by Piotr 'Daerdin' Mazur
- 1 1. Introduction
- 2 2. Andrzej Sapkowski
- 3 5. Proper names in The Last Wish
- 3.1 5.1. Geographical names
- 3.2 5.2 Personal names
- 3.3 5.3 Plants and stones
- 3.4 5.4 Monsters and creatures
- 3.5 5.5 Other proper names and common nouns
- 4 6 Conclusions
- 5 9 Appendix
- 6 Bibliography
1. Introduction[edit | edit source]Fantasy has always been my favourite genre of literature and computer games. As soon as I found out that Polish video games developing studio - CD Projekt RED - are making a PC game based on the novels created by Andrzej Sapkowski with the witcher Geralt as the main character I was far more than happy. Soon after that, I also learned that English speaking enthusiasts for fantasy literature would finally be able to read about the adventures of Geralt in their mother tongue. Driven by professional interest I bought The Last Wish - the first volume of short stories about the witcher - to see how it was translated. After having finished reading it I could not resist writing a thesis about the work Danusia Stok, the translator of the book, had done. Especially when it comes to proper names and nomenclature.
This here is the practical part of my work, where I discuss the way Stok approached the task of translating proper names and nomenclature in The Last Wish; I will try to prove that she did not avoid some mistakes and awkward decisions while translating the short stories.
I will start however with introducing Andrzej Sapkowski and his literary works; I will also mention his point of view concerning the general concept of onomastics in fantasy literature.
2. Andrzej Sapkowski[edit | edit source]Fantasy is probably the most popular trend in Polish literature at the moment. We can observe a kind of its bloom - not only can we find new translations of foreign books on the market, but also works of Polish writers (e.g. Anna Brzezińska, Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz or Feliks W. Kres). Bestseller lists incessantly contain books of such classics as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, C.S. Lewis or Andrzej Sapkowski on the top.
Andrzej Sapkowski is one of the most eminent representatives of Polish fantasy and its theoretician. He is a controversial figure who cannot be treated indifferently - he is loved by his fans for his style and caustic writing and he is hated by journalists for the same reasons. His contribution to the development of Polish fantasy literature cannot be overestimated.
In 1985 Polish fantasy magazine Fantastyka organised a competition for a science fiction story. After his son's persuasion, over-forty-year-old sales specialist from Łódź sent his The Witcher and won the third place. This text introduced a breath of fresh air into a bit stale universe of fantasy world, where a typical pattern was present: "warrior - princess - wizard - dragon". Both readers and writers were satiated with this schema. Sapkowski's short story gave up conventions playing blithely with them and with readers. The title character, witcher Geralt, became embedded in readers' memory thanks to his appearance, comportment and most of all profession. No wonder that people demanded subsequent stories about the mutant trained for fighting monsters. It was his credit for Sapkowski to start climbing bestseller lists and gain huge popularity.
His debut came relatively late - average age of debut fantasy writers is 23 years - he is, however, the uncrowned king of the milieu which found it difficult to accept him. His literary and journalistic oeuvre is extremely rich. So far, he has published two volumes of the witcher stories - Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) (1993) and Miecz przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny) (1993), RPG textbook - Oko Yrrhedesa (The Eye of Yrrhedes) (1995), an essay about the Knights of the Round Table and a micronovel about legendary love of Tristan and Iseult – Świat króla Artura. Maladie (The World of King Arthur. Maladie) (1995), a volume of stories previously published in magazines - Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something ends, something begins) (2000). The most important, however, is the witcher pentalogy, sometimes called 'saga' - vol. I Krew elfów (Blood of Elves) (1994), vol. II Czas pogardy (Time of Contempt) (1995), vol. III Chrzest ognia (Baptism of Fire) (1996), vol. IV Wieża Jaskółki (The Tower of the Swallow) (1997), vol. V Pani Jeziora (Lady of the Lake) (1999). He also published Rękopis znaleziony w smoczej jaskini. Kompendium wiedzy o literaturze fantasy (Manuscript found in a dragon's cave. Fantasy literature compendium) (2001) - the first guide to fantasy literature on the Polish market. Sapkowski's most recent works are Narrenturm (Narrenturm) (2002), Boży bojownicy (God's Fighters) (2004) and Lux Perpetua (Lux Perpetua) (2006), which form the Hussite trilogy.
Sapkowski's work is subject of fascination not only to ordinary readers but also to researchers - literary scholars, linguists and historians (among others Bereś, Żabski, Szelewski, Tazbir, Kaczor). Systematically, we can find books' reviews printed in the press (mostly written by Wojciech Orliński). Most of them focus on the plot, however, omitting the style of the text.
Extremely rich onomastics, humour and cultural associations, which we can find in Sapkowski's works, are satisfying subjects for scholarly deliberation and research. Thanks to that, there are more and more studies dedicated to his texts. In the last quarter of 2005, SuperNOWA publishing house printed a very long interview given by the author to Stanisław Bereś. It is a record of the conversation which cannot be treated as an academic study of Sapkowski's artistic work. Bereś is mostly interested in the author's artistic process and workshop. That is why there are several questions concerning historical veracity, language and onomastic choices.
In 2006, słowo/obraz terytoria publishing house printed Katarzyna Kaczor's book Geralt, czarownice i wampir. Recykling kulturowy Andrzeja Sapkowskiego (Geralt, witches and a vampire. Cultural recycling of Andrzej Sapkowski). It was announced to be "the only so extensive study of Sapkowski's works on the Polish market". Unfortunately, the readers were given something far from what they expected. Kaczor presents the most important cultural associations set in the witcher saga in a very shortened form, limiting herself mostly to long quotations and a few sentences of commentary. The whole work looks rather like a synopsis of a book to come. I dare to say that the associations observed by the author are obvious to an average reader of Sapkowski's works, and this was supposed to be the target group of this monograph. Apart from that, the author - although being a lecturer of the Polish language and literary studies - does not pay any attention to the language or onomastic reference in the books. Instead, she focuses on the character himself, his appearance and characteristic features, which restricts her work considerably.
In 2003 Maciej Szelewski published his book Nazewnictwo w utworach Andrzeja Sapkowskiego i Nika Pierumowa (Onomastics in the works of Andrzej Sapkowski and Nik Pierumow). As the title points out, it is a linguistic study concerning onomastics in the witcher cycle. I will refer to this book in details later in my thesis.
