Return to Article Details Translating the realities of a German fairy tale as a means of improving translation competence

Translating the realities of a German fairy tale as a means of improving translation competence

Valentyna Karpiuk1[0000-0001-8194-4596], Yuliya Kazhan2[0000-0002-4248-4248], and Kristina Korystova1[0009-0009-5044-1633]
1 Kryvyi Rih State Pedagogical University, 54 Universytetskyi Ave., Kryvyi Rih, 50086, Ukraine
2 Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Platz der Deutschen Einheit 1, Konrad-Wachsmann-Allee 13, 03046 Cottbus, Germany
Abstract. The article deals with the work with the text of a German fairy tale as a means of improving translation competence, a set of exercises and tasks related to the translation of reality with linguistic and cultural specificity from German into Ukrainian and Russian, the concept of reality and its characteristics are defined, the classifications of realities by structural and thematic component are presented. The study identifies the peculiarities of using translation methods of reality with linguistic and cultural specificity based on folk and literary German fairy tales. The importance and complexity of achieving equivalence and adequacy in the process of translation of realities are substantiated. The difficulties in translating realities are identified because realities belong to the group of culture-specific vocabulary with no direct analogues in the target language and are directly related to the specific cultural phenomena of a particular people. The realities with linguistic and cultural specificity found in German fairy tales have been identified and analysed. A comparative analysis of the ways of translating realities with language and cultural specificity has been carried out, and it has been determined that the most widespread ways of translation are generic matching, calibration, functional analogy, and transcription. The study results are summarised, and the prospects for further research are outlined.

Keywords: reality reality with linguocultural specificity culture-specific vocabulary methods of translation folktale literary tale linguocultural specificity translation competence

1 Introduction

The development of German literature has greatly contributed to the interaction of folklore and literature, from collecting and retelling folk tales to writing authentic works of fiction based on oral folklore. Many scholars and linguists have researched well-known folk tales.

Contemporary scholars and researchers are increasingly interested in the problem of the relationship between literature and linguistic and cultural studies, which includes folklore and national and cultural characteristics of writing. Combining these characteristics enables philologists to understand literary texts more profoundly and analyse works based on folklore plots, traditional motifs, image genres and stylistic forms. Li [14] highlights the same aspects in his work “The Folk Culture and Cultural Identity in Grimm’s Fairy Tales”, where he focuses on the role of folklore motifs, including animal stories, personal stories, monster stories, jokes and anecdotes. This is a rare model for the study of folk literature. From the point of view of cultural identity, he highlights the peculiarities of German folk culture, and, among other things, he examines culture through the symbolism of images in folk tales. In addition, the researcher analyses fairy tales against the social and historical development background, thereby establishing a connection between the writer and his time.

The study of linguistic and cultural peculiarities and analysis of fairy tales is quite relevant due to the cultural peculiarity of the fairy tale genre. Fairy tales are a collection of folk achievements, stable cultural traditions and customs, important historical objects and phenomena, and established stereotypes and mentality of a particular nation. Therefore, fairy tales are of great cultural value and are interesting for research in the linguistic and cultural field. In addition, fairy tales have significant educational potential, as they reflect the national character’s fundamental moral values and peculiarities and often represent the ideal of a person formed in the nation’s consciousness. This is the subject of Hill’s research in her work “Und Es War Einmal: A Comparative Analysis of Character Depiction in the Grimms’ Kinder-und Hausmärchen and Modern Fairy Tale Adaptations”. The author pays attention to the interpretations of German folk tales in contemporary art of various genres (film adaptations, animation, literary translations, and translations) [10].

Regardless of the genre in which a German folk tale is interpreted, preserving the cultural component inherent in German society and characterising German values is vital. These values, as well as the reflection of German identity, are primarily rooted in reality, and an inaccurate translation of them distorts the idea of German national culture and the national spirit of the German people.

That is why translating the realities of German fairy tales with due regard for their national and cultural colour and linguistic and cultural peculiarities plays a special role in improving the translation competence of philology students.

A special role is played by translating the realities of German fairy tales, considering their national and cultural flavour and linguistic and cultural peculiarities in improving the translation competence of philology students. This always requires improvement, refinement, application of a creative approach, and broadening of horizons. Translation competence is a set of knowledge, skills and abilities that allow a translator to solve their professional tasks successfully. The basic components of translation competence include the knowledge, skills and abilities required by a translator in all types of translation. Specific components include knowledge, skills, and abilities required for one or more types of translation. Special components include the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to translate texts of a specific genre and style, scientific, technical, business, and fiction. The didacticisation of the fairy tale text, the use of elements interesting for translation, and the expansion of country and linguistic knowledge contribute to developing translation competence and deepening students’ professional knowledge. When selecting and didacticising a text for a translation practice class, a teacher should have a goal in mind that can be achieved with the help of the text. This goal is the development of translation competence.

