Proper Names in Translation of Fiction (on the Material of Translation into English of The History of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin) Literary Translation translation jobs
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Proper Names in Translation of Fiction (on the Material of Translation into English of The History of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin)

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Alexander KalashnikovAbstract

The article tackles the system of proper names and charactonyms from the book the Story of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin in a translation by Susan Brownsberger. Charactonym is a name expressing the characteristics of the bearer. So in the book where the names are part of the writer's intention they are rendered according to their inner form, which is placed in the common stem of the character's name. The paper studies different types of names relevant in traslation: charactonyms, expressive names, names with veiled significance and names of famous persons and fictitious characters. The author of the paper interprets allusions and exposes advantages and disadvantages of the translation. It is supplemented with a table of all significant -onyms from the book. The paper is modeled on the research which the author had done in the previous paper Translation of Charactonyms from English into Russian where some theoretical notions are covered in more detail.

Proper names play an important role in a literary work. They point to the setting, social status and nationality of characters. The names containing in their stems components of common nouns and of other parts of speech can, along with their nominal function, carry out the function of characterizing a person or a place.

The paper will touch upon the rendering of proper names in translation into English of The History of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin (1870). Meanings of some names and their correlation with the entire work and the problem of to what extent it is necessary to render the inner form of the names in general will be examined as well.

In the paper proper names are considered as set designations of singular objects: given names, patronymics, last names, place-names, titles of books and works of art.

Charactonym (significant proper name) is a name expressing the characteristics of the bearer. Partial or complete similarity of the common stem of the name to the bearer will be referred to as significance. Common stem is a name or its part which resembles in its form an "ordinary" word, e.g. Blockhead (common stem "blockhead"), Halfkin (common stem "half").

Charactonyms may be rendered by means of transcription or transliteration as proper names are traditionally rendered, but in this case fictitious names lose the implication which they carry in the original. So in books where the names are part of the writer's intention they are rendered according to their inner form, which is placed in the common stem of the character's name.

In different epochs charactonyms, while treated in different ways by literary critics, were an integral part of a literary work, but unfortunately they were often ignored even in the translations of outstanding works by Sheridan, Dickens, and Thackeray into Russian2 and by Gogol, N. Ostrovsky, and Chekhov into English. At the same time in some works charactonyms as part of author's intention were rendered, in particular, in The History of a Town by Saltykov-Shchedrin (1870) in translation by Susan Brownsberger (Saltykov-Shchedrin M.E. The History of a Town. Translated by Susan Brownsberger. Michigan: Ardis Publishers, 1982.)3

S. Brownsberger is a leading translator of Russian literature into English. Her style is characterized by rendering nuances of the original text not deviating from it. Thanks to her, the English-speaking world has been acquainted with many works of Russian literature of the 19th century, the literature of the Soviet period, and contemporary Russian literature: the narrative by V. Aksenov Oranges From Morocco, the novel by F. Iskander Sandro of Chegem, the novel by A. Bitov Pushkin House, etc.

The History of a Town by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin presents a satirical description of government in Russia. In the images of governors, allusions and details, the reader perceives real persons and facts referring to the events of the end of the 18th and the first decades of the 19th century. Such "chronicle novel" allowed the writer to speak of his time without provoking the censor's intervention. M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin skillfully takes advantage of hyperbole so real facts acquire fantastic contours to expose this or that trait of a character.

The chronicle is written in a picturesque, peculiar, and rather varied language; the book has the lofty style of old-fashioned speech, folk expressions, proverbs, a formal style of documents and the genre of the journalism contemporary to M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin. The book numbers 81 fictitious characters, 15 fictitious place-names, 67 real persons and characters from other works, 29 real toponyms not relating only to this book, 20 titles of literature and art, newspapers and documents, including 13 fictitious ones. The book contains a total of 212 proper names. The paper draws special attention to the rendering of charactonyms.