Sapkowski himself gladly takes up the subject of onomastics and his nomenclature choices believing that it is a very fascinating subject, and he underlines it during interviews.
- "- (Adam Dudaczyk) I have a question - where do you get all those incredible names for your books from?
- - (AS) It is one of the most important things, so important that there is no recipe or a method. You need to have intuition.".
- "I am in favour of well thought out onomastics. Names, though mysterious and pleasing to the ear, are to be signals, they have to harmonize with the action and plot. I like using names (...) which give the readers some clues - sometimes leading him or her to erudite and language play, and sometimes to legendary matter or literature classics".
- "You don't have to be professor Tolkien to notice the Slavonic-Germanic fashion (...) of cluster-names Bole-sław, Sławo-mir, Sieg-fried, Fried-rich. Everyone can also see that (...) the more sophisticated the name the more distinctly - especially with "de" predicate – it determines the rank, status or position. When a reader reads that Armand de Bois-Tracy met Nob, he or she will have no problem with distinguishing which one is a viscount and which one is a miller".
- "While getting to know the fantasy canon, I promised myself that when I decide to write my own books I will avoid single-syllabic names like the plague. The names that make you think of cough, hiccup or other unpleasant sounds which are produced by human organism, especially after eating, or alternatively drinking too much. (...) Let me quote: "Gurm", "Burm", "Korh", "Yrgh", "Burh", "Urh". (...) What can you say, onomastics is art in and of itself and you need to be simply talented. Not that I am boasting...".
(Note: Two chapters titled "Proper names and nomenclature" and "Translation process" have been skipped, because they are a theoretical part of this thesis about the subject of translation.)
5. Proper names in The Last Wish[edit | edit source]To make the article clearer, I decided to divide this section into five categories:
- 1) geographical names,
- 2) personal names,
- 3) plants and stones,
- 4) monsters and creatures,
- 5) other proper names and common nouns.
I will also use the division made by Szelewski, who distinguishes three categories of proper names and nomenclature in Sapkowski's works. These are:
- 1) inauthentic names which were entirely created by the author,
- 2) inauthentic names which were created with the use of authentic morphemes from various languages,
- 3) authentic names which are used as fictional ones.
- - VR1/2/3/4/5/6/7 – Głos rozsądku 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 (The Voice of Reason 1/2/3/4/5/6/7)
- - W – Wiedźmin (The Witcher)
- - GT – Ziarno prawdy (A Grain of Truth)
- - LE – Mniejsze zło (The Lesser Evil)
- - QP – Kwestia ceny (A Question of Price)
- - EW – Kraniec świata (The Edge of the World)
- - LW – Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish)
5.1. Geographical names[edit | edit source]Geographical names discussed in present section:
|Original ||page||Translation ||page||Short story|
|Dol Blathanna||177||Dol Blathanna||169||EW|
|Dolina Kwiatów||170||Valley of Flowers||163||VR5|
|dolina Nimnar||62||the Nimnar Valley||58||GT|
|Dolna Posada||176||Lower Posada||168||EW|
|Górna Posada||175||Upper Posada||168||EW|
|Góry Smocze||166||Dragon Mountains||159||VR5|
|księstwo Attre||126||Duchy of Attre||121||QP|
|Kupiecki Szlak||284||Traders’ Trail||277||VR7|
|Lutoński trakt||80||Lutonski road||77||LE|
5.1.1. Inauthentic – artificial[edit | edit source]First of all we have to remember that The Last Wish and the whole witcher cycle is fantasy literature. Therefore, names of rivers, seas, mountain ranges, villages, towns, cities, countries and so on can entirely be originated by the author. In such a case, translation seems to be unnecessary. Let us have a look at some examples of artificial names which were directly taken into the target text:
- - towns/cities: ‘Caelf’, ‘Mirt’, ‘Murivel’, ‘Nimnar’;
- - kingdoms/regions: ‘Attre’, ‘Creyden’, ‘Ellander’, ‘Metinna’;
- - rivers: ‘Buina’.
5.1.2. Inauthentic – realistic[edit | edit source]Many put Sapkowski’s novels in the same line as professor Tolkien’s works and call them ‘high fantasy’. We can read in Wikipedia that one of characteristic features of this genre is that "a contemporary, ‘real-world’ character is placed in the invented world". Sapkowski deals with this in two ways. He either puts authentic names into his stories – this will be discussed in the next section – or he uses fictional names which have graphical similarity to names present in contemporary world. This is the result of using authentic morphemes taken from various language systems. We can observe the variety of the author’s sources, as he uses many, not only European, languages.
In this category, the translator chose two approaches. When the name sounded foreign to the Polish reader, she left it unchanged. The examples are:
- towns/cities: ‘Assengard’ (Scandinavian ‘gård’ – town/farm; similar to ‘Asgard’ – a land in Norse mythology), ‘Blaviken’ (German ‘blau’ – blue, Scandinavian ‘vik’ – bay, gulf), ‘Cidaris’ (Latin ‘cidaris’ – tiara), ‘Novigrad’ (name in Slavonic stylization, similar to Belgrad, Leningrad), ‘Tridam’ (relation to an English word ‘dam’), ‘Rinde’ (German ‘rinde’ – bark, rind);
- kingdom/region: ‘Maecht’ (German ‘Macht‘ – strength, power);
- rivers: ‘Pontar’ (French ‘pont’ – bridge, the river Pontar in Sapkowski’s works is known to have many bridges);
- other: in the elfish language invented by Sapkowski ‘Dol Blathanna’ (Bulgarian ‘dol’ – valley, Gaelic ‘blath’ – flower).
- ‘Dol Blathanna’ in, so called, common language – a language familiar to all races appearing in the witcher cycle – ‘Dolina Kwiatów’ → ‘Valley of Flowers’, ‘Kupiecki Szlak’ → ‘Traders’ Trail’, ‘Góry Smocze’ → ‘Dragon Mountains’.
There is another example which drew my attention in this category. In The Lesser Evil short story, Sapkowski mentions ‘Lutoński trakt’ which was translated into ‘Lutonski road’. The name clearly refers to an English town – Luton, that is why ‘Luton road’ would be a good option. Stok, however, may have wanted to avoid too clear association with the British town, that is why she had decided to use a word similar in pronunciation.
