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Children's literature is a complete species of writing

Czech Translations of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories

Lenka Pazdern�kov�, 1999


1  Kipling and Children

Rudyard Kipling published no less than nine books for children: the two Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, Just so Stories, Stalky & Co., Puck of Pook‘s Hill, Rewards and Fairies, A History of England, Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Scout Masters. It seems that the natural human feelings forced out of his work by the rigours of organisation were seeking relief in a reversion to childhood. Perhaps due to his own unhappiness while being a child, for Kipling childhood represented a state when one has not yet become responsible for the way the world is run, where it is enough to have a good time and to wonder at what we do not yet understand.

      Kipling got on well with children and they loved him and his story-telling. There are pictures of Kipling sitting among the children who are staring at him and hanging on his every word. The art of communication with children and his attitude to them with its special tenderness and understanding may well have its roots, paradoxically enough, in his own unhappiness.

      Kipling’s own childhood was put to an end very soon and very fast (since the age of six he was brought up by his foster-parents, his aunt being a religious domestic tyrant). Rudyard was beaten and bullied with the Bible every day. Whatever evil he endured, some good came out of it. At the age of twelve, when he managed to get to his parents again (although only for a short time again before being sent to a public school), the young Kipling realized that “books and pictures are among the most important things in the world”1 and he himself started to write.

      What makes Kipling a good writer for children? On the one hand he has a youthful delight in word play and general silliness, on the other he gratefully acknowledges the pride and dignity of young people being patronised by adults.

      According to Kipling himself it is vital for every writer of children’s literature to be able to think simultaneously like a grown-up and like a child. A good writer needs this sensitive double-vision and intuitive understanding of the children’s world. “The best way to be a father is never to stop being a child.”2

      It gives us a portrait of the paternal Kipling, as a sensitive Edwardian father, who brings up his children with imagination, tenderness, humour, deep affection and less of the normal more dominant attitude. Moreover, the first audience to whom he was telling his lovely fairy-tales were his own children. His daughter Josephine and later, after her death, he continued storytelling for his younger children Elsie and John.

      The death of his beloved first-born child hit  Kipling very deeply. His daughter Josephine died at the age of seven of  pneumonia. They said it changed something inside him and lessened both his personal and artistic strength. “Much of the beloved Cousin Ruddy of our childhood died with Josephine and I feel I have never seen him as a real person since that year.”3 

      The elegy he wrote for his daughter follows one of the stories from the book (“How the Alphabet Was Made”). He uses the metaphor of withdrawal of a child from the father:

For far - oh, very far behind,

So far she cannot call to him,

Comes Tegumai alone to find

The daughter that was all to him

      The collection of the stories that were originally only for his children and their friends was published in 1902 with the title Just so stories. They are modern fairy-tales about animals that are pleasant and interesting to read not only for children but also for older readers. But it is not a pure text, pure verbal equilibrism that has always attracted the children’s attention to them. They are imaginatively decorated by Kipling with pen and ink drawings and there are incorporated verses to each story.

      In nursery copy (see p. 15) he made some corrections to dedicate them to his children - almost exactly as if the tales were given the salutation and close of a letter. Some of his relatives who remember his storytelling for children suggest that they should be read aloud: “The Just So Stories are a poor thing in print, compared with the fun of hearing them told in Cousin Ruddy’s deep unhesitating voice. There was a ritual about them, each phrase having its special intonation which had to be exactly the same each time and without which the stories are dried husks.”4 

2 Czech translations of Just So Stories 

There has been a long tradition of editions with foreign literatures (both for adults and children) in our country. There is no doubt that  Kipling’s books have always belonged among those ones that attracted the attention of the translators. After the world-wide success of his most famous Jungle Books it was clear that every one of his new books would be grasped by editors.

      Just So Stories were published in 1902 for the first time. Although it took quite a long time before it got to the Czech readers, we can see that it has been attractive both for publishing houses and children ever since. It has been translated into Czech several times. Some of the editions contain all the original stories, some of them are only selections. The translations are listed in this chart in chronological order (only one of the Moudr�’s translations does not show the year of its edition, so its position in time is guessed) : 

the name of translator bibliographical data further information
Otakar Fischer Jak dostal velbloud hrb, Praha 1938 (inset of the magazine Roj) only the title short-story
Pavla Moudr� Poh�dky, Praha ? 11 short-stories (all except How the Alphabet was Made)
Pavla Moudr� Slon� ml�dě, Praha 1948 (Svoboda) collection - 5 short-stories
Zdeněk Hobz�k Bajky i nebajky, Praha 1958 (SNDK) complete
Margita Pr�busov� Rozpr�vky o praotcovi klokanovi a in�ch zvieratk�ch, Bratislava 1964 (Mlad� let�) collection - 9 short-stories
Jaroslav Vančura Pov�dky jen tak, Praha 1978 (Vyšehrad) complete
Pavla Moudr� Poh�dky, Praha 1996 (Aventinum) collection - 10 short-stories (all except How the Alphabet was Made and The Butterfly that Stamped)

Comparison of the Czech Translations 

In this chapter I would like to discuss some words, collocations, sentences or passages that are for certain reasons more problematic and tricky for the translators. I tried to divide these examples into several groups according to the problem-causing aspects. The aspects are:

  • linguistic features of fairy-tales
  • features specific for children’s literature
  • lexical problems
  • non-linguistic aspects of the translation

      From the range of existing translations I chose the three most recent and complete ones: “Pov�dky jen tak”, translated by Jaroslav Vančura in 1978, Zdeněk Hobz�k’s “Bajky i nebajky”, translated in 1958 and Pavla Moudr�’s “Poh�dky”, translated in the 1940’s but re-published in only a slightly less archaic version in 1996. The comparison is based mainly on the linguistic material of the first five stories in the book (in the sequence according to the original book). Only some features were observed throughout all of the book.

      Already at the first and cursory sight we can notice some overall characteristics typical for each of these translations. Moudr�’s version has very archaic language and there is a tendency to follow the original as close as possible - from both semantic and syntactic point of view (this approach is to a certain extent influenced by the usage and translating methods of that time). The translation by Hobz�k ten years later is much fresher as far as the language is concerned and thus much more natural to read. The most recent translation (by Vančura) suggests that the translator was aware of the older Hobz�k’s Czech version. The evidence is the same translation of certain segments where the target language version is unusual, idiolectic or neological so that it could rarely be caused by coincidence. Vančura is aware of this keeping someone else’s translation (where he thinks it is the best solution that could be found) and he compensates in other parts by changing the less problematic bits.

      Both the latter translations are of approximately the same quality. Some points are better solved by Vančura, but some sentences sound more natural in Hobz�k’s version. Nevertheless, they are both much better than the oldest Moudr�’s translation. It is very surprising for me that it was this translation which was chosen for the most recent edition of Kipling’s Just So Stories. With the minimal changes to the archaic language, it still sounds quite clumsy and awkward to the contemporary reader, both lexically and syntactically. I think that the difference in quality will be much more visible in the concrete language material discussed further in this chapter, which was chosen for the illustration of certain specific features causing problems when translating from one language to another. 

1 Features Specific for the Genre of Fairy-Tale

Fairy-tale is a genre that originated in various times and social conditions. It used to be a collective piece of work of anonymous authors which passed form generation to generation by means of oral reproduction. The oldest and original nub of fairy-tale genre is a folklore magic fairy-tale. The other kinds are always created and understood on its background.

       In the late nineteenth century and especially in the twentieth century a new and special type of this genre appeared - a modern fairy-tale. Unlike the classical one it has its own and single author. Anyway, in spite of all the shifts in topics and heroes that were brought in by the modern society, it still has a lot in common with the classical fairy-tales. The similarities are of two types - formal (connected with its language) and semantic (archetypal themes, although in a modern coating).

      Fairy-tale is a genre that can be defined by means of some specific formal and semantic features. The textual level is usually more apparent. What strikes the reader’s eye straightaway is a repetition of certain elements. It influences all the aspects of the text - its style, composition and motives. On the semantic level we can also trace some tendencies, although they are more hidden and less easy to identify. In the fairy-tales there are usually some strange and wonderful happenings, exciting violence, suspense, easily accepted contrasts of good and evil, the eventual conquest of evil by good, the simplifying of existence and swift action. 

1.1   Stylistic Features - Repetition and Gradation

For the genre of the fairy-tale certain stylistic features are characteristic. Their occurrence is initiated mainly by the specific nature of the child-reader. The author may use some techniques to keep their attention, to remind them of an important fact in the story and to attract the reader to the story by means of reader-author common knowledge. The most common “refresher” and attention-keeper is repetition (of words, phrases or whole sentences). Sometimes it is absolute repetition, sometimes there are certain alternations involved in it - usually they add some emphasis. When the changes are connected with quantification principle, the repetition shifts towards gradation.  

A  Repetition

Repetition is one of the most common stylistic techniques used by the authors writing for children. They recognise the differences in their readers’ perception process (shorter attention span, poor concentration, easily lost interest and so on) and thus they take up some counter-measures quite often - repetition being one of these.

      The repetition principle should be kept in the target language version too. Translators  sometimes try to improve the language. As far as the repetition is concerned, they do not realise its specific purpose and take it simply as the author’s awkwardness and lack of skill. Then It is very tempting to prove one’s own language abilities by using a wider range of synonyms in the translation.