Charactonyms create a special system in this book and demand attention when rendered into a foreign language. The reader faces governors who are ridiculous and disgusting with their cruelty, dullness, and evil hatred of the people. Governor Wolfhound governed the town of Foolov with the help of a music box in the head which uttered only two phrases: "I'll ravage!" and "I'll not put up!" Brigadier Ferdyschenko starved the Foolovites, his successor Wartkin burned thirty-three villages and by these measures collected a debt of two rubles fifty kopecks, Major Madgrab-Bravadsky abolished the sciences, Feofilakt Benevolensky was obsessed by lawmaking, Gloom-Grumblev was the embodiment of wild tyranny, an awful symbol of violence and oppression. In the governors described by Shchedrin the traits of Russian autocrats and their retinue are clearly seen and some characters have traits of several historic persons. Paul I, Alexander I, Speransky, Arakcheyev are easily seen in Sonovabitchev, Melancholov, Benevolensky and Gloom-Grumblev (the family name of the latter—in Russian Ugryum-Burcheev—is consonant with the name of his prototype Arakcheyev). So this book has much in common with chronicle and roman а clef4.

The book has both real and fictitious proper names; among the latter, characters with significant names take a special place. We come across characters from other works, real and fictitious place-names. As in any book with historical references, we find many allusions which are not clear even to Russian readers; this is why this edition has detailed references, explanations and comments. The Comments in the edition in question are divided into two parts: Background Notes with explanations of some episodes and connections with historical events and characteristics to fictitious persons and a Glossary of Names and Terms where additional short information is given on historic persons and place-names, e.g. ancient toponyms, such as "Propontis is the classical name of the Sea of Marmara".

For further study, anthroponyms may be divided into fictitious anthroponyms and names which are part of background knowledge that is names of famous real figures and characters from other works, place-names imaginary and real, mythological and well-known literary characters. Real animate and inanimate objects were rendered in the book by transcription (Кирила Разумовский—Kirila Razumovsky, Святослав Игоревич— Svyatoslav Igorevich) or by set designations taking into account the language where they were created (Бирон—Von Buhren; Фома Кемпийский—Thomas a Kempis).

There are also titles of literary works both real, e.g. «Слово о полку Игореве»—The Lay of Igor's Army, Offenbach's operetta «Прекрасная Елена»—La Belle Hélène, and fictitious: Melancholov's story «Сатурн, останавливающий свой бег в объятиях Венеры»—Saturn Checking His Flight in the Arms of Venus; the document written by Benevolensky «Устав о добропорядочном пирогов печении»—Statute on the Good and Proper baking of Pies.

The names of fictitious characters from the book are divided: into the names derived from common nouns and other parts of speech, charactonyms, expressive names, nicknames, and names with common stems but not characterizing their bearers. Place-names are divided into the similar groups.

Names and last names without any common stem are transcribed, e.g. Линкин—Linkin, Урус-Кугуш-Кильдибаев—Urus-Kugush-Kildibaev, as well as incidental characters, i.e. peasants, holy fools, soldiers who have only given names with different deteriorative suffixes, e.g. Матренка—Matryonka, Аксиньюшка—Axinyushka, Митька—Mitka, Яшенька—Yashenka.

The main way of rendering charactonyms in the translation of The History of a Town was the translation of common stems supplemented with suffixes, i.e. -ov Великанов—Gigantov, -kin Половинкин—Halfkin, -tsky Мерзицкий—Abominitsky. The suffixes also serve the means of indication of nationality that is that these are Russian last names. You can come across last names identical in form with common nouns, e.g. Прыщ—Pimple («прыщ»—pimple), Комар—Mosquiter («комар»—mosquito) and in this they resemble nicknames, e.g. Степка Горластый—Styopka the Loudmouth, Пётра Долгий Pyotra the Tall.

The indication of a charactonym is not only complete or partial resemblance with a word but the presence of the traits in the person or place. The presence of a common stem is suggested by means of motivators. Motivator (the term is borrowed from the thesis by А.А. Zhivogliadov) is a part of text, expressing by means of synonyms, homonyms, confusables, a semantic similarity with the meanings of a morpheme or morphemes of the proper name and attaching the name its characterizing function. The main purpose of the motivator is to affirm the presence of the characteristics in the stem of the proper name; therefore it must convey information about the bearer.

