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The Intertextuality of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld as a Major Challenge for the Translator

Marc Simonetti

The intertexts were chosen arbitrarily so as to show a possibly wide-ranging and representative portion of the whole spectrum of sources drawn on by Pratchett. A systematic study of the inertextuality of the Discworld would result in a multi-volume encyclopaedia, each volume dealing with just one novel in the series, so the arbitrariness was unavoidable. A large portion of the selection is made up of literary and extra-literary intertexts, these being conceivably of the highest literary value and – as will be shown – of greatest challenge to the translator. The high share of Wyrd Sisters intertextuality is chiefly due to the book’s underlying Shakespearian inspiration, manifest in numerous altered and unaltered quotations as well as structural elements. Naturally, any ‘writer-meets-Shakespeare’ intersection is a treat for the reader, researcher, and translator, so giving them broader coverage could not be resisted. In the other books of the series, equally interesting are references to other well-known authors, e.g. Vonnegut, Lovecraft, Herbert, Dunsany – hence the prominence of literary intertexts among their other types. One other often-quoted novel, Moving Pictures, boasts a markedly varied scope of intertextuality: from literature to cartoons to natural sciences.

With regard to their character, the intertexts can be divided into five categories: four of which are quite homogenous, proper categories, while one has to remain pretty catholic – otherwise it would have to be broken down into a number of separate categories – since they cannot be, even at a pinch, included into those four ones…. (p. 14)

The rest of the text may be found in:

Rzyman, A. (2017). The intertextuality of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld as a major challenge for the translator. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK : Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. (sample found here)

Interference Patterns of the Verb Say in the Narration of English-Polish Literary Translations: A Corpus-Based Study

Olejniczak, J. (2016). Interference Patterns of the Verb Say in the Narration of English-Polish Literary Translations: A Corpus-Based Study. Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies, (25/2), 139-150.

To conduct this research it was necessary to create a number of corpora. I obtained samples at my own discretion (see Database for the titles) and removed the paratextual elements except for some of the footnotes (in Pratchett’s novels these constitute an integral part of the texts). The corpora adhere to the statistical norms set forth by Sinclair and Biber. The Polish Fiction Corpus is large enough to examine syntactic patterns (Biber 1993, 252–255) whereas the parallel corpora are sampled proportionally (Sinclair 2005, 4). The core of my research material consists of two large corpora, the Cholewa Corpus and the Grupińska Corpus (approx. 140,000 words each), obtained from the parallel translations of three books by Terry Pratchett. Each corpus contains the Polish translations of the same set of books by one translator. The translators are Piotr Cholewa and Dorota Malinowska-Grupińska, and the titles of the source texts are: The Wee-Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. All the six translations were published between 2003 and 2011. The samples used in the creation of the corpora are fully parallel (so that every given sample X in the Cholewa Corpus has its directly equivalent sample Y in the Grupińska Corpus). The Pratchett Corpus (approx. 135,000 words) was obtained from the original books by Terry Pratchett written in English. This corpus represents source texts and again contains samples fully parallel to those from the Cholewa Corpus and the Grupińska Corpus. Its raison d’être is to highlight the relationship between the source texts and the target texts allowing me to show the contrast between the two translations.

Cheetham, Dominic: The Amazing Maurice in Japanese and German: A Contrastive Study of Domestication Strategies and Ideology in Translation

Cheetham, David. ‘The Amazing Maurice in Japanese and German: A Contrastive Study of Domestication Strategies and Ideology in Translation’ English Language and Literature. Vol 53, 2017. pp 29-63.

……… In some cultures and languages, Terry Pratchett is a great success, in others his books go largely unnoticed and quickly fall out of print. This paper compares translations of Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001) as published in Germany (Maurice, der Kater, trans. Brandhorst, 2005), where the book has an on-going popularity, and Japan (天才ネコモーリスとその仲間たち, trans. Tominaga, 2004), where it is almost unknown. The paper discusses domestication or cultural accommodation in translation with respect to non-conventional text types.

Comparing translations between European languages is relatively common, as linguistic and cultural similarities make divergent translation choices easily amenable to discussion (Cheetham, Translating 67-8), and which conventionally makes divergence a point of criticism. However, comparing translations between languages and cultures as different as German and Japanese requires a more nuanced approach than the conventional tactic of direct comparison. For this study I focus mainly on the domestication and foreignisation strategies used in the two translations, and only focus on changes made to a text which are not required by the linguistic systems of the language of translation. Thus, where a translation could have been closer to the original English, but where the translator has chosen to make a change, I shall treat that change as significant. Where changes are either required by the language or are within normal variation of expression, then such changes will not be treated as significant. The underlying assumption is not that translated texts should aim for equivalence with the original, but rather that deviations, where not linguistically motivated, are choices, probably driven by a combination of artistic preference, and both conscious and unconscious cultureideological pressures. As an example, the opening to the English, German and Japanese texts, respectively, read:

They chased the dogs and bit the cats, they –– (9)

Sie jagten die Hunde und bissen die Katzen, sie … (7)

ネズミが犬を追いまわし、ネコにかみついて……。( 6)

The German text is almost word for word the same as the English. It is easy to assume that this similarity is a simple result of the closeness of the English and German languages. However, this would be an over simplification. The critical literature is full of examples where European translators of children’s literature have chosen to introduce textual deviations, even though linguistic equivalence was possible (see Cheetham, Translating 67-8) and as such, the lack of change here is significant; the translator chose equivalence. Naturally, this choice, though significant, is less significant than active change, which necessarily requires more linguistic effort compared to no change.

The Japanese text is markedly different to the English original. The single word “Rats!” has at least four direct possibilities in Japanese; three are different ways of scripting the word, ‘ネズミ’, ‘ねずみ’,‘鼠’ (all read ‘nezumi’) and one a phonetic representation of the English loan-word, ‘ ラット’ (ratto). All four options result in different nuance or reading experience. However, the translator has rejected all of these in favour of expanding a simple, one-word exclamation, to a full descriptive sentence. The point is not whether this is a good or bad choice, but rather that it is a choice, an active adaptation, which, by necessity, must have some underlying motivation.

The second part of this example is roughly the same for both German and Japanese, with the exception that the Japanese translation repeats the word ネズ ミ. This repetition makes no difference in meaning, though it does stress that it is the rats which are doing the chasing. Within the Japanese language it is quite normal to drop those sentence subjects which are self-evident, so this inclusion is especially significant as it is both a change from the English and a deviation from common Japanese usage. Again, the point is not whether this is a good or bad choice, but rather that this is necessarily a motivated choice, and as such a suitable object for analysis…………………….

The entire article can be downloaded from

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