      Thus it is necessary to judge any case of repetition very carefully - with a special attention paid to its function within a given context and not to try to be better than the original, not to correct. Here are some examples: 

Then the Whale opened his mouth back and back and back till it nearly touched its tail, ….5

Here the main purpose of the repetition is to indicate the larger intensity of the described action. Formally it is a repetition of the single word “back”, functionally it is rather a gradation. Translator should take both the aspects into consideration. The target language word should give the same impression of gradation by means of it simply being repeated.

      Vančura decided to lose the repetition and he expressed the same notion by a paraphrase:

Potom velryba otevřela tlamu, a to tak důkladně, že se skoro dot�kala vlastn�ho ocasu   (V)

      The huge extent of the action is expressed, but emotionally the sentence was shifted towards rather neutral language.

      The other two translators kept the formal aspect of the original but still we can see quite different efficiency of the resulting version:

Tu velryba otevřela tlamu a otv�rala ji st�le v�c a v�c a v�c, až skoro k ocasu    (H)

A tu velryba rozevřela tlamu dokoř�n a dokoř�n a dokoř�n, až se skorem dot�kala ocasu  (M)

  Moudr�’s translation does not work, does not suggest the gradation. It is a pure repetition without the desired functional impact on the reader. The power of the language is lost there. The reason is in the wrong choice of the word. “Dokoř�n” is a word the meaning of which already expresses the utmost quantity of the action and thus we cannot evoke any bigger intensity, repeating it or not. Completely different is the Hobz�k’s version - the most fitting one in my opinion. The chosen word “v�c” works perfectly within the repetition structure and the desired effect of gradation is undoubtedly reached there. 

My father has spanked me, and my mother has spanked me; all my aunts and uncles have spanked me for my ‘satiable curiosity;6

      In this passage the repetition of the verb “spank” results in more emotional tone. Translator should not try to use different words with similar meaning here - it would break the emotional urgency. Hobz�k fell for this temptation and the original repetition is lost there. Moreover, the wider the range of synonyms is, the more semantic nuances there are. The semantics of the words (nab�t - natlouct - zml�tit) is getting stronger, the last of them being too strong both for the context (child being directed by the loving parents) and for the meaning of the source language word.

„Tat�nek mi nabil, maminka mi natloukla a všichni str�cov� a tety mne zml�tili …”  (H)

      Vančura and Moudr� use the same word and thus the repetition principle is kept there. The only difference is in the aspect of the word: “napl�cat” (single action) x  “pl�cat” (repeated action):

„Tat�nek mi napl�cal, maminka mi napl�cala a všichni moji str�cov� i tety mi napl�cali …” (V)

„Otec mne pl�cal i matka mne pl�cala a pl�cali mne všichni str�cov� i tety …”   (M) 

B Gradation

Gradation is a technique closely connected and interwoven with the repetition principle. The boundaries between these two concepts are thus rather unclear because gradation grows out of the repetition, the latter always being present in it. In other words, gradation is a kind of repetition which was laced by some alternations resulting in higher urgency.

But there was one Elephant - a new Elephant - an Elephant’s child - who was full of ‘satiable curiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions.7

In this example the author comes to the more accurate expressions by means of repeating the word with different qualifying adjectives. For the translator it is important to realise what means are used in his language for reaching the same effect. We can see that the semantics are not enough here - the formal aspects cannot be neglected.

      Moudr� consistently preserves the punctuation structure of the original (dashes as the dividing element). In Czech, however, this punctuation is very rare and thus it interferes with the gradation function.  Another disturbing feature is the verb-noun agreement. The gender of the repeated noun shifted from the masculine to neutral but she still keeps the agreement with the first (masculine) one, although the last noun is both nearer in space (and thus more natural to agree with the verb) and it is the most important noun in the sequence as it was reached as a result of the gradation procedure.

Ale byl jeden slon - nov� slon - slon� ml�dě - pln� nenasytn� zvědavosti ….  (M)

      The same applies for the Hobz�k‘s version. He only slightly changed the punctuation, but still he remained half way through.

A tehdy žil jeden slon - mlad� slon, slůně,  - kter� byl nabit nenasytnou zvědavost� ….. (H)

      The best working solution is offered by Vančura. He changed the punctuation for commas, his gradation sounds natural semantically and even the verb-noun agreement is different

Tehdy žil jeden slon, docela mlad� slon, sp�še slůně, kter� bylo nenasytně zvědav�…. (V) 

      Repetition and gradation principles can affect also the larger units, not only the words and collocations. Even whole sentences or themes can be repeated. It is in relation to the nature of the genre of the fairy-tale in which the magical and symbolic elements have a high importance. They are connected with a strong magic power attributed to certain numbers (three, seven or ten) and the nursery of the repetition and gradation is ready.

      Thus the Camel (in How the Camel Got His Hump) is met by three different animals who try to persuade him to start work (their appeal having exactly the same syntactic structure) and Djinn can stand the camel’s rude answer only twice - the third one makes him act against him. Thus the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake can find three advantages for the Elephant’s new trunk (in Elephant’s Child). Similarly, the Rhinoceros’s skin buttoned underneath with three buttons and the Parsee danced round it three times when he got the idea of revenge (in How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin). Thus the Kangaroo visits three Australian Gods  (in The Sing-Song of  Old Man Kangaroo) and his request is again the same in its form. And I could go on and on enumerating.

      Here is an example of the more complex repetition-gradation technique and its translation into Czech. Throughout the story (How the Whale Got His Throat) the author reminds the reader of the importance of an item in the plot by means of different syntactic structures (modals, questions) until it leads into the denouement.  

You must not forget the suspenders, Best Beloved.

You must particularly remember the suspenders, Best Beloved.

Which you must not forget

Have you forgotten the suspenders?

Now you know why you were not to forget the suspenders! 

Czech translations: 

Hobz�k Vančura Moudr�
Na ty nesm�š zapomenout drahoušku. Na šle nesm�š zapomenout, holčičko Nezapomeňte na šle, mil�čkov�
Na ty šle mus�š st�le pamatovat, drahoušku Ty šle si mus�š, m� mil�, obzvl�šť dobře zapamatovat Obzvl�ště si zapamatujte šle, mil�čkov�
Na kter� nesm�š zapom�nat Na ty nesm�š zapomenout Na kter� nesm�te zapom�nat
Nezapom�n�š na šle? Jestlipak jsi nezapomněla na ty šle? Nezapomněli jste na šle?
Teď již v�š, proč jsme neměli zapom�nat Teď už v�š, proč jsi neměla zapomenout na šle. Teď  v�te, proč jste neměli zapom�nat na šle

1.2    Language Play, Sound Effects  

Language play is an enormous source of the magic power of language which is very close to children’s mentality. Children love playing with sounds and words, creating euphonic combinations usually meaningless, because sound counts more for them than the meaning. They find it pleasant to create their own nonsense words, combinations or sentences and they enjoy reading them too.

      There are numerous ways how to avoid everyday and neutral description and replace it with more exciting, pleasant-to-ear and fresh expression. The writer can find inspiration in the world of noises and voices and use interjections and onomatopoeic words or create his own onomatopoeia-based neologisms. He can play with sound effects, such as alliteration, rhymes and rhyming patterns.

      This provides one of the most challenging areas for the work of the translator. He has to take into consideration not only the meaning (if there is any at all) but especially its function in the given context and its phonetic qualities and try  hard to find an equivalent including all the elements in it. It is usually quite an impossible task and he must decide which part is essential and has to be kept and which can be lost or substituted without an unwanted negative impact on the text.

      There are countless occurrences of language play in Just So Stories - Kipling used it very often and in a very witty way. Here are some examples how the Czech translators coped with them and some suggestions of possible solutions. 

A Rhyming

The use of rhymes is a powerful technique that adds the charm of rhythm and ritual to children’s reading. In Just So Stories there are some examples of rhyming couples of words used in adjectival function. Their aim is not only to characterise, but also to amuse the reader by their clever language play. It is necessary for the translator to realise that certain sound effects should be present in the target language too. It is usually even more complicated, because there are often some other elements present - like neologisms, onomatopoeic motivation etc.  

Then the Elephant’s Child put his head down close to the Crocodiles musky, tusky mouth, ….8

The rhyming couple has some flavour of neologism in English. There are words “musk” (meaning strong sweet smell) and “tusk” (long pointed tooth which stick out from the mouth of some animals - usually elephants etc). So there is a formal shift - to the adjectival form, and a semantic shift too. 

Slůně přibl�žilo hlavu těsně ke krokod�lově tlamě, zav�něj�c� pižmem a jež�c� se tes�ky. (H)

Slůně naklonilo hlavu těsně ke krokod�lově pižmovonn�, tes�ky ozbrojen� tlamě … (M)

Tu sklonilo slůně klavu ke krokod�lově tlamě pln� p�chnouc�ch tes�ků. (V) 

      Moudr� and Hobz�k’s translation is closer in semantic aspect (pižmovonn�, pižmem zav�něj�c�), Vančura decided to use only more general words (p�chnouc�). As regards the rhyming structure, Vančura resigned completely and chose to transform it into fully neutral language. In the other two translations there are some attempts to keep the rhyming principle (pižmovonn� - ozbrojen�; zav�něj�c� - jež�c�), but it is only half way done, because the same endings do not work properly outside a certain rhythmical pattern. All of them lost the rhythmical potential of the original rhyming couple, because they followed the semantics at the expense of the power of language.