5.1.3. Authentic[edit | edit source]As stated in the previous section, Sapkowski, from time to time, likes to smuggle some authentic names which may sound oriental to the reader and which fit the fantasy world presented in his works. It is important to mention that here, the term ‘authentic’ is used to describe also a name which may have appeared somewhere before, for example in some other literary work.
Here, Stok uses the same approach as with the inauthentic, realistic names. If the name sounds Polish and may have some meaning for the reader, she translates it directly into English.
- - kingdoms/regions: ‘Angren’ (an industrial city in Uzbekistan), ‘Łukomorze’ → ‘Arcsea’ (expression taken from Ruslan and Lyudmila by A. Pushkin), ‘Skellige’ (name taken from a song by an Irish group Clannad);
- - towns/cities: ‘Cintra’ (old name for Sintra, a town and a municipality in Portugal), ‘Yspaden’ (name of a giant from Celtic mythology).
The second example is yet another proof of the translator’s inconsistence. ‘Wyzima’ – which is an Old Polish given name  – was neither translated nor transferred into English. Stok chose to use ‘Wyzim’. If she wanted to have a word that would sound similar to the original one, she should use ‘Vizima’ (which was the case with The Witcher computer game developed by a Polish game studio CDProjekt RED). Otherwise I find her decision hard to understand.
5.2 Personal names[edit | edit source]Personal names discussed in present section:
|Baron Eylembert z Tigg||126||Baron Eylembert of Tigg||121||QP|
|Crach an Craite||128||Crach an Craite||123||QP|
|Diuk Hereward||164||Duke Hereward||157||VR5|
|Druid Myszowór||128||Druid Mousesack||123||QP|
|Fredefalk, książę Creyden||89||Fredefalk, the Prince of Creyden||86||LE|
|Gnom Rumplestelt||146||gnome Rumplestelt||140||QP|
|Karelka, Borg, Nosikamyk||81||Karelka, Borg, Carrypebble||78||LE|
|Król Ethain||227||King Ethain||221||LW|
|Król Roegner||124||King Roegner||119||QP|
|Królewna Pavetta||124||Princess Pavetta||119||QP|
|Królowa Calanthe||124||queen Calanthe||119||QP|
|Mistrz Irion||81||Master Irion||78||LE|
|Naradkowa||172||Nan the Hag||165||EW|
|Nivellen (Wyrod, Kłykacz)||52||Nivellen (Degen or Fanger)||48||GT|
|Pomrów, Paszkot i Dzirżygórka||128||Tinglant, Fodcat and Wieldhill||123||QP|
|rycerz Rainfarn||126||knight Rainfarn||121||QP|
|Vizimir z Novigradu||12||Vizimir of Novigrad||7||W|
|Zatret Voruta||146||Zatret Voruta||140||QP|
5.2.1 Inauthentic – artificial[edit | edit source]As it was mentioned in the second chapter of this thesis, Sapkowski pays much attention to personal names he uses. He tries to sound as authentic as possible. There are, however, names that are not present in the real world and show no resemblance to those known to the reader’s culture. Though artificial, these names still sound genuine. The author himself mentioned that he did not want his characters to have names that would remind the reader of various sounds produced by human or other of the examples. organisms. Let us have a look at some of the examples.
- elfish names: Sapkowski invented elfish language for the needs of the witcher cycle and the vast majority of artificial personal names he uses include characteristic features of this language, i.e. ‘ae’ cluster or double consonants, like in ‘Chireadan’;others are:‘Errdil’, ‘Galarr’, ‘Toruviel’;
- other names bear characteristics of both elfish and human, so called common, language – e.g. ‘ai’ or ‘th’ clusters:‘Caldemeyn’, ‘Crach an Craite’, ‘Ethain’, ‘Falwick’, ‘Fenne’, ‘Foltest’, ‘Irion’, ‘Medell’, ‘Nohorn’, ‘Ostrit’, ‘Tyrss’, ‘Vereena’, ‘Vyr’, ‘Zatret Voruta’, ‘Zivelena’.
5.2.2 Inauthentic – realistic[edit | edit source]A fantasy world would be incomplete without characters bearing mysteriously sounding names. These may be entirely invented by the author or, as Sapkowski prefers, bear some resemblance to the real existing names. As it was stated before, the author likes to make use of various languages and such is also the case with inauthentic, realistic personal names. The majority of names from this category were directly taken by the translator into the English version without changing their form. These include:
- Latin: ‘Aridea’ (‘Aridus’ – dried out), ‘Dalka’ (‘Dalia’), ‘Duny’ (a diminutive of ‘Duncan’, just like ‘Benjamin’ → ‘Benny’);
- German: ‘Fredefalk’ (‘Friede’ – freedom + ‘Falke’ – falcon), ‘Rainfarn’ (German name for ‘Tansy’ – a perennial herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family German ‘Rogener’ – female (en.wikipedia.org)), ‘Roegner’ (an anagram of fish), ‘Rumplestelt’ (‘Rumpelstilzchen’ – a character and a fairy tale originated in Germany and used by Brothers Grimm), ‘Stammelford’ (a compilation of two surnames – German ‘Stammel’ and English ‘Ford’);
- other: ‘Adalia’ (Portuguese ‘Adelia’), ‘Calanthe’ (a plant of orchid genus), ‘Cerro’ knoll – as an allusion to feminine curves), ‘Karelka’ (Spanish ‘cerro’ – hill, (Czech ‘Karel’), ‘Marilka’ (Polish ‘Marylka’ – a diminutive of ‘Maryla’), ‘Nenneke’ (Swedish ‘Nenne’), ‘Nivellen’ (Dutch ‘nivelleren’ – to level, to even out), ‘Pavetta’ (French ‘Paulette’), ‘Renfri’ (‘Renfrew’ – one of districts in Scotland), ‘Tavik’ (Byelorussian ‘Tavija’), ‘Vizimir’ (Slavonic ‘Wyzimir’), ‘Yennefer’ (English ‘Jennifer’).
