Witcher Wiki

by Piotr 'Daerdin' Mazur

1. Introduction[ | ]

Fantasy has always been my favourite genre of literature and computer games. As soon as I found out that Polish video games developing studio - CD Projekt RED - are making a PC game based on the novels created by Andrzej Sapkowski with the witcher Geralt as the main character I was far more than happy. Soon after that, I also learned that English speaking enthusiasts for fantasy literature would finally be able to read about the adventures of Geralt in their mother tongue. Driven by professional interest I bought The Last Wish - the first volume of short stories about the witcher - to see how it was translated. After having finished reading it I could not resist writing a thesis about the work Danusia Stok, the translator of the book, had done. Especially when it comes to proper names and nomenclature.

This here is the practical part of my work, where I discuss the way Stok approached the task of translating proper names and nomenclature in The Last Wish; I will try to prove that she did not avoid some mistakes and awkward decisions while translating the short stories.

I will start however with introducing Andrzej Sapkowski and his literary works; I will also mention his point of view concerning the general concept of onomastics in fantasy literature.

2. Andrzej Sapkowski[ | ]

Fantasy is probably the most popular trend in Polish literature at the moment. We can observe a kind of its bloom - not only can we find new translations of foreign books on the market, but also works of Polish writers (e.g. Anna Brzezińska, Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz or Feliks W. Kres). Bestseller lists incessantly contain books of such classics as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, C.S. Lewis or Andrzej Sapkowski on the top.

Andrzej Sapkowski is one of the most eminent representatives of Polish fantasy and its theoretician. He is a controversial figure who cannot be treated indifferently - he is loved by his fans for his style and caustic writing and he is hated by journalists for the same reasons. His contribution to the development of Polish fantasy literature cannot be overestimated.

In 1985 Polish fantasy magazine Fantastyka organised a competition for a science fiction story.[1] After his son's persuasion, over-forty-year-old sales specialist from Łódź sent his The Witcher and won the third place.[2] This text introduced a breath of fresh air into a bit stale universe of fantasy world, where a typical pattern was present: "warrior - princess - wizard - dragon". Both readers and writers were satiated with this schema. Sapkowski's short story gave up conventions playing blithely with them and with readers. The title character, witcher Geralt, became embedded in readers' memory thanks to his appearance, comportment and most of all profession. No wonder that people demanded subsequent stories about the mutant trained for fighting monsters. It was his credit for Sapkowski to start climbing bestseller lists and gain huge popularity.

His debut came relatively late - average age of debut fantasy writers is 23 years - he is, however, the uncrowned king of the milieu which found it difficult to accept him. His literary and journalistic oeuvre is extremely rich. So far, he has published two volumes of the witcher stories - Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish) (1993) and Miecz przeznaczenia (Sword of Destiny) (1993), RPG textbook - Oko Yrrhedesa (The Eye of Yrrhedes) (1995), an essay about the Knights of the Round Table and a micronovel about legendary love of Tristan and Iseult – Świat króla Artura. Maladie (The World of King Arthur. Maladie) (1995), a volume of stories previously published in magazines - Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna (Something ends, something begins) (2000). The most important, however, is the witcher pentalogy, sometimes called 'saga' - vol. I Krew elfów (Blood of Elves) (1994), vol. II Czas pogardy (Time of Contempt) (1995), vol. III Chrzest ognia (Baptism of Fire) (1996), vol. IV Wieża Jaskółki (The Tower of the Swallow) (1997), vol. V Pani Jeziora (The Lady of the Lake) (1999). He also published Rękopis znaleziony w smoczej jaskini. Kompendium wiedzy o literaturze fantasy (Manuscript found in a dragon's cave. Fantasy literature compendium) (2001) - the first guide to fantasy literature on the Polish market. Sapkowski's most recent works are Narrenturm (Narrenturm) (2002), Boży bojownicy (God's Fighters) (2004) and Lux Perpetua (Lux Perpetua) (2006), which form the Hussite trilogy.