      It does not mean that the translations are completely wrong. Vančura sounds natural, but due to the shift to the neutral language. Moudr� sounds most awkward (as usual) but we have to remember it is quite old and the language was different fifty years ago. Moreover there is an attempt for neologism (pižmovonn�). To keep the strength of the short and fitting expression, the translator should try to find a rhyming couple (something like smrd�c�, zub�c� se tlama - which apparently is not ideal) or longer rhyming construction based on rhythmical principles (e.g smrd�c�, zuby se jež�c� tlama -  where the rhythmical pattern is based on the proportion of length 1:2 - in the second verse the number of syllables is doubled). 

“You couldn’t have done that with a mere-smear nose.”9

There is some meaning attached to the rhyming couple - uselessness of the elephant’s former nose. It is based on the semantic of the words “mere” (not important, useless) and “smear” (unreasonable). 

„To bys pouh�m umazan�m čenichem udělat nemohlo.”   (M)

„To bys nedok�zalo udělat s dř�vějš�m šmudli-šmidli nos�nkem.” (H)

„Se sv�m původn�m šmudli-šmidli nosem bys to nedok�zalo.”  (V)

      Moudr� did not manage to keep the rhyming pattern. Moreover, she based her translation on the semantics of the verb “to smear” and only in one of its possible meanings (dirty - umazan� nos). Hobz�k’s translation is much better. He found a well fitting Czech rhyming couple with some marks of reasonably close semantics (šmudli-šmidli nos). In Vančura’s version, which is twenty years younger, we can see exactly the same solution. Due to its extraordinary and most probably idiolectic character it is clear that he knew the older Hobz�k’s translation and he took the inspiration there from time to time.

      My suggestion is similar to the two latter - it has clearer semantics (something useless and less distinguished), but its phonetic qualities are rather poorer: kde nic - tu nic nos

So the Elephant’s Child went home across Africa frisking and whisking his trunk.10

Sometimes the rhyming is only grammar-based, but still it adds a certain charm. Usually the two rhyming words are very close in their meaning and their closeness is even emphasised by their formal similarity.

      Although all the Czech translations keep the principle of grammar rhyming, there is always something that breaks the desired effect on the child-reader:

Slůně se vydalo Afrikou, dov�dělo a pohupovalo chobotem.   (V)

A tak se slůně vydalo na cestu přes celou Afriku, skotač�c a šlehaj�c chobotem. (H)

      In both the above mentioned translations there is the grammar rhyming principle (in Hobz�k’s sentence it is supported by the same number of syllables).  The rhythmical effect is slightly damaged due to the grammatical qualities of the chosen Czech equivalents. From the couple of the rhyming verbs, the first one describes activity of the elephant, the other relates to the way of moving his trunk. I think  it breaks the unity of the couple and reduces its impact. Moudr�’s version thus keeps most of the original rhyming pattern:

Slůně šlo tedy přes Afriku domů a kroutilo a mrskalo chobotem.   (M)

      I would choose a rhyming couple of verbs in past tense both related to the noun “trunk” and with at least three or four letter rhyming grammatical ending. 

B Alliteration

Alliteration is one of the basic English literary techniques. In Czech cultural background it is not felt as artistic as for in example, rhymes. The question for the translator is whether to try to keep the alliteration principle or whether it is possible to lose it if it is not very common in the target language anyway.

      I think alliteration should be kept in the translation (or at least where it is possible to accomplish by means of target language properties). The reasons are twofold - the readership thus not only perceives the story, but at the same time learns about the source of language, artistic practice and customs. On the other hand, readers (and even more so child readers)  have a liking for any kind of language play. 

“Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, ….” 11 

“Jdi  až ke břehům velk� šedozelen� bl�tiv� řeky Limpopo, …” (M)

“Jdi k břehům širok�, šedozelen�, rmutn� řeky Limpopo, …” (H)

“Jdi na břehy širok�, šedozelen�, špinav� řeky Limpopo, …” (V)

      The translations represent different approaches towards the alliteration in the sentence. Moudr� did not take it into consideration at all - she kept the semantic content solely. Hobz�k realised the alliteration there but again he stopped half-way through. He changed ”velk�” to “širok�” which is almost the same relation to the river. Vančura represents the closest translation - he managed to find all three words beginning with the same letter and still did not go far semantically. 

C Onomatopoeic words

Words whose origins are inspired by sounds and noises are an integral part of children’s literature. They are more colourful and enliven the text. The target language sometimes does not offer a word of  the same character (it is completely missing) or it cannot work in all the functions (it does not form the same part-of-speech forms). 

… he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on its head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears.12

The underlined word is a Kipling’s neologism that was probably inspired by the sound of walking in mud or picking something up from it. The sound language play is even emphasised by shifts of the neologism into various parts of speech. 

nabralo hromadu bl�ta z pobřež� velk� šedozelen� bl�tiv� řeky Limpopo a plesklo si je na hlavu jako chladivou, mazavou, bl�tivou čepici, z pod n�ž mu po uš�ch crčela voda.   (M)

Moudr� does not keep the onomatopoeic motivation of the underlined words in the original and instead uses their semantic equivalents from a neutral layer of lexis. In the end there is some compensation in the verb “crčela” which is onomatopoeic.  

nas�lo chobotem bl�to z břehu širok�, šedozelen� a rmutn� řeky Limpopo a napl�calo si je na hlavu jako chladivou bl�tivou čepičku, kter� se mu roztekla až za uši. (H)

nabralo chobotem bahno z širok�, šedozeln�, špinav� řeky Limpopo a posadilo si je na hlavu jako chladivou bahenn� čepičku, ze kter� pěkně st�kalo za uš�.  (V)

      The other two translations go even further in neutralisation of language without any attempts at compensation.

      In this particular case it is not easy to find a working Czech counterpart. But it offers quite a lot of creative freedom, because even the original word does not exist in source language and it is only a cluster of letters that should evoke an image of a certain sound in the reader’s mind. The only constraint is to be able to create several parts of speech from it. For example the Czech onomatopoic word “čvachtat” could be used here:

      (Slůně) vyčvachtlo čvachtanec bl�ta ze břehu širok�, šedozelen� a špinav� řeky Limpopo a plesklo si ho na hlavu jako čvachtavě-mazlavou bl�tivou čepičku … 

D Other sound-effects 

“Led go! You are hurtig be!”13

“This is too butch for be!14 

      This is an example of another kind of language play. Its aim is to give an impression of sound for a specific situation given by the plot - speaking through nose. The translator should be consistent here,   he should follow the laws of phonetics and change only those sounds the pronunciation of which is influenced by the air not coming through the nose. These are in fact only two - the nasals “m” and “n”. When the nose of the speaker is blocked the quality of these sounds changes - “m” resembles “b” (“too buch for be”) and “n” is closer to “d”.

      The choice of words for translating these sentences is thus very narrowed by the indispensable presence of certain sounds indicating a special marked way of pronunciation. In the Czech versions we can see that these restrictions lead the translators to choose similar words. What differs is where the changes should be made and what the transcription should look like: 

“Bnech bne Ubl�ž�š bi!”   “To je př�liš bnoho pro bne!” (M)

      Moudr�’s change is based especially on the shift of “m” into “b”, which is phonetically correct and sounds natural here (mne → bne, mi → bi, mnoho → bnoho). However, she keeps the n-sound that should be altered similarly. It confuses her a bit too and unbalances her consistency - once she changed “n” into “bn” (nech → bnech) - under the influence of the other cases it puzzles the reader who tends to decode it as “mn” sound (mnech mne). 

“Dech bde! To boy-�!” “Do je pro bde boc!”  (H)

      Hobz�k analysed the phonetic problem best. His alternations are natural and on the right spot. He involves another change (“t” → “d”), which is not necessary but still it does not disturb the listener too much (only it could have been more consistent). Only once it seems he wanted too much to add something extra. “To boy-�” sounds rather like a childish speech and has nothing in common with blocked-nose speech. Despite this I still regard his version as the best one. 

“Dechte bně! Do bol�”    ”Do je brozn�, už boct”  (V)

      The last translation shows that the most does not necessarily mean the best. Vančura simply changes chaotically everything that appears in the sentences. Despite some correct changes in the appropriate places (nechte → dechte, mně → bně), he makes changes also where it is not phonetically-founded (hrozn� → brozn�, dost → boct).  

1.3 Conventional Language 

Fairy-tales have not only the tendency towards new and fresh expression. Due to their fixed formal structure there are also some clich�s that are used repeatedly in the same places and thus become a kind of a conventional language, an identifying sign of the genre.

      It usually appears in the most standardised places in the story. In the genre of fairy-tale it is the opening part, where it introduces the setting and characters, and the closing part, where it is induced by the obligatory and always present happy-end (which is encoded in the poetics of the genre itself). 

A Fairy-tale opening formulae

Although Just So Stories is a collection of modern fairy-tales, Kipling supports their belonging to the classical genre by using the traditional ways of opening the story. The translating process should not follow the literal semantic meaning but it should chose the corresponding clich� used in the target language. The function is more important than the meaning here.

