Neologisms in translating Terry Pratchett’s books
Neologisms are one of the most popular and prevailing stylistic aids. They are used not only by poets but also by novelists all over the world. English, just as one of the great number of world’s languages, is an affl uent source of neologisms. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a neologism is a new word, usage, or expression. This elucidation of the above-cited term negates the common view that the meaning of neologisms is limited only to the scope of new words. Due to this fact, the process of translating neologisms seems to be problematic for many translators.
I would like to acquaint you with techniques applied to translating Terry Pratchett’s linguistic inventions, all of which you can easily encounter in his numerous novels. I would also like to look at and analyze their Polish counterparts and methods by means of which they were translated.
Techniques applied in translating neologisms
There is a wide range of methods and strategies used in translation, many of which allow translators to convey the most crucial elements included in English neologisms into their Polish equivalents. Among them, one can encounter such techniques as equivalence, where a new word in the source text is referred to its equivalent in the target text; adaptation, which is nothing more than substituting some cultural elements of the source text with some other familiar for the readers of the target text; and fi nally, a translator may use the method of neosemantisation, that is inventing a new meaning for an existing word. The last technique is equal to the linguistic process of widening the semantic meaning of a given term. Sometimes, translators propose another method according to which words gain new meanings that base on the physical characteristics of the object they denote.
Neologisms and their translation in “Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett
Sir Terrence David John Pratchett, known as Terry Pratchett, is a famous novelist, especially noted for his work in the fantasy genre. He is one of the most distinguished authors as all his novels are unique and innovative in their form and style. Pratchett managed to make his novels become truly affluent in neologisms.
Hogfather => Wiedźmikołaj
This term is a combination of two elements:
1. hog – a castrated male pig; (US & Canada) any mammal of the pig family; (www.thefreedictionary.com). The Polish equivalent of this particular word derived from the word wiedźma (hag), probably because both hag and hog are similar graphically but also because of the appearance of the character in the novel. He simply resembles a male pig. That is why Piotr W. Cholewa , one of the best Polish translators of Terry Pratchett’s books, combined the two things: the appearance of the protagonist and the meaning of the two words hag and hog.
2. father – a word taken from the name Father Christmas. Polish version of the name is Święty Mikołaj (Santa Claus). What is interesting Cholewa took the latter part of the Polish name and juxtaposed it with the word wiedźma (hag). As a result, the term Hogfather is translated into Wiedźmikołaj.
Ponder => Myślak
Ponder itself means to consider carefully (www. thefreedictionary.com). However, Piotr W. Cholewa used this word as a fi rst name. In Polish translation, it also has a form of a fi rst name, which is Myślak. It derived from the verb myśleć (to ponder).
Archchancellor => Nadrektor
Archchancellor denotes a chief chancellor or an offi cer in the old German empire, who presided over the secretaries of the court (www.thefreedictionary. com). The word itself is a combination of the prefi x arch- and the term chancellor. The fi rst element arch- has a Polish equivalent arcy-, which refers to the prefi x nad-. The second one chancellor is nothing more than Polish rektor (rector, vice-chancellor). Together, they are translated into nadrektor.
Tusker => Kieł
Tusk is an elongated pointed tooth, usually one of a pair, extending outside of the mouth in certain animals such as the walrus, elephant, or wild boar (www.thefreedictionary.com). Pratchett used it as a fi rst name. He added suffi x –er, which is a derivational suffi x. Cholewa translated the name into Kieł but omitted the suffi x in his translation. It would be impossible to pronounce and use the suffi x at the very end of the mentioned word.
Snouter => Ryj
Snouter is also used as a fi rst name. It derived from the word snout, which denotes the projecting mouth and nose part of certain animals, especially of a pig (www.thefreedictionary.com). Polish equivalent of snout is ryj. Piotr W. Cholewa did not translate Snouter together with the suffi x –er, which would suggest that the name derived from a verb. Instead, he chose the nominal form of the word and translated Snouter into Polish as Ryj.
Gouger => Dłubacz
This example is formed similarly to the previous one, although, in this case, there is a verb and a suffi x –er. The verb to gouge means to force out the eye of a person with one’s thumb or to scoop or force something out of its position (www. thefreedictionary.com). Cholewa translated the word into Polish Dłubacz. One can clearly notice that the name is infl uenced by the verbal form of its equivalent in the source text.
Coffi n Henry => Kaszlak Henry
Terry Pratchett uses various techniques in creating neologisms, especially names. This combination is a perfect sample of his ideas. The fi rst part of the name is coffi n, translation of which has nothing in common with its meaning introduced in the novel. Pratchett used the method of replacing the actual and most suitable term with its pronunciation, or another word that resembles its articulation. In the source text, coffi n stands for coughing, which in the Polish language designates kaszlący. Piotr W. Cholewa followed Pratchett’s stream of thinking, but he changed kaszlący, which is a present participle, into a noun kaszlak.
Oh, yes, sir. And the Soul Cake Duck.” => “Tak, sir. I Duchociastną Kaczkę”
This quotation is another example of a fi rst name translation. In the source text, the name consists of three completely unrelated nouns. Cholewa translated them in a diff erent way than the one they are composed in. He used a word game and combined the words soul and cake into one adjectival epithet- Duchociastna. Altogether, the English name Soul Cake Duck is translated into Duchociastna Kaczka. Terry Pratchett’s novels abound with neologisms. Techniques used for their traduction depend on the knowledge and competence of the translator. The most prominent methods of translation used by Cholewa are both adaptation and neosemantisation supported by equivalence. Piotr W. Cholewa in his output presents all the necessary elements of translating skill. He easily follows Pratchett’s style and sense of humor, even if he introduces slight changes in the form of the translated terms.
Try to create Polish counterparts for the following special names created by Terry Pratchett.
- Mr Teatime
- Grim Squeaker
- Old Man Trouble
2 One of the most invincible skills that a good translator and English speaker must have is operating with synonyms. Try to think of at least 3 synonyms for the following words:
- to wander
- to vanish
- a somersault
- a squeak
- to prod
- a chap
- to grip
- Terry Pratchett, “Hogfather”;
- Terry Pratchett, “Wiedźmikołaj”, translated by Piotr W. Cholewa;
- Roger Bell, “Translation and translating. Theory and practice”;
- Peter Newmark, “A Textbook of Translation”;
- Ewa Kalinowska, Tłumaczenia. Traductions.;