Motivators may be divided in two groups, explicit and implicit. Explicit motivators are usually situated in a narrow context and are expressed either with a word or a word combination. Charactonyms with explicit motivators are the most obvious. In the analysed examples the names in question are underlined and their motivators are printed in bold type. Below as an example the characteristics of Councilor of State E.A. Melancholov (Grustilov—in the original) is given:

Грустилов, Эраст Андреевич, статский советник. Друг Карамзина. Отличался нежностью и чувствительностью сердца, любил пить чай в городской роще, и не мог без слез видеть, как токуют тетери. Оставил после себя несколько сочинений идиллического содержания и умер от меланхолии в 1825 году. [3. p. 34]

Melancholov, Erast Andreevich, Councilor of State. Friend of the novelist Karamzin. Was notable for the gentleness and sensitivity of his soul, liked to drink tea in the town grove and could not but shed tears on seeing the mating of the black grouse. Left several works, idyllic in content, and died of melancholy in 1825. [2. p. 29]

The motivator to the governor's last name with characteristic significance, that is whose common stem has a neutral coloring, is the word меланхолия, in the English translation the motivator is the same melancholy in the meaning 'depression' and the last name is rendered Melancholov ("грусть" means melancholy in English) so a usual (dictionary) equivalent is used to render the common stem.

Charactonym de Sans-Culottes keeps its significance even though it is transcribed. The motivator is the name of one of the leaders of the Jacobins Jean-Paul Marat, mentioned as a brother of the character Mlle. de Sans-Culottes. Sans-culottes meant originally in French "without knee-pants" and was later used for volunteers of the Revolutionary Army and the radical adherents of the Revolution. The word was borrowed from French and has the spelling as in French only without hyphen sansculottes.

The last names of governors Gloom-Grumblev and Sonovabitchev also have explicit motivators but these names due to the expressive coloring of common stems are expressive-and-characteristic names. For example, last name Gloom-Grumblev has expression due to the stems gloom and grumble both with negative connotations. The motivator to the family name is the word hangman:

Угрюм-Бурчеев, бывый прохвост. Разрушил старый город и построил другой на новом месте. [3. p. 34]

Gloom-Grumblev, former regimental hangman. Destroyed the old town and built another on a new spot. [2. p. 29]

The implicit motivator is not presented in a narrow context and characterizes a person on the basis of all information about its bearer. Such motivators are often used for protagonists. Doing so the writer avoids expressing his opinion of or attitude toward a character or a place.

As an example of a charactonym with an implicit motivator one can suggest the place-name Foolov. The text lacks specific negative characteristics of the town where the plot is developing but the description of the town governors, the people who are oppressed and ignorant makes the characteristics clear and consequently the stem глупый (fool) was not taken at random.

Motivators may be other proper names situated close to each other and creating by their common stems a certain semantic field. Such names are called intersemantizating. The expression in this case is caused by the common stems of last names, nicknames or place-names associated by some idea or subject. The information about the bearers may be scanty or be absent, but the semantic proximity of the stems is significant. Intersemantizating significance may be supplemented by the characteristic significance, i.e., by the motivators as in the example below where villages Недоедово (Underfedovo) и Голодаевка (Faminovka) with a motivator «голодные» (starving) are episodically mentioned:

Но так как Глупов всем изобилует и ничего, кроме розог и административных мероприятий, не потребляет, другие же страны, как-то: село Недоедово, деревня Голодаевка и проч., суть совершенно голодные и притом до чрезмерности жадные, то естественно, что торговый баланс всегда склоняется в пользу Глупова. [3. p. 200]

But whereas Foolov was rich in everything and needed nothing but birchings and administrative measures, while other countries—namely, the village of Underfedovo, the village of Faminovka and so on—were utterly starving and extremely greedy besides, then naturally the balance of trade was always tipped in Foolov's favor. [2. p. 167]

There are not many significant names with motivators in the book; however there are plenty of names with just expressive color. These expressive names do not reflect the traits of a character but cause association with an expressive subject or notion. Mainly nicknames and proper names containing in the stems expressive words have this kind of significance. Colloquial, derogatory, jocular words, euphemisms, interjections and other words limited in use for ethical, esthetic reasons, the words expressing defects, not politically correct, tabooed and dialect words have a property irrespective of the context to raise certain associations, feelings, and thoughts in a listener or reader. Such stems used to create names make a reader find an explanation to the choice of the stem for a name, and its communicative relevance. Common stem fulfills here the expressive function, e.g. Навозная слобода—the Dung District. Here we deal with an unaesthetic name for a settlement.