      The Czech most common opening formulae are “Bylo nebylo…” , “Za d�vn�ch a d�vn�ch časů”. All the translators used these common ways of starting the fairy-tale, with slight alternations from time to time: 

once upon a time   ( in How the Whale Got His Throat or How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin)

                              kdysi za d�vn�ch časů / kdysi      (M)

                              kdysi d�vno / před d�vn�mi časy    (H)

                              před d�vn�mi časy / kdysi d�vno    (V)

once upon a most early time (in How the First Letter Was Written)

                              kdysi za prad�vn�ch časů   (M)

                              kdysi v nejranějš�m věku   (H)

                              kdysi za d�vn�ch a d�vn�ch časů  (V)

in the High and Far-Off times (in The Elephant’s Child)

                        za d�vn�ch a prad�vn�ch časů   (M)

                        v d�vn�ch a d�vno minul�ch dob�ch  (H)

                        za d�vn�ch a d�vn�ch časů   (V)

before the High and Far-Off times (in The Crab that Played with the Sea)

                              Před prastar�mi a prad�vn�mi časy  (M)

                              Před těmi d�vn�mi a d�vno minul�mi časy (H)

                              Před d�vn�mi a d�vn�mi časy   (V) 

B Fairy-tale closing formulae

There are established closing clich�s too. In this example, however, the translators were a bit influenced by the literal meaning of the English sentence. In Czech fairy-tales the most common and thus the most typical ending is “… a žili spolu šťastně až do smrti / dokud neumřeli”. 

… and he married and lived happily ever afterward.15

             … oženil se a žil provždy šťastně.  (M)

             Oženil se a žil poř�d a poř�d šťastně  (H)

             … oženil se a byl šťastně živ.   (V) 

        2  Features Specific for Children’s Books 

        2.1 Closer Relationship Between the Author and a Child-Reader 

        In children’s literature there is more frequent tendency to include the readers into the story, to interweave them into the sequence of events. The reasons are simple - one is to arouse the interest from time to time to prevent the attention  fading away, the other is to make the reading more life-like. Children are used to being told stories, so they expect some kind of rhetoric features to appear even in the written text. It is a part of the fairy-tale code. Moreover, even written fairy-tales are often perceived by means of the parent reading.  The most common textual child-involving features are addressing of the reader, questions and modal verbs. 

            1. Addressing of the Child-Reader

        This feature is very frequently used by Kipling throughout the whole book. He addresses the reader (or readers?) very often, but uses only one form with only slight variations - “Best Beloved” (11 times), “O Best Beloved” (8 times), “O my Best Beloved” (3 times). The choice was most probably guided by his own personal usage - he used this phrase for addressing his own children as it is proved by his correspondence (Selected and edited by Elliot L. Gilbert with a symptomatic title “O Beloved Kids”).

              The question mark showing the doubts whether it is for plural or singular audience is not off the point. Just So Stories were originally assigned directly to his children, first to Josephine and, following her death at the age of seven, to Elsie and John.

              For the translator it is necessary to choose the best fitting Czech equivalent. If he wanted to translate literally and close to the original he should know something from the above mentioned personal facts accompanying the origin of the stories. This approach was chosen by Vančura who translates this addressing form as if it referred to a singular female child-reader: “M� mil� holčičko” / “Holčičko” .  His decision was most probably influenced by the fact that the original reader who these stories were intended for was Kipling’s daughter Josephine. Hobz�k’s translation (“drahoušku”) is very similar. It addresses a singular reader,  only it is neutral in gender - it does not differentiate between boy and girl readers.

              The other possible solution is a bit further towards the free translation on the scale of translation methods. It sets out to forget about the original connection between the text and reality and to choose a similar expression common in Czech fairy-tales for addressing the readers. If the addressing form is not dependant on a concrete reader, the Czech non-marked counterpart is usually in plural. Moudr� chose for her translation the plural forms “� moji mil�čkov� / mil�čkov� moji / mil�čkov�”.  

            1. Contact with the child-reader or listener

        Direct addressing is not the only means of keeping in contact with the child-reader. Due to the specific features of the childs perception process children’s literature often requires certain contacting phrases. Their aim is to involve the reader into the story and support their attention.

              The closest to the addressing (they often appear together and complete each other) are modal verbs and questions. Their usage is encoded already in the natural parent-child relationship. It is the syntactic structure of giving instruction, advice and help, and getting feedback - the most common ways of communication between adults and children. Thus it is transferred to the fairy-tales, especially in the parts where the author feels the need to lead and influence the reader.

              As Just So Stories were originally told to author’s own children, there are a lot of these contacting formulae: 

        A Modal verbs

        Now you must know and understand, O Best Beloved, that till that very week, and day, and hour, and minute, this ‘satiable Elephant’s Child had never seen a Crocodile, ….16 

        Měli byste vědět a pochopit, ….  (M)

        A mus�š vědět a uvědomit si …  (H)

        Mus�š si, mil� holčičko, pomyslit…. (V) 

        The translators follow the original and transform the literal structure into the target language. The only difference is in the strength of the chosen modals. They mostly decided to keep the urgent modal verb of obligation of original (“must”), only Moudr� softened the appeal on the level of advice. 

        B Questions

        Have you forgotten the suspenders?17 

        Nezapomněli jste na šle?   (M)

        Nezapom�n�š na šle?    (H))

        Jestlipak jsi nezapomněla na ty šle?  (V)) 

        All the translator used the proper way of translation of the question - the transformation of positive into negative. In Czech language the negative structure works as a reminder or warning. 

        2.2 Prosodic Features

        There is no doubt that books for children are much more often read aloud than the books for adults. Even if they are able to read themselves, children tend to ask somebody to read the story for them. This is especially true about fairy-tale where it is given by their very nature. They were originally passed on only orally. That is why there are certain rhetoric features encoded in the formal structure of the fairy-tale.

              As reading (or telling) a story is a kind of verbal reproduction, it is very close to acting. And thus the storyteller should be able to add some non-textual features (usually not given in the text) - e.g. changes of voice modulation to highlight the gradation and repetition principle, prosodic features - pauses, emphasis, sound effects, onomatopoeic words, and - last but not least - gestures.

              Kipling was a great storyteller and, moreover, Just So Stories originated from the tales being told to a child audience. He had to be aware of certain tricks that increase the listeners’ interest and make it more fun for them and he could test their effectiveness in countless opportunities. Whether by chance or deliberately, he kept lots of these features even in the written form. 

        2.2.1 Gesture-Inducing Formulae

        One group of these prosodic features could be labelled as gesture-inducing (due to their function within the text). They are used only after the verbs of action and their aim is to make the reader accompany his narration with an illustrative gesture or a sound effect connected with its realisation:

        He swallowed them all down into his warm, dark, inside cupboards, and then he smacked his lips - so, and turned three times on his tail.18

        But it was really the Crocodile, O Best Beloved, and the Crocodile winked one eye - like this!19 

        Alternatively, they can be used after the verbs expressing speach - then they refer to the way of pronounciation:

        At this, O Best Beloved, the Elephant’s Child was much annoyed, and he said, speaking through his nos, like this, ‘Led go? You are hurtig be!” 

        All the translators understood well the function of this formula and in all cases they used the appropriate Czech counterpart “takhle” which works well in the context and fulfils the expected aim. 

        3  Lexical Problems 

        3.1   Interjections 

        Then everybody said ‘Hush’ in a loud and dretful tone, and they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a long time.20 

              “Hush!” is an exclamation used to make people silent - the possible Czech equivalents for a similar communicative situation can be “šš”, “pst”, “ticho”.  In Moudr�’s translation on of these is really used (“Pst!”), but it seems that it is not intensive enough for this kind of situation because the aim is not to create silence, it should strongly point out the inappropriateness of such a question and thus prevent it being asked again.

              Another word appeared in the other two translations - it is a verb with an interjective function (“Jedeš!”). The urgency is higher, nevertheless I think its meaning is a bit shifted. It is usually used if we want to drive someone away or do not want to let someone have something.

              I would recommend some semantically closer and at the same time quite intensive Czech counterpart - either “Ticho!” or the one that Moudr� used but in a more intensive version (e.g. by means of repetition - “pšššššt!”). 

        “Pooh,” said the Elephant’s Child. “I don’t think you peoples know anything about spanking; but I do, and I’ll show you!”21 

        “�le,” řeklo slon� ml�dě, “nezd� se mi, že ...   (M)

        “Bah,” řeklo slůně. “Mysl�m, že nic nev�te …  (H)

        “Ph,” odbylo je slůně. “Mysl�m, že nem�te ani ponět� … (V) 

        As regards its semantics, the interjection should express the contempt. In this sense the closest translations are the latter two - both of them are in fact the same, only the transliteration of the sound-based interjection is different (Vančura’s  version looks more natural).   

        3.2  Technical Terms

        It is obvious that children do not have the same level of mental properties as adults do. One of the characteristic features of children’s writing is then certain simplifying of all levels of the text (lexical, stylistic, diversity and complexity of the plot). But simplicity does not mean second rate. It should not be understood that little is expected of children and thus little is offered to them too.

              Although the age level does require certain alternations and asks for much more attention to detail and careful writing, it does not mean that the simplifying should be universal and as deep as possible. On the contrary, it is useful to add some spice to the text - in the form of a message that is supposed to be above the ability level of the reader. It makes the reading more challenging, it provides necessary food for thought.

