators, the interest in these collections of tales lies in the strategy employed for conveying into English stories from the less accessible languages of the fourteen regions of Ethiopia across which Laird travelled. Moge Abdi Omer was the chief finder of tales and translator in Somalia and in Somali, whereas in parts of Ethiopia a collector of stories would translate them from tape recordings of storytelling sessions in local languages (including the Afar and Anuak languages) into Amharic, which in turn had to be translated into English and dictated to Laird. She often worked with translators to probe the meaning of stock phrases before retelling the stories in English versions. As in the case of Riordan’s engagement with Russian tales, Laird discovered the

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particularities of the Amharic culture, including a prized form of poetry and prose known as ‘wax and gold’ that relies on double meanings and compact expressions. She also became familiar with the customary condensed story opening: Teret, teret, ye lam beret [Literal translation: Story, story, cow in byre] which conveys the meaning: The evening has come, the cows are shut in the byre, and it’s time for stories. (Laird, 2013: 40). Each of the publications by Ransome, Riordan and Laird arises from a keen interest in and longstanding relationship with a specific culture and people, and each author–translator took the initiative to bring new tales and cultural insights from Russia and North Africa to the ears and eyes of young British readers. Translators who wish to explore the potential in the children’s market for folk tales as yet unknown in the target culture may find that seeking funding for an ethnographic project is one way forward. There is certainly an audience for such collections, since a broader knowledge of folk tales beyond the Western canon is essential to the cultural integration of migrant children from Eastern Europe or Africa in many schools in Western Europe, with teachers eager to find books that reflect their pupils’ heritage cultures.

Strategies for translating folk and fairy tales The following points should be kept in mind when translating folk or fairy tales: •

Is the collection or the individual tale to be translated intended for child readers, adults or both? When translating a selection of tales from an extensive collection, attention should be paid to the selection as well as the translation of tales for the particular audience and age group the publisher has in mind. Careful consideration should also be given to which edition of the source text the translator intends to use. The Grimm Brothers, for example, published a number of editions of their collected tales, and publishers and retellers have repackaged the tales in many guises in the German-speaking world since the early-nineteenth century. Any translator of fairy tales has to discuss with the editor and publisher what kind of translation is to be undertaken: a free translation or retelling, perhaps directed at a modern child audience, or a translation based closely on the source text (see discussion below on retranslation)?

120 •

Retellings, retranslation and relay translation When working on the translation of a collection of folk tales from written or oral sources, a longstanding connection with the culture of the source text is an advantage, as is the reading and hearing of as many folk tales as possible to detect patterns such as opening and closing rhymes, specific phrases or epithets. Working with translators who act as intermediaries is an option when the translator is unable to access all the languages in which tales are told.

The translation and retranslation of children’s classics Books that enjoy the label ‘children’s classics’ are a hybrid set of texts, comprising tales written for all ages and filtered through a number of languages (such as the set of stories known as The Arabian Nights), or stories originally written for adults that have become part of a Western-dominated children’s canon. Shavit (1986) discusses a number of mid-twentieth-century translations from English into Hebrew of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, indicating instances of censorship, abridgement and a loss of irony in the process of translation. Gulliver’s Travels, for example, is transformed from a satire into a combination of fantasy and adventure story in line with existing genres in the children’s literature of the target culture. English-language children’s editions of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, published between the late eighteenth and early twenty-first centuries and based on a range of translations from the Spanish, are often radically abridged distillations of a set of core episodes from the novel (Lathey, 2012). A journey from adult to children’s literature may indeed take place in the course of translation, or subsequently in the adaptation of a translation originally intended for adults into an entertaining novel for child readers. Rewriters rather than translators may be required for these transitions, but there is nonetheless a market for updated versions that require a fresh translation of the source text. A publisher may commission a new translation of a classic originally written for children – Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Collodi’s Pinocchio, Johanna Spyri’s Heidi or Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince, for example – for a number of reasons: •

New illustrations by a well-known children’s illustrator may be the dominant factor in the publication of a new picture book or gift-book edition of a children’s classic. Publishers of picture book editions of single fairy tales may or may not require a new translation. A publisher may require an updating of archaic language and dialogue for a contemporary child readership; a particular instance is the gradual modernization of language in retranslations of children’s texts into Hebrew (see Du-Nour, 1995, cited in Chapter 4). Publishers see the marketing of a ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ translation of a wellknown classic as a means of reviving its popularity. The marketing of Peter Carter’s hybrid collection of retellings of Grimms’ tales as a ‘fresh translation’ (see above) is a case in point.

Retellings, retranslation and relay translation •


A new translation is occasionally necessary because a publisher envisages a different audience for the text: for example the scholarly, annotated edition of a children’s classic for the academic study of children’s literature (see discussion of Pinocchio below). A retranslation of a children’s classic may be a very different textual entity from previous editions, either in relation to the degree of abridgement in each version or, in the case of fairy tales, the selection of tales on a particular theme.

Whatever the reasons for the commission, retranslation remains a common practice, as indicated in Kieran O’Driscoll’s (2011) study of the twelve translations from French into English of Jules Verne’s Le tour du monde en quatrevingts jours (1873) published between 1873 and 2004, and Sonia Marx’s analysis of the German–Italian dialogue inherent in multiple translations and adaptations of Struwwelpeter and Wilhelm Busch’s Max und Moritz from German into Italian, as well as Collodi’s Pinocchio from Italian into German (Marx, 1997). O’Driscoll’s analysis of six of the versions of Verne’s novel appears to contest Berman’s (1990) ‘retranslation hypothesis’, according to which there is a development in retranslations towards increasingly accurate renderings, and from target-oriented to source-oriented translations. In the case of children’s literature, changing perceptions of the requirements of the child reader and the marketing of children’s fiction, and above all the visual presentation and illustration of a new edition, are likely to play a far more significant role in determining translation practice than the desire for a version that is closer to the source text. Translators can take solace, however, from the emphasis on the agency of the translator in O’Driscoll’s study. A personal affinity of the translator with the source culture and professional publishing expertise (one translator of Verne’s novel was at the time editor of Penguin Classics) were instrumental in instigating new editions. A further endorsement of the translator’s art is to be found in O’Driscoll’s findings that ‘the individual translating agent has an essential role to play in determining the form of the TT [target text]’ (2011: 252). Despite the existence of previous translations, translators exhibited stylistic idiosyncrasies that make their versions unique. The use of existing translations in the process of writing a new translation is difficult to establish and, judging from the limited evidence available, subject to great variation in individual practice. Pullman’s ‘triangulation’ between previous translations when retelling, rather than retranslating, Grimms’ tales contrasts sharply with Anthea Bell’s insistence that she only looks at other versions of a fairy tale once her own translation is complete: ‘what has already gone into one’s mind from past readings is quite enough’ (Bell, 1985b: 142). O’Driscoll (2011: 261) found instances of what Brownlie (2006) has called the ‘haunting’ of retranslations by earlier versions; in retranslations of Jules Verne’s novel this became evident in the use of particular phrases or lexical items. Reading a number of different translations rather than just one can give a fuller picture of a source text, whereas over-reliance on one existing


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translation leads to such ‘echoes’ and to ethical questions concerning the reproduction of an earlier translator’s work that were often ignored in the past. However, the existence of multiple versions of a text, even if contemporary with one another, does not imply that one is the ‘best’; each may well serve different needs and have different purposes or emphases. It is important, then, to be aware of these issues when embarking on a retranslation and to make clear and considered decisions as to what role, if any, existing versions will play in your own work. As was the case with fairy tales, the exact nature of the relationship between translator and implied reader is a particular concern in retranslations of the classics of children’s literature, where an editor may envisage the modern child reader, the nostalgic adult or indeed the scholar as his or her target readership. Whereas Wanda Gág had child readers in mind for her modernized translation of selected Grimms’ tales, Jack Zipes intended his new translation of The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1987) for adults who would appreciate his endeavor ‘to respect the historical character and idioms of each tale and to retain a nineteenth-century flavor’ (Zipes: 1987: xxxvii). One instance that nicely illustrates the dilemma concerning a translator’s target audience is that of the new translation of Pinocchio by Ann Lawson Lucas published in 1996 in the Oxford University Press World Classics series. Lawson Lucas, an academic with a particular interest in Italian literature, treads an equivocal path in the preface to her retranslation, stating on the one hand that her version is a scholarly one and therefore ‘not specifically or exclusively for children’ (1996: 1); her introduction and extensive notes certainly endorse that view. To further reassure the adult scholar, Lawson Lucas justifies her choice of the Italian text of Pinocchio edited by Ornella Castellani Pollidori in1983, arguing that ‘a translation which itself aims to be scholarly cannot but be taken from the text of the critical edition’ (1996: xlv). She also claims that ‘precise equivalence has always been sought’ – although she does not define the term, and adds that hers is a literary translation, where ‘it would be no more appropriate to update the expressions used than it would to modernize the language and style of Charles Dickens’ (1996: l). So far the adult, rather than the child, appears to be the intended audience for this ‘new’ Pinocchio. A commitment to scholarly translation begins to waver, however, in the rationale that Lawson Lucas presents for domestication. To foreignize and accentuate Italianness, she argues, would offend her love of Italy by ‘piling on local colour to the point of rendering the text “folksy”, quaint, olde worlde’. By toning down its Italian qualities, Lawson Lucas wants the text to live for her second, less academic audience, which she names as: ‘English-speaking readers for whom, perhaps, the differences between traditional pasta recipes, or between the educational writers of Italy in the 1870s, might be somewhat mysterious’ (1996: xlix–l). Since Collodi’s recipes and contemporary Italian educational writers constitute precisely the kind of ‘mystery’ that the scholar would relish, there has clearly been a shift away from the scholar towards the general reader and the child in the matter