In translating a fairy tale text, students face the difficulties of translating realities, which are an integral part of this genre. It should be understood that realities are part of the non-equivalent vocabulary that cannot be translated using standard translation techniques. Realities are characterised by linguistic and cultural specificity and national flavour, which complicates the translation process, so this issue is extremely interesting and widespread among scholars.

2 Realities and their classification

Scholars and literary critics have researched the relationship between culture and language for many centuries, as these concepts are interdependent and significantly influence each other, manifested in certain linguistic phenomena or units. Cultural customs or traditions inherent in certain nations are objectified into specific vocabulary that has no equivalents in other languages and conveys a particular nation’s identity and national colour. Such units are realities.

The meaning of the term “reality” is studied alongside such lexical phenomena as “non-equivalent vocabulary” and “exoticism”, which are very close in meaning to “realities” and are even attributed synonymous meanings, so it is essential to understand these concepts and to distinguish the meaning of the terms more clearly in order to avoid inaccuracies in conceptual meanings.

The following scholars have studied the concept of “reality” and its classifications: Drößiger [3], Tomahin [18], Vinogradov [19], Vlahov and Florin [20], Zorivchak [22].

First, the word “reality” comes from Latin, and its equivalent is the neuter plural adjective “realia”, which means “real” or “material”. According to the definition of an academic dictionary, a reality is “a thing that exists materially; any object of material value” [1].

The issue of translating realities was first explored by Fedorov [4], who noted that no word can be translated into another language, at least descriptively, i.e. with a common combination of words in a given language.

The term reality is quite widespread in literary translation studies. Despite this fact, researchers in the field of linguistics cannot agree on the clarity of the criteria for defining realities and their linguistic units.

Thus, Tomahin [18, p. 10] notes that in philology, there is a twofold understanding of realities:

as an object, concept, or phenomenon characteristic of the history, culture, or way of life of a particular people or country and not found among other nations;
as a word denoting such an object, concept, or phenomenon, as well as a phrase (phraseological units, proverbs, sayings, catchphrases) that includes such words.

The closeness between language and culture is most clearly manifested in realities: the emergence of new realities in society’s material and spiritual life leads to the emergence of corresponding realities in language. A distinctive feature of a reality is the nature of its subject content.

Realities can be limited to the boundaries of even a single collective or institution. Realities also have a temporary flavour. As a linguistic phenomenon most closely related to culture, these lexical items react quickly to all changes in the development of society; among them, one can always distinguish between neologisms, historicisms, and archaisms. Each type of reality requires an individual approach when translating [22].

An outstanding contribution to the issue of untranslatable vocabulary was made by such scholars as Vlahov and Florin [20], who paid attention to realities, their features, classifications and methods of translation in their book “The Untranslatable in Translation”. They give the most accurate and complete definition of realities as words and phrases of the vernacular that reflect the names of objects, concepts, phenomena characteristic of the geographical environment of culture, material life or social and historical features of a people, nation, country, tribe, and which, thus, are carriers of national, local or historical colour; such words do not have exact equivalents in other languages, and therefore cannot be translated “on a general basis”, as they require a special approach [20, p. 47].

Realities are inherent in many world languages and differ in phonetic, grammatical, semantic, local, and temporal features, which are the criteria for many classifications. According to the classification of Kyiak et al. [13, p. 142], realities are divided into the following subject areas:

Domestic realities (housing, tools, clothing, food, professions, currency and measures).
Ethnographic and mythological realities (ethnic and social groups, regional references, folk holidays, traditions, deities, mythological characters).
Realities of the natural world (zoonyms, phytonyms, names of landscapes).
The realities of the state and administrative system and social life (administrative units, state institutions, public organisations, parties, industrial and agricultural enterprises, commercial establishments, military and police units, public offices).
Onomastic realities (general and individual anthroponyms, ordinary and memorial place names, names of literary heroes, names of campaigns, airports, palaces).
Associative realities (plant, animal, colour symbols, general cultural folklore, literary and historical allusions).