- single words: ‘Dzierzba’ (“bo pojmanych żywcem lubiła nabijać na zaostrzone kołki” (Sapkowski 2005: 90)) → ‘Shrike’ (“because she liked to impale the people she caught on a sharp pole while they were still alive” (Sapkowski 2007: 88)), ‘Kłykacz’ (‘kły’ – ‘fangs’) → ‘Fanger’, ‘Piętnastka’ (a numeral noun – ‘15’) → ‘Fifteen’, ‘Pokrzywka’ (a diminutive of ‘pokrzywa’ – ‘nettle’) → ‘Nettly’, ‘Wyrod’ (a possible shortened form of ‘zwyrodnialec’ – ‘degenerate’) → ‘Degen’;
- compounds: ‘Myszowór’ (‘mysz’ – ‘mouse’ + ‘wór’ – ‘sack’) → ‘Mousesack’, ‘Dzirżygórka’ (‘dzirżyć’, a dialect form of ‘dzierżyć’ – ‘to wield’ + ‘górka’ – ‘a small hill’) → ‘Wieldhill’, ‘Nosikamyk’ (‘nosić’ – ‘to carry’ + ‘kamyk’ – ‘pebble’) → – ‘laurel’ + ‘nosek’ – ‘a small nose’) ‘Carrypebble’, ‘Wawrzynosek’ (‘wawrzyn’ → ‘Laurelnose’.
I would also like to have a more detailed look at some other names in this category. The first is witcher Geralt’s best friend ‘Jaskier’, whose name is a clear reference to a real existing flower. The English version of this character is called ‘Dandilion’ – a variation of English ‘dandelion’, which also is a flower. The problem is those are completely different plants. ‘Jaskier’ is ‘buttercup’ in English, and that ‘dandelion’ is ‘mniszek lekarski’ in Polish. Sapkowski himself does not give any reason for which ‘Jaskier’ is called that way, we only know that the author wanted him to have a name after a flower (www.sapkowski.pl). When Geralt meets the bard for the first time, he sees him wearing bright colours. Such garish clothes could be described in Polish as ‘jaskrawe’ and when we add the author’s wish to name the character after a flower we get ‘Jaskier’. This may be the reason why the character is named ‘Dandilion’ in the English version as it both refers to a flower and is similar to an English word ’dandy’, which perfectly describes the bard’s clothing and behaviour.
The second example is ‘baron Eylembert of Tigg’. This character is better known for his nickname – ‘Kudkudak’ – as he likes to perform a crow of a rooster. Sapkowski used this alias, because it is one of the variants of Polish onomatopoeic word for the sound of a crowing rooster. Thus, we might expect that Stock would make use of the English version of the onomatopoeia – ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’. Instead, she used the Polish word and created a similar sounding ‘Coodcoodak’. The next name that caught my attention was ‘stara Naradkowa’. The suffix ‘-owa’ is characteristic in Slavonic languages, especially Czech, for creating female versions of family names. The original name in this case would probably be ‘Naradek’, therefore like ‘old Naradek woman’ in the English version. we might expect to read something Instead, we find ‘old Nan the Hag’. Stok’s decision is peculiar for two reasons. Firstly, English female given name ‘Nan’ is in no way similar to ‘Naradek’ and secondly, the is only later in the original Polish name does not suggest that this woman was a hag. It text that we read about her doings which may have something to do with witchcraft.
The last name worth having a more detailed look at in this category is ‘Yolop’. In The Edge of the World short story, bard Dandilion says: “Jest ballada o parobku imieniem Yolop (…)” (Sapkowski 2005: 181). The name is a variation of ‘Jołop’ and a clear reference to Bajka o popie i jego parobku Jołopie by Alexander Pushkin (1987). The English title of the story is The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda, therefore one should expect that the translator would make use of the English version of the name. Instead we read: “There’s a ballad about a farmhand called Slow (…)” (Sapkowski 2007: 174). Why such a difference? First of all we should take a look at the . ‘Балда’ original title of Pushkin’s work – Сказка о попе и о работнике его Балде means something like ‘a fool, a stupid person’ in Russian. As we can see the English name ‘Balda’ is a direct transfer and lost its original meaning. Julian Tuwim, the translator of the tale into Polish, decided to retain the meaning and used ‘Jołop’, which also means ‘a person slow on the uptake, dull, stupid’. Stok either did not know the original source of the name or she deliberately wanted to convey the meaning of both Russian and Polish version, therefore she used an adjective ‘slow’ as the name of the man.
5.2.3 Authentic[edit | edit source]The authentic names are always the least problematic, as it is enough to transfer them into TT or to look for the equivalent in the TL, provided the TC has the tradition of translating the names. When it comes to English culture, it “keeps the first names of foreign persons unchanged” (Newmark 1988: 35) and that is why there is not much work for the translator here. Let us have a look at some examples of authentic personal names used by Sapkowski.
- German: ‘Adda’, ‘Haxo’, ‘Krepp’;
- Polish: ‘Drogodar’, ‘Nimir’, ‘Treska‘ (all three Old Polish), ‘Duda’ (compare contemporary Polish painter ‘Jerzy Duda-Gracz’);
- Scandinavian: ‘Eskel’, ‘Lille’;
- English: ‘Virginia’, ‘Hereward’ (from 11th century nobleman ‘Hereward the Wake’);
- Czech: ‘Libusze’ → ‘Libushe’ (‘sz’ changed into ‘sh’ because of pronunciation matter), ‘Velerad’;
- other: ‘Fialka’ (Bulgarian), ‘Ilka’ (Hungarian), ‘Iola’ (Byelorussian), ‘Lenka’ (Slovakian), ‘Borg’ (compare Swedish tennis player ‘Björn Borg’).
5.3 Plants and stones[edit | edit source]Names of plants and stones discussed in present section:
|gwiezdolistny nostrix||213||star-leafed melilote||207||VR6|
|pęczki tojadu||65||wisps of monkshood||61||GT|
|storczyk mysichwost||213||mousetail orchid||207||VR6|
|wronie oko||213||raven's eye||207||VR6|
|wyciąg z pokrzyku||103||nightshade||100||LE|
|zasuszony bukiecik tojadu||46||bunch of dried monkshead||47||GT|
5.3.1. Inauthentic[edit | edit source]Geralt as a witcher uses not only his strength, agility and fighting skills to cleanse his path of the enemies but also enhances his abilities by using minerals and various kinds of potions brewed from different sort of plants. Sapkowski, to make his works as realistic as possible, makes use of authentic flora. Sometimes, however, he invents a couple of names himself using Polish morphemes. As these names have their meaning for the source reader, Stok translated them directly into English.