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of the adaptation of cultural markers. Lawson Lucas domesticates the text by changing names – Geppetto to Old Joe, for example, and substituting shepherd’s pie for ‘risotta alla milanese’ or steak and kidney pudding for ‘maccheroni alla napoletana’. Paradoxically, with regard to foodstuffs contemporary British readers – adults or children – are much more likely to eat Italian meals on a regular basis (pizza, pasta and macaroni) than the shepherd’s and steak and kidney pies that were popular in the UK many years ago. Such are the anomalies of a translation that registers the tension between a dual adult audience (the scholar and the general adult reader) and a potential child reader who is, after all, implicit in the source text with its opening direct address to the child reader or listener (see extract in Chapter 1). Lawson Lucas is well aware of the tightrope she walks, conceding, for instance, that she may have ‘fallen between two stools’ when arguing for domestication (1996: l). An alternative approach to that of Lawson Lucas is evident in the childfriendly retranslation of Pinocchio (Collodi, 2002) by Emma Rose, published in 2003, which directly targets a child audience in the flowing, modern English of the text and the vibrant, quirky collage illustrations by Sara Fanelli. Interestingly, Rose does not domesticate to the same degree as Lawson Lucas. Geppetto retains his Italian name just as ‘risotto alla milanese’ and ‘maccheroni napoletana’ maintain their Italian flavour as ‘mushroom risotto’ and ‘pasta with tomato sauce’. Rose has faith in her young audience’s interest in, and tolerance of, Italian culture. At every stage she has child readers in mind and is judging their likely response, so that her translation is child-friendly semantically, as well as in its modern tone. Does one translation suit all, or should the publisher of a new version make a clear choice between the academic audience and the child? Much depends of course on the market the publisher has in mind. In the case of the two Pinocchio retranslations the potential readers of a volume in the Oxford World Classics, with its academic cachet, and the illustrated gift book from children’s publisher Walker Books are so different that it is unlikely that one translation could suit both. As Riitta Oittinen argues in Translating for Children (2000), a translator for children has to have an understanding of his or her audience and to enter into an imaginary dialogue with the child – as Collodi does – for the translation to be successfully received and enjoyed by young readers. On the other hand, an edition for students and scholars requires the academic paraphernalia of an introductory essay and notes as well as a period linguistic authenticity that are unlikely to appeal to children. The two translations of Pinocchio by Lawson Lucas and Rose bring into sharp focus the dilemma a translator may face when retranslating a classic children’s text.

Relay translation Relay translation is a phenomenon that is prevalent across the history of translation for children. Texts that have become children’s classics travelled across the world in formats that owed much to expediency, commercial


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acumen or the initiatives of scholars and translators. A hybrid collection of tales such as The Arabian Nights reached the West via multiple retranslations. Antoine Galland translated into French a fourteenth-century Syrian manuscript with additional tales from Baghdad and Cairo, as well as others of uncertain origin and tales that he may have composed himself. These were translated from French into the languages of Europe in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Other examples include early translations of Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish tales into English via German editions (Lathey, 2010) and the use of Edgar Taylor’s translation into English as a basis for versions of Grimms’ tales into languages of the Indian sub-continent (Roy, 2014). Relay translation occurs in cultural and historical contexts where a source text is no longer accessible or is difficult to obtain, where knowledge of the source language is rare, or where a translation becomes so successful that its origins become obscure and the translation becomes the source of subsequent versions in other languages, as in the case of Galland’s Arabian Nights. In an era when translation into English from most European languages should not be a problem, it is therefore perhaps surprising to see a relatively recent example such as the translation into English from a German version of the Russian text of A Hostage to War by Tatiana Vasilieva (1996), which in fact won the 1998 Mildred L. Batchelder Award presented in the US for the best translated children’s book of the year. Relay translation is, however, almost unavoidable in some circumstances and continues to this day. Eliza Vitri Handayani, founder of an initiative to promote literary translation in Indonesia (InterSastra), states that many works of literature in languages other than English are translated into Indonesian from an English translation: ‘Therefore, rather than only condemning the method, we had best find a way to improve its working process and the quality of the end result’ (Handayani, 2013: 64). Relay translation is essential in Indonesia, or indeed to an enterprise such as that of Elizabeth Laird where oral tales in local languages were first translated into Amharic and then into English. Relay translation is better than no translation, although the result may be a dual or multiple reinterpretation of the source text. One frequently cited example of the pitfalls of relay translation is that of Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea where two English translators, Caroline Peachey and Charles Boner, took as their source text the German translation from Andersen’s Danish by Georg Friedrich von Jenssen (1839). Jenssen had increased the number of peas placed under the princess’s mattress to three to make the story more credible (Hjørnager Pedersen, 2004). Although Peachey corrected the mistake in later editions of her translation, it still lingers. As Naomi Lewis writes in a prefatory note to her own 2004 retranslation of selected tales: ‘Sadly, some of these early versions are still in use. Look out for those rogue peas’ (Andersen, 2004: 13). Handayani’s admonition to find ways to improve the process and quality of relay translation should therefore be taken seriously by anyone who – for whatever reason – translates for children from a previously translated text.

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Handayani also reports on a series of translation workshops held in Jakarta, where relay translation was accepted as ‘a necessary evil’, but with the recommendation that the first translator or author should be consulted where possible. In an era of the rapid dissemination of what is frequently a transitory children’s culture, translators should also be aware that their published translation might be used as the basis for a relay translation without acknowledgement or payment.

Discussion points •

• •

Is the collection and translation of folk tales from another culture for publication as children’s literature to be encouraged? What might be the objections to such a practice, bearing in mind the power relations between collectors and storytellers in specific instances that occur to you? On receiving a commission to retranslate a classic text for children, would you consider it advisable to consult previous translations? Would you undertake a translation into your working language of a children’s text that had already been translated from its source language, in other words a relay translation? Under what circumstances might you consider such a commission?

Exercises •

Collect a number of versions of a tale from the collection of the Grimm Brothers or Charles Perrault written in your heritage language and compare them; if possible, compare with the German or French source text. Would you classify some of the versions you have collected as retellings or adaptations rather than translations? You have been commissioned to produce a new translation into your working language of an internationally recognized nineteenth-century children’s classic. Choose an appropriate text and consider the potential purpose and audience for the translation; whether you would read existing translations before you start and whether – given your chosen audience – you would modernize the language of the source text, or seek to replicate the style and vocabulary of its publication date. Produce a sample chapter for the publisher’s consideration, together with a cover letter explaining the purpose of the project.

Further reading Brownlie, Siobhan (2006) ‘Narrative theory and retranslation theory’. Across Languages and Cultures, 7(2): 145–70. Douglas, Virginie and Cabaret, Florence, eds. (2014) La Retraduction en littérature de jeunesse. Retranslating Children’s Literature, Bern: Peter Lang.


Retellings, retranslation and relay translation

Du-Nour, Miryam (1995) ‘Retranslation of children’s books as evidence of changes of norms’. Target, 7(2): 327–46. O’Driscoll, Kieran (2011) Retranslation through the Centuries: Jules Verne in English, Bern: Peter Lang. Oittinen, Riitta (2000) Translating for Children, New York and London: Garland Publishing.


Children’s publishing, globalization and the child reader

Throughout this book, references to editorial practices, international trends and financial considerations are reminders of the fluctuating fortunes of the children’s publishing industry. As publishing houses merge or adapt to the electronic age, translators have to fight hard for adequate remuneration and visible credit for the work they do. A translator of children’s fiction was, for many years, at the forefront of the campaign for translators’ rights. Not only did Patricia Crampton (whose translations into English from Swedish and German are cited several times in this book) act as advocate for translators in the UK, but she and a colleague succeeded in persuading a British official – Britain was the lone objector – to support a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) ‘Recommendation on the legal protection of Translators and Translations and the practical means to improve the Status of Translators’ that was eventually adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its nineteenth Session in Nairobi on 22 November 1976. Publishing has changed a great deal since then, of course, but translators – especially those new to the profession – still need to take advice from colleagues and professional associations (for example, the Translators Association in the UK) before negotiating a contract or royalties since practice varies enormously from country to country and between publishers. This final chapter will be devoted to what has been called ‘paratranslation’: extra textual matters such as who decides what gets translated, when and how; the marketing and packaging of children’s books; international developments in children’s literature and the role of the translator in aspects of children’s publishing. It will include a few remarks on multimedia translation, a fastgrowing area of translation for children. Last but certainly not least, attention will switch to the child reader and recipient of the translator’s work, to children as translators and to initiatives to bring together translators and child readers.