The basis of Zorivchak’s classification of realities [22, p. 71] is the structural component, namely:

Single-member realities (Schwaben, Schwarzwald, Rhein, Neckar, Auerhahn, Tracht, Wämser, Pluderhosen, Flözer, Packan, Mynheer, der Gnom, der Zwerg, die Wichtelmänner, Wechselbalg, Nibelungen, die Kunkel, Fuß, Gulden).
Realities-polymers of nominative character (der Holländer-Michel, der dicke Ezechiel, der lange Schlurker, der Tanzbodenkönig, Bartputzer, Sechsbätzner, Taler, Dukaten, Sechser, Kronentaler, kölnischen Pfeifen, badische Taler, Glasmännlein, Waldgeist, Schatzhauser, Rotkopf, Zollstab, Uhrmacher, Glasmann, Glasmachen, Grauschimmel, Kohlenbrenner, Apfelwein).
Real-life phraseology (mit Rat und Tat, mit Mann und Maus, mit vollen Händen geben, kein gutter Wind weht, aber nun ist guter Rat teuer, es geht jemandem an den Kragen, ein Gesicht wie drei Tage Regenwetter machen, in die Quere kommen, durch Mark und Bein, sich in die Bockshorn jagen lassen, aus vollem Hals).

The most exhaustive and meaningful is the classification of Vlahov and Florin [20], which allows us to consider realities from different angles and has four main components of the division of realities:

Subject division.
Local division (depending on nationality and language).
Time division.
Translation division.

Consider each point in more detail [20, p. 50].

The subject division, in turn, involves [20, p. 51–56]:

Geographical realities – names of objects of physical geography, including meteorology, names of geographical objects related to human activity and names of endemics, i.e. animals and plants.
Ethnographic realities:
  • Domestic realities (food, drink, clothing, housing, furniture, utensils, transport);
  • Labour realities (people working, tools, labour organisations);
  • Art and culture (music and dance, musical instruments, folklore, theatre, musical performers, customs and rituals, holidays, games, mythology, cults, worshipers, followers, calendar;
  • Ethnic objects (ethnonyms, nicknames, names of people by place of residence);
  • Measures and money (units of measure, monetary units);
Socio-political realities.
  • Administrative and territorial structure (administrative-territorial units, settlements, parts of a settlement);
  • Bodies and holders of power (authorities, holders of power);
  • Socio-political life (political organisations and political figures, patriotic and social movements, social phenomena and movements, titles, degrees, institutions, educational and cultural institutions, classes and castes, class signs and symbols);
  • Military realities (units, weapons, uniforms, military personnel).

Local division implies the difference in realities based on the criterion of one or more languages [20, p. 57–64]:

In the plane of one language:
  • The realities are the original words of this language.
    National realities are objects that belong to a given people or nation but are alien outside the borders of that country.
    Local realities – do not belong to the language of a particular people but to a dialect, its speech, or the language of a less significant social group.
    Microlocal – realities whose social or territorial basis may be specific to one city or village without losing its peculiarities.
  • Alien realities are either borrowings or transcribed realities originating from another language.
    International realities appear in the vocabulary of many languages, are included in their respective dictionaries, and usually retain their original national colouring.
    Regional – realities that have crossed the borders of one country or spread among several peoples (not necessarily neighbouring), usually with a referent, thus being an integral part of the vocabulary of several languages.
In the plane of a pair of languages, where realities are considered from the point of view of translation:
  • External realities are equally alien to both languages;
  • Internal realities are words belonging to one of the language pairs alien to the other language of the pair.

The temporal division involves the following categories of realities [20, p. 65]:

Historical, which, depending on the degree of acquisition, are divided into:
  • Familiar (vocabulary);
  • Unfamiliar (non-dictionary).

In order to understand the nature of the linguistic and cultural specificity of realities, it is crucial to define the meaning of the term “linguocultural studies”. The meaning of the term linguocultural studies is quite controversial. Many well-known scholars have tried to define this science, including Vorob’ev [21].

According to Vorob’ev [21, p. 36], linguocultural studies is a scientific discipline of a synthesising type that studies the relationship and interaction of culture and language in the process of its functioning and reflects this process as a holistic structure of units in the unity of their linguistic and extra-linguistic (cultural) content using systematic methods and with a focus on modern priorities and cultural institutions (system of norms and universal values).

Despite many studies, linguocultural studies do not have a single term, but common to all definitions is that linguocultural studies the direct relationship between culture and language and their interaction in functioning.

The central concept of linguacultural studies is the linguacultural concept – the basic unit of mental or psychic resources of our consciousness and the information structure that reflects human knowledge and experience. Concepts characterise the specificity of culture as a set of human achievements in all spheres of life and ensure mutual understanding between people of different cultures and languages [5].

The main features of a concept as a linguistic and cultural category include [17]:

  • universality, commonality, abstractness of concepts;
  • identity of understanding of recipients who have the same mentality;
  • cultural, ethical, historical and cultural significance for the native speaker;
  • ability to influence the formation of the conceptual sphere within the collective consciousness.