              From time to time Kipling uses some unusual words or quite sophisticated terms in the text intended for a child reader (it means for a person without a finished and comprehensive education). It is a kind of didacticism, but non-violent, non-imposed and it can offer a pleasant and natural way of learning. These terms are usually connected with the animals and plants (biological terms - names of more exotic species etc. ) or with the geographical setting of his stories (geographical terms): 

        A Biological terms

        It is natural that there are lots of biological terms in Just So Stories - it is a clear consequence of its topic. Writing about animals and explaining their origin you cannot omit the names of the species or animal families. Describing the setting of a story (in this case usually an exotic one) you cannot help referring to some extraordinary plants.

              Children like animals and know a lot of them. But they also enjoy reading about some rare, unusual and for them so far unknown ones. The situation is not the same everywhere. Because there are different conditions in different places, children get into contact with different kinds of plants and animals. The culture gap could cause problems in the process of translation as well as in the later perception by the readers.

              Translator is to judge the experience of the source language reader. If the mentioned species are familiar for them, in the translation he could replace the concrete animals with some more general terms or use an explanation closer to the target language of the reader. If it is unknown for the source readers as well, he should keep the unusual elements there and translate as literarly as possible. 

        … he came upon Kolokolo Bird sitting in the middle of a wait-a-bit thornbush,  …22

              In this sentence Kipling mentions a certain less known type of a thorny bush in South Africa (Harpagophytum procumbens). The translator has several opportunities how to cope with this situation. He could neutralise the technical term and replace it with some descriptive equivalent - as it was done in Moudr�’s translation (she just described the type of the plant and resigned on any kind of closer determination):

        … až přišlo k pt�ku Kolokolu, kter� seděl na trnit�m křov� (M)

              The other possibilities are to keep the terminology, either by means of literal translation (which is can be more challenging for the translator who would probably have to consult an encyclopaedia) or by substitution with a cultural equivalent.

              Neither of  the later translations represents this translating procedure. They both misunderstood the words. The adjective “wait-a-bit” was translated in its nearest literal meaning that fitted the context. I think the meaning of the sentence was shifted too much, or at least there were added certain semantic elements that are not present in the original (“na č�han� / na čekan�” - meaning waiting for his pray).

        … slůně spatřilo pt�ka Kolokola, sed�c�ho na č�han� v trnit�m křov�, … (H)

        … potkalo slůně pt�ka Kolokolo, kter� seděl na čekan� v trn�, … (V)

              Moudr�’s version thus seems to be the best of these because she made the least alternations of the source sentence, although at the expense of losing the cultural term of the original. 

              In the two following examples we can see that all the translators decided to hold the term - it is the literal translation of it into the target language: 

        The rest of the time he picked up the melon rinds that he had dropped on his way to the Limpopo - for he was a Tidy Pachyderm.23 

        … neboť bylo čistotn�m tlustokožcem    (M)

        … neboť  mlad� slon byl opravdu poř�dkumilovn� tlustokožec. (H)

        Slůně bylo totiž čistotn� tlustokožec.    (V) 

        Noble and generous Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?“24 

        Vznešen� a ušlechtil� kytovče, …     (M)

        Urozen� a vznešen� z rodu Kytovců, …    (H)

        Vznešen� a urozen� pan� z rodu kytovců, …    (V) 

        B Geographical terms

        Geographical terms are another example of the culture-related words. The difficulty of their translation lies in the possible culture gap between the source and target languages.

              As far as the children’s literature is concerned, there is another gap that has to be taken into consideration - it is the gap between the adult and children level of knowledge. In the following example quite a sophisticated term was used and the translator has to cope with it by making a basic decision - to keep it there as a challenge for the child reader or neutralise it to make the text more understandable. If choosing the former possibility, he still can make it clearer for the average reader by means of explanation in the glosses. 

        One fine morning in the middle of the Precession of the Equinoxes ….25

        That very next morning, when there was nothing left of the Equinoxes, because the Precession had preceded according to precedent, ….26 

              Here the mention of the equinox is not necessary for the plot of the story. It is used for characterisation of the setting, as an accompanying element. Still I think it is better to keep it there intact as a term.

              As regards the first sentence of its occurrence, in two versions (M, V) the translators decided to keep the terminology, at least partly (rovnodennost). Only Hobz�k chose the way of explaining the term by using a neutral vocabulary (Jednoho kr�sn�ho r�na v den, kdy slunce přech�z� rovn�k).

              The second sentence is even more tricky for the translator. The author not only uses technical terms, moreover, he uses them for a kind of a language play with the elements of alliteration. 

        Hned naz�tř� r�no, když bylo po rovnodennosti,  …..   (M)

        Hned př�št�ho r�na, to už bylo po rovnodennosti, protože slunce postoupilo kousek d�l, ….  (V)

        Př�št�ho jitra, to již přechod slunce přes rovn�k byl ukončen jako přechody předch�zej�c�, ….. (H) 

        C Pseudo-technical terms

        Children’s literature provides space for another specific type of terms, not usual in the books for adults. These are again based on the creative power of language and language play. The author is mocking the terminology system, he creates new, non-existing terms and coining them in the form usual for the normal technical terms. These pseudo-technical terms are another example of enriching of the children’s reading by means of language play. 

        Kolokolo bird27

        In this case the word balances on the edge between being the pseudo-term (the bird species) or the proper name (name of this individual bird). One way or other, the translator should transfer this word into the target language (as happened in all the Czech versions). 

        Quite different is the situation with the following collocation:

        Fever trees28

        The translator has no other choice than to create a fitting Czech equivalent. Hobz�k and Moudr� chose the longer solution of descriptive equivalent), Vančura kept the grammatical structure of the source language and translated literally:

        stromy, kter� způsobuj� horečku (H, M)

        zimnicov� stromy   (V) 

        3.3 Proper Names

        There are two types of problems connected with the lexical area of proper names. The first one overlaps with the cultural terms and for the translator it means to decide whether to keep the proper name which is less used and known in the target language culture or, if he regards it too alien for the common readers, to replace it with its functional equivalent. 

        “…. Take me to my natal-shore and the white-cliffs-of-Albion, and I‘ll think about it.“29 

              Moudr� and Hobz�k used the original name Albion which is for the Czech reader less transparent (Hobz�k with the explanation in the glossary at the end of the book):

        … k b�l�m �tesům Albionu…  (H, M)

        Vančura chose a functional equivalent, more transparent, but even more neutral.

        … k b�l�m �tesům anglick�m.  (V) 

        The second problematic area is rather formal - it is the spelling of non-Czech words (especially the English geographical names). The translator should decide whether to keep the English way of spelling or to rewrite the words into Czech alphabet.

        “Change here for Winchester, Ashuelot, Nashua, Keene, and stations on the Fitchburg Road;“30

        The English spelling      (V)

        Czech transcription  (eg. Uinčestr, Ašvelot, N�šua…) (M, H)

              Each of these solutions has some weak points. If you keep the original way of spelling, it stays in closer contact with the source language culture (it works as the culture indicator). However, the pronunciation is for non-English speakers unclear and the written and spoken form of the word is thus cut apart. This is not true about the rewritten words. Readers can clearly imagine the sound (sometimes it is even necessary, when the proper names are part of some sound-effect language play), but they can never reconstruct their written form. The situation here is quite balanced, the decision is then very individual and dependent on the special conditions in a single situation. If there are no special reasons for transcription, I would always prefer to keep the original spelling. 

        3.4  Lexical Inaccuracies 

        A Different semantic range of a word

        In the sea, once upon a time, Oh my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate  the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the lmackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel.31 

        The meaning of the English noun fishes is wider than its Czech most common counterpart ryby. Its dictionary definition says: fishes are animals without legs which live in water, using their tail to help them swim, and which breathe by taking oxygen from water. In most contexts there is usually rather slight shift of meaning and it is acceptable to narrow the meaning in the Czech translation. But in this very case it is a bit problematic because there follows a sequence of particular examples of the animals included in this term.

        Czech translations: … a ta jedla ryby (M, H)

                                … a ta jedla mořsk� živočichy (V)

        The latter solution seems more awkward at first sight because it is a longer and even a compound  expression compared to the brief and short English word. But afterwards in every translation we can read a really varied range of animals from a bit disputable žralok up to the animals that cannot be by any means covered with the Czech hyperonymum ryba - e.g. krab, rak, kor�š or hvězdice. I would prefer Vančura‘s solution, only maybe  the adding of a word suggesting that there is going to be an exemplifying result - e.g.  … a ta jedla různ� mořsk� tvory.

              Another solution would be to keep the translation ryby but in the following specification omit the disputable species. Anyway, the choice of the animals is random and what is more important is the euphony, rhyming pattern and rhythm. This gives more space for the translator‘s creativity, who does not have to choose the words with the exact semantic content. Both the more contemporary translators (V,H) did  justice to it. Moudr�‘s translation leaves the rhyme pattern from time to time and that‘s why it seems the least suitable. As regards accuracy  Hobz�k‘s translation follows the original text more, while Vančura choose the looser translation and substitution. 