International marketing and the professional translator of children’s books The children’s literature marketplace is a fast-changing world of corporate conglomerates and the tenacity of small, specialized publishers. Both meet at


Children’s publishing and the child reader

the annual Children’s Book Fair held in Bologna, Italy, in April every year, where translation rights are bought and sold. Any aspiring translator for children would be well advised to visit the Fair in order to gain insights, current trends and new initiatives in international children’s publishing, and to see at first hand the overwhelming range of books on offer. In 2011, for example, Lithuania was the guest of honour, so that visitors had the opportunity to see (and purchase rights to) some superb artwork in picture books, as well as to get to know the work of Lithuanian children’s authors. Such initiatives help to redress the balance at an event dominated by English-language publications and multinational corporate publishing, and to give countries trying to establish an indigenous children’s literature in the face of an influx of translations, particularly from English, a much-needed introduction into the international children’s book trade. Bologna, too, is the site of negotiations for the international co-production of picture books that will involve translators in preparing text for editions in a number of languages. The buying of translation rights at Bologna raises the issue of copyright. Copyright terms vary, but in most countries copyright is based on the life of the author and extends some fifty or seventy years beyond death. Since translation operates within copyright law, translators have to obtain the owner’s permission before publishing a translation. In the case of recent publications, the translator’s publisher will have secured translations rights from the publisher of the source text including rights to ebooks and digital editions, but in the case of a work published decades earlier, copyright may have resorted to the author or to his or her estate. A translator seeking to retranslate a modern children’s classic may have to undertake a preliminary investigation on copyright before suggesting the project to a publisher. If the book was published more than seventy years ago, and copyright and intellectual property rights have expired, then the work enters the public domain, is available for open access and may be translated without the need to seek permission. Conversely, translators need to keep in mind the copyright status of their own work. Advice from the UK Society of Authors website states that: The law recognises this ‘original’ nature of a translation and affords copyright protection to the translation, separate from the copyright protection to which the original foreign work is entitled and also separate from the protection of someone else’s translation of the same work. The translator’s ‘moral rights’ are also protected: a translation cannot be used in a derogatory way and if the translator wishes, it must carry the translator’s name when it is published.1 It is therefore advisable to research the position on copyright in your own country and to insist on as prominent a position as possible for your own name in the published translation. Who decides what gets translated in the world of children’s books is part of a complex trade network including rights deals, with commercial gain as

Children’s publishing and the child reader


the dominant factor. Translators working in a market where a large proportion of children’s books are translations may be able to specialize in children’s literature, or even in a specific genre (the fantasy tale, the graphic novel, etc.), whereas in other contexts translating for children will form only a small proportion of their work. It is beyond the scope of this book to examine the publishing scenario in even a small number of countries in any detail, but research into the translation of children’s books into English focuses on the special case of the US and the UK (Lathey, 2010; Goldsmith, 2006), where publication of translations remains limited and erratic. Translations published each year in the UK (about two per cent of the children’s book market) are largely from European countries – particularly France, Germany and Scandinavia. Since the foundation of the UK Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation in 1996, there have been only a handful of non-European submissions: one translated from Chinese in 1996 (Let One Hundred Flowers Bloom by Feng Jicai, translated by Christopher Smith); one, the winning entry for 2001, from Hebrew (Duel by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg) and two entries translated from Arabic (My Own Special Way by Mithaa Alkhayyat in 2013 and I am a Woolly Hat by Salma Koraytem in 2015, both translated by Fatima Sharafeddine and retold by Vivian French). The website on Arabic Literature in English2 points to one or two further very rare examples of translations from Arabic into English for older readers, namely Mohieddin Ellabbad’s The Illustrator’s Notebook (2006) and Fatima Sharafeddine’s own translation of her novel Faten as The Servant (2013). Within the US market, the findings of Annette Goldsmith’s investigative study of successful (Batchelder Award-winning) publishers of translated books, based on interviews with five editors who had acquired and edited winning titles, reveals a continuing reluctance to publish translations. Editors cite the high cost of production, the difficulty in identifying appropriate translators, the lack of interest from mainstream US culture, the low level of sales and the need to rely on readers’ reports rather than their own instincts (Goldsmith, 2006). Goldsmith discovered that personal connections with foreign authors, illustrators, translators, editors or agents are by far the most important channels of information about books worthy of translation; several editors comment that ‘serendipity is a factor’. Goldsmith’s interviewees twice mention the work of German author Cornelia Funke as an example of the kind of bestseller translations they hope to discover. It is therefore ironic that Funke’s success in translation, too, is the result of a fortunate circumstance. Were it not for the persuasive enthusiasm of a young German-speaking relative of an employee in Funke’s UK publishing company, Chicken House, her books might never have been translated into English at all. Goldsmith’s research reinforces the message that aspiring translators of children’s books should seek all available information on the children’s book market, attend book fairs, readings by children’s authors, publishing events and gradually get to know the industry and its key players. Acclaimed children’s authors who also turn their hands to translation, as is the case


Children’s publishing and the child reader

in a number of countries, will already be well aware of trends in children’s publishing, but trainees or professionals who lack that experience and wish to translate for children would be well advised to research the field. Any available university or adult education course on children’s literature, its history or contemporary genres will provide a sound basis for work in children’s publishing or as a translator, as indeed will a reading of journals and magazines on children’s books, whether local or international (for example International Research in Children’s Literature and IBBY publications). The translator’s agency in the publication process may be crucial, so experience of the industry will also be an advantage. An internship or minor editorial post in children’s publishing has proved to be a stepping stone to translation commissions for a number of student translators who returned to Japan and Taiwan after studying for the Children’s Literature MA at the University of Roehampton; an alternative first step is to offer to write a reader’s report on a book you consider to be worthy of translation. A knowledgeable translator who can write well-informed readers’ reports, suggest titles to a publisher and gain the trust of an editor who cannot read the source language will be likely to receive more commissions in the long run. Once a new translator has a draft contract, it is advisable to join a professional association or, where none exists, to contact other translators and translation networks online. PEN International is a good source of information and some local branches offer examples of model translation contracts. National translation associations can also advise on contracts, payment (whether an advance fee, a flat fee or royalties), copyright and associated legal matters. The British Translators Association, for example, will vet contracts and provide a sample basic agreement and offer business advice and a range of additional resources as well as an email discussion group and social events, for translation can be a lonely profession. Translators have to be wary when negotiating payment, as there is a great variety in practice in any one country, let alone across the world. In the UK for example, translator Sarah Ardizzone has discovered that practice varies greatly from publisher to publisher. She describes an optimal scenario of half the fee being paid on signature of the contract and the other half on delivery and acceptance of the translation, followed by royalties set at between one and two per cent from the first copy sold. However, Ardizzone has found only one publishing house that practices this policy, so second best is a fee with royalties payable after a set number of copies, usually around five thousand, have been sold (interview recorded in Lathey, 2010: 186). A very different professional history from Ardizzone’s is that outlined by American–Japanese translator Andria Cheng in an essay posted on the website ‘What is Manga?’ on 8 April 2013.3 This is a story that highlights the pitfalls and successes of a young translator specializing in a genre that is popular with young people in Japan and rapidly gaining acclaim ground across the world. Cheng, who graduated with a degree in Japanese in 2005, has been a freelance translator from Japanese into English for six years. Working for an agency

Children’s publishing and the child reader


seemed to be the only means of entry into the profession, but she does not recommend this route since it entailed the signing of restrictive clauses and an undisclosed percentage paid to the agency. Instead, Cheng advises registration with as the leading community and network for freelance translators. Cheng’s account of her payment and the polishing of text through ‘adaptation’ are fascinating insights into the role of translation in these ephemeral graphic novels: In the beginning I got paid a flat fee per volume of manga. This was anywhere from $400–$700, but when you get a contract for an entire series of say, ten volumes, it can add up quickly. I generally translated anywhere from five to seven volumes of manga a month, in addition to any light novels I was doing at the time, which I got paid for by the page. When I started translating manga, someone else would be hired to ‘adapt’ my translation, which basically means they Americanized my literal Japanese translation. This only lasted for one manga series I did for Viz called St. Dragon Girl, and after that I was credited with my own adapting. Most of the time the adapters don’t even know Japanese, so in my opinion there are much better results when the translator can adapt their own work. Once she did receive commissions Cheng found that she still did not make enough money to live on, even though her translations featured on The New York Times bestseller list for manga. After the economic crisis of 2008, Cheng’s income reduced by half, as Japanese publishers cut back production of manga and turned to in-house translators. There was a corresponding boom in amateur translations or ‘scanlations’ that originally arose because of a lack of translated Japanese manga; a similar phenomenon accompanied the publication of later volumes of the Harry Potter series, as discussed below. Cheng argues, however, that this does not damage official publication – on the contrary: I actually know of quite a few series that were specifically chosen to be published because of their popularity in scanlation form. Seeing what scanlated series are most popular and most read can give a publisher a quick idea of how well a certain series or genre might do. Chang’s argument raises questions of piracy and legality of which translators should be aware, but it also illustrates the highly competitive nature of the profession and the impact of global economic developments. At the time of posting, Cheng was working on the translation of games for mobile devices for a Japanese company. To sum up, translators new to the profession and to translating children’s literature would be well advised to find out: •

Which children’s publishers in their own country specialize in translated children’s books.

132 •

Children’s publishing and the child reader Whether government agencies in either the country of first publication or the receiving country offer translation grants for literature generally or specifically for children’s books. What kinds of translated children’s books – particular genres, picture books, etc. – have been published and have sold well in the past five years or so by visiting local websites that indicate bestselling children’s book trends. What is the range and quality of children’s books published in the language(s); from and into which he or she intends to translate.

It would also be extremely useful to build networks and gain experience by: • • • •

Seeking an internship in a children’s publishing house. Visiting the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Gaining experience of writing readers’ reports. Networking with other translators via professional associations, online communities of translators, etc.