Most scholars note that the concept of a concept correlates with the mentality as a set of cognitive, emotional and behavioural stereotypes of a nation. In other words, they are concepts that are the values of a particular culture and are represented by abstract nouns. This means that the verbal form of concepts is the “keywords” of a given language and culture. When studying the values of the German nation, we can identify the following components of the German mentality: Ordnung (order), Disziplin (discipline), Fleiß (diligence), Pünktlichkeit (punctuality), Sparsamkeit (frugality) [12].

National culture, as an essential component of the linguistic and cultural concept, reflects the worldview of the people, which has historically developed and is realised through traditions and national relics and is reflected in the language in various forms. Thus, Maklakova [15] distinguishes the following forms of manifestation of the linguistic and cultural specificity of linguistic phenomena:

  • naming historical phenomena that are preserved in the memory of the people;
  • naming of cultural realities;
  • names of onomastic realities;
  • names related to national precedent texts;
  • names of national historical non-equivalent realities;
  • names of national material (every day) realities;
  • names reflecting national and cultural symbolism.

The linguacultural concept is quite broad and is not the subject of our study in full. We are only interested in the linguistic and cultural specificity of realities. From the above-mentioned forms of manifestation of phenomena with linguistic and cultural specificity, we see the names of national-historical, non-equivalent, national-material realities. We conclude that realities, by their nature, already imply the presence of a linguacultural component, as they reflect the cultural specificity of a particular nation through various speech patterns characteristic of the language of a particular nation or through realities with the designation of numerous household items, cultural monuments and other material values, which directly indicates the linguistic and cultural code of a particular nation.

The study of linguistic and cultural specificity should be closely connected with the study of texts in which these phenomena are fixed and verbalised as a reflection of national culture and consciousness. That is why folk tales are the best model for analysing and studying the linguistic and cultural specificity of realities, as they are traditionally stable and represent samples of national culture and consciousness, which are reflected in the description of traditions, customs, rituals, mental signs, stereotypical behaviour of characters and the depiction of historical everyday realities.

3 Translation methods and difficulties in translating realities

Realities belong to the group of non-equivalent vocabulary, i.e. they have no direct equivalents in the target language. Therefore, the literary translation of realities causes certain difficulties and requires a qualitative approach to the matter to convey the meaning of realities as accurately and clearly as possible for readers. When translating realities, it is vital to have the background knowledge to correctly interpret their meanings, which implies possessing information about the cultural and historical facts of a given country, objects of material and spiritual culture, as well as folklore and traditional events.

The main difficulties in translating realities include [16]:

the lack of equivalents (equivalent, analogue) in the target language; in the process of translation, the reality of the source language is indicated by the reality of the target language;
the need, along with the subject matter (semantics) of reality, to convey its flavour (connotation) – its national and historical colouring.

According to Vinogradov [19, p. 117–118], there are five main ways of translating realities:

Transcription (transliteration).
Hypo-hypernymic translation (establishing the relationship between the equivalent of the source language and the original word.
Descriptive, descriptive, expository translation.

Vlahov and Florin [20, p. 87–93] distinguish the following methods of translating realities:

Transcription (transliteration) – involves the mechanical transfer of realities from a foreign language into the target language by graphic means with maximum approximation to the original phonetic form.
Translation (substitution, substitution) is usually used in cases where transcription is impossible or undesirable for one reason or another.
Introducing a neologism is the most common way of preserving the meaning and flavour of the reality being translated after transcription. By creating a new word (or phrase), it is sometimes possible to achieve almost the same effect. Such new words can be, first and foremost, calques and semi-calques.
  • A calque is borrowing by literally translating a word or a phrase, which allows the translation of reality with the most faithful preservation of the semantic meaning, but not always with the preservation of the national colour.
  • Semi-calque is a partial borrowing, as well as new words or stable phrases, consisting primarily of your own material and partly of foreign language material.
  • Assimilation is adapting a foreign language reality, i.e. making it look like a native word based on a foreign loanword.
  • Semantic neologism is a conditionally new word or phrase composed by a translator to convey the semantic content of reality. It is distinguished from a calque by the absence of an etymological connection with the original word.
Approximate translation is used more often than any other method. Usually, this method succeeds, though often not very accurately, in conveying the substantive content of reality. However, the flavour is almost always lost, as the expected connotative equivalent (which cannot exist) is replaced by a style-neutral word or combination with zero connotation.
  • Genetic correspondence allows us to convey the approximate meaning of reality by a unit with a broader meaning, substituting a genus concept for a species concept. By replacing the species with the genus, the more specific and the more general, the translator resorts to the technique of generalisation, which is well-known in translation theory.
  • Functional analogue (adaptation) is a word or phrase used to denote a concept that is similar in meaning but does not completely coincide with the concept of the source language. It consists of replacing the unknown with the known and the unusual with the usual.
  • Description, explanation, interpretation – used only when there is no other appropriate way to translate; a concept whose meaning is not conveyed by transcription must be explained.
Contextual translation – usually opposed to dictionary translation – indicates the correspondences that a word may have in the context as opposed to those given in the dictionary. As a result of such translation, a relatively neutral substitute for the original is usually obtained, and reality with its cultural and national codes disappears and loses its flavour.

