II Всеукраинская научно-практическая конференция «Актуальные проблемы преподавания иностранных языков для профессионального общения». Том 3

К.філол.н. Потураєва Л.В.

Дніпропетровський національний університет імені Олеся Гончара, Україна


One of the most difficult things in the practice of translation and teaching translation is realia which have been studied extensively over the years but have never ceased to pose a challenge for translators due to the incessant evolution of societies and cultures and the coinage of new realia in life, later on expressed in a language.

The aim of the current research is to define major transformations in the process of translation realia in the work of contemporary mass literature, namely the novel by J.E. Varley “Wives and Lovers” (Orion Books Ltd., 2004).

The object of the research is to single out and classify realia used in the novel, and then to analyze possible methods of translating the certain categories of those.

Before taking on achieving the aim through dealing with the object, a few general points about realia should be made. In humanities, realia are understood in two senses: 1) as an object, notion, phenomenon specific for the culture, customs and traditions of a certain country and non-existent in other countries; 2) as a word denoting the above objects etc., as well as word-combinations (usually phraseological) that include such words.

In the theory and practice of translation, realia are considered in the second sense and are usually defined as words and expressions for culture-specific material things. It is in this sense that realia were studied by the Bulgarian translators S. Vlahov and S. Florin in their famous book “Neperevodimoe v perevode. Realii” which in its time was considered to be the most comprehensive and has been viewed as such for many years ever since. The authors classify realia on the basis of various principles: by object, by nation, by time and by the method of translation. The first principle is the oldest and the most well-known. According to this, realia are subdivided into 3 classes: geographic, ethnographic and social and political. These classes are further subdivided in a more detailed way. Ethnographic realia, distinguished by Vlahov and Florin as words signifying notions and objects of everyday life and culture, are in their turn subdivided into five groups connected with everyday life, work, art and culture, ethnic objects and measures and money. This subdivision is taken as the basis for grouping the realia from the novel under consideration which depicts modern relationships within a family and presents the set of vivid characters, both male and female.

It is quite natural that the novel of such a genre abounds in realia of everyday life and art and culture. To be more specific, out of 83 words and word-combinations thatmight be considered as denoting ethnographic realia, 77 belong to the abovementioned two groups. The boundary between these groups is difficult to set because of the close connection of everyday life with art and culture. This group of 77 lexical units includes a subgroup that was chosen for further study.

It is the subgroup of onomastic realia which consists of word-combinations of a “proper noun+common noun(s)” type. A more detailed look at these word-combinations gives an even further subdivision of proper nouns into anthroponyms and toponyms thus resulting in distinguishing two smaller subgroups: “anthropomyn+common noun” and “toponym+common noun”. These subgroups consist of the following word-combinations:

antroponym+common noun toponym+common noun

Queen Ann armchair Savile Road dark suit

George IV card-table Oxford shirt

Shaker-style units Jermine Street pinstripe suit

Edwardian semis Shetland sweater

Victorian houses French windows

Pitman diploma Japanese Zen garden

Pre-Raphaelite stained-glass windows  Venetian blinds

late-Edwardian row of houses  Provencal red

Tod’s loafers Selchester parents

Yale (lock) German chrome

Thai silk scarf

Breton T-shirts

Aran sweaters

Mayfair salon

 Having thus succeeded in the object of singling out two subgroups of anthroponymic and toponymic word-combinations, it is worthwhile looking into them from the point of view of translation into the Russian language in order to achieve the aim of the research. Though onomastic realia (like any realia, to that matter) always give a sort of exotic touch to translated texts when transcribed or transliterated, these are not the best devices to be used from the viewpoint of the text comprehension by the target readership. The translations variants given below reflect this point:

“Antroponym+common noun” group

Queen Ann armchair изящное кресло; кресло с гнутыми


George IV card-table элегантный столик для игры в карты

Edwardian semis особняки начала 20-го века (имеющие

одну общую стену)

Shaker-style units скромная, функциональная мебель

Victorian houses  дома конца 19-го века; старые дома

Pitman diploma диплом по стенографии и

секретарскому делу

Pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows оконные витражи в старинном стиле

Tod’s loafers дорогие мокасины

Yale lock автоматический замок; замок с защелкой

«Toponym+common noun» group

Savile Road dark suit темный костюм, сшитый на заказ

Oxford shirt классическая мужская рубашка

Jermin street pinstripe suit дорогой костюм в полоску

Shetland sweater тонкий шерстяной свитер

French window стеклянные балконные двери

Japanese Zen garden  классический японский сад камней

Venetian blinds подъемные жалюзи

Provencal red охряно-красный цвет

Selchester parents родители, планирующие отдать детей

в дорогую школу

German chrome блестящая хромировка

Thai silk scarf шелковый шарф в восточном стиле

Arran sweater свитер крупной (грубой) вязки

Mayfair salon дорогой косметический салон

As it is possible to see from the given translation variants, the prevailing transformation for both groups is generalization or, to be more exact, generic denomination, that is the substitution of a proper noun (or a derived adjective) by a common noun (with an appropriate adjective). In most examples, the transformation of addition has to be applied for the creation of a more precise image. Using this combination of transformations deprives the text of local or national connotation to a certain extent but helps the target readership understand the text without going to the trouble of looking up for the proper names in encyclopedic dictionaries or just thinking what the writer means by that or another proper name.

 It is quite obvious that getting such a result is usually preceded by extensive study of bi-lingual and more often mono-lingual dictionaries as well as the Internet sources done by a translator, and this process itself, if carried out together with the students, shows the value of studying realia at ESL classes.