No Sleeping Beauty without Thorns: Translating Fairy Tales. A Model for Comparative Analysis

Jan Van Coillie


Few stories have been translated so often and into so many languages as the classical fairy tales. As such, they are a true challenge for translation studies. This article proposes a methodology for investigating fairy tales in translation. The suggested method is essentially a comparative textual analysis, inspired by translation studies, literary theory, linguistic criticism and discourse analysis. It can be applied to the synchronic research of fairy tale translations within a restricted period as well as to the diachronic research of translations of one or more fairy tales over a longer period of time. A step-by-step model is presented, which makes it possible to classify and analyse changes in translations as well as adaptations. In order to bridge the gap between content and linguistic levels, a linguistic analysis is linked to focal points, grouped under categories from literary studies. The examples come from six recent Dutch translations of Sleeping Beauty, published between 1995 and 2007. In the final part of this study, a scheme is offered for the interpretation of the changes brought to light by the analysis. It takes into account individual as well as social factors and it is based on the concepts of norms, systems and functions. Such a structured method of analysis is hoped to offer new possibilities for the study of fairy tales in translation.

Słowa kluczowe: children’s literature, fairy tale, translation, linguistic criticism, norms, Dutch

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