Sapkowski's work is subject of fascination not only to ordinary readers but also to researchers - literary scholars, linguists and historians (among others Bereś, Żabski, Szelewski, Tazbir, Kaczor). Systematically, we can find books' reviews printed in the press (mostly written by Wojciech Orliński). Most of them focus on the plot, however, omitting the style of the text.

Extremely rich onomastics, humour and cultural associations, which we can find in Sapkowski's works, are satisfying subjects for scholarly deliberation and research. Thanks to that, there are more and more studies dedicated to his texts. In the last quarter of 2005, SuperNOWA publishing house printed a very long interview given by the author to Stanisław Bereś. It is a record of the conversation which cannot be treated as an academic study of Sapkowski's artistic work. Bereś is mostly interested in the author's artistic process and workshop. That is why there are several questions concerning historical veracity, language and onomastic choices.

In 2006, słowo/obraz terytoria publishing house printed Katarzyna Kaczor's book Geralt, czarownice i wampir. Recykling kulturowy Andrzeja Sapkowskiego (Geralt, witches and a vampire. Cultural recycling of Andrzej Sapkowski). It was announced to be "the only so extensive study of Sapkowski's works on the Polish market". Unfortunately, the readers were given something far from what they expected. Kaczor presents the most important cultural associations set in the witcher saga in a very shortened form, limiting herself mostly to long quotations and a few sentences of commentary. The whole work looks rather like a synopsis of a book to come. I dare to say that the associations observed by the author are obvious to an average reader of Sapkowski's works, and this was supposed to be the target group of this monograph. Apart from that, the author - although being a lecturer of the Polish language and literary studies - does not pay any attention to the language or onomastic reference in the books. Instead, she focuses on the character himself, his appearance and characteristic features, which restricts her work considerably.

In 2003 Maciej Szelewski published his book Nazewnictwo w utworach Andrzeja Sapkowskiego i Nika Pierumowa (Onomastics in the works of Andrzej Sapkowski and Nik Pierumow). As the title points out, it is a linguistic study concerning onomastics in the witcher cycle. I will refer to this book in details later in my thesis.

Sapkowski himself gladly takes up the subject of onomastics and his nomenclature choices believing that it is a very fascinating subject, and he underlines it during interviews.

"- (Adam Dudaczyk) I have a question - where do you get all those incredible names for your books from?
- (AS) It is one of the most important things, so important that there is no recipe or a method. You need to have intuition.".[3]

Sapkowski does not use his names accidentally. Very often, he smuggles his literary, but not only, fascinations in them.

"I am in favour of well thought out onomastics. Names, though mysterious and pleasing to the ear, are to be signals, they have to harmonize with the action and plot. I like using names (...) which give the readers some clues - sometimes leading him or her to erudite and language play, and sometimes to legendary matter or literature classics".[4]

Sapkowski is a very conscious writer, fully aware of the fact that with proper names you can express many things.

"You don't have to be professor Tolkien to notice the Slavonic-Germanic fashion (...) of cluster-names Bole-sław, Sławo-mir, Sieg-fried, Fried-rich. Everyone can also see that (...) the more sophisticated the name the more distinctly - especially with "de" predicate – it determines the rank, status or position. When a reader reads that Armand de Bois-Tracy met Nob, he or she will have no problem with distinguishing which one is a viscount and which one is a miller".[5]

Sapkowski admits that part of the names are invented by himself. How does he choose names for his books?

"While getting to know the fantasy canon, I promised myself that when I decide to write my own books I will avoid single-syllabic names like the plague. The names that make you think of cough, hiccup or other unpleasant sounds which are produced by human organism, especially after eating, or alternatively drinking too much. (...) Let me quote: "Gurm", "Burm", "Korh", "Yrgh", "Burh", "Urh". (...) What can you say, onomastics is art in and of itself and you need to be simply talented. Not that I am boasting...".[6]

As we can see the choice of proper names in Sapkowski's books is essential and the translator should be very careful in dealing with them.