A similar expression can be found in the last name Бородавкин (Wartkin). This governor does not have any positive characteristics, but it is not possible to characterize him by means of the stem бородавка (a wart). The common stem fulfills only the expressive function. We should note that this governor who waged war on his people is much better characterized with his given name Vasilisk (Василиск) that is Basilisk. The name Basilisk has an implicit motivator and characteristic significance. The characteristics is associated with Basilisk, the classical dragon of mythology which could kill with its look. Basilisk Wartkin had an indomitable energy, always knew what and where took place and even being asleep one of his eyes was open, which inspired fear in his family.

The book has incidental characters bearing names without any significance and we know very little of them, but their names are translated: Толковников—Talknikov, Младенцев—Infantov, Половинкин—Halfkin, Боголепов—Deiformov, Черноступ—Blackfoot. These last names may point to some expression as they are fictitious and used intentionally. In this group of names we would like to note the translation of Blackfoot. The family name from the original Черноступ may be divided in two stems черно (cherno) that is black and ступ (stup) (a shortened form from stupnya) foot. But in English blackfoot according to the Oxford English Dictionary in 12 volumes [4] means: 1. The name of a tribe of North American Indians. 2. A go-between in a love affair, a match-maker. From the book we can learn that this character served as an orderly to a governor. To associate the orderly with a North American Indian by translating the last name is not considered significant, because this last name is neither characteristic nor expressive. For example, the name of another incidental character Алешкa Беспятов (bez pyaty—that is "without a heel") is transcribed Alyoshka Bespyatov.

The reader may find plenty of foreign by origin characters in the book. Among them there are German governor Богдан Богданович Пфейфер (Bogdan Bogdanovich Pfeifer); governors Frenchmen: Антон Протасьевич де Санглот (Anton Protasievich de Sanglot), Ангел Дорофеич Дю-Шарио (Angel Dorofeevich Du Chariot), Клемантинка де Бурбон (Clementinka de Bourbon); a Pole Анеля Алоизиевна Лядоховская (Anelya Aloizievna Ladochovska); a Greek Ламврокакис (Lamvrokakis); a Cirkassian Ксаверий Георгиевич Микаладзе (Ksavery Georgievich Mikaladze); a Turk Маныл Самылович Урус-Кугуш-Кильдибаев (Manyl Samylovich Urus-Kugush-Kildibaev). These names are either transcribed or rendered taking into account their spelling in their countries of origin.

Among them we may find names with veiled significance. These are foreign names alluding not only to the nationality of the bearer in Russian but they also have a common stem in the foreign language. So the German name of Governess Амалия Карловна Штокфиш (Amalia Karlovna Stockfisch) in whom we can see the traits of Catherine II the Great, as a common noun (stockfisch) means: 1) a cod, 2) colloq. a dull person. In English stockfish means "a dried cod"; the last name of the chemist Зальцфиш (Salzfisch) one may interpret as a salt fish which is close to the German salzfisch. The last name of the governor Богдан Богданович Пфейфер (Bogdan Bogdanovich Pfeifer) means—«whistler» (pfeifer).

