MA Thesis

Muggles, and Quidditch, and Squibs, oh my!
A study of names and onomastic wordplay in translation, with a focus on the Harry Potter series.


The goal of this thesis is to study names in the Harry Potter series and its French and Spanish translations. It therefore opens with an analysis of the names, nicknames, and titles that are found in the English series before elaborating on the characteristics that distinguish names with special significance from those without. This analysis is three-fold containing: a study of the morphological structure of the names, a study of their origins, and an analysis of the extent to which these names characterize the people, places or objects being referred to.
The second chapter offers an analysis of the onomastic wordplay that can be found in the five English-language novels. This study is not limited to the more obvious forms of wordplay such as puns, alliteration, acronyms, and anagrams, but also includes others, like parallelism and irony.
Over the course of the third chapter, the reader will find a) summaries of several translation theories, with a focus on those that pertain directly to the translation of names and onomastic wordplay, b) a study of the strategies available to translators who are faced with loaded names, and finally, c) an analysis of which of these strategies would seem to be the most useful in the translation of the Harry Potter series.
Last, the reader will find the author’s commentary on the treatment of names by François Ménard, the French translator, by Alicia Dellepiane, who translated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone into Spanish, and by Adolfo Muñoz García and Nieves Martín Azofra, who translated the remaining four volumes into Spanish. The commentary focuses on various aspects of name translation, including overall consistency, before leading into a number of questions, including: which strategies seemed to have worked best for this series and what other choices could the translators have made? All of these prescriptive comments are founded on the point of view that names should be as accessible (or as inaccessible) to the TL readers as they probably were to the majority of the SL readers.