(Note: Two chapters titled "Proper names and nomenclature" and "Translation process" have been skipped, because they are a theoretical part of this thesis about the subject of translation.)

5. Proper names in The Last Wish[ | ]

To make the article clearer, I decided to divide this section into five categories:

1) geographical names,
2) personal names,
3) plants and stones,
4) monsters and creatures,
5) other proper names and common nouns.

In each of these, I will discuss the way Danusia Stok translated or directly transferred the names into the English version of the book. The translator did not avoid some mistakes, which will also be pointed out later in my thesis.
I will also use the division made by Szelewski,[7] who distinguishes three categories of proper names and nomenclature in Sapkowski's works. These are:

1) inauthentic names which were entirely created by the author,
2) inauthentic names which were created with the use of authentic morphemes from various languages,
3) authentic names which are used as fictional ones.

The titles of short stories included in The Last Wish are sometimes presented using the following abbreviations:

- VR1/2/3/4/5/6/7 – Głos rozsądku 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 (The Voice of Reason 1/2/3/4/5/6/7)
- W – Wiedźmin (The Witcher)
- GT – Ziarno prawdy (A Grain of Truth)
- LE – Mniejsze zło (The Lesser Evil)
- QP – Kwestia ceny (A Question of Price)
- EW – Kraniec świata (The Edge of the World)
- LW – Ostatnie życzenie (The Last Wish)

5.1. Geographical names[ | ]

Geographical names discussed in present section:

Original [8] page Translation [9] page Short story
Angren 92 Angren 89 LE
Assengard 61 Assengard 57 GT
Blaviken 80 Blaviken 77 LE
Buina 166 Buina 159 VR5
Caelf 223 Caelf 217 LW
Chociebuż 134 Hochebuz 128 QP
Cidaris 223 Cidaris 217 LW
Cintra 122 Cintra 117 VR4
Creyden 89 Creyden 86 LE
Dol Blathanna 177 Dol Blathanna 169 EW
Dolina Kwiatów 170 Valley of Flowers 163 VR5
dolina Nimnar 62 the Nimnar Valley 58 GT
Dolna Posada 176 Lower Posada 168 EW
Ellander 38 Ellander 34 VR2
Górna Posada 175 Upper Posada 168 EW
Góry Smocze 166 Dragon Mountains 159 VR5
Jamurlak 89 Yamurlak 86 LE
Jaruga 166 Jaruga 159 VR5
księstwo Attre 126 Duchy of Attre 121 QP
Kupiecki Szlak 284 Traders’ Trail 277 VR7
Łukomorze 92 Arcsea 89 LE
Lutoński trakt 80 Lutonski road 77 LE
Maecht 159 Maecht 152 QP
Metinna 146 Metinna 140 QP
Mirt 56 Mirt 52 GT
Murivel 44 Murivel 40 GT
Novigrad 228 Novigrad 222 LW
Pontar 92 Pontar 89 LE
Rinde 228 Rinde 222 LW
Skellige 124 Skellige 119 QP
Tridam 109 Tridam 106 LE
Wyzima 7 Wyzim 2 W
Yspaden 80 Yspaden 77 LE

5.1.1. Inauthentic – artificial[ | ]

First of all we have to remember that The Last Wish and the whole witcher cycle is fantasy literature. Therefore, names of rivers, seas, mountain ranges, villages, towns, cities, countries and so on can entirely be originated by the author. In such a case, translation seems to be unnecessary. Let us have a look at some examples of artificial names which were directly taken into the target text:

- towns/cities: ‘Caelf’, ‘Mirt’, ‘Murivel’, ‘Nimnar’;
- kingdoms/regions: ‘Attre’, ‘Creyden’, ‘Ellander’, ‘Metinna’;
- rivers: ‘Buina’.