- ‘żółwi kamień’ → ‘turtle stone’;
- ‘dętogłów’ (‘nadęty’ – ‘puffed up’ + ‘głowa’ – ‘head’) → ‘puffheads’,
- ‘niezmiar’ (‘nie’ – ‘not’ + ‘zmierzyć’ – ‘to measure’) → ‘measure‐me‐not’,
- ‘skorocel’ (‘skoro’ from an expression ‘biec skoro sił’ – ‘to run as fast as possible’ + ‘cel’ – ‘aim’) → ‘fastaim’,
- ‘stawikrew’ (‘staw’ – ‘pond’ + ‘krew’ – ‘blood’) → ‘pondblood’,
- ‘storczyk mysichwost’ (‘storczyk’ – ‘orchid’, ‘mysi’ – ‘mouse’s’ + ‘chwost’ an old Polish ‘ogon’ – ‘tail’) → ‘mousetail orchid’.
Firstly let us have a look at ‘wronie oko’. The name evidently includes the name of a bird – ‘wrona’ → ‘crow’. Therefore, it is unclear to me why Stok decided to translate the plant into ‘raven’s eye’. I understand that both ‘crow’ and ‘raven’ belong to the same “genus Corvus in the family Corvidae” (en.wikipedia.org), however, I see no reason for which one should use both names interchangeably.
The second item I would like to describe here is a stone which Sapkowski called ‘inkluz’. The witcher Geralt describes it as “a sapphire with a pocket of air trapped within the stone” (Sapkowski 2007: 19). In the English version of The Witcher short story we read about ‘inclusion’. It is a real existing word, however, it does not refer to the stone as a whole but only to “a solid body or a body of gas or liquid enclosed within the mass of a mineral” (dictionary.reference.com). In Polish, this would be ‘inkluzja’, which is undoubtedly the source of the stone’s name used by the writer.
While ‘inkluz’ has practically no meaning in contemporary Polish – in Old Polish it referred to hermits or monks who decided to close themselves in monastic cells in order to devote their lives to asceticism and contemplation (Gloger 1900-1903) – I believe that Stok could leave this name unchanged.
The last example worth mentioning here is ‘gwiezdnolistny nostrix’. There is no problem with the first part of the name which was translated into ‘star-leafed’. The name ‘nostrix’, however, is nowhere to be found in any real existing botanical garden. We have to remember that Sapkowski sometimes likes to play with words and this time he did it as well. ‘Nostrix’ is a variation of ‘nostrzyk’ which translates into English as ‘melilot’ also known as ‘sweet clover’ (en.wikipedia.org). The translator decided to use ‘melilote’, which according to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language is a Middle English version of the same plant.
5.3.2 Authentic[edit | edit source]When it comes to names of authentic plants and weeds, Stok’s job was much easier, as it was enough to look for the English equivalent. Therefore, we have such names as:
- ‘arenaria’ → ‘arenaria’,
- ‘bieluń’ → ‘stramonium’,
- ‘chmiel’ → ‘hops’,
- ‘ciemiężyca’ → ‘veratrum’,
- ‘głóg’ → ‘hawthorn’,
- ‘jaskółcze ziele’ → ‘celandine’,
- ‘konopie’ → ‘hemp’,
- ‘len’ → ‘flax’,
- ‘macierzanka’ → ‘thyme’,
- ‘łubin’ → ‘lupins’,
- ‘świetlik’ → ‘eyebright’,
- ‘turzyca’ → ‘sedge’,
- ‘wilczomlecz’ → ‘spurge’,
- ‘wyka’ → ‘vetch’.
Also in this category, we find some examples of Stok’s curious translation decisions. In The Witcher short story we read about ‘czworolist’, whose English equivalent is ‘paris’. The translator decided to change the name into ‘true-love’ (‘True-lover’s Knot’ is the common name of ‘Paris quadrifolia’ – which, according to en.wikipedia.org, is the best known species of the paris genus). Such a decision would be clearer if the plant had properties of creating a sort of love potion. This, however, is not the case as Sapkowski writes nothing about the characteristics of this herb and the situation in which he mentions it has nothing to do with love. I believe that using ‘quadrifolia’ in the English version would be a simpler and better choice.
There are also two more examples of Stok’s inconsistence. The first one is ‘pokrzyk’. This plant appears in two short stories – The Witcher and The Lesser Evil. The official English name of this plant is ‘atropa belladonna’ or ‘atropa bella-donna’ – none of this was used by the translator, however. More common names are ‘belladonna’ or ‘deadly nightshade’ and Stok decided to use the latter one in the shortened version – namely ‘nightshade’ – however, only in The Lesser Evil short story. When it comes to The Witcher, she uses ‘banewart’. The problem is that such a word does not exist. What the translator meant was probably ‘banewort’, which is another common name of ‘atropa belladonna’. While this change of a letter could be a typographical error it is still unclear to me, why she decided to name the same plant in two different ways in two short stories.
The second example is ‘tojad’, which appears in The Witcher and A Grain of Truth short stories. Here the inconsistence is of a different sort than with the above mentioned case. The Wikipedia gives us several common names of ‘aconitum’, which is the official English name for ‘tojad’. These are “aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard's bane, women's bane, Devil's helmet or blue rocket” and Stok chose to make use of the second one. There would be nothing wrong with it, were it not the fact that every time Sapkowski mentions ‘tojad’, we find a practically different version of the English equivalent:
- ‘pęczki tojadu’ → ‘wisps of monkshood’ (in A Grain of Truth),
- ‘tojad’ → ‘monk’s hood’ (in The Witcher),
- ‘zasuszony bukiecik tojadu’ → ‘bunch of dried monkshead’ (in A Grain of Truth).
