How to translate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Illustration from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Today marks 151 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published, so I thought I’d share with you a shortened (ish) version of what I wrote about during my Masters degree in Translation Studies, where I researched how on earth you would go about translating a fantasy, nonsense story, like Alice, into French.

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Can some “untranslatable” words be translated after all?


If you love languages like me, then you love coming across articles featuring “untranslatable words” or “foreign words that you’ll wish we had in English.” The bone of contention among translators and other linguists is that words like these are, of course, not actually untranslatable – you just may not be able to do a neat 1:1 substitution. You might need a few extra sentences to explain it, or perhaps you might leave it untranslated.

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