Two names in this category not mentioned above riveted my attention – ‘Jamurlak’ (the name of a region) and ‘Jaruga’ (the name of a river). These are clearly made up names and one should expect the same approach as with the above-mentioned examples. And so is the case with the latter word. When it comes to ‘Jamurlak’, however, Stok decided to change it into ‘Yamurlak’. Both original words start with ‘j’, which, in Polish, is pronounced /j/ as in ‘yeti’. It is unclear to me, therefore, why the translator decided to adapt the pronunciation only in the name of a region, and not in both cases. Additionally, the two words appear in two different short stories, which may – however, should not – be the reason of the inconsistence of the translator.

5.1.2. Inauthentic – realistic[ | ]

Many put Sapkowski's novels in the same line as professor Tolkien's works and call them ‘high fantasy’. We can read in Wikipedia that one of characteristic features of this genre is that "a contemporary, ‘real-world’ character is placed in the invented world".[10] Sapkowski deals with this in two ways. He either puts authentic names into his stories – this will be discussed in the next section – or he uses fictional names which have graphical similarity to names present in contemporary world. This is the result of using authentic morphemes taken from various language systems. We can observe the variety of the author's sources, as he uses many, not only European, languages.
In this category, the translator chose two approaches. When the name sounded foreign to the Polish reader, she left it unchanged. The examples are:

  • towns/cities: ‘Assengard’ (Scandinavian ‘gård’ – town/farm; similar to ‘Asgard’ – a land in Norse mythology), ‘Blaviken’ (German ‘blau’ – blue, Scandinavian ‘vik’ – bay, gulf), ‘Cidaris’ (Latin ‘cidaris’ – tiara), ‘Novigrad’ (name in Slavonic stylization, similar to Belgrad, Leningrad), ‘Tridam’ (relation to an English word ‘dam’), ‘Rinde’ (German ‘rinde’ – bark, rind);
  • kingdom/region: ‘Maecht’ (German ‘Macht‘ – strength, power);
  • rivers: ‘Pontar’ (French ‘pont’ – bridge, the river Pontar in Sapkowski's works is known to have many bridges);
  • other: in the elfish language invented by Sapkowski ‘Dol Blathanna’ (Bulgarian ‘dol’ – valley, Gaelic ‘blath’ – flower).

The second approach is that whenever the name consisted of elements intelligible for the Polish reader she translated it directly into English.

  • ‘Dol Blathanna’ in, so called, common language – a language familiar to all races appearing in the witcher cycle – ‘Dolina Kwiatów’ → ‘Valley of Flowers’, ‘Kupiecki Szlak’ → ‘Traders’ Trail’, ‘Góry Smocze’ → ‘Dragon Mountains’.

In The Edge of the World short story, Geralt the Witcher hears about two villages ‘Dolna Posada’ and ‘Górna Posada’. In the English version we read about ‘Lower Posada’ and ‘Upper Posada’. In contemporary Polish ‘posada’ means ‘job; position; foundation’, so this has nothing to do with either of the places and that is probably why Stok translated only the first part of both names. Nonetheless, in some local Slavonic dialects ‘posada’ meant ‘settlement, village’. Therefore, the translator may have used, for example, an old English expression ‘cotlif’ or maybe Welsh word for ‘village’ – ‘llan’. This, I believe, would represent the original in a better way.
There is another example which drew my attention in this category. In The Lesser Evil short story, Sapkowski mentions ‘Lutoński trakt’ which was translated into ‘Lutonski road’. The name clearly refers to an English town – Luton, that is why ‘Luton road’ would be a good option. Stok, however, may have wanted to avoid too clear association with the British town, that is why she had decided to use a word similar in pronunciation.

5.1.3. Authentic[ | ]

As stated in the previous section, Sapkowski, from time to time, likes to smuggle some authentic names which may sound oriental to the reader and which fit the fantasy world presented in his works. It is important to mention that here, the term ‘authentic’ is used to describe also a name which may have appeared somewhere before, for example in some other literary work.
Here, Stok uses the same approach as with the inauthentic, realistic names. If the name sounds Polish and may have some meaning for the reader, she translates it directly into English.