Among French last names we may note Du Chariot and de Sanglot. Governor Антон Протасьевич де Санглот (Anton Protasievich de Sanglot) is mentioned only twice and it is known that he flew through the air in the municipal park and was notable for his frivolity. But it is necessary to note that sanglot from French means sobbing. Ангел Дорофеич Дю-Шарио (Angel Dorofeevich Du Chariot) before he became the town governor had lived as a tramp and his last name Du Chariot derived from chariot is translated "a cart" that hints at the life of a person without shelter. The name of Governor Benevolensky (Беневленский) means in Latin "bene volens"—"wishing good" that taking into account similarity in his description with the facts from the biography of M.M. Speransky is the allusion to the prominent Russian lawmaker. Both the real figure and the character graduated from seminary and had a penchant for lawmaking [See. 5. p. 239]. The family name is transcribed into English and his characteristics become more transparent than in the original: Benevolensky. In English benevolence means kindness, generosity, and the name acquires a motivator characterizing him positively and the characteristic significance:

Беневоленский, Феофилакт Иринархович, статский советник, товарищ Сперанского по семинарии. Был мудр и оказывал склонность к законодательству. Предсказал гласные суды и земство. Имел любовную связь с купчихою Распоповою, у которой по субботам едал пироги с начинкой. В свободное от занятий время сочинял для городских попов проповеди и переводил с латинского сочинения Фомы Кемпийского. Вновь ввел в употребление, яко полезные, горчицу, лавровый лист и прованское масло. Первый обложил данью окуп, от которого и получал три тысячи рублей в год. В 1811 году за потворство Бонапарту был призван к ответу и сослан в заточение. [3. p. 33]

Benevolensky, Feofilakt Irinarkhovich, Counsillor of State, a seminary friend of Speransky's was wise and showed a penchant for lawmaking. Predicted open public trials and elected provincial governments. Had an amorous liaison with the merchant's wife Raspopova, at whose home he used to eat pie on Saturday. In his free time composed sermons for the town priests and translated the works of Thomas a Kempis from Latin. Reintroduced the use of mustard, bay leaf, and olive oil as being healthful. Was the first to lay a tribute upon the liquor franchise, by which device he obtained three thousand rubles a year. In 1811, for pandering to Bonaparte, was called to a court and exiled to imprisonment. [2. p. 28]

The last name of Foty Petrovich Ferapontov (Фотий Петрович Ферапонтов) is translated as Servantov though it is difficult to expose in the original the meaning of the inner form derived from the calendar name Ferapont (Therapontos). However the translator found the meaning from Old Greek therapontos - "helper" or "servant" and translated it using the stem servant and a typical suffix of Russian family names -ov. The characteristics of the person becomes the meaning "servant". Russian literary critic G.V. Ivanov who is referred to in the comments to the American edition [See. 2. p. 197], points to a connection between the characteristics in the name of the character and a historical fact that the barber of Russian czar Paul I was a captured Turk who eventually became a count while continuing to shave the czar. The motivator to the name Servantov is the former trade of the character tonsorial artist. So the significance was explicated here as well as in the example above:

Ферапонтов, Фотий Петрович, бригадир. Бывый брадобрей оного же герцога Курляндского. [3. p. 32]

Servantov, Foty Petrovich, Brigadier. Former tonsorial artist to this same Duke of Courland. [2. p. 27]

If we suggest that the translator decided to expose the significance and render its etymological meaning, on the same grounds she might have rendered given names which as literary critics assert refer to Alexander I. In particular, Melancholov's name Erast the writer took, to the opinion of an authoritative critic B. M. Eikhenbaum, from the tale by N.M. Karamzin "Poor Liza" (1792). In Greek this name means a lover that characterizes the person and the combination of the name with the family name Melancholov gives an allusion to Alexander I [See. 5. p. 249]. Hints to Alexander I are also found in the names of governors Nikodim Ivanov and Angel Dorofeevich Du Chariot. After the victory over the French in 1813, the Russian Emperor was often called Nikodim that means in Greek "the conqueror of peoples". In society Alexander I was called "angel" or "our angel". The name Dorofey that meant "gracious" was also used for Alexander I [See. 5. p. 247].

Touching upon the subject of names with veiled significance it is necessary to point to the translation of some names which contain in the common stem a Russian word but it is either an obsolete or dialectal word. These words might have been more clear at the time when the book was written in 1870 than they are now. Therefore, a legitimate issue on the necessity of rendering proper names with such stems arises.