Professional British translator Frank Wynne offers the following sound advice: Never undervalue yourself. Even if you’re just starting out, don’t work for free, don’t accept a paltry rate that will mean having to rush the work or scrimp for months. I’m not suggesting for a moment that publishers will try to bilk you, but knowing how to read a contract, what the current TA [the UK Translators’ Association] recommended minimum is, what royalties translators earn and the difference between cover price and net receipts means you can make informed decisions before plunging into the vertiginous pleasures of translation itself. Find out what grants, residencies and bursaries are available – it can be vital information for you and your publisher. Translation is an art, a pleasure perhaps even a vocation but it also a profession. (Wynne, 2013)

Working with editors Cheng’s reference to ‘adaptation’ as part of the translation and editorial process is a reminder of the relationship between translator and editor. Few editors become as closely involved with the translation process as Aidan Chambers when working with translator Laurie Thompson (see Chapter 4), but all will expect to intervene at some stage to a greater or lesser extent. A discussion about expectations on both sides is advisable at the very beginning of the translation project. When translator Ros Schwartz interviewed a number of British editors who publish translations (her focus was not

Children’s publishing and the child reader


specifically on children’s literature), she discovered a range of attitudes. One publisher insisted on a number of editing rounds with a beautiful piece of English literature as the ultimate goal, while another argued that only a light copy-edit should be necessary and that leaving ‘oddities of the original untouched’ allows the publisher to decide what to do (Schwartz, 2013: 19). Other editors like to include the author of the source text in editorial discussion, just as some experienced translators prefer to work with authors before submitting a first draft to an editor. Barry Cunningham, UK publisher of children’s fiction, describes such triangular discussions between author of the source text, translator and publisher: Once we’ve got the translation, we treat it almost like it’s an entirely new book. This is an opportunity to make the book work in another language, and so we might go back to the author and look again at certain points. We’re very active on this front, and all the German authors we’ve worked with have been very pleased with this approach. A good example is Kirsten Boie and The Princess Plot – we directed it in a slightly different way and it’s been hugely successful in America. (Cunningham, 2015) As Schwartz concludes, ‘Empathy between translator and editor is as important as empathy between translator and author’ (2013: 20). Sarah Ardizzone and Daniel Hahn, translators of children’s books into English, both cite editors who are willing to leave the final decision on suggested amendments to translators or to settle discussion on disputed points amicably; ideally, a dialogue between editor and publisher leads to improvements to the final manuscript. Although translators have to recognize that, contractually, the publisher does have the final say, it is always worth defending a translation when an editor seems to be mistaken: Anthea Bell has argued with publishers in lengthy letters, and Astrid Lindgren eventually won the battle of the dung heap (see Chapter 1).

Globalization: the case of Harry Potter The rapidly accelerating globalization of bestselling children’s titles in an international children’s culture has had an enormous impact on both publishers and translators that became particularly apparent during the publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Although an exceptional ‘phenomenon’, the series represents both a turning point and an illuminating case study in relation to the international marketing and distribution of children’s books. Never has the role of translators been so essential to publishers and keen readers alike as in the travels of Harry Potter. Once the series became an international success, any publisher who bought translation rights to the latter volumes had to face what must have seemed an irritatingly lengthy hiatus while a translator or translators (employing a team increased the speed of translation) completed their work.


Children’s publishing and the child reader

Gaps between publication of the English version and translations decreased as the ‘Potter effect’ gained momentum. Volume one, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was not published in China until October 2000, a delay of three years from first publication in the UK; yet for volume five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (published in June 2003), the planned time lapse between publication of the original and the translation was barely four months. According to the Publishers Weekly NewsLine website of 2 July 2003, the Chinese translator was in fact the frontrunner in the race to produce the first translation, with plans for an 800,000 copy first printing in place for 1 October 2003. The Japanese translation of the book, on the other hand, was not expected until mid-2004, with Germany (November 2003), Finland and Spain (both early 2004) in between (Lathey, 2005). Such a snapshot of schedules for the publication of a book towards the end of the series indicates the commercially driven pressure to which translators were subject in the heady atmosphere succeeding the publication of a new Potter volume. In response to an approach from The Guardian newspaper in connection with a pirate translation of the final volume, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the wife of French translator Jean-François Ménard commented that her husband could not talk to reporters as he was translating night and day (The Guardian, 8 August 2007). Resistance to publishing conglomerates controlling the dissemination of the Harry Potter books took a number of forms. One potential blow to the income of professional translators resulted from the impatience of eager readers of all ages when faced with a lengthy wait for an authorized translation. Many decided to bypass translation altogether and read the latest Potter title in English; indeed the fifth volume of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was the first English-language book ever to top the bestseller list in France. Some publishers who had bought translation rights resorted to litigation. German publisher Carlsen, concerned at the number of enterprising young German readers purchasing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in English, sued for selling the Bloomsbury edition by claiming that different customers were getting different discounts in violation of German law.4 A second threat to authorized, professional translations was the number of pirate and wildcat translations that became available on the internet. On the one hand, such practice undercuts the work of translators, yet on the other it raises the profile of translation and encourages inexperienced and young translators. Russian readers, impatient for a translation of the very first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 1997) for example, officially published in Russian in 2000, could turn to several translations on Harry Potter websites (Inggs, 2003: 291). Pirate translations online continued to appear in many languages as the series developed. An article in The New York Times of 14 July 2003 reported on the online German translation collective ‘Harry auf Deutsch’ (Harry in German), and on the successful action of the Carlsen publishing house, authorized to publish German editions of the Potter books, to have the translated extracts removed

Children’s publishing and the child reader


from the site. Bernd Koelemann, the computer engineer who managed the site, set rules that only those who made a contribution by translating or proofreading could see the final version, and argued in his defence that excerpts were only posted to attract new members. Despite Carlsen’s action, the site remained open and included a section devoted to the highlighting of errors and omissions in published translations identified by the collective – an unsettling initiative as far as the professional translator is concerned. From fake translations – the publication in China of a novel purporting to be a translation of Rowling’s latest book is probably the best known example – to the iron control over ‘Harry Potter, names, characters and related indicia’ exercised by Time Warner (producers of the Potter films), manifestations of the furore surrounding the Harry Potter series may well be unique but the globalization of its success is not. Borodo (2006) cites the example of the popular WITCH series: Originally created in Italian, by Italians, in Disney Italy, and was later extended to include another sub-series, this time created by a Danish author for Disney and Egmont. It is now marketed in about 60 countries including the US, Russia, Turkey, China, United Arab Emirates and Chile, in the form of comic book magazines, short stories, calendars, diaries and other accompanying products. It has also been made into an animation (also broadcast globally), this time created in France by Disney in co-production with Jetix Europe and French SIP animation company. (Borodo, 2006: 140) The global reach of children’s culture should alert translators to the potential consequences of translating internationally successful children’s fiction: •

• •

Translators working on internationally popular texts may find themselves under duress to produce a translation to extremely tight deadlines; adequate remuneration and a contract that is to the best possible advantage of the translator should be negotiated. When a publisher decides to employ a team of translators to speed up the process, terms and conditions should be carefully established. Infringement of copyright through pirate translations or illegal downloads of audiobooks may affect the income of translators, particularly if they are being paid in royalties from the authorized translation. In the wake of the selling of the Harry Potter brand, publishers have recognized the significance of marketing events. Translators may or may not wish to participate (see the following section on profiling the translator). Globalization and the international ‘packaging’ of children’s culture may ultimately result in the pre-release translation of highly popular children’s books by analogy with the practice of simultaneous shipment (‘simship’) in the video games industry, i.e. the shipment across the world of copies in different languages simultaneously with the publication of the source text).


Children’s publishing and the child reader

Multimedia translation Since books written for children constitute only one part of global children’s culture, a few words on multimedia translation for children will serve as an introduction to a topic that is not the subject of this book but is discussed in detail elsewhere (O’Connell, 2003; Tortoriello, 2006; Bernal-Merino, 2014). As will be apparent from previous chapters, translators of children’s books, especially those intended for younger children, have to pay particular attention to image and sound and, moreover, children’s translators often grapple with the prevalence of dialogue – all of which are the fundamentals of audiovisual translation. Younger children are unlikely to be able to read subtitles, or their reading speed may well fall considerably below the average reading speed of 160 words per minute for programmes distributed on DVD (Tortoriello 2006: 56), so that dubbing is dominant in screen translation for this age group. O’Connell’s (2003) detailed study of the dubbing of a German-language animated children’s television series into Irish identifies the lexical simplification and the reduction of dual address that is also found in studies of the translation of written texts. Children and young adults form a significant audience for translated games for a number of platforms including mobile devices, as Andria Cheng discovered. It is ironic that the term ‘localization’, used by Göte Klingberg (1986) in some of the very earliest research into translation for children to denote a translation practice in children’s literature of which he disapproved, now designates the act of translation in this specialized context. Bernal-Merino’s (2014) investigation of video game software based on children’s books indicates that the localization of such texts requires considerable technical acumen, since localizers have to translate multiple formats, including operating instructions, coded text and periodic game updates. Translating games for child viewers demands that such expertise be combined with an understanding of the child audience and the role of text and image in games designed for children. The following are a few preliminary suggestions on multimedia translation for the young: •

A translator with a particular interest in children’s culture and experience of translating children’s literature may decide to seek training in order to specialize in the translation of children’s fiction and children’s films (or indeed children’s theatre); it would be advisable, at least in the first instance, to specialize in media products targeted at a broadly based age group of very young, older children or young adults. A translator who has translated street language and the adolescent vernacular of a particular language may be well equipped (once again, after undertaking appropriate training) to undertake the subtitling or dubbing of a film featuring young adults. Translators for screen or stage should avoid the pitfalls of linguistic simplification, the reduction of dual address and other unnecessary modifications to the source text discussed in this book.

