«Y. Vankova New Bulgarian University Problems in Translating Children`s Literature Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz Summary In this article the focus is on some ...»

Y. Vankova

New Bulgarian University

Problems in Translating Children`s Literature

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz


In this article the focus is on some problems related with children`s literature translation – translation of character`s names etc., which I`m illustrating with examples from my own translation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. I’m comparing all given examples with the Russian translation of the book.

Key words

Translation, children`s literature, translation of children`s literature


ranslation of children`s literature is studied in detail by the Finnish translator Ritta Oittinen. She examines the reading process itself and pays attention to the strong children`s imagination. The translators of children`s literature are readers as well, but unlike children, they use their past childhood experiences. An important moment for translators is also the fact that a big part of the literature is read aloud and the translated text has to sound vividly and interesting to the young listener (Oittinen 2000:32).


illustrate some of the typical difficulties in the translation of children`s literature I will give examples of problems and ways for solving them from my translation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. For my translation and analysis I chose the fourth book of the series, which hasn`t been translated in Bulgaria until now. I compared all of my choices with the Russian translation of the book.

Title Translation

The original title of the novel is: 1) Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, which can be translated as Дороти и Вълшебникът в Оз but it doesn’t give a clear picture of who or what this Oz is. To avoid this problem I added that Oz is a country. So my version is: „Дороти и Вълшебникът в страната на Оз” (Dorothy and the Wizard in tha Land of Oz). I borrowed the idea from the Russian translation: „Дороти и Волшебник в Стране Оз”.

Wizard or Sorcerer

Another less than easy task turned out to be the choice of words for “wizard” and “sorcerer”. The choice was difficult because the first book of the series, even though translated by one person, in its different editions was published both as The Wizard of Oz and The Sorcerer of Oz. I looked up in Google and found out that “bad sorceress” and “good wizard” are much more popular that “good sorcerer” and “bad wizard”. So the small person of the circus became a вълшебник (wizard) and the adviser from the Vegetable kingdom – магьосник (sorcerer). In the Russian translation a similar differentiation was used: 2) „Пристигането на Вълшебника”

„Появление Волшебника”

„The Arrival of the Wizard”

Translation of Character`s Names

One of the biggest difficulties for me was the translation of the names of the characters from the Vegetable kingdom. In the original, they are called “Mangaboo”. In the Russian translation the characters are translated as „Мангабуки”. But for me this word contains another – manga – a word for Japanese comics which I mainly relate to the image of “Pokemon”. That`s why I have decided to avoid “manga” and to give my own name to the characters. I called them Зеленчукови (Vegetable people), because as the author describes them, they are people. The idea for the Vegetable people came to me from the first book – the characters from different lands there have similar names – Квадратни (Quadlings), Дъвчащи (Munchkins), Мигащи (Winkies), etc.:

3) „Зеленчуковите се оказват опасни”

„Мангабуки становятся опасными”

„The Mangaboos Prove Dangerous”

I used the same approach with the wooden Gargoyles. I called them „Горголи” (Gorgolhi), because I relate the word and the characters` image – bad and sinister - with the Three Gorgon sisters. A transliteration was used in the Russian translation: 4) „Срещата с дървените Горголи”

„Встреча с деревянными Гаргойлями”

„They Meet the Wooden Gargoyles”

Horse or Donkey

At the end of the novel Dorothy meets her old friend the Sawhorse, known to the readers from the second book of the series. Since the character is already known to the Bulgarian reader, in the first version of my translation I kept his name and image. Subsequently, on my editor`s advice, and because of the competition between Jim and himself, the Sawhorse (known as Wooden donkey) turned into a Wooden horse. In the Russian translation, the donkey is also a horse and not a goat.

5) О, не – отговори Дървеният кон. –… Но ако моят приятел, Истинският кон, иска да се състезава, аз съм напълно готов

"Oh, no," answered the Sawhorse. "... But if my friend the Real Horse is willing to undertake the race I am quite ready."

„Нисколько, – возразил Деревянный Конь. – …, но если мой друг Настоящий Конь желает бежать наперегонки – я готов”


During the translation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz I came across with problems that are typical for children`s literature translation. Some of them I solved with the help of the first two books of the series. For others I borrowed ideas from other children`s stories and novels and used the Russian translation of the book for comparison. Although both languages are Slavic, the translations differ from one another. I suppose that this is due to the different feel and understanding of the text.

People say that fiction isn`t easy to translate. But in most cases, it`s the most interesting and challenging for translation. And although there are many obstacles which novels like this one create in the course of their translation, they are worth the trouble and will always be translated.


1. Cited Works

Oittinen, Riitta. Translating for children. New York and London, 2000.

2. internet sources

Дороти и Волшебник в Стране Оз. http://lib.aldebaran.ru/author/baum_laimen/baum_laimen_doroti_i_volshebnik_v_strane_oz/ (09.02.2013 г.)

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/420/420-h/420-h.htm (09.02.2013 г.)

3. literary Works

Баум, Лиман Фран. Вълшебникът от Оз. С. : Пан, 1996.

Баум, Лиман Франк. Страната на Оз. С. : Пан, 1998.

Баум, Лиман Франк. Дороти и Вълшебникът в Страната на Оз. С.: Сиела, 2013.

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