In the chapter The Era of Emancipation from War where Governor Wartkin wages war on the Foolovites because the latter refuse to eat mustard, Svistukha Mountain (гора Свистуха) is mentioned. Svistukha according to V. I. Dal's Dictionary [6] means generally 'the wigeon' the bird of the duck family which lives in lakes and forests. In contemporary Russian this bird is called sviyaz and svistukha is an obsolete term. 'Svistukha Mountain' is translated into English as 'Whistle Duck Mountain'. The whistle duck is also characterized by whistling incessantly in flight. So, in changing the name of the bird in the translation, the common indication to cry loudly is kept.

The nickname of the holy fool Возгрявый (Vozgriyavy) is also translated as Snotpuss snot + puss. The obsolete word vozgriviy has the meaning "not wiping the nose" that is registered in V.I. Dal's Dictionary. The family name Боголепов (Bogolepov) Deiformov is also translated. This last name often used among Russian seminarians is derived from bogolepy "beautiful as god". To render the last name, the bookish word deiform was used.

Among significant names of famous figures and characters given to other people to characterize the latter we should note the names a bit changed in structure but making an allusion to their real bearers: Merzitsky that contains the stem merzky (мерзкий) literally vile (Abominitsky in translation from abominable) and Funich (the Russian stem is unclear) where M.L. Magnitsky (1778-1855) and D.P. Runich (1778-1860) reactionary school administrators who imposed religious restrictions on education under Alexander I in the 1820s. The name of Elder Dobromysl (Goodthought in translation) is an allusion to Elder Gostomysl of Novgorod, traditionally associated with the summoning of the Varangian princes to Russia.

In the Chapter The Saga of the Six Town Governesses, where rule in Russia of the 18th century is described, a certain pretender Palaeologova laid her claims to power due to the "secret sign" of her bearing the surname of Palaeologues and the circumstance that her late husband, a former state wine steward on account of improvishment had once held the office of town governor. The surname Palaeologova makes an allusion to the dynasty of Palaeologues. The mentioned "secret sign" and claims to the post of Governess of Foolov which Palaeologova saw in her Byzantine surname was that a niece of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX, Sofia Paleologue, married Prince Ivan III of Moscow. During the reign of Catherine II, the idea to join the territory of the former Byzantine Empire to Russia was strong enough to appoint the son of Paul I Constantine, named so by Catherine the Great, as the ruler there.

Two of four chroniclers have the same given and last names, i.e. Mishka Tryapitchkin. The last name is derived from тряпка (tryapka) with meanings 1) a rag and 2) (of a person) a milksop. Saltykov-Shchedrin may have borrowed the last name from N.V. Gogol's play The Government Inspector. There Tryapitchkin was a friend of Khlestakov—the main character—who contributed to a paper. In this translation the connection with The Government Inspector is lost because in the translation of Gogol's play the last name is transcribed: Tryapitchkin but in the History of a Town it is translated: Weakgrain.

Some names of famous figures and characters are rendered in peculiar ways. For example in the Russian text goddess Venus is mentioned but with another name Киприда (Kiprida) that points to her origin from Cyprus as well as the place where she is worshiped. The goddess's name is translated as Venus, although one could use the expression 'the Cyprian goddess' keeping the meaning suggested by the author. If we assume that the translator considered the expression 'the Cyprian Goddess' less common it is necessary to note that in Russian Kiprida is also seldom used.

In the passage where the opera Rogneda by Russian composer A.N. Serov as well as the author of libretto playwright D.V. Averkiev are mentioned, the name of the playwright is omitted in the translation:

Кузьма к этому времени совсем уже оглох и ослеп, но едва дали ему понюхать монету рубль, как он сейчас же на все согласился и начал выкрикивать что-то непонятное стихами Аверкиева из оперы "Рогнеда". [3. p. 155]

Kuzma by this time was completely deaf and blind, but they had no sooner let him sniff a ruble coin than he immediately agreed to everything and began shouting out something unintelligible in pagan verse from the opera Rogneda [2. p. 132]

For Averkiev the contextual equivalent became pagan which conveys the essence of the opera's plot—a pagan woman Rogneda who worships Perun becomes the wife of Prince Vladimir Red Sun and decides to kill him.