5.4 Monsters and creatures[edit | edit source]Names of monsters and creatures discussed in present section:
|duchy lampy||238||spirits of the lamp||232||LW|
- ‘bazyliszek’ → ‘basilisk’,
- ‘chimera’ → ‘chimera’,
- ‘diabeł’ → ‘devil’,
- ‘dżinn’ → ‘djinn’,
- ‘faun’ → ‘faun’,
- ‘gnom’ → ‘gnome’,
- ‘gryf’ → ‘griffin’,
- ‘jednorożec’ → ‘unicorn’,
- ‘lewiatan’ → ‘leviathan’,
- ‘mantikora’ → ‘manticore’,
- ‘nimfa’ → ‘nymph’,
- ‘rusałka’ → ‘rusalka’,
- ‘troll’ → ‘troll’,
- ‘wampir’ → ‘vampire’,
- ‘wilkołak’ → ‘werewolf’.
In her second approach, Stok translated into English those names, which consisted of morphemes comprehensible for a Polish reader. For example:
- ‘błędaki’ (‘błądzić’ – ‘wander around in circles’, therefore those are monsters who make you lose your way) → ‘misguids’,
- ‘burdałaki’ (‘burda’ – ‘brawl’ + ‘łak’ suffix like in ‘wilkołak’ – ‘werewolf’) → ‘were‐brawls’,
- ‘duch lampy’ → ‘spirit of the lamp’,
- ‘kotołak’ (‘kot’ – ‘cat’ + ‘łak’ suffix) → ‘werecat’,
- ‘mglak’ (‘mgła’ – ‘fog’) → ‘fogler’,
- ‘widłogon’ (‘widły’ – ‘fork’ + ‘ogon’ – ‘tail’) → ‘forktail‘.
The first monster I would like to mention is called ‘bobołak’ – a humanoid small creature covered with fur (Sapkowski 2005). The name appears in two short stories – The Witcher and The Lesser Evil. In the first one we find ‘bogeyman’ and in the second we read about ‘weretot’. The latter uses two morphemes – ‘were’, as in ‘werewolf’ and ‘tot’, which is an informal version of ‘a small child, a toddler’. Therefore, such a name would represent the outward appearance of the original. ‘Bogeyman’, which is also known as ‘boogeyman’ or ‘boogie man’, is an English equivalent of Polish ‘bebok’ or ‘bobok’, which might be the name that Sapkowski used creating his ‘bobołak’. As we can see, both ‘bogeyman’ and ‘weretot’ are good translations of the original, however Stok should make up her mind and use only one of these.
The next example will be an English name ‘chimera’. As it was mentioned before, it is a perfectly known name of a mythological creature and when Sapkowski writes about ‘chimera’ in the Polish version of The Voice of Reason 5 we also find ‘chimera’ in Stok’s translation. In the very same short story there is also another creature mentioned – ‘przeraza’ – and this time the translator used ‘chimera’ as well. ‘Przeraza’ or ‘chimera pospolita’ is a fish from Chimaeridae family, that is probably why the translator decided to use ‘chimera’ as the name for this creature. The problem is that the animal described by Sapkowski is in no way similar to any fish, moreover, it does not even live in water. The English name ‘chimera’ used for this creature is wrong for two reasons – first, it was already assigned to another monster; second, it does not represent the characteristics of the creature it describes. I believe that the name used in The Witcher computer game – ‘frightener’ – would be a better choice, as it is strictly connected both with the creature’s name and features: ‘przeraza’ comes from a Polish verb ‘przerażać’ → ‘to frighten’.
‘Rusałka’, just like the example before, has its commonly known English equivalent – ‘rusalka’. Sapkowski mentions this Slavonic mythological character in three short stories – The Witcher, The Grain of Truth and The Voice of Reason 5. Three stories and three different English names. In the last two stories we read about ‘rusalka’, which is the result of Stok’s decision to use the official equivalent of the original. In the first one, however, Sapkowski writes about this creature two times and we find two different names in the English version – ‘water nymph’ and ‘fairy’. Both names refer to the characteristics of ‘rusałka’. I see no reason, however, for the translator not to use ‘rusalka’ as it is still the same creature we are reading about. What is more peculiar, there is still one more creature in The Witcher short story which was also translated by Stok as ‘rusalka’, namely ‘płaczka’. This time, however, the decision seems completely wrong as the two have nothing in common.
The next monster I would like to describe is ‘utopiec’. As the name suggests it is a creature that comes to existence whenever a man drowns and comes back to life. Its main occupation is to take careless swimmers under the water and drown them. Therefore, a ‘drowner’, which was used by Stok in The Edge of the World short story, seems to be a perfect choice. That is why, I see no reason for her, to change the creature’s name into ‘vodnik’ in The Witcher short story. I am aware that there is a mainly positive character from Slavonic mythology – ‘wodnik’, which is a water spirit similar in appearance to ‘utopiec’, however “one should not confuse Vodnik with a Drowner (…) as the latter one is always trying to harm people” (pl.wikipedia.org, my own translation). There are also two general terms I would like to elaborate on. The first one is ‘straszydło’, which appears in A Question of Price short story. When Sapkowski mentions the name for the first time, we read about ‘monster’ in the English version, which seems all right. The problem appears in the second place, where Sapkowski writes about “straszydła i monstra” (Sapkowski 2005:150). ‘Monstra’ are obviously ‘monsters’, so if the translator stuck to her first choice, we would have ‘monsters and monsters’, which is evidently ridiculous. Instead, she changed ‘straszydła’ into ‘horrors’, which also represent the features of the creatures. Such inconsistence could be avoided, had she used, for example, the term ‘fright’ or ‘bogey’ in both cases.
The second example is ‘upiór’, which is mentioned in two short stories – The Witcher and The Edge of the World. As it was the case with ‘rusalka’, here we have two stories and two, or even three, different English names for the same monster. In the first story, Stok changed the creature into ‘kobold’. Such a decision is incomprehensible as ‘kobold’ is a specific sprite of German folklore and is in no way similar to ‘upiór’, which can be translated into English as ‘ghost’, ‘phantom’, ‘revenant’ or ‘spectre’. The latter option is the one used by the translator in the second short story, so as we can see she is aware of the possible English equivalents but still decided to use two different names for the same creature. There is also one variation of the ‘upiór’ name in The Edge of the World short story, namely ‘upir’. The name is mentioned by an uneducated peasant, hence the change in the pronunciation. Since Stok used ‘spectre’ in the same story, one might expect her to use a variation of this name as it was the case with the Polish original. Instead, she changed the creature’s name yet again, this time into ‘ghost’.
