Paratextual Elements in Translation: Paratranslating Titles in Children’s Literature

Paratextual Elements in Translation: Paratranslating Titles in Children’s Literature


The notion of paratext is an unquestionably important consideration for many lines of research in translation studies: the history of translation, literary translation, audiovisual translation, and the analysis of ideological discourse in translation or self-translation. The article by José Yuste Frías attempts to demonstrate the utility of the concept of paratraducción (paratranslation), a term coined by the research group Traducción & Paratraducción at the Universidad de Vigo as a methodological tool for studying paratextual elements in translation. Taking ortotypography as a key paratextual element, Yuste Frías undertakes an analysis of the typographic image in the titles of two French children’s books and their translations into Spanish. Yuste Frías concludes that dialogue between the translators and the editors can guarantee better ‘paratranslations’ of originals.

The aim of this contribution is to prove the usefulness of the concept of paratranslation as a methodological tool for the study of paratextual elements in translation. The contribution opens with a brief introduction to the concept of paratranslation, a new term in translation studies coined by the Translation and Paratranslation research group at the University of Vigo. The readers’ at­tention is then drawn to orthotypography as a key paratextual element in the transmission of meaning in translation. A detailed analysis of the typogra­phical image of the title letters in the covers of Dans ma maison, il y a… and Dans ma forêt, il ya… , two children’s books published by the French publish­ing house Mila, is then undertaken. An understanding of the essential role played by the meaning of playful stripe symbology in the construction of chil­dren’s imagery is achieved through the reading and interpretation of the letters’ typographical format in both books. Having described the way in which the paratextual component was disregarded by the Spanish publishing house Imaginarium, the contribution concludes by pointing out the pressing need for a permanent dialogue between translators and editors to ensure that no trans­lation is published without its corresponding paratranslation.

From the standpoint of the course Orthotypography for Translators, taught as part of the BA in Translation and Interpretation at the University of Vigo, stu­dents are shown how any published text’s orthographical rules and their different typographical compositions must be specially taken into account when delivering quality translations. Orthotypography becomes an essen­tial paratextual element in translation, since each letter’s typographic writ­ing, size, and style contributes not only to the translation’s legibility but also to the success or failure of the translation’s presentation on the first and foremost paratextual space in a book – its cover and title page: ‘Orthotypography and translation!’

The visual aspect of the final image of the letters used to publish a translated book constitutes an essential paratextual element of any proc­ess of translation. When applying diacritic typographic resources the stand­ard value of words, clauses, phrases, paragraphs and titles are crucial. Dia­critic typographic resources constitute the basis of highly specific symbolic structures when recreating, for instance, the imagery impregnated in edi­tions of children’s books. If extra care is taken (when editing any book) not to make typos when printing the letters on the cover or title page, when it comes to children’s books any small mistake in the typographic design might have disastrous consequences on the sales of the best of trans­lations.


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