On aggregate of 67 names of famous figures and characters, 22 (or one-third) are rendered according to the spelling of origin (Бирон—Von Buhren) or a traditional designation that admits translation of stems (Карл Простодушный—Charles the Simple). Of 29 real place-names 17 are not transcribed but rendered according to the traditional designation in English: Rome, The Hyperborean Sea etc. The predominance of a traditional variant in rendering place-names is explained by mentioning plenty of ancient toponyms. With these figures we want to critique the wide-spread practice of rendering proper names and toponyms in particular by means of transcription or transliteration, which is used when the translator does not know the correct name of the object in the target language. Despite a possible similarity in spelling of proper names in different languages, all such designations should be checked in reference books.

In conclusion we would like to note that the following types of proper names are found5: characteristic names, e.g. Melancholov (Грустилов), Wolfhound (Брудастый), de Sans-Culottes (Сан-Кюлот) (see sections А, G); expressive-and-characteristic names, e.g. Gloom-Grumblev (Угрюм-Бурчеев), Sonovabitchev (Негодяев), Basilisk Wartkin Василиск Бородавкин, the town of Foolov (Глупов) (see sections B, H); intersemantisating names, e.g. Great Street (Большая улица) и Gentry Street (Дворянская улица), the suburb of Halfwittov (Полоумнов) (see section J); expressive names, e.g. Mildmuggov (Смирномордов), Chubbov (Карапузов) (see sections C, I) and nicknames, e.g. Styopka the Loudmouth (Степка Горластый) (see section D) and significant names of famous figures and characters, e.g. Goodthought (Добромысл) (see section F). Most of the charactonyms in the book were translated by usual equivalents that is the common stems supplemented with suffixes were rendered by direct equivalents from dictionaries, e.g. Карапузов—Chubbov, Маслобойников—Butterchurnov, Непреклонск—Adamantsk. Of 81 names of fictitious characters 38 have translated common stems and the proportion is similar in the case of the fictitious place-names. The table presents 52 names (38 anthroponyms and 14 toponyms) with translated stems.

We can mention that the translation of names derived from common nouns and other parts of speech but suggesting no characteristics is considered irrelevant, although it lends some additional vividness to the target text.

We believe that exposing the inner form of some last names and consequently their significance was unnecessary, e.g. Ферапонтов—Servantov where a Greek stem was translated; or the translation of anthroponyms with common stems although these stems do not give any characteristics: Младенцев—Infantov, Байбаков—Dormousov (see sections E, K), translation of stems that derive from obsolete words: Возгрявый—Snotpuss, Боголепов—Deiformov. However that doesn't affect the style of the book.

As a peculiarity of this translation of The Story of a Town we can notice a very attentive sometimes even overzealous attitude in rendering common stems of proper names, unlike most other translations where charactonyms are usually transcribed. Sometimes the inner form of proper names is translated even where it is unnecessary. However we note a high quality of the translation on the whole and the interpretation of the system of proper names, the skill in finding the necessary characterizing information in the names, conveying M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin's intention. S. Brownsberger skillfully dealt with the ways of rendering of proper names depending on their significance and stylistic load. She managed to render the variety of names in the book and chose the proper way of translating in almost every separate case.


