Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pippi By Any Other Name

How to translate names is a fascinating topic, and is often more complicated than people realize. I’ve spent some time researching it and while I won’t go on about my research at this time, I can say that there are two main kinds of names in fiction (plus lots of variations on these two): ones used just because people/characters generally need some sort of name and ones used descriptively, to say something about the person/character. The first kind of name is often retained as-is in translation, while the second frequently is translated.

A Swedish publication writes that Pippi Långstrump (that’s Pippi Longstocking to you English-speakers) has been translated to more than 60 languages. Here are a few of Pippi’s foreign names, according to the article:

Chinese : Changwazi Pipi
Estonian : Pipi Pikksukk
Finnish : Peppi Pitkätossu
French : Fifi Brindacier
Greek : Pipe Phakidomyte
Hebrew : Bilbee Bat-Gerev
Icelandic : Lína Langsokkur
Japanese : Nagakutsushita no Pippi
Kurdish : Pippi-Ya Goredirey
Latvian : Pepija Garzeķe
Macedonian : Pipi dolgiot corap
Polish : Fizia Pończoszanka
Portuguese : Bibi Meia-Longa
Spanish : Pipi Calzaslargas
Thai : Pippi Thung-Taow Yaow

If would be interesting to know if Pippi’s last name in all those languages means “long stocking”.


ilda said...

"Pippi Calzelunghe" in Italian, which actually means "long stockings", plural. Same for Spanish, as far as I can see. The French one doesn't look as a literal translation, unless "brindacier" is some sort of slang for "stocking". But to me it sounds as "steel strand/thread".

Percy Balemans said...

In Dutch she's called "Pippi Langkous" which also means "long stocking".

Sarah Alys said...

Yep, "Nagakutsushita" in Japanese would indeed translate to "long socks."

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks so much for all your comments!
I think in this case, it makes sense to translate Pippi's second name, but I wonder if there are any translations that retain some version of the Swedish "långstrump". I also wonder what would have happened if this had been a book for adults -- would her last name have been kept in Swedish (or adapted to the target language's spelling/grammar) or would it have been translated?

Best wishes,

sumoris said...

In Latvian Garzeķe means also long stocking

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks for letting us know!

Best wishes,

Tania I said...

late answer but (just found your blog, looking for Pipi's original name ;))
it means 'long-stocking' in Macedonian, too

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks, Tania!

Best wishes,

K said...

An even later response (found your blog recently and going slowly through it, but now I'm "just" a year behind ;)
Slovenian: Pika Nogavička - Dotty Smallsock if I back-translate it.
Bye, Kitty

Celeste Simoes said...

Well, I've just read this post, as I am doing a PhD on Translation Studies (Little Women in Portuguese, by the way) and I must say that the Portuguese translation for Pipi was "Pipi das Meias Altas", so I don't know where the other translation came from. Perhaphs Portuguese from Brazil? I have no idea. ;-)