Australian specificity in titles and covers of translated children’s books

Helen T. Frank

In the process of translation for children, translators negotiate, adapt and manipulate the text in order to expand and explain the message for readers in the target culture. This study focuses specifically on the translation of titles of Australian children’s fiction to determine whether the same ‘readerly’ concerns are evident in the wording of titles featuring Australian animals. French translations of Australian titles are compared with the same titles in other languages to establish the degree of similarity in patterns of translation regarding generic prioritisation, explicitation and simplification. The influence of original titles and their covers on subsequent translated titles, the phenomenon of translated titles ‘copying’ each other, and the appeal of ‘exotic’ referents in titles are considered within a framework of the nature and behaviour of titles in translation. Consistent translation strategies across languages make a strong argument for the influence of commercial and translational imperatives over culture-specific appropriation of the text.

Table of contents

In a competitive global market, authors and publishers attribute significant value to the wording of titles of fiction in order to engage readers. Eminent novelists such as Charles Dickens purportedly spent considerable time deliberating on the title of a new work before beginning to write (James 2001). In children’s literature, the current trend towards the international commodification of titles emphasises the genre-driven imperatives. Books about animals are a popular and commercially successful genre for children, whether classified explicitly as animal stories or as another genre that features animals as protagonists. The [ p. 112 ]occurrence of animals in titles of children’s books is sufficiently common to allow analysis of specific stylistic patterns in their original and translated forms.

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