        … and he put it on the stove because he was allowed to cook on that stove, and he baked it and he baked it till it was all done brown and smelt most sentimental.32 

        Dal kol�č na plot�nku, protože on směl na t�to plot�nce vařit, a pekl ho a pekl, …  (M)

        … Pars je dal na kamna, protože směl p�ci na těch kamnech. Pekl a pekl, ….   (H)

        P�rs je dal do trouby, protože on směl v těch kamnech vařit i p�ct, a tak je tam pekl a pekl … (V) 

        The problem here is connected with the semantic range of the Czech words “vařit” and “p�ct” . These have their own situations and their should not be mixed up, otherwise it creates a rather funny effect. The translator should be consistent in where to put the dish and what verb should describe the way of its preparation. From all the above mentioned translations Vančura’s one sounds best. 

        B Shift of meaning

        Shift of meaning between the source and the target versions is usually caused simply by misunderstanding - either due to distraction (swapping two similar words, misreading etc.), lack of knowledge (and lack of dictionary checking) or just poor ability to find a fitting equivalent. The translator should be careful with all these potential dangers and if the mistake is made it should be eliminated during the checking stage.  

        Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small  ´Stute Fish, …..33 

        Czech translations: parmička (M)

                                vychytral� rybka (V)

                                rybka šibalka (H)

              Kipling often uses names of his characters that are not semantically empty. The names thus help to describe their qualities. The translator has to decide whether to keep the English version and thus lose a bit of the meaning for the Czech reader or to substitute a suitable Czech name with the same or at least a similar semantic basis.

              The English word ‘Stute is an abbreviated form of the adjective Astute, which is even indicated by the use of apostrophe at the beginning. The word means “clever and quick to see how to take advantage of a situation“. But the expression is not used in the common adjectival function - by means of shortening its form and writing it with the initial capital letter the author used this as a nick-name.

              The translators of the existing Czech versions used different approaches. Moudr� went too far in the substitution when she completely omitted the semantics of the word and instead characterized the fish by means of its species (parmička).  Both latter translators chose the suitable Czech counterparts, but they solved its specific formal function in a different way. Vančura‘s word vychytral� keeps the adjectival form and thus cannot function as a nick-name. Hobz�k uses a word in the form of a noun (šibalka) which is the most fitting in my opinion. It both keeps its characterising charge and could be presented as a kind of a nick-name of the fish. 

        “What is it like?“   “Nice,“ said the small ‘Stute Fish. “Nice but nubbly.“34 

        Czech translations: houževnat� (M, H)

                                těžko straviteln� (V) 

        The problem here lies rather with greater difficulties of finding the right equivalent. I prefer Vančura’s “těžko straviteln�” which fits more to the characteristics of the food. The word “houževnat�” is more often connected with the characteristics of people and their nature. 

        He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot.,…35

              Moudr�’s translation is again the most distant from the real semantic meaning of the adjective bulgy (i.e. sticking out or swollen) - she uses “rozštěpen� nos”, while the other two versions have the preferably closer equivalent “vyboulen� nos”.

        Then the Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cr y, … 36 

        Tu zvolal pt�k Kolokolo žalostn�m hlasem: … (M)

        Pt�k Kolokolo odpověděl hrobov�m hlasem: … (H)

        Pt�k Kolokolo pravil truchliv�m hlasem: … (V) 

        The semantic content of the word “mournful” is expressing great sadness. That is why I regard Hobz�k’s version a bit shifted from the original sense. The Czech word “hrobov� “ suggests more that it is evoking horror, it is fearful, rather than sad. The other two translations sound good. 

        Then everybody said ‘Hush’ in a loud and dretful tone, and they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a long time.37 

        Czech translations Tu vzkřikl kdekdo ustrašeně „Pst!” …       (M)

                                Všichni mu odpov�dali hlasit�m a hroziv�m „Jedeš!”…    (H)  

                                mračili se, hubovali je    (V) 

              We can see a grammar shift of the equivalents. The original adjective form (marking the quality of the voice) is kept only in Hobz�k’s text. Vančura decided to transfer the meaning into the verbal form (it is quite free as regards the semantics of the origina). Moudr� uses an adverbial form and completely changes the semantic content of the underlined words. Instead of a loud and threatening quality she uses a Czech word “ustrašeně” meaning in a scared way, fearfully. 

        … till he trod on what he thought was a log of wood at the very edge of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees.38 

        Vtom šl�plo na něco, o čem si myslelo, že je to kl�da.   (M)

        šl�plo na něco, co považovalo za kl�du.    (H)

        Tak došlo k něčemu, co zprvu považovalo za dřevěnou kl�du, … (V) 

              The semantic meaning of the verb “to tread on” means to put foot, to step somewhere. Vančura just shifted the meaning too far away from the original. He used the Czech word “doj�t k” and consequently he lost the notion of the direct contact or accident, which is present in the other two translations (“šl�pnout na”). 

        C Unusual collocations

        In certain collocations it is more important to prefer the natural sound rather than to follow their structure strictly and without an compromise. If it sounds natural and usual to the source language reader there is no reason to create this impact artificially in the target language version. After the word-to-word procedure during the checking stage the translator should eliminate all the collocations that are not usual both in the source and target texts. 

        … and he baked it till it was all done brown and smelt most sentimental.39 

        … až byl pěkně dozlatova hněd� a l�bezně voněl.  (V)

        Pekl a pekl, až kol�č zbrun�tněl a voněl co nejl�bezněji.  (H)

        … až bylo cel� do zlatova a n�dherně vonělo.   (V)

              The translators mostly realised that in Czech there is a different colour used for description of a well-done baking (brown - dozlatova).  Vančura takes it without any reservation, Moudr� is much too careful to get too far from the original and chooses a compromise (dozlatova hněd�). The only problematic translation is the one by Hobz�k. He does not use the colour symbols and his description with the substitute verb (kol�č zbrun�tněl) is the less fitting one - it usually collocates with the word “face”. 

        … and he picked up his hairy uncle, the Baboon, by one hairy leg, and hove him into a hornets’ nest.40 

        hn�zdo sršňů (M)

        sršn� hn�zdo (H, V) 

              The literal translation of this collocation is the one that appears more or less identically in all the Czech versions. But the translator should also judge whether the same collocation is normally used in the target language too. In this case I think “vos� hn�zdo” could be used instead, which is more often connected with situations like this and moreover it is used in idioms too. 

        … and plucked a large bundle of grass, dusted it clean against his fore-legs, and stuffed it into his mouth.41 

        chom�č tr�vy (H)

        otep tr�vy (M, V) 

        Moudr�’s and Vančura’s translation sound awkward, because they break the common collocation of the word “tr�va” in Czech. In neutral texts, it should not exist in collocation with the word “otep” which is rather connected with wooden sticks. Even such details may disturb the reader’s attention and  should be regarded with great care. 

        D Unwanted influence of the source language

        Sometimes the translators are too much dependent on the structure of source language:

        “ ‘Scuse me,” said the Elephant’s Child, “but my nose is badly out of shape, and I am waiting for it to shrink.” 42 

        „Promiň,” řeklo slůně, „ale můj nos vyšel �plně z tvaru, a tak ček�m, až se zas scvrkne.”  (M)

        „Promiň,” řeklo slůně. „Ale můj nos se dostal zle z formy a j� ček�m, až se zase scvrkne.” (H)

        „Promiňte,” odpovědělo slůně, „ale můj nos ztratil tvar, a tak ček�m, až se scvrkne.”  (V)

              Moudr�’s translation is almost a word-to-word translation of the original structure, which does not sound natural in Czech at all. In cases like this the translator should release the ties between the source and target versions and follow rather the core semantics and the natural sound for the target language reader. 

        E Functional shifts

        Some words, combination of words or sentences do not work properly within a certain context when they are translated word-to-word. It regards such lexical units which have stronger pragmatic meaning than the literal semantic one. In such cases it is more important to judge the function of the words within the context and try to find a working target language equivalent regardless the changes of the semantic content or the formal aspects. 

        “O Bananas!” said they, “Where did you learn that trick, and what have you done to your nose?”43 

        “� ban�ny!”  (M)

        “U všech ban�nů” (H, V)

              Moudr�’s exclamation is the literal translation of the original. The Czech reader, however regards the other solution (H, V) more natural - it is perceived on the background of the other similar Czech exclamation (U všech rohat�ch ….).  

        4   Non-Linguistic and Formal Problems 

        4.1 Children‘s Book Illustration 

        4.1.1 Pictures and their Place in Human Life

        Pictures have always played an important role in human life. Visual concepts are one of the possible ways of communicating ideas. The visual way of transfer of a message is as old as human race itself. It started in the dark and distant times of human civilisation when the prehistoric people transferred their inner world into cave paintings and later even sign writing.

              Despite the instant changes and improvement of the technical basis, sight remains one of the most important human senses and thus also a means of communication among people. But visual forms are not limited only to expressing information, content of a person’s brain, but it can also express our imagination, our feelings, our aesthetic values. 

              The cave paintings, although their primal purpose was most probably rather practical, gave birth to art and number of its forms have appeared during the course of time - paintings, drawings, sculpture and more recently photography, film, television and computer graphics.

              These are all pictorial ways of expressing of aesthetic values. But  visual patterns have always been in close relation to the verbal. Picture based sign writing was the initial stage of other systems of writing and on its basis there appeared the most important way of the transfer of information both in space and in time - the alphabet. Some written languages in the world are still picture based, for example Japanese and Chinese. The alphabet as the system of keeping and passing information is also dependent upon the visual and pictorial concepts - those being the initial stage of its evolution.