Based on the fact that there are realities with a phraseological structure among the realities, we consider it necessary to consider separately the methods of translation of foreign language phraseological expressions. Thus, Vlahov and Florin [20, p. 183] distinguish two main ways of translating phraseological units: phraseological and non-phraseological. The phraseological methods of translation include the phraseological equivalent and the phraseological analogue. Non-phraseological translation methods include literal translation (calquing), descriptive translation and contextual substitution. Let us consider each translation technique in more detail [20, p. 183–197]:

The best method of translating a phraseology is a phraseological equivalent, which involves using the corresponding phraseology in the target language in relation to the source language.
Phraseological analogue is a technique that involves selecting phraseological units that coincide in semantic meaning with the original expression but may be based on a different image that is neutral in terms of national colouring.
Literal translation is a technique used when there is no direct equivalent or analogue of the expression in the target language. It involves the literal transmission of the image and semantic content of the phraseology.
Descriptive translation is a technique used in the absence of equivalents, analogues, and the absurdity of literal translation. It involves a detailed descriptive explanation of the meaning of a phraseology.
Contextual substitution is a technique used when translating a highly complex phraseological unit. It involves transmitting the semantic content of a phraseological unit in a specific context.

Essential concepts in the translation process are adequacy and equivalence. These concepts are interdependent but have several features that distinguish their meaning.

By “adequacy”, we mean the closest possible correspondence to the original, based on assessing the translation as a full-fledged semantic analogue.

The term “equivalence”, as defined by Komissarov [11], implies the closest possible linguistic proximity of the translation text to the original.

Sdobnikov [16] believes that for each type of translation, there are various ways of comparing adequacy and equivalence, which are most typical in a given situation. Moreover, equivalence can be presented in different degrees, i.e. linguistic proximity can vary depending on the situation. In contrast, there is no degree of adequacy, as a translation can be either adequate or inadequate, and there is no third option.

Let us take a closer look at four types of adequacy and equivalence relations in the translation process [16]:

A translation can be adequate in general and equivalent at the level of individual text segments. This translation is considered to be of the highest quality. It is usually used when translating specialised texts in scientific and technical fields, legal, economic, etc.
The translation may be adequate but not equivalent at the level of individual text segments, i.e. the linguistic closeness between the source and target texts is minimal. This case is typical for literary translation, including poetry. Differences in the translation of literary texts are entirely justified since adequacy is impossible without ensuring a particular artistic and aesthetic impact on the reader.
A translation may be equivalent but not adequate. This is the case when the translator omits the semantic part of the translated text in an effort to convey the accuracy of the translation.
A translation may be inequivalent and inadequate. Such cases usually occur in special types of translation (for example, technical translation), when a translator, due to his or her linguistic incompetence or ignorance of the subject matter, makes gross mistakes that significantly spoil the meaning of the text.

As we can see, the first two correlations are examples of quality translation, and the next two are examples of poor translation. Nevertheless, despite some differences in opinion, most researchers agree that the terms equivalence and adequacy reflect one of the main features of translation, namely, an inseparable and close connection with the original.

4 Didacticisation of a fairy tale text to improve translation competence

Using the theoretical material on the techniques of translating realities and ways of evaluating translations, we will provide examples of exercises to improve the translator’s competence in translating and analysing realities from German fairy tales.

So, we offer exercises for developing lexical competence, exercises for developing translation competence (oral and written translation of sentences and parts of texts from German into Ukrainian), exercises aimed at developing search information, exercises aimed at identifying the realities in the text and classifying them, and exercises for determining the ways of translation.

Here is a set of exercises for German fairy tales.

Identify the realities in the text. What kind of realities does this unity refer to?
Analyse the Ukrainian translation given. Describe the method of translation.
Make a translation analysis of the text.
Find parallel texts in the target language.
What reference books can be used to translate this text?
State the features of this type of text in the source and target languages.
Describe the lexical and syntactic characteristics of the text and parallel texts in the target language.
Describe the non-verbal means in the source text. How can they be conveyed in the target language?
Formulate the requirements for the translation text and the translation problems and methods of solving them.