The last name I would like to discuss in this part is ‘kociozmora’. Having read The Lesser Evil short story, we see that this name is a deliberate change of the name ‘kikimora’, which was left intact by the translator in other stories. That is why the reader could expect some play of words and a name that would be similar in pronunciation to the original monster. Instead we find a translated version. ‘Kociozmora’ consists of two morphemes ‘kocio’, a form of ‘kot’ → ‘cat’ → ‘felis’ in Latin and ‘zmora’ → ‘spectre’, which combined together give us ‘felispectre’. Such a name is a perfectly created equivalent, provided that ‘kociozmora’ was to be treated as a separate name not connected in any way with ‘kikimora’. By translating it directly into English, the translator omitted the author’s humorous play on words.
5.5 Other proper names and common nouns[edit | edit source]Proper names and common nouns discussed in present section:
|„Pod Lisem”||7||The Fox||2||W|
|„Pod Tuńczykiem”||94||the Tuna Fish||91||LE|
|„Złoty Dwór”||94||the Golden Court||91||LE|
|akademia w Oxenfurcie||165||Academy in Oxenfurt||159||VR5|
|chram Coram Agh Tera||63||the Church of Coram Agh Tera||58||GT|
|gospoda „Stary Narakort”||7||Old Narakort Inn||2||W|
|Kaer Morhen||119||Kaer Morhen||115||VR4|
|najemny czarownik||96||hired magician||93||LE|
|święto Belleteyn||122||the feast of Belleteyn||117||VR4|
|Święto Nis||109||the Feast of Nis||106||LE|
|wędrowni zabójcy bazyliszków;|
domokrążni pogromcy smoków i utopców
|11||Itinerant killers of basilisks;|
travelling slayers of dragons and vodniks
|Znak Aard||32||Sign of Aard||27||W|
|Znak Aksji||46||Sign of Axia||42||GT|
|Znak Quen||68||Sign of Quen||64||GT|
|Znak Yrden||34||Sign of Yrden||29||W|
‘Aard’ ‘Aksja’ → ‘Axia’ (‘ksj’ changed into ‘xi’ for pronunciation reasons), ‘Belleteyn’, ‘Coram Agh Tera’, ‘Kaer Morhen’, ‘Narakort’, ‘Nis’, ‘Quen’, ‘Yrden’.
However, when a name bore some meaning for the reader she used an already existing equivalent or translated it directly into English. As examples we can find the names of inns:
- ‘Pod Lisem’ → ‘The Fox’,
- ‘Pod Tuńczykiem’ → ‘The Tuna Fish’,
- ‘Złoty Dwór’ → ‘The Golden Court’,
- ‘balwierz’ → ‘barber’,
- ‘czarodziej’ → ‘wizard’,
- ‘czarownik’ → ‘sorcerer’,
- ‘furtianka’ → ‘gate keeper’,
- ‘kapłan’ → ‘priest’,
- ‘kapłanka’ → ‘priestess’,
- ‘magik’ → ‘magician’,
- ‘pogromca’ → ‘slayer’,
- ‘prorok’ → ‘prophet’,
- ‘trubadur’ → ‘troubadour’,
- ‘uzdrowicielka’ → ‘healer’,
- ‘wróżbitka’ → ‘soothsayer’,
- ‘zabójca’ → ‘killer’,
- ‘brzeszczot’ → ‘blade’,
- ‘gizarma’ → ‘guisarme’,
- ‘partyzana’ → ‘partisan’.
The second example, ‘rohatyna’, is a kind of spear functioning both as a hunting and a battle weapon. It was used mainly for thrusting rather than slashing or throwing, therefore the term ‘javelin’, which appeared in the English version of the book, is wrong as it is “designed primarily for casting as a ranged weapon” (en.wikipedia.org).
The name ‘rohatyna’ is unique for the Polish language, therefore, the translator could have used ‘rohatyna spear’ or simply ‘spear’, but definitely not ‘javelin’. I understand that Stok’s intention could be to make the text more comprehensible for an ordinary reader not interested in medieval weaponry, however this was not the case with the original. If Sapkowski had wanted the same, he would have written about ‘miecze i włócznie’ (‘swords and spears’) and not ‘koncerze i rohatyny’.
The witcher world is full not only of swords, spears, sabres and javelins but also of magic, spells and wizardry. That is why, Geralt meets many wizards, sorcerers and magicians during his adventures. All of them deal with practically the same kind of work, so it is somehow understandable if we use those names interchangeably. It is hard for me to understand, though, when Sapkowski uses two different names and Stok translates them into one name in the same short story. In The Witcher story we read about ‘czarodziej’ and ‘czarownik’, which were translated as ‘wizard’ and ‘sorcerer’ respectively. No problem in there. In The Lesser Evilstory we read about ‘magicy’, translated into ‘magicians’, which is also correct. However, when the Polish reader finds ‘najemny czarownik’, the English one could expect to find ‘hired sorcerer’, instead, we read about ‘hired magician’. In the same short story we read about ‘Rada Czarodziejów’ translated into ‘Council of Wizards’, so Stok was inconsistent only in the case of ‘najemny czarownik’. Both ‘wizard’ and ‘sorcerer’ are magic users whereas ‘magicians’ are more of performers. So when we read about “A conjurer for a fistful of silver (…) a freak of nature. An insult to human and divine laws” (Sapkowski 2007: 93), we can see that ‘hired magician’ could have been used as a derisive name.
6 ConclusionsHaving discussed the theory of proper names and translation techniques I have presented numerous examples of the translation of proper names, nomenclature and common nouns in the collection of short stories entitled The Last Wish, written by Andrzej Sapkowski and translated by Danusia Stok. With authentic names or names present in the literature or folk tales there is no problem as it was enough for the translator to search for already existing English equivalents. Therefore we can find, for example:
- ‘chmiel’ → ‘hops’,
- ‘wilczomlecz’ → ‘spurge’,
- ’gryf’ → ‘griffin’ or
- ‘wilkołak’ → ‘werewolf’.
- ‘Dolina Kwiatów’ → ‘Valley of Flowers’,
- ‘Kłykacz’ → ‘Fanger’,
- ‘Wawrzynosek’ → ‘Laurelnose’,
- ‘żółwi kamień’ → ‘turtle stone’.