              Speaking about the importance of visual concepts for the human race (i.e.  for ontogenesis process in a sense) we should not neglect its parallel importance for the life of an individual, its place in fylogenesis. In the process of growing up a person is going through a number of stages of different levels of their physical and mental properties. The higher stage the better level of these should be reached - it is a sense of evolution. The earlier stages are marked with a lower level of ability but a higher potential for absorbing new facts, learning and improving.

              Human beings are accustomed to giving and receiving information by means of sight. It has been suggested that “90% of what we learn is learned by sight and we tend to remember what we have seen.“44 The sense of sight is stimulated from birth. Research has shown that a baby left lying in a pram when awake does not learn as quickly as one who can see what is going on around.  

        5.1.2  The Importance of  the Illustrations for Children

        Illustration is an integral part of a children‘s book.  Children’s reading is part looking. Their books are verbal art as well as visual art. The reasons for illustrated children’s books are implied by the nature of the child, their psychic prerequisites, their language and sensory experiences.

              The pre-reading child completely lacks the visual language symbol, the verbal world is only heard. Thus the visual representation of the situation is invaluable. During the early stages this learning through visual representation of experience remains a significant and irreplaceable part of the child’s learning, gradually diminishing as their ability to handle language abstraction improves. But it is never gone at all - there is always the aesthetic appeal of colour and shape and texture left.

              Authors depend upon the artist’s contribution to establish their story. The illustration enriches and completes the text, explains some ideas and helps the readers learn about the story and atmosphere because it adds the visual aspect and makes the book a more complex unit appealing to more senses and thus opening more gates to the child‘s mind. Additionally to all of these it also brings the child closer to the story because it makes the book more attractive for the reader. The visual ingredient in children’s literature should not be ignored.

              The illustration clearly depends on the literary work which incited its creation. But also the artists themselves feel the need to work for children who are the most appreciative audience. Skilful artists can grasp the meaning of a book and they are able to use their visualisation, imagination, and inner fire to make a meaningful graphic statement and to integrate it with the text until story and illustration are one.

          There are several possible ways how to illustrate a book. The picture can describe carefully and in great detail what is written in the text about the characters and the plot. Sometimes it is even completed with the facts the illustrators found out outside the book in order to give as accurate and objective as possible. But with this tendency to description, this realistic illustration the illustrations are lacking anticipation, excitement, dramatic character, suggestion, mystery.  But children should be encouraged to work out the images in their mind. On the other hand there are such illustrations that are based on suggestion, a particular and highlighted detail, on symbol.  There is thus a larger space for imagination of the reader.

              Recently great care has been shown in the use of illustrations in the book - instead of being sprinkled lightly throughout the text, they are integrated with it.  Written word and illustration should not be just two autonomous words existing side by side but without mutual ties. A children’s book is more than this - it is a unity of words and pictures.  The illustrations are moving with the words, illuminating them and are illuminated by them.  The art and text blend in such perfect harmony that a child reader usually remembers the illustrations as an integral part of a story (e.g. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is fully the work of Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel). Authors depend upon the artist’s contribution to establish their tale, each drawing or painting adds a new dimension, brings another image.

              This unity has been seen even more globally recently and sometimes they speak about so called “book architecture”45 We cannot judge and evaluate the illustrations without regarding their textual ties not to mention their specific relationship to the child-reader. It is a seemingly evident point of view, but it is not respected.

               Books are not only the work of the writer. The children’s book world is not simple nor concerned only with books. There is the share of the illustrator, the editors and publishing policy to be taken into consideration.  A children’s book is a complex structure of the written word, the illustrated idea, the psychology, sociology and education of children and their aesthetic values and even more complex attitudes and values of the adults who are concerned with children and their books.

               I think it is a question of further development to set the proper boundaries, but it is obvious that the view of the children’s book should be wider.


            1. The illustrations in the past

              At the beginning of children’s literature the visual image in children’s books was black-and-white (if any at all). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries great technical achievements were made in illustrating books and this technical progress corresponded with the appearance of some of the greatest of illustrations for children. The illustrators developed their own highly personal and recognisable styles and thus they represent the core of the classical book illustration. The styles that all these artists developed became established modes of illustration, models for other artists to follow. The best example for all of these is John Tenniel and his witty and grotesque illustrations of Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

              Twentieth century has brought a tremendous changes accompanied by  number of developments in the field of illustrations which have made the present-day children’s literature different from what it was before. The changes were reflected in the occurrence of new forms with basic if not vital role of pictures - e.g. picture books or comics. Another, maybe even larger impact was the emergence of new technologies which remarkably widened the possibilities of the illustrators. No more was their artistic expression tied by the printing possibilities - regarding both the art techniques and colour. While nineteenth century pictures were exclusively black-and-wide, now colour has become almost identified with the characteristics of children’s books.  

        5.2 Illustrations in Just So Stories

        Although there are quite a lot of Czech translations of Just So Stories with distinct differences in the way of translating, approach of the translator and extent of the work, all the books have something in common - in no edition can you find Kipling’s original pictures. The pictures are not essential for the understanding of the stories, but they add a certain charm to them, which is thus missing in the Czech versions. In all the Czech translations the pictures were replaced by some other illustrations:

              Hobz�k   - illustrations by Josef Nov�k

              Moudr� (1948)  - no illustrations

              Moudr� (1996)  - illustrations by Luděk Maň�sek

              Vančura  - illustrations by Jiř� Macek

              Pr�busov�  - illustrations by Štefan Cep�n

              The author’s own drawings may seem to be quite simple and plain, but actually they have the potential of arousing much greater imagination in the readers than the kind of usual colourful and clear illustrations typical for most of  the books for children. The question is whether these black-and-white drawings are not too boring or maybe difficult for young children, especially when they are growing up in the world of bright colours of Disney cartoons, but they should at least be given  the chance to find such pictures in their books and the right to choose what they like more. Moreover, Kipling’s illustrations are very impressive  in combination with his own witty and funny commentary. He explains the picture to the readers (or listeners, in the case the book is read to children by their parents), he points out some details he regards important or interesting, apologises for the imperfections of his drawings caused both by external factors and his own artistic ability. The commentaries are written in the way parents talk to their children when they are reading fairy-tales to them and they are explaining certain points.

              From these illustrations we can see that Kipling had a certain talent in this art field. The drawings are by no means amateur pictures - he proves that he has a high sense for details, proportion and perspective. The illustrations by the author are of a great interest to those with any sort of interest in him. They are “highly competent, often haunting, often comic and always marked by a strong personal outlook. An artist of some merit was lost in Kipling, or rather declared redundant while his alter ego forged on with the pen.”46

              The only story where the original drawings (or rather sketches) were kept in the Czech translation is “How the Alphabet Was Made“. Here the drawings (or rather sketches of the letters) were vital for the understanding of the text because they are used to illustrate the process of creation of the alphabet and there are frequent allusions to it throughout all the text of the story.  

              It would be interesting to know why all the translators decided to omit the original pictures from their translations. Every work of art is a complex put together by the author and translator should interfere and change as least as possible. The editors has always decided to replace the original drawings so far - Kipling’s original pictures and accompanying witty commentaries were lost for the Czech reader. However, the illustrations by Czech artists show a suspiciously high resemblance with the original pictures, at least as regards the choice of the motives and the way of their expression  - see p. 54 to compare the Kipling’s original picture (below) and two Czech illustrations, Nov�k’s (above left) and   Macek’s (above right).

              The reason for leaving out Kipling’s drawings may be the special category of readers it is written for and the common prejudices and stereotypes connected with them. Children need to be given a different kind of information than the adults, but the difference is rather in the way of presenting not in the quality of the content. Some people may think that only what is simple and clear is suitable for children. But then there is a lack of stimuli for thinking.  Adapted translation is easy to be absorbed but there is reduced space for thinking, arousing interest in new and unknown things and creativity.   


          1. The Publishing Policy for Illustrations

        5.3.1 General points

        The illustration is still a remarkably unconsidered area of children’s literature - probably because there is no adequate theory attached to it. It has always been rather on the periphery of both literary and graphic-art criticism. Publishing for children has not always paid proper attention to the illustrations, although the importance of pictures for children is nothing new.

              Nowadays children’s book illustration is part of a wider popular culture - occasionally reaching the “fine art waters but more often drifting in commercial shallows.”47 Not many illustrators survive to become classics - often not being necessarily the most deserving, because the survival depends on the demand.

              Pictures and illustrations serve a special and not a single purpose in children’s books:

        1. To decorate the pages (part of the total book design)
        2. To enhance the text
        3. To interpret the text
        4. To increase visual perception
        5. To provide visual information
        6. To externalise what cannot be expressed in words
        7. To be enjoyed by readers
        8. To have aesthetic values

              Taking into consideration the wider way of looking at books, regarding it globally as a unity of content and form, of word and picture (referred to as a book architecture), the publishers and translators should admit the importance of the non-textual elements of a book. Editors understand that the illustrated book for children is necessity. So the question is no more whether pictures yes or no. It is rather what pictures are appropriate.

              What are the criteria that the translator (or editor) should keep on mind while translating a children’s book? First, that it is not just the text itself he has to be concerned with. And second, it is his responsibility and choice to decide what happens to the original illustrations of the translated book.

              The translator should  judge and evaluate the closeness of the connection between text and illustrations and  decide when it is advisable to keep the original illustrations and when they can be replaced with any others without any negative impact on the whole piece of art.