Names with translated common stems in The History of a Town

А Charactreistic anthroponyms

B Expressive-and-characteristic anthroponyms


Дементий Варламович Брудастый

Dementy Varlamovich Wolfhound


Василиск Семенович Бородавкин

Basilisk Semyonovich Wartkin


Семен Константинович Двоекуров

Semyon Konstantinych Duplecitov


Онуфрий Иванович Негодяев

Onufry Ivanovich Sonovabitchev


Эраст Андреевич Грустилов

Erast Andreevich Melancholov





де Сан-Кюлот

de Sans-Culottes


Архистратиг Стратилатович Перехват-Залихватский

Archistratig Stratilatovich Madgrab-Bravadsky



Иван Пантелеич Прыщ

Ivan Panteleich Pimple

C Expressive anthroponyms

D Nicknames


Митька Смирномордов

Mitka Mildmuggov



Music Box


Иван Матвеевич Великанов

Ivan Matveevich Gigantov


Дунька Толстопятая

Dunka the Thickheeled


Устинья Протасьевна Трубочистиха

Ustynya Protasievna Chimneysweep


Матренка Ноздря

Matryonka the Nostril





Степка Горластый

Styopka the Loudmouth



Пётра Долгий

Pyotra the Tall



Мишка Возгрявый

Mishka Snotpuss


7Филька Бесчастный Filka the Luckless

E Anthroponyms with common stems

F Significant names of famous figures and characters


Павлушка Маслобойников

Pavlushka Butterchurnov


Мишка Тряпичкин

Mishka Weakgrain


Баклан Иван Матвеевич

Blockhead Ivan Matveevich





Василий Байбаков

Vasily Dormousov


Ираида Лукинишна Палеологова

Iraida Lukinishna Palaeologova





Клемантинка де Бурбон

Clementinka de Bourbon





Наталья Кирилловна де Помпадур

Natalya Kirillovna de Pompadour


Сила Терентьев Пузанов

Sila Terentiev Paunchov











Василий Черноступ

Vasily Blackfoot







Иона Козырь

Iona Hotspur



Алешка Беспятов

Alyoshka Bespyatov



Пётр Комар

Pyotr Mosquiter


G Characteristic toponyms

H Expressive-and-characteristic toponyms


город Глупов

the town of Foolov


слобода Негодница

the No-Good District


Солдатская слобода

the Soldiers District

I Expressive toponyms


Стрелецкая слобода

the Musketeers District


слобода Навозная

the Dung District


Пушкарская слобода

the Cannoneers District



город Непреклонск



G Characteristic toponyms

J Intersemantisating toponyms


село Недоедово

the village of Underfedovo


пригород Полоумнов

the suburb of Halfwittov


деревня Голодаевка

the village of Faminovka


Большая улица

Great Street



Дворянская улица

Gentry Street


K Toponyms with common stems


гора Свистуха

Whistle Duck Mountain


  1. Kalashnikov A. Translation of Сharactonyms from English into Russian. ONOMA 40, 2005.

  2. Saltykov-Shchedrin M.E. The History of a Town. Translated by Susan Brownsberger. Michigan: Ardis Publishers, 1982.—219 p.

  3. Салтыков-Щедрин М. Е. История одного города.—Новосибирск, Западно-Сибирское книжное издательство, 1976.—256 pp.—Edition of the original text of the book on which the research has been made.
  4. Oxford English Dictionary in 12 volumes. University Press. 1933.
  5. Эйхенбаум Б. М. Комментарии \\ Салтыков-Щедрин М. Е. История одного города. 1976. pp. 231-252. Comments on The History of a Town by literary critic B. M. Eikhenbaum.

  6. Даль В. И. Толковый словарь живого великорусского языка: В 4 т. М.: Рус. яз., 1981. The dictionary of the live great Russian language complied by Russian writer and lexicographer V. I. Dal in 1863-64. This dictionary is considered a lexicographic monument and an authoritative source of the 19th century Russian.


1' This a translation of the paper printed in NTI Journal, Seriya 2, Moscow. The paper is available in Russian. See: Калашников А.В. Имена собственные в переводе художественного произведения (на материале перевода на английский язык «Истории одного города» М. Е. Салтыкова-Щедрина).

2' On the charactonyms in translations of English works into Russian See A. Kalashnikov Translation of Charactonyms from English into Russian [1].

3' This book is also translated into other European languages in particular, into German Geschichte einer Stadt (1994), into French Histoire d'une ville (1994), into Italian Storia di una citta (1961).

4' That is "a novel with a key", novel that portrays well-known real people disguised as fictional characters.

5' The complete list of charactonyms is given in the Table Names with translated common stems in The History of a Town.

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