Children’s publishing and the child reader


Profiling the translator Historically, translators were often invisible and unaccredited in publications, and none more so than the translators of children’s literature (Lathey, 2010). Fortunately, times have changed, since translators’ names appear on title pages and even on book covers far more frequently than in the past – although a simple reference to the copyright of an ‘English language edition’ without reference to a translator still occurs in some translations into English, despite the advice from the Society of Authors cited above. Translation for children is now recognized as a literary activity worthy of awards; in the Englishspeaking world, the Mildred Batchelder Award in the US is given to the publisher of the winning translation and the UK Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation to the translator; in Germany translated works may be submitted for the Deutsche Jugendbuchpreis, and the IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People) Honour List has three categories: one for authors, one for illustrators and one for translators. There are promising signs, too, of editorial practices that draw the child reader’s attention to the translator, and indeed to the fact that the book is a translation. Swiss publisher NorthSouth books, for example, included a brief profile of translator J. Alison James in a number of illustrated hardbacks she translated from German for the New York NorthSouth imprint. Similarly, at the back of the English edition of Tove Jansson’s picture book, The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, young readers are introduced on the back inside cover to both Silvester Mazzarella, translator of a literal version of the text, and poet Sophie Hannah who composed the final version in verse. Other postscripts give equal weight to author and translator in child-friendly prose. Guy Puzey, translator of Maria Parr’s Waffle Hearts (2013) from the Norwegian Vaffelhjarte (Parr, 2005), is presented in a manner likely to appeal to young readers with the information that Puzey ‘grew up in the Highlands of Scotland, just a short swim from Norway’ (Parr, 2013: 240), whereas an introduction to Australian translator Judith Pattinson at the end of her English version of Ursula Poznanski’s German fantasy Erebos (2010; trans 2012) emphasizes the impact of childhood reading on the first step towards becoming a translator: at an early age her reading transported her (in spirit) to the other side of the world – to chalets with flower boxes and hay-filled attics, and school hikes through the Swiss Alps full of friendly strangers who greeted you with ‘Grüss Gott!’ and ‘Bonjour!’. As a consequence she couldn’t wait to study European languages [. . .] There is, moreover, a salutary indication in the final sentence that translators may need to supplement their income: Judith has worked as a translator, production editor, web designer and bookseller; her early working life included stints in a shoebox factory, as


Children’s publishing and the child reader a London barmaid and as a checkout chick in her grandparents’ grocery stores.

Even more in tune with the reading experience the child has just enjoyed is the editorial decision to have the voice of the book’s protagonist introduce the translator, as is the case in the English translations of Johanne Mercier’s French–Canadian books about a young boy named Arthur. In a postscript to Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg, Arthur addresses young readers directly: Daniel Hahn translated the stories. He took my French words, and wrote them in English. He said it was quite a difficult job, but Cousin Eugene said he could have done it much better, only he was busy that day. So we got Daniel to do it, as he’s translated loads and loads of books before. He also said he wrote the words for a book called Happiness is a Water Melon on your Head, but everyone else said that book was just plain silly. Daniel is almost as clever as Cousin Eugene and he lives in England in a house by the sea with a lot of books. (Mercier, 2013: 41) These examples signal the potential for engaging the interest of child readers in the translation process through the packaging and marketing of a translated text. Translators are likely to have very little control over these aspects of the production process, but they can insist on accreditation that is displayed as prominently as possible and seek to persuade publishers to add a brief note on the translator as well as the author. As noted in the Introduction to this volume, there may be cultural or ideological differences in the peritextual material attached to source and target texts, just as the cover, format and size of a translation (especially of an illustrated or picture book) sometimes differ radically from the original version (see Chapter 3), but a translator who insists on being informed about editorial and production decisions from the outset may have some influence on the final outcome.

Children and translation It is fitting to close this chapter and the book by placing the child – so frequently present in the imaginations of children’s publishers, editors, authors and translators, and yet so rarely consulted – centre stage as translator, reader and respondent. Anecdotal evidence from adults suggests that children are not always aware that they are reading a translation, and may only discover many years later that a childhood favourite was originally written in another language. Many report that they certainly detected and enjoyed an aura of difference, but only learned retrospectively about the linguistic and cultural transition that lay behind that sensation. Dutch children’s author Isabel Hoving recounts in an article entitled “In praise of imperfect translations” (2006) how

Children’s publishing and the child reader


she became sensitized to language and style through the childhood reading of translations, mostly from English: An added delight, which I could not quite put into words at the time, was the curious rubbing against each other of language, in the Dutch translations, and the story. Something seemed to be wrong: reading these translated books was like squinting, and adopting double vision. The Dutch names did not fit the English characters . . . Nothing was quite right: the prices in the shops, the public transport, the meals, the time of leaving school. Everything was lopsided, twisted, queer. Being a child, I took this as it came, without really criticizing it. I had discovered the book’s artificiality . . . the mismatch between words and the things to which they referred, was in a curious way exciting. I realized that some words were wrong, and others were awkward, old-fashioned or inappropriate. In other words, I discovered style. (Hoving 2006: 39) For Hoving, cultural context adaptation – a practice still hotly debated by translators of children’s books (see Chapter 2) – actually instigated a revelation of the intricacies of style. Drawing on this childhood experience, she argues in favour of allowing children the ‘taste’ of unpronounceable names and even of ‘bad’ translations: I would deplore the loss of all traces of the incommensurability of languages: the artificiality, clumsiness and inappropriateness. The imperfect translations of the past were dear to me, as they taught me so much about the gap between languages and cultures, about the essential otherness, the untranslatability, the opacity of other cultures. (2006: 43) Hoving’s memory of translations suggests that foreignization and linguistic awkwardness (the ‘décalage’ Sarah Ardizzone advocates – see Chapter 5) have an ultimately positive effect on some young readers, just as her reaction to translations is a reminder of the emotive power and numinous quality of much childhood reading that may turn a particular translation – good or bad – into a precious and memorable reading experience. Oittinen cites an adult colleague’s reaction to a new Finnish translation of Winnie-the-Pooh: ‘The translation is good and yet it is bad, for this is not the same Pooh bear that I learned to know, not the same bear who gave us words to quarrel and love, play and grow’ (2000: 99). A few additional glimpses of children’s direct responses to translations can be found, for example, in the academic study by Tiina Puurtinen on readability, mentioned in Chapter 1, in rare empirical studies such as the eye-tracking experiments Kruger (2012) conducted during her investigation to children’s responses to translations in South Africa, or in accounts by translators. Anthea


Children’s publishing and the child reader

Bell’s ‘Translator’s notebook’ of 1980 indicates a keen – even pedantic – interest on the part of child readers in the constant challenges she and Derek Hockridge faced when translating names in the Asterix series: ‘Kind little boys write to us with suggestions for Gaulish names; in fact we’re usually searching for more Roman names, since the basic Gaulish characters go on from book to book’ (Bell, 1980: 133). Riitta Oittinen, too, refers to an instance of sharp observation when recalling how her small sons pointed out the mismatch between the colour of the caterpillar in the picture (blue) and the text (green) in a Finnish language edition of Alice in Wonderland, freshly illustrated by Tove Jansson. Rather than referring to the Finnish translation with which her illustrations were to be published, Jansson (a Swedish-speaking Finn) drew on the original English text and a Swedish translation, where the caterpillar is decidedly blue. The Finnish text, a translation by Anni Swan of 1906, refers to a green one. Both boys were understandably annoyed: ‘Why did you say that the caterpillar is green? It’s blue in the picture!’ (Oittinen, 2000: 96). Translators and publishers of translated picture books beware! Much can be learned from insights into the reading of translations in childhood; this is an area ripe for research, the results of which would be an invaluable addition to specialized training for translators of children’s books. As for young people as translators, some have of course already taken the initiative by seizing the opportunity offered by access to the internet in the scanlation of raw manga scans, or the collective translations of the Harry Potter series. The German collective ‘Harry auf Deutsch’ mentioned above included sixteen-year-old Britta Sander, responsible for the translation of two pages of the book (Amy Harmon, The New York Times, 14 July 2003), and in 2007 a sixteen-year-old French high school student was arrested for posting his own pirate translation of the final volume, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, online (The Guardian, 8 August 2007) two months before the publication date of the official French translation.5 How, then, might translators and professionals in children’s publishing capitalize on the linguistic competence of children and young people across the world? The current trend towards the public visibility of authors can be extended to those translators who wish to participate in children’s book roadshows, readings at children’s book festivals, in bookshops, schools, libraries and community centres. Not all translators are temperamentally suited to such jamborees, but those who are can become ambassadors for their profession and engage children and young people in the excitement of translation. Translator Sarah Ardizzone describes one such initiative in the literary translators’ journal In Other Words (Ardizzone, 2011). Ardizzone was the first curator of the Translation Nation project for schoolchildren aged seven to eleven in the UK that began both in London, where many children are multilingual, and on the Kent coast in schools with a large percentage of children from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A series of three-day creative workshops run by literary translators and volunteer assistants enabled these