- ‘kikimora’ or
- ‘Aksja’ → ‘Axia’.
- a real existing plant ‘tojad’ was translated in three different ways:
- ‘tojad’ → ‘monk’s hood’,
- ‘pęczki tojadu’ → ‘wisps of monkshood’,
- ‘zasuszony bukiecik tojadu’ → ‘bunch of dried monkshead’,
- a creature called in Polish ‘rusałka’ became in the English version:
- ‘water nymph’,
- and ‘fairy’.
(Note: The chapters 7 and 8, concerning the summary of the MA thesis in Polish and English language, have been skipped.)
9 AppendixThe list of other proper names and nomenclature used in creation of this thesis not discussed in detail in the practical part.
- Geographical names
- Personal names
|Abrad Zadrzykiecka||89||Abrad Jack‐up‐the‐Skirt||86||MZ|
|Beau Berrant||228||Beau Berrant||222||OŻ|
|Bernika z Talgaru||89||Bernika of Talgar||86||MZ|
|Dana Méadbh||208||Dana Meadbh||202||KŚ|
|Dennis Cranmer||279||Dennis Cranmer||273||GR7|
|Draig Bon‐Dhu||128||Draig Bon‐Dhu||123||KC|
|Eist Tuirseach ze Skellige||127||Eist Tuirseach of Skellige||122||KC|
|Geoffrey Monck||257||Geoffrey Monck||251||OŻ|
|Jeż z Erlenwaldu||140||Urcheon of Erlenwald||134||KC|
|król Bran||128||King Bran||123||KC|
|król Dezmod||221||King Dezmod||216||OŻ|
|król Heribert||228||King Heribert||221||OŻ|
|król Vridank||129||King Vridank||124||KC|
|książę Hrobarik||132||Prince Hrobarik||127||KC|
|książę Windhalm||126||Prince Windhalm||121||KC|
|Lilit / Niya||86||Lilit / Niya||83||MZ|
|marszałek Vissegerd||128||Marshal Vissegerd||123||KC|
|miecz Balmur||154||sword Balmur||147||KC|
|Roderick de Novembre||164||Roderick de Novembre||157||GR5|
|Rulle Asper lub Aspen||44||Rulle Asper, or Aspen||40||ZP|
|Silvena, pani na Naroku||88||Silvena, the lady of Narok||86||MZ|
|staruszek Abrad||89||old man Abrad||86||MZ|
|Szalony Deï||146||Mad Deï||140||KC|
|Tailles z Dorndal||73||Tailles from Dorndal||70||GR3|
|Triss Merigold||235||Triss Merigold||229||OŻ|
|Valdo Marx||223||Valdo Marx||217||OŻ|
|Wielka Melitele||38||Great Melitele!||34||GR2|
|wielmożny Ravix z Czteroroga||124||Honourable Ravix of Fourhorn||119||KC|
- Plants and stones
- Monsters and creatures
|dziworyby||81||the oddest of fish||78||MZ|
|wijuny ziemne||185||earth myriapodans||178||KŚ|
- Other proper names and common nouns
|akademia w Oxenfurcie||165||Academy in Oxenfurt||159||GR5|
|brama Powroźnicza||7||Ropers Gate||2||W|
|czarcie koło||65||devil’s ring||61||ZP|
|grododzierżca Wyzimy||9||castellan of Wyzim||5||W|
|hrabia Moën||73||Count of Moën||70||GR3|
|kuglarz za garść srebrników||96||conjurer for a fistful of silver||93||MZ|
|Mania Obłąkanego Eltibalda||86||the Mania of Mad Eltibald||83||MZ|
|Matka Natura||40||Mother Nature||36||GR2|
|menhiry Dauków||86||Dauk menhirs||83||MZ|
|nekropolie Wożgorów||86||Wozgor necropolises||83||MZ|
|niebieskie róże z Nazairu||58||blue roses from Nazair||53||ZP|
|novigradzkie korony||77||Novigrad crowns||73||GR3|
|Prawo Niespodzianki||146||Law of Surprise||139||KC|
|Próba Traw||119||Trial of Grasses||115||GR4|
|Przekleństwo Czarnego Słońca||86||the Curse of the Black Sun||83||MZ|
|Rada Czarodziejów||86||the Council of Wizards||83||MZ|
|Rzeźnik z Blaviken||76||Butcher of Blaviken||72||GR3|
|świątynia Melitele||38||Melitele’s temple||34||GR2|
|tridamskie ultimatum||102||Tridam ultimatum||99||MZ|
|twierdza Ortagor||155||Fortress Ortagar||148||KC|
|wędrowna druidka||40||wandering druid||36||GR2|
|Wiedźmińskie Siedliszcze||119||Witcher’s Settlement||115||GR4|
|Wielka Macierz||40||the Great Mother||36||GR2|
|zakon Białej Róży||76||Order of the White Rose||73||GR3|
|Znak Heliotropu||232||Sign of Heliotrope||226||OŻ|
|Znak Heliotropu||68||Sign of Heliotrop||64||ZP|
|Znak Szkoły Wilka||120||the Sign of the Wolf’s School||115||GR4|
|Zwierciadło Nehaleni||89||Nehalenia’s Mirrors||86||MZ|
- Fantastyka, 3 (30)/1985
- Fantastyka, 9/1987, p.4
- http://www.sapkowski.pl, my own translation
- Brzozowski, A., 2002, Wiedźmin i historia, In "Mówią wieki", 1/2002, p.41, my own translation
- Brzozowski, A., 2002, Wiedźmin i historia, In "Mówią wieki", 1/2002, p.41, my own translation
- Bereś S., Sapkowski A., 2005, Historia i fantastyka, Warszawa: SuperNowa, pp.268-269, my own translation
- Szelewski, M., 2003, Nazewnictwo literackie w utworach Andrzeja Sapkowskiego i Nika Pierumowa, Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek
- Sapkowski, A., 2005, Ostatnie życzenie, Warszawa: SuperNowa
- Sapkowski, A., 2007, The Last Wish, London: Gollancz, translated by Danusia Stok
- High fantasy
- Gloger, Z., 1900-1903, Encyklopedia Staropolska Ilustrowana (http://pl.wikisource.org/wiki/Encyklopedia_staropolska)