Considering our experience of didacticising texts, there is a good result if we work according to the proposed exercises. Firstly, we analysed the meaning of the realities, considering the word’s etymology in German, Ukrainian and Russian. Comparing translations into different languages involves working with lexicographical sources and using different translation methods because each language has its peculiarities and patterns that are of priority in this type of translation.

For example, the following tasks were used to study the fairy tale “Aschenputtel”, which resulted in certain results. In the fairy tale “Aschenputtel” (Ukrainian: “Cinderella” or “Popeliushka”), many translations tend to preserve the meaning of the root word “Asche” – “ashes”, “cinders”. For example, English “Cinderella” (cinders – ash), French “Cendrillon”, Spanish “Cenerentola”, Czech “Popelka”, Bulgarian “Pepelashka”, Russian “Zolushka”.

Before translating a whole text, it is crucial to understand the literal meaning of reality, considering the word’s etymology. So “Aschenputtel” consists of two semantic parts: “Asche” – “ash, ashes” and “Puttel”, which comes from “Puddel” – “dirty, untidy girl”. The literal translation of the reality is “Aschenputtel” – “a girl dirty with ash”.

Let us take a closer look at the origin of the fairy tale’s heroine’s name in the original version of the tale:

Abends, wenn es sich müde gearbeitet hatte, kam es in kein Bett, sondern mußte sich neben den Herd in die Asche legen. Und weil es darum immer staubig und schmutzig aussah, nannten sie es Aschenputtel” [6].

Ukrainian translation: “Напрацюється вона за день, натомиться, а лiжка не має, доводиться їй там-таки бiля печi й лягати в попiл. Тому вона завжди була в сажi, завжди в попелi, i прозвали її Попелюшкою.” In the above quote from translation by Yevhen Oksentovych Popovych, the translation is based on the meaning of only the first semantic part of the realia “asche” – “ashes” – and thus demonstrates the technique of semi-calque with the addition of a diminutive suffix.

Translation into Russian: “Ввечеру, утомившись от работы, она не имела даже кровати, на которую могла бы лечь: она должна была рядом с очагом ложиться в золу и на ней спать. И так как она от золы была постоянно покрыта и пылью, и грязью, то злые сестры и назвали ее Замарашкой.” Nikolai Alekseevich Polevoy’s translation also uses the technique of semi-digitisation. However, it differs in that the author uses the second part of the semantic component of the realia – “Puddel” – “dirty, unkempt girl” – as the basis for the translation and formulates the realia “Zamarashka” derived from the Russian word “to get dirty”.

We propose to analyse the realities and their translations on the example of Wilhelm Hauff’s literary fairy tale “Das Kalte Herz”. The fairy tale contains many realities that characterise various linguistic and cultural spheres of German folklore and life, including the designation of mythical creatures, customs, place names, national clothes, professions and monetary units. Let us look at some of them.

From the very first lines of the tale, we find two realities relating to geographical locations: “Wer durch Schwaben reist, der sollte nie vergessen, auch ein wenig in den Schwarzwald hineinzuschauen...” [7].

Schwaben” is a historical region in southwestern Germany in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, named after the Swabians, Germans who speak the local Swabian dialect [2]. “Schwarzwald” is the largest and highest mountain range in Germany, located in Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany [2].

For geographical names, the most accurate, adequate, and equivalent translation is the transcription method, which N. A. Polevoy (“Кто путешествует по Швабии, тот никогда не должен забывать хоть ненадолго заглянуть в Шварцвальд” [8]) and Ye. O. Popovych (“Кому траплялося подорожувати по Швабiї, той, певно, не минув Шварцвальду” [9]) used in their translations.

The fairy tale also contains exclusive realities that denote the names of professions common in 18th-century Germany, where the story is set, including: “Glasmachen”, “Kohlenbrenner”, “Flözer”, “Uhrmacher”.

Let us consider the realities in more detail in the context of the original work.

Dort beschäftigen sich die Leute gewöhnlich mit Glasmachen” [7]. “Glasmachen” was a popular profession in Germany in the 18th century and during the development of the Industrial Revolution, whose task was to make glass. Qualified specialists in this field were called “Glasmachern” or “Glasmänner” [2].

Let us consider possible translations of the above realities according to literary adaptations by N. A. Polevoy and Ye. O. Popovych: “Glasmachen” – Russian “выделка стекла”, Ukrainian “склярський промисл”; “Glasmachern” – Russian “стекольщик”, Ukrainian “склар”. In both cases, the authors use the technique of calquing and lexical deployment of realities, thus not losing the understanding of the meaning of professions.

