The Linguist

The Linguist 54,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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18 The Linguist Vol/54 No/4 2015 FEATURES Sue Rose on the challenges of translating the made- up words of Oksa Pollock – 'the French Harry Potter' I t was a hugely enjoyable challenge to introduce English teenagers to Oksa Pollock, the loveable French heroine with incredible magic powers. Being a translator is like putting on Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility or wearing a layer of Oksa Pollock's Invisibuls – you don't want anyone to see you're there. You need to stay out of sight so that the reader has no idea how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into the mix. While trying to stay invisible, you also have to navigate what feels like a lengthy obstacle course. The first set of walls I had to clamber over was the names of the many adorable, quirky creatures that inhabit Oksa's world. These were plays on words in French, which meant they couldn't be left as they were because an English speaker wouldn't get the joke. I'd take a long run up and launch myself at one of these walls, get half way up, then fall flat on my back. Here are a few examples to show how I finally overcame the obstacles they presented: Lunatrix and Lunatrixa. The French – Foldingot and Foldingote – is a combination of foldingue ('crazy') and dingo ('nutcase'). There are girl and boy Lunatrixes, which in the French is shown by the 'e' ending for the girl, so whatever I came up with had to be able to be varied for male and female. We often add 'ess' in English to names to show they are female, but that didn't work here. What I came up with was Lunatrix, which is a combination of 'loony' (since they're crazy little characters) and 'tricks' (for their weird abilities and the tricks they always have up their sleeves). They also have very large, moon-like, eyes and the first part of the name sounds like 'lunar'. It was then easy to add an 'a' on the end to make the female form. Croakette. The French – Grenette – combines grenouille ('frog') and the suffix 'ette', which refers to a small version of something in both French and English. I was happy with 'Croakette', which combines 'croak' (the sound a frog makes) and 'ette'. I also liked the way it sounded like 'croquette', as in potato croquette. Gargantuhen. The French – Gelinotte – refers to a type of hen of normal size, although the Gelinottes in the book are massive (6ft tall). The word wizard CREATING MAGIC A Foldingote, translated into English as Lunatrixa, which plays on the words 'loony', 'tricks' and 'lunar' (left); and (above right) writers Cendrine Wolf (l) and Anne Plichota

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