              Some of the classical books are remembered for the way in which the illustrations complement and extend the story: Tenniel’s Alice in the Wonderland, Shepard’s Winnie the Pooh or Attwell’s The Water Babies. But  other children’s books with illustrative content go unnoticed. Where then goes the dividing line and is it possible to mark it out at all?

              The first important criterion is the closeness of the author - illustrator relationship:

        1. Author is the illustrator of his own book at the same time

        In such cases the pictures have to always be kept in the target language version too because they were part of  the author intention and plan and thus they are integral part of the story.

        There are several famous examples belonging to this category - e.g. Antoine Saint Exupery and his “Little Prince”.

        1. Author has chosen the illustrator himself and/or influenced him and guided him while decorating the book

          The original pictures should be kept in the book because the probability of the mutual influence is extremely high. Especially with this category the translator should tak� into consideration the second criterion as well.

          In this category there is e.g. Carroll’s Alice in the Wonderland with Tenniel’s pictures (they discussed the drawings for the book in their correspondence).

        1. There is no connection between the writer and the illustrator at all, the artist was chosen by the publishing house without any intervention of the author.

              It is not necessary to keep the original illustrations, unless they have strong link to the text, they complete the story and cannot be removed without damaging the aesthetic values of the whole (which is quite unusual in this case) 

        The other point of view necessary for judging the mutual ties of the pictorial and verbal sections of

        a book is the degree of their interaction and correspondence:

        1. Absolute

              The illustration add some extra information that is not present in the text. Without the pictures the

              text would be incomplete or even incomprehensible.

        1.    High

          The pictures are tied with the text, there are several reference in the text towards the illustrations

        1.    Medium

          From time to time in the text there is an isolated remark showing the loose connection of the verbal and pictorial ideas

        1.   Low

          The pictures were inspired by the text (the characters and the settings) but the illustrator followed only his imagination and there are no pronounced references in the text

        1.   None

          The pictures are only loosely attached to the book and they do not express any visible connections at all. 

                Both the above mentioned criteria should be taken into consideration when deciding the level of integrity of illustrations within the text. The deeper the ties and the closer the relationship between the author and the illustrator, the higher is the obligation of the original pictures. 

          5.3.2  Publishing policy for Just So Stories

          Just So Stories is a book which was originally prepared and printed with Kipling’s own pictures. As the author’s own illustrations they should have had the highest preferences in publishing them intact without any interference into the over-whole form given to them by the author himself. It borders on the breaking of the copyright. Moreover the mutual ties between the story and the pictures are  very deep too.

                As the practice and show is usually much more clearer and enriching than theorising, in the final section of my work I will provide the complete range of the original Kipling’s drawings with the commentaries translated into Czech. You can judge yourself whether my theoretical conclusions are sound or not and how big is the loss for the readership when the lovely Kipling’s illustratios has never appeared in any Czech book edition of Just So Stories yet. 




                In this work I tried to prove the importance of functional approach towards the text in the process of translation. The core of the translator’s work is in the work with text but his attention and interest should not be narrowed only on the linguistic problems of finding the most suitable equivalent. There are numerous other features to be taken into consideration, the aspect of the involved reader being one of them. Although it might not be the most important feature of the translation procedure, it still plays quite an important role, as it was proved by the concrete examples in the work.

                The translator should realise what kind of reader the book is for and what are the specific qualities connected with the readership. Then he should reflect this in his work - in the process of choosing of the right and most suitable equivalent, deciding about the best translation procedure in the given part and regarding the range of shifts from the original (reduction, compensation, function description etc.).

                Especially with the children’s literature it is very important to keep one eye on the potential reader and consider their differences and specific features because they reflect in all the levels of the translated work. Due to these differentiating factors it is sometimes necessary to widen the attention span of the translator and include some non-standard features - illustrations being one of them.

                The translator should decide whether to keep the original pictures according to the degree of their interconnection with the text. There are several criteria which could help with the decision and they can be divided into two groups - the closeness of the author-illustrator relationship and the formal marks of the common pictorial-textual ties. 


          Amis, K.: Rudyard Kipling and his world, Thames and Hudson, London 1975

          Darton, F. J.: Children‘s Books in England, Five Centuries of Social Life, London 1958

          Egoff, S.A.: Thursday‘s Child, Trends and Patterns in Contemporary Children‘s Literature, American

                 Library  Association, Chicago 1981

          Holešovsk�, F.: Glosy k v�voji česk� ilustrace pro děti, Albatros, Praha 1982

          Hunt, P.: Children‘s Literature - The Development of Criticism, Routledge, New York 1990

          Chaloupka, O.: Pr�za pro děti a ml�dež, Albatros, Praha 1989

          Chaloupka, O.: Rozvoj dětsk�ho čten�řstv�, Albatros,  Praha 1982

          Chaloupka, O., Nezkusil, V.: Vybran� kapitoly z teorie dětsk� literatury, Albatros, Praha 1973

          Ilustrace dětsk� knihy (sborn�k refer�tů), Praha 1984

          Kipling, R.: Bajky a nebajky, SNDK,  Praha 1958

          Kipling, R.: Jak byl naps�n prvn� dopis, Albatros, Praha 1970

          Kipling, R.: Jak dostal velbloud hrb, Knihovnička roje č�s. 27 (př�l. čas. ROJ), Praha 1938

          Kipling, R.: Just So Stories for Little Children, Leipzig 1902

          Kipling, R.: Just So Stories, Penguin Books, England 1994

          Kipling, R.: O Beloved Kids, Rudyard Kipling‘s Letters to his Children, ed. Gilbert, E. L., Weidenfeld

                 and Nicolson, London 1983

          Kipling, R.: Poh�dky, Hejda & Tuček, Praha ?

          Kipling, R.: Poh�dky, Aventinum, Praha 1996

          Kipling, R.: Pov�dky jen tak, Vyšehrad, Praha 1978

          Kipling, R.: Rozpr�vky o praotci klokanovi a in�ch zvieratk�ch, Mlad� let�, Bratislava 1964

          Kipling, R.: Slon� ml�dě, Svoboda, Praha 1948

          Klemin, D.: The Art of Art for Children‘s Books, Clarkson N. Potter, New York 1966 

          Kop�l, J.: Literat�ra a detsk� aspekt, Slovensk� pedagogick� nakladatelstv�, Bratislava 1970          

          Laski, M.: From Palm to Pine, Rudyard Kipling Abroad and At Home, Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., London 1987

          Lev�, J.: Uměn� překladu, Československ� spisovatel, Praha 1963

          Marshall, M. R.: An Introduction to the World of Children‘s Books, Bridles Ltd., Guildford and King‘s Lynn,   UK 1982

          Nezkusil, V.: Spor o specifičnost dětsk� literatury, Albatros, Praha 1971

          Nezkusil, V.: Studie z poetiky literatury pro ml�dež, Albatros, Praha 1983

          Pechar, J.: Ot�zky liter�rn�ho překladu, Československ� spisovatel, Praha 1986

          Poliak, J.: V služb�ch detskej literatury, Mlad� let�, Bratislava 1983

          Rutherford, A. (ed): Kipling‘s Mind and Art, Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, London 1964

          Stehl�kov�, B.: Cesty česk� ilustrace v knize pro děti a ml�dež, Albatros, Praha 1984

          Stehl�kov�, B.: Současn� ilustrace dětsk� knihy, Odeon, Praha 1979

          Townsend, J. R.: Written for Children, London, 1974 



          1 Amis, K.: Rudyard Kipling and his World, p. 27

          2 O Beloved Kids, p. 6

          3 O Beloved Kids. p. 15

          4 O Beloved Kids, p. 4

          5 Just So Stories, p. 10

          6 Just So Stories, p. 45

          7 Just So Stories, p. 44

          8 Just So Stories, p. 47

          9 Just So Stories, p. 49

          10 Just So Stories, p. 53

          11 Just So Stories, p. 45

          12 Just So Stories, p. 49

          13 Just So Stories, p. 47).

          14 Just So stories, p. 48

          15 Just So Stories, p. 19

          16 Just So Stories, p. 45

          17 Just So Stories, p. 10

          18 Just So Stories, p. 11

          19 Just So Stories, p. 46

          20 Just So Stories, p. 44

          21 Just So Stories, p. 53

          22 Just So Stories, p. 45

          23 Just So Stories, p. 52

          24 Just So Stories, p. 9

          25 Just So Sories, p. 44

          26 Just So Stories, p. 45

          27 Just So Stories, p. 45

          28 Just So Stories, p 45

          29 Just So Stories, p. 15

          30 Just So Stories, p. 15

          31 Just so stories, s. 9

          32 Just So Stories, p. 24

          33 Just so stories, p.9

          34 Just So Stories, p. 10

          35 Just So Stories, p. 44

          36 Just So Stories, p. 45

          37 Just So Stories, p. 44

          38 Just So Stories, p. 46

          39 Just So Stories, p. 24

          40 Just So Stories, p. 53

          41 Just So Stories, p. 49

          42 Just So Stories, p. 49

          43 Just So Stories, p. 53


          Marshall, M. R.: An Introduction to the World of Children‘s Books, p. 96

          45 Holešovsk�, F.: Glosy k v�voji česk� ilustrace pro děti, p. 7

          46 Amis, K.: Rudyard Kipling and his World, pp.82-3

          47 Hunt, P.: Children‘s Literature, p. 129

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