Es lebte nämlich im Schwarzwald eine Witwe, Frau Barbara Munkin; ihr Gatte war Kohlenbrenner gewesen” [7]. “Kohlenbrenner” (from the German “kohl” – coal, “Brennen” – to burn) was one of the oldest craft professions common in the Schwarzwald at that time, whose task was to produce charcoal by burning it [2].

In his translation, N. A. Polevoy uses the technique of hyponymic translation (“В Шварцвальде жила одна вдова, Барбара Мунк. Муж ее был угольщиком” [8]), since the Russian equivalent “угольщик” has a somewhat broader meaning than “Kohlenbrenner”, as it denotes a generalised name for workers in the coal industry, which includes many other areas (trade, transportation), and not just the process of burning coal.

The Ukrainian translation, in turn, offers a slightly different translation option – by explaining or describing the reality: “Жила собi в Шварцвальдi одна вдова, Барбара Мунк. Її чоловiк випалював з дров вугiлля...” [9]. In this case, such a translation more accurately conveys the meaning, covering the semantic fullness of reality. Further, the fairy tale contains another synonymous translation option – “вугляр “, which, like N. A. Polevoy’s translation, reduces the concept of the species “Kohlenbrenner” to the generic meaning “вугляр” – a hyponymic translation.

Auch die Flözer auf der andern Seite waren ein Gegenstand seines Neides” [7]. “Flözer” was a popular profession in the 18th century, widespread mainly in forest areas, as its main task was to transport wood and other goods using rafts along river channels. Eventually, this profession disappeared [2].

In the Russian translation (“Сплавщики с той стороны леса тоже были предметом его зависти” [8]), we observe the use of a functional analogue, where the meaning of the Russian analogue “сплавщики” preserves and conveys the semantic meaning of the German reality.

The Ukrainian translation by Ye. O. Popovych (“Навiть плотогонам з того боку лiсу вiн заздрив” [9]) also retains the semantic correspondence with the real “Flözer”, demonstrating the use of a functional analogue.

Wie angesehen sind die Glasmänner, die Uhrmacher, selfst die Musikanten am Sonntag abends” [7]. “Uhrmacher” (from German “Uhr” – watch, “machen” – to make) was a common profession in Germany, especially in the Schwarzwald regions, in the late 18th century, which involved the manufacture of watches and the maintenance of devices [2].

Let us consider the translation options for this quote. In the Russian translation (“В каком почете стекольщики, часовщики и даже музыканты, особенно в воскресный вечер!” [8]), as well as in the Ukrainian translation (“Он якi показнi склярi, годинникарi або музики в недiлю увечерi” [9]), the authors use the technique of functional analogue, as they find a word in their native language that has a similar meaning.

In addition to the realities denoting the names of professions, we find many unique realities in the fairy tale that denote exclusively German monetary units.

The following reality with the designation of monetary units is from the fairy tale “Das kalte Herz”: “Wenn andere große Taler oder Dukaten aus dem Ärmel schütteln, kannst du kaum ein paar Sechser aufwenden; ’s ist ein ärmlich Leben” [7].

“Dukaten” is an ancient gold or silver coin first issued in 1284 by the Republic of Venice and later became the currency of many European countries, including Germany.
“Sechser” (also called Sechsling) is the name of a coin worth six pfennigs or half a penny, first minted in Lübeck in 1388 and last minted in Hamburg in 1855. Since the pedestrian bridge was charged six (five pfennigs) until the 19th century, Berliners gave it this name.

In the Russian translation (“В то время как другие вытряхивают из рукава большие талеры и дукаты, ты можешь истратить всего лишь каких-нибудь двенадцать пфеннигов!”), once again, N. A. Polevoy uses the technique of transliteration to translate the realism “Dukaten” – “дукати”. As for the other reality, the author uses his knowledge of the connotative sphere of German monetary units to apply the broader concept of “pfennig”, and N. A. Polevoy does not lose the accuracy of the amount of money specified in the original, so according to his calculations, “ein paar Sechser” means “двенадцать пфеннигов”. Thus, the author used the technique of genitive-specific correspondence, in which he reduced the original species concept of reality to the genitive.

The Ukrainian translation differs significantly from the Russian version: “Он iншi розкидають пригорщами золото, а ти перебиваєшся копiйками” Ye. O. Popovych uses the technique of genitive-specific correspondence as he generalises the meaning of the realities “Dukaten” to the concept of “золото”, and “Sechser” to “монети”. In this way, the author likens the real-life words to the existing words in the native language with a broader connotative meaning, which makes this translation much more accessible for readers to understand the text.

Equally interesting for analysis are the translations of characters’ nicknames, often animals, in the colloquial genre, often found in children’s fairy tales, as evidenced by the following quote.