Children’s publishing and the child reader


children to work on the translation of a favourite story from their heritage language (the languages of the first cohort in London included Amharic, Gujurati, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Telugu and Urdu) into English, with the aim of taking part in a competitive performance. The winning stories appeared on the Translation Nation website, hosted and funded by the Stephen Spender Trust and the Eastside Educational Trust. One of the major aims of the project is to encourage the next generation of literary translators and to enthuse monolingual English-speaking children by involving them in the editing and polishing of English versions of the stories to which their classmates have introduced them. As Ardizzone comments: ‘this is a project where we have to tear up the usual job description of what it means to be a literary translator – an energizing if challenging step for everyone’s continuing professional development’ (2011: 7). Such was the success of this first phase that the project has now developed into a ‘Translators in Schools’ programme funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and delivered by the Stephen Spender Trust that also offers translator training.6 Trainees spend three days on lesson planning, classroom management, visits to schools and work with a mentor. Translation MA students who take part in such projects appreciate the opportunity to engage with a potential audience for their work. An alternative strategy to engage child readers is one-off school visits by the author of a source text and the translator, where both introduce the book, give readings and answer children’s questions. When well-prepared in advance by teachers, these visits are enriching to all involved, as are community events involving translators. A ‘translation slam’, where two translators prepare a translation of a passage from a book by a children’s author and discuss their relative solutions to translation challenges – in the presence of the author of the source text if possible – offers enlightenment and inspiration to audiences of young people. An experiment conducted at the Southbank Centre’s London Literary Festival, where members of the public were invited to translate an entire book across two weekends with the assistance of professional translators in a ‘Spectacular Translation Machine’ could also be adapted to a school or community setting (Reece, 2013). From child translators to technological advances such as ebooks, online publications and desktop publishing programmes; from radical changes in the international book trade to an expanding role for the professional translator specializing in children’s books, the twenty-first century brings exciting new ways of working – as well as commercial pressures that challenge the already financially precarious existence of the translator. To translate for the young is to address the next generation through the voice of a source-text author that brings both enjoyment and responsibility. Children’s translators are in the vanguard of new challenges and initiatives, as the Harry Potter story and the encouragement of budding translators in schools demonstrate. Children’s literature is a dynamic medium of immense cultural and developmental significance and, as I hope this book has shown, its translation is therefore as demanding as it is inspiring.


Children’s publishing and the child reader

Discussion points • •

What are the negative and the positive aspects for translators of the current globalization of children’s culture? Brainstorm ways to engage children’s interest in the process of translation, either in the presentation and marketing of published translations, or in talks, events, workshops, online tutorials and virtual collaborations.

Exercises •

• •

Undertake research into children’s publishing in languages into which you intend to translate by contacting at least one publisher (and, if possible, a translator) directly in order to establish methods of payment and conditions attached to the translation of children’s books. Write a reader’s report for a publisher on a children’s book you would like to translate. Include a description of similar books that have been successful in the target language, or a gap you have identified in the targetlanguage market, together with information on the availability of translation rights from the source-language publisher. Estimate an appropriate age group for the book and, after a thorough reading of the publisher’s online catalogue, comment on how it might enhance the publisher’s list or a particular section of it. If possible, include sales figures in the country of origin and translated extracts from favourable reviews. Analyze the profiles of translators specializing in the translation of children’s literature on the website, note down some prompts and compose a first draft of your own professional profile. How might you present yourself and your work briefly to a child reader in a translator’s preface or in a few lines on a book cover? As the translator of a recently published children’s book, you have been invited to plan, together with the author of the source text, a joint questionand-answer session with activities for a class of schoolchildren (choose an appropriate age-group). How might you introduce your work as a translator to your target age group? What kind of activities might you design to help them to understand the nature and challenges of the translation process? (Bear in mind that some – perhaps the majority – of the children will be monolingual and you may therefore have to use slang or dialect expressions as examples of ‘translation’ between dialect and the standard language, and between different social registers).

Notes 1 2 3 [accessed 22 January 2015]. [accessed 20 May 2014]. [accessed 28 March 2014].

Children’s publishing and the child reader 4 5 6


Publisher’s Weekly NewsLine for 2 July 2003. Available at: www.researchgate. net/.../236717914_The_Travels_of_Harry_International_Marketing_and_the_ Translation_of_J._K._Rowling’s_Harry_Potter_Books [accessed 30 June 2015]. The Guardian, 8 August 2007, harrypotter [accessed 30 June 2015]. [accessed 30 June 2015].

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Children’s and young people’s literature Ahlberg, Janet and Ahlberg, Allan (1986) The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters, London: Heinemann; trans. Ernst van Altena as De Puike Postbode of: Briefgeheimpjes, 1987, Bloemendaal: Gottmer. Aiken, Joan (1976) The Angel Inn, Joan Aiken’s translation of a story by the Comtesse De Ségur, illus. Pat Marriott, London: Jonathan Cape. Al Sanea, Rajaa (2005) Banat Al Riyadh, Beirut and London: Dar Al Saqi; trans. Marilyn Booth as Girls of Riyadh, 2007, New York: Penguin Press. Ambrosio, Gabriella (2004) Prima di Lasciarsi, Rome: Nutrimenti; trans. Alastair McEwen as Before We Say Goodbye, 2010, London: Walker Books. Andersen, Hans Christian (2004) Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Walker illustrated classic, translated and introduced by Naomi Lewis, illus. Joel Stewart, London: Walker Books. Baum, L. Frank (1900) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chicago, IL: George Hill. Blake, Quentin (1994) Cockatoos, London: Red Fox. Browne, Anthony (1990) Changes, London: Walker Books; trans. P. Baumann as Alles wird anders, 1990, Oldenburg: Lappan. Browne, Anthony (1998) Voices in the Park, London: Transworld Publishers; trans. Peter Baumann as Stimmen im Park, 1998, Oldenburg: Lappan. Burgess, Melvin (2003) Doing It, London: Andersen Press. Burningham, John (1970) Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, London: Jonathan Cape; trans. Josef Guggenmos as Die Kahnfahrt, 1973, Ravensburg: Otto Maier Verlag. Burningham, John (1984) Granpa, London: Jonathan Cape; trans. Irina Korschunow as Mein Opa und ich, 1984, Zürich und Schwäbisch Hall: Parabel. Carle, Eric and Iwamura, Kazuo (2001) Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! A story of friendship in two languages, New York: Orchard Books. Collodi, Carlo (2002, first published 1883) Le avventure di Pinocchio. Edizione illustrate, Milan: Garzanti. Collodi, Carlo (2002) Le avventure di Pinocchio. Edizione illustrate, Milan: Garzanti; trans. Mary Alice Murray as The Story of a Puppet or The Adventures of Pinocchio, 1891, London: Fisher Unwin. Collodi, Carlo (2002) Le avventure di Pinocchio. Edizione illustrate, Milan: Garzanti; trans. E. Harden as Pinocchio, 1944, London: Penguin. Collodi, Carlo (2002) Le avventure di Pinocchio. Edizione illustrate, Milan: Garzanti; trans. Ann Lawson Lucas as The Adventures of Pinocchio, 1996, Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Collodi, Carlo (2002) Le avventure di Pinocchio. Edizione illustrate, Milan: Garzanti; trans. Emma Rose as Pinocchio, 2003, illus. Sara Fanelli, London: Walker Books. Comenius, Johann (1677, first published 1659) Orbis Sensualium Pictus; trans. Charles Hoole, London: S. Leacroft. Dahl, Roald (1960) Kiss Kiss, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Dahl, Roald (1975) Danny: The Champion of the World, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Dahl, Roald (1988) Matilda, London: Jonathan Cape; trans. M. Miyashita as Machiruda wa Chiisana Daitensai, 1991, Tokyo: Hyoronsha. de Brunhoff, J. (1931) Histoire de Babar le petit elephant. Paris: Jardin des Modes. de Brunhoff, J. (1931) Histoire de Babar le petit elephant. Paris: Jardin des Modes; trans. Merle S. Haas as The Story of Babar the Little Elephant, 1933, New York: Random House. de Brunhoff, J. (1931) Histoire de Babar le petit elephant. Paris: Jardin des Modes; trans. Olive Jones as The Story of Babar the Little Elephant, 1934, London: Methuen. de Groen, Els (1996) Tuig, Tilburg: Elzenga; trans. P. Crampton as No Roof in Bosnia, 1997, Barnstaple: Spindlewood. Eliot, T.S. (1939) Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, London: Faber and Faber; trans. Erich Kästner as Old Possums Katzenbuch, 1952, Berlin: Suhrkamp. Engström, Mikael (2007) Isdraken, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren; trans. S. Beard as Thin Ice, 2011, Dublin: Little Island. Gág, Wanda (1936) Tales from Grimm. Freely translated and illustrated by Wanda Gág. New York: Coward-McCann. Gág, Wanda (1938) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, New York: Coward-McCann. Gág, Wanda (1943) Three Gay Tales from Grimm, New York: Coward-McCann. Gág, Wanda (1947) More Tales from Grimm, New York: Coward-McCann. Goscinny, René and Uderzo, Albert (1966) Asterix chez les Bretons, Paris: Hachette; trans. Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge as Asterix in Britain, 2004 (revised edition), London: Orion. Grimm, Jacob and Grimm, Wilhelm (1982) Grimms’ Fairy Tales, trans. P. Carter, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Guène, Faïza (2004) Kiffe kiffe demain, Paris: Hachette; trans. S. Adams (Ardizzone) as Just Like Tomorrow, 2006, London: Definitions, Random House. Hazard, Paul (1932) Les Livres, Les Enfants et Les Hommes; trans. M. Mitchell as Books, Children and Men, 1972 (4th edn), Boston, MA: Horn Book. Hergé (1943) L’Ile Noire, Paris: Casterman. Hergé (1943) L’Ile Noire, Paris: Casterman; trans. Michael Turner and Leslie LonsdaleCooper as The Black Island, 1966, London: Methuen. Hergé (1943) L’Ile Noire, Paris: Casterman; trans. S. Rennie as The Derk Isle, 2013, Isle of Skye: Taigh Na Teud. Hergé (1943) L’Ile Noire, Paris: Casterman; trans. Gillebrìde Mac ‘Illemhaoil as An T-Eilean Dubh, Isle of Skye: Taigh Na Teud. Hergé (1960) Tintin au Tibet, Paris: Casterman; trans. L. Lonsdale-Cooper and M. Turner as Tintin in Tibet, 1962, London: Methuen. Hoffmann, Heinrich (1848), Der Struwwelpeter, Frankfurt: Literarische Anstalt (Rütten und Loening); trans. M. Twain as Slovenly Peter, 1935, New York/London: Harper and Brothers. Iwasaki, Chihiro (1973) Momoko’s Birthday, London: Bodley Head.



Jansson, Tove (1952) ‘Hur gick det sen?’ Boke nom Mymian, Mumintrollet och lilla My, Esbo: Schildts; trans. S. Mazzarella and S. Hannah as The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, 2001, London: Sort Of Books. Kästner, Erich (1929) Emil und die Detektive, illus. Walter Trier, Berlin: Williams & Co. Kästner, Erich (1929) Emil und die Detektive, illus. Walter Trier, Berlin: Williams & Co; trans. M. Massee as Emil and the Detectives, 1930, New York: Doubleday, Doran and Co. Kästner, Erich (1929) Emil und die Detektive, illus. Walter Trier, Berlin: Williams & Co; trans. M. Goldsmith as Emil and the Detectives, 1931, London: Jonathan Cape. Kästner, Erich (1929) Emil und die Detektive, illus. Walter Trier, Berlin: Williams & Co; trans. Eileen Hall as Emil and the Detectives, 1959, London: Penguin. Kästner, Erich (1929) Emil und die Detektive, illus. Walter Trier, Berlin: Williams & Co; trans. W. Martin as Emil and the Detectives, 2014, New York: Overlook Press. Kästner, Erich (1949) Das doppelte Lottchen, Hamburg: Dressler; trans. C. Brooks as Lottie and Lisa, 1950, London: Jonathan Cape. Laird, Elizabeth (2009) The Ogress and the Snake and Other Stories from Somalia, London: Frances Lincoln. Laird, Elizabeth (2013) The Lure of the Honeybird: The storytellers of Ethiopia, Edinburgh: Polygon. Lewis, C.S. (1950) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, London: Geoffrey Bles. Lindgren, Astrid (1945) Pippi Långstrump, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren; trans. E. Hurup as Pippi Longstocking, 1954, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lindgren, Astrid (1945) Pippi Långstrump, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren; trans. T. Nunnally as Pippi Longstocking, 2007, London: Walker Books. Lindgren, Astrid (1973) Bröderna Lejonhjärta, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren; trans. J. Tate as The Brothers Lionheart, 1975, Leicester: Brockhampton Press. Lindgren, Astrid (1981) Ronja Rövardotter, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren; trans. P. Crampton as Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter, 1983, New York: Viking Penguin. Lindo, Elvira (1994) Manolito Gafotas, Madrid: Alfaguara; trans. J. Moriarty as Manolito Four-Eyes, 2010, Amazon: Two Lions. Macdonald, George (1984) At the Back of the North Wind, London: Puffin. Mercier, Johanne (2007) Arthur et le mystère de l’œuf; trans. D. Hahn as Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg, 2013, London: Phoenix Yard Books. Mercier, Johanne (2007) Arthur et les vers de terre, Saint-Lambert, Canada: Les éditions Héritage; trans. D. Hahn as Arthur and the Earthworms, 2013, London: Phoenix Yard Books. Milne, A.A. (1926) Winnie-the-Pooh, London: Methuen. Milne, A.A. (1926) Winnie-the-Pooh, London: Methuen; trans. E.L. Schiffer as Pu der Bär, 1928, Berlin: Williams & Co. Milne, A.A. (1926) Winnie-the-Pooh, London: Methuen. Trans H. Rowohlt as Pu der Bär, 1987, Hamburg: Dressler. Morgenstern, Christian (1992) Kindergedichte und Galgenlieder ausgewählt und illustriert von Lisbeth Zwerger, Zurich: Michael Neugebauer; trans. A. Bell as Lullabies, Lyrics and Gallows Songs. Selected and Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, 1995, New York: North-South Books. Murail, Elvire, Murail, Lorris and Murail, Marie-Aude (2002) Golem 5 Alias, Paris: Pocket Jeunesse; trans. S. Ardizzone as Golem 5 Alias, 2005, London: Walker Books.



Nesbit, E. (2004, first published 1902) Five Children and It, London: Puffin. Parr, Maria (2005) Vaffelhjarte, Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget; trans. G. Puzey as Waffle Hearts, 2013, London: Walker Books. Pausewang, Gudrun (1995) Reise im August, Ravensburg: Ravensburger Buchverlag; trans. P. Crampton as The Final Journey, 1996, London: Viking. Pausewang, Gudrun (1995) Die Verräterin, Ravensburg: Ravensburger Buchverlag; trans. R. Ward as Traitor, 2004, London: Andersen Press. Pérez Falcón, Marilyn and Repiso, María (2002) Cui-cui cuidado! Animales al volante, Caracas, Venezuela: Ediciones Ekaré. Pohl, Peter (1985) Janne min vän, Stockholm: AWE/Gebers; trans. L. Thompson as Johnny, my friend, 1991, Stroud: Turton and Chambers. Poznanski, Ursula (2010) Erebos, Bindlach: Loewe; trans. J. Pattinson as Erebos, 2012, NSW Australia: Allen and Unwin. Prøysen, Alf (1960) Teskjekjerringa er detektiv, Oslo: Tiden Norsk Forlag; trans. M. Helweg as Mrs. Pepperpot Turns Detective, 1968, London: Hutchinson Junior Books. Pullman, Philip (2012) Grimm Tales for Old and Young. London: Penguin. Ransome, Arthur (1916) Old Peter’s Russian Tales, London: Nelson. Reuterswärd, Maud (1974) När man heter Noack, illus. Tord Nygren, Stockholm: Bonniers; trans. J. Tate as Noah is My Name, 1991, Stroud: Turton and Chambers. Reuterswärd, Maud (1979) Flickan och dockskåpet, Stockholm: Bonniers; trans. J. Tate as A Way from Home, 1990, Stroud: Turton and Chambers. Riordan, James (1974) The Mistress of the Copper Mountain: Tales from the Urals by Pavel Bazhov, London: Muller. Rosen, Michael (1989) We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, illus. Helen Oxenbury, London: Walker Books; trans. R. Inhauser as Wir gehen auf Bärenjagd, 2002, Düsseldorf: Sauerländer. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury; trans. Jean-François Ménard as Harry Potter à l’école des Sorciers, 1998, Paris: Gallimard. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury; trans. Klaus Fritz as Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen, 1998, Hamburg: Carlsen. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury; trans. Alicia Dellepiane as Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, 1999, Barcelona: Emecé. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury; trans. Yuko Matsuoka as ハリーポッターと賢者の石, 1999, Tokyo: Say-zan-sha Publications Ltd. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury; trans. I.V. Oranskii as Gerri Potter I filosofskii kamen, 2001, Moscow: Rosmen. Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, London: Bloomsbury; trans. 彭倩文 (Peng Qianwen) as 哈利波特—神秘的魔法, 2002, Taiwan: Crown Publishing Company Ltd. Satrapi, Marjane (2000-2003) Persepolis, Paris: L’Association; trans. Blake Ferris and Mattias Ripa as Persepolis, 2004, New York: Pantheon Books. Spyri, Johanna (1912) Heimatlos: Two Stories for Children and for those who Love Children; trans. Emma Stelter Hopkins, Boston, MA: Ginn and Company.



Stevenson, Robert Louis (2008, first published 1885) A Child’s Garden of Verses. London: Puffin; trans. Josef Guggenmos as Mein Königreich, 1969, Baden-Baden: Signal. Vasilieva, Tatiana (1996) A Hostage to War. The diary of a young Russian girl; trans. Anna Trenter, London: Hamish Hamilton. Wilson, Jacqueline (1991) The Story of Tracy Beaker, New York and London: Doubleday. Yumoto, Kazumi (1996) The Friends; trans. Cathy Hirano, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Zipes, Jack (1987) The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, New York: Bantam.

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adaptation 113–21 adult 1–4, 16–7 Ahlberg, A. 52–4 Ahlberg, J. 52–4 Aiken, J. 24 Al Sanea, R. 73 allusions 50–3 Alsina, V. 86–7 animal cries, translation of 96–8 Appleyard, J.A. 6–7 Arabian Nights 123–4 Arabic 73, 129 Ardizzone, S. 43, 80–3, 94–5, 130, 133, 140–1 artefact, the book as 67–8 Artmann, H.C. 103 artwork see picture book Astérix 33, 46, 61, 99–100 aural translation see sound Bakhtin, M. 15, 113–4 Ball, C. 97 Bamberger, R. 9–10 Barrie, J.M. 2, 6 Baumann, P. 59–60 Beard, S. 53 Bell, A.: culture 37, 44, 46; dialogue 83–4; narrative 28–9, 31–3; publishing 139–40; retranslation 121; sound 99–100, 108–9; visual 55, 57–8, 61 Berman, A. 121 Bernal-Merino, M. 136 Boase-Beier, J. 9–10 Bologna book fair 127–8 Booth, M. 73