We propose to analyse the realities and their translations on the example of the Grimm brothers’ folk tale “Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten”. We were interested in this fairy tale because it contains realities denoting fictional names of fairy tale animal characters in the form of neologisms, which also require a unique and creative approach to translation.

Es dauerte nicht lange, so saß da eine Katze an dem Weg und macht ein Gesicht wie drei Tage Regenwetter. “Nun, was ist dir in die Quere gekommen, alter Bartputzer?” sprach der Esel” [6].

“Bartputzer” – judging by the quote, this is how the donkey addresses the cat, highlighting the cat’s tendency to wash and be clean (from the words “der Bart” – moustache, “putzen” – to wash).

Немного прошли, повстречали на дороге кота; сидит хмурый такой, пасмурный. “Ну, тебе что не по нутру пришлось, Усатый?” – спросил осел”. In his translation, N. A. Polevoy also selects a word close in semantic meaning, a noun in the adjectival form “Усатый”, which has a direct relation to the cat’s whiskers as a characteristic feature, similar to the original reality. This technique is called a semantic neologism, which is formed due to adaptive translation.

Недовго вони йшли, коли дивляться – сидить при дорозi кiт, i такий сумний, наче три днi не їв нiчого. “Ось i кiт-воркiт!” – гукнув осел.” In the Ukrainian translation, the author also uses neologisms. However, not semantic ones, since the semantic meaning of “кiт-воркiт” has nothing to do with the original Bartputzer reality. However, the author successfully adapts reality to the native language and makes it sound as authentic as possible by following the canons of Ukrainian fairy tales. In this way, we can see the use of the technique of assimilation, which makes the reality resemble the native language.

Another essential and exemplary example for analysis is the translation of phraseological units, which requires a special approach and specific techniques.

Da dachte der Herr daran, ihn aus dem Futter zu schaffen, aber der Esel merkte, daß kein guter Wind wehte, lief fort und machte sich auf den Weg nach Bremen” [6]. In the above quote, we encounter the phraseological expression “kein gutter Wind weht”, which has the following meaning: it will not be good, it can end badly.

Хозяин стал соображать, как бы его с корму долой сбыть; но осел вовремя заметил, что дело не к добру клонится, убежал от хозяина и направился по дороге в Бремен”. In translating this phraseological expression, N. A. Polevoy finds a similarly meaningful catchphrase in his native language, thus adapting the foreign language expression to the sound standards of the target language. So, we see the use of the phraseological analogue technique.

Тодi господар почав думати, як би здихатися його, щоб не годувати. Зрозумiв осел, що лихим вiтром вiє, втiк вiд господаря та й подався до Бремена”. In the Ukrainian adaptation, we see that the author managed to more accurately reflect the structure of the original phraseological expression, conveying its literal meaning and preserving the semblance of the expression in the native language. We call this technique a direct phraseological equivalent.

5 Conclusions and prospects for further research

Realities with linguistic and cultural specifics are an integral part of folklore and fairy tales, and their adaptation into the target language requires a high level of translation competence, thorough knowledge and skill in using specific translation techniques.

The translation of realities is a complex and multifunctional process due to certain specifics of this linguistic phenomenon, namely the absence of direct equivalents of the word in the source language and the direct connection with the original culture of the people, their everyday habits, characteristic household items, customs and traditions. The translation of realities requires, along with the use of appropriate translation techniques, the availability of background knowledge, including the cultural component of a particular nation.

While working with fairy tale texts, doing exercises and tasks aimed at analysing translation methods and searching for information necessary for an adequate translation of realities. We managed to identify the following pattern: realities with nicknames and fictional character names are characterised by such translation techniques as calquing and semantic neologism. The most adequate and equivalent method for geographical names is transcription or transliteration; for the translation of monetary units, genitive-specific correspondence is often used along with transliteration. Realities denoting the names of mythical heroes are usually translated by selecting a functional analogue or contextual translation of the lexical unit. Realities denoting professions are also translated by selecting a functional analogue or interpreting the meaning. The most typical methods for denoting clothing, food and drink are genus-species correspondence or functional analogue. The most typical methods for realities denoting household items and units of measure are calquing and functional analogue.

The frequency of use of specific translation methods depending on the thematic group of realities only confirms that the choice of translation method depends on the type of reality and its semantic meaning.

Analysing the translations revealed that conveying the meaning of a reality as accurately as possible is quite complex and multifunctional, requiring constant improvement of translation skills.

The results obtained in this work demonstrate the importance of didacticising texts with linguistic and cultural specificity to improve translation competence. However, they do not exhaust all aspects of the problem and indicate the prospects for further research.


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