Borodo, M. 135 Brooks, C. 19 Browne, A. 59–60 Browning, R. 57 Brownlie, S. 121 Burningham, J. 59, 87–8, 98–9 Carle, E. 97 Carlsen 134–5 Carroll, L. 1, 39, 107 Carter, P. 115 censorship 6, 25–7 Chambers, A. 3–4, 26, 29, 44–5, 78 Cheng, A. 130–1, 136 Chesterman, A. 27–8 child 5, 15, 138–41; development 6–8, 59; narrative 20–3; reading 28; response 27–9; spoken language 87–90; and translation 10 children and translation 138–41 children’s literature 1–4, 8–10; classics 120–3; definitions of 2–3; emergence of 5–6; poetry 101–7 Collodi, C. 5, 17–8, 50–1 Comenius, J. 55, 96 comic strip 61–8 communication 15, 27–9; see also narrative copyright 128 Crampton, P. 42, 94–6, 127; dialogue 75, 84–5; narrative 24–5, 28 creativity in translation for children 8, 89, 95 critical and theoretical perspectives 8–10 crossover fiction 1–2



cultural context 5–7, 23–7, 54; cultural context adaptation (Klingberg) 37–8; cultural explanations 39; cultural markers 37; domestication 38; food 39–41; foreignization 38; glossaries 41–4; localization 38; mediation 37–9; names 44–50; pronouns 31; references 50–3; retranslation 113, 118–20; slang 75–83 Cunningham, B. 133 curricula 6 cursive script 65–7 Dahl, R. 3–4, 20, 45, 74, 86–7, 95 Daoudi, A. 73 Davies, E.E. 49 de Brunhoff, J. 33–4, 68 de Groen, E. 41–2 Defoe, D. 120 Desmet, M. 52, 59, 113 developmental issues 6–8 dialect 83–5; regional 83–5 dialogue 62–3, 71–5, 90–1; of younger children 87–90; idiolect 85–7; regional 83–5; slang 75–83 discussion points 12; culture 54; dialogue 90; narrative 34–5; publishing 142; retranslation 125; sound 110; visual 68 Du-Nour, M. 73 dual address 16–7 Dünges, P. 73 Dusinberre, J. 8 Eco, U. 107–8 economic conditions 5, 127–32 editors 132–3 Engström, M. 52–3 Enzensberger, H.M. 102–3 Epstein, B.J. 45 Even-Zohar, B. 73–4 exercises 12; culture 54; dialogue 90–1; narrative 35–6; publishing 142; retranslation 125; sound 110–1; visual 69 Faerber, G. 76 fairy tales 115–20 Fernández López 26–7

figurative language 98–101 Finland 30–1 Fischer, M.B. 80 folk tales 115–20 food 39–41 France, P. 117 Frank, A. 2 Funke, C. 129 Gág, W. 116, 122 Galland, A. 123–4 Garton, J. 88 gender 7, 45; nouns and pronouns 31 globalization 127–35 glossaries 41–4 Goldsmith, A. 129 government 6, 25–7 graphic novels 61–2, 130–1 Grimm, J. 115–6 Grimm, W. 115–6 Guène, F. 43, 82 Guggenmos, J. 99 Haas, M. 33–4 Hahn, D. 8, 20–2, 83, 133 hand-lettering 65–7 Handayani, E.V. 124–5 Hannah, S. 104–6 Harry Potter 32, 75, 79–80; culture 40–1, 46, 48–50; globalization 133–5 Hazard, P. 8 Hebrew 73–4 Helanen-Ahtola, M. 30–1 Helweg, M. 88–9 Hergé 84–6 Hirano, C. 23, 39, 71–2, 74–5 Histoire de Babar 33–4, 62–3, 65–6 historical contextualisation 24–5 Hoban, R. 56 Hockridge, D. 33, 46, 61, 84, 99–100, 139–40 Hoffman, H. 106–7 Hollindale, P. 3, 8 Hoole, C. 55, 96 Hopkins, E.S. 24 Høverstad, T.B. 46 Hoving, I. 138–9 humour 98–101

Index 159 ideology 6, 26–7, 114 idiolect 85–7 idioms 98–101 illustration see picture book Inggs, J. 116 inscriptions 64–5 international markets 127–32 intertextuality 50–3 interventions 23–5 intervisuality 52 irony 18–20, 59, 98 Iser, W. 27–8 Iwamura, K. 97 Iwasaki, C. 58–9 Jansson, T. 65–6, 104–6, 140 Japan 31–2 Japanese 74–5, 97 Jentsch, N. 75 Jolly Postman 52–4 Jones, O. 33–4 Juva, K. 30–1 Kaindl, K. 62, 64, 66, 68 Kästner, E. 18–9, 38, 47, 56, 76–7 Katz, W. 40 Klingberg, G. 37–9, 114, 136 Koelemann, B. 135 Korschunow, W. 87–8 Kreller, S. 102–3 Kruger, H. 6, 139 Kuick, K. 78 Laird, E. 118–9 Larsson, S. 50 Lawson Lucas, A. 51–2, 122–3 Lear, E. 102–3 Lepman, J. 8–9 Lewis, C.S. 18, 40 Lewis, N. 124 Lindgren, A. 1, 7, 11; dialogue 73–4, 84; names 45, 50, 53; narrative 19, 21–2, 26; sound 95–6; visual 57 Lindo, E. 26 linguistics 30–4, 62–4, 72–5; see also dialogue Lobato, M. 6, 114 localization 38, 136 Lonsdale-Cooper, L. 63–4, 66, 84–6, 94

McDowell, M. 2–3 McEwen, A. 47 manga 130–1 markets 127–32 Martin, W. 77 Maruki, T. 1 Masaki, T. 59 Massee, M. 47, 56, 77 materiality of the book 67–8 Matsuoki, Y. 32 mediation 39 Mercier, J. 21 Milne, A.A. 16–7 modernization 114 Momoko’s Birthday 58–9 Morgenstern, C. 108–9 Moriarty, J. 26 multimedia translation 136 Murray, M.A. 51 names 44–50 narrative communication 7, 15–6, 27–9; censorship 25–7; child narrators 20–3; discussion points 34–5; dual address 16–7; exercises 35–6; stylistic and linguistic issues 30–4; voice 17–20 Netley, N.S. 20, 30, 45, 74 Nikolajeva, M. 58 nonsense verse 107–10 O’Connell, E. 136 O’Driscoll, K. 121 Oittinen, R. 9, 93, 139–40; narrative communication 15–6, 27–9; retranslation 114, 123; visual 55–6, 58 onomatopoeia 63–4, 96–8 Oranskii, I.V. 48–9 O’Sullivan, E. 5, 9, 16, 23, 39, 59, 76–7 Owens, C. 63 paratranslation see publishing Paton Walsh, J. 3 Pattinson, J. 137–8 Pausewang, G. 42–3 payment 130 Peachey, C. 124 Pérez Falcón, M. 97



picture book 33–4, 58–65, 104–6; as artefact 67–8; strategies for the translation of 60–1, 68; typography 65–7 Pinocchio 5, 17–8, 50–1, 122–3 place names 48–50 poetry 101–7; nonsense verse 107–10 Pohl, P. 44–5, 78 Potter, B. 41 pronouns 31 Prøysen, A. 88–9 publishing 127–32; editors 132–3; markets 127–32; multimedia 136 Pullman, P. 115–6, 121 puns 98–101 Puurtinen, T. 10, 30–1, 93, 139 Puzey, G. 137 Ransome, A. 116–8 reader response 27–9 reading 28, 30–2, 94–6; see also sound reception 10 regional dialect 83–5 register 76–9 relay translation 123–5 relocation 38 Repiso, M. 97 retelling 115–21 retranslation 120–3, 125 Reuterswärd, M. 26, 33 Reynolds, K. 8 Riordan, J. 118 Rose, E. 123 Rose, J. 2 Rosen, M. 103–4 Rosenblatt, L. 27–8 Rowling, J.K. 40–1 Rowohlt, H. 16–7 Russia 116–8 Satrapi, M. 62 Schiffer, E.L. 16–7 Schwartz, R. 132–3 Scott, C. 58 Sester, F. 39 Sharafeddine, F. 73, 129 Shavit, Z. 1, 5, 74, 76, 113, 120 slang 75–83

social factors see cultural context adaptation sociology 28 sound 93–6; exercises 110–1; nonsense verse 107–10; onomatopoeia 96–8; poetry 101–7; translation for reading aloud 93–4; wordplay 98–101 Sousa, C. 28 spoken language see dialogue Spyri, J. 24 Stamenkovic Roganovic, V. 79 Stolt, B. 26, 57 street talk 75–83 style 30–2, 98–101, 139 Swift, J. 120 Tate, J. 33 tense 32–4 Thompson, H. 86 Thompson, L. 78 Thomson-Wohlgemuth, G. 6 Tintin 62–3, 84–6 Tolkien, J.R.R. 45 Translating Children’s Literature 10–1 translator 127–32, 137–8; agency 121; censorship 27; culture 38–9, 118–20; profiling of 137–8 voice 23–5 Trier, W. 56 Turner, M. 63–4, 66, 84–6, 94 Twain, M. 51–2, 106–7 typography 65–7 UK 129 US 81, 129 van Altena, E. 52 van Coillie, J. 9, 76 Vasilieva, T. 124 Venuti, L. 38, 41 Verne, J. 121 Verschueren, W. 9 verse 101–7; nonsense 107–10 visual 52, 55–8, 60–7; see also picture book voice 17–20, 23–5 von Jenssen, G.F. 124

Index 161 Wall, B. 15–6 Ward, R. 42–3 Weir, R. 93 Winnie-the-Pooh 16–7 wordplay 98–101 Wynne, F. 132

Yumoto, K. 23, 39, 71, 74 Zanettin, F. 62–4, 66–7 Zipes, J. 122 Zitawi, J. 52, 64–5, 67–8 Zwerger, L. 108