- kingdoms/regions: ‘Angren’ (an industrial city in Uzbekistan), ‘Łukomorze’ → ‘Arcsea’ (expression taken from Ruslan and Lyudmila by A. Pushkin), ‘Skellige’ (name taken from a song by an Irish group Clannad);
- towns/cities: ‘Cintra’ (old name for Sintra, a town and a municipality in Portugal), ‘Yspaden’ (name of a giant from Celtic mythology).

Also in this category I would like to have a more detailed look at two examples. The first is ‘Chociebuż’ – name of a city mentioned in A Question of Price short story. It is the Slavonic name of a real, contemporary city in Germany – Cottbus. Stok did not decide to use this authentic name, instead she used a word which was supposed to be similar in pronunciation, namely ‘Hochebuz’. I do not believe, however, that any native user of English language would pronounce this word anywhere similar to the original one.
The second example is yet another proof of the translator's inconsistence. ‘Wyzima’ – which is an Old Polish given name [11] – was neither translated nor transferred into English. Stok chose to use ‘Wyzim’. If she wanted to have a word that would sound similar to the original one, she should use ‘Vizima’ (which was the case with The Witcher computer game developed by a Polish game studio CDProjekt RED). Otherwise I find her decision hard to understand.

5.2 Personal names[ | ]

Personal names discussed in present section:

Original page Translation page Short story
Adalia 158 Adalia 151 QP
Adda 12 Adda 7 W
Aridea 89 Aridea 86 LE
Baron Eylembert z Tigg 126 Baron Eylembert of Tigg 121 QP
Caldemeyn 79 Caldemeyn 76 LE
Cerro 129 Cerro 124 QP
Chireadan 226 Chireadan 220 LW
Crach an Craite 128 Crach an Craite 123 QP
Dalka 12 Dalka 7 W
Diuk Hereward 164 Duke Hereward 157 VR5
Drogodar 126 Drogodar 121 QP
Druid Myszowór 128 Druid Mousesack 123 QP
Duda 172 Duda 165 EW
Duny 158 Duny 151 QP
Dzierzba 90 Shrike 88 LE
Errdil 226 Errdil 220 LW
Eskel 260 Eskel 254 LW
Falwick 73 Falwick 70 VR3
Fenne 59 Fenne 55 GT
Fialka 88 Fialka 86 LE
Foltest 10 Foltest 5 W
Fredefalk, książę Creyden 89 Fredefalk, the Prince of Creyden 86 LE
Galarr 197 Galarr 190 EW
Gnom Rumplestelt 146 gnome Rumplestelt 140 QP
Haxo 123 Haxo 118 QP
Hereward 73 Hereward 70 VR3
Ilka 60 Ilka 56 GT
Iola 37 Iola 33 VR2
Jaskier 40 Dandilion 36 VR2
Karelka, Borg, Nosikamyk 81 Karelka, Borg, Carrypebble 78 LE
Krepp 251 Krepp 245 LW
Król Ethain 227 King Ethain 221 LW
Król Roegner 124 King Roegner 119 QP
Królewna Pavetta 124 Princess Pavetta 119 QP
Królowa Calanthe 124 queen Calanthe 119 QP
Kudkudak 126 Coodcoodak 121 QP
Lenka 58 Lenka 53 GT
Libusze 80 Libushe 77 LE
Lille 185 Lille 178 EW
Marilka 108 Marilka 105 LE
Medell 12 Medell 7 W
Mistrz Irion 81 Master Irion 78 LE
Naradkowa 172 Nan the Hag 165 EW
Nenneke 37 Nenneke 33 VR2
Nimir 95 Nimir 92 LE
Nivellen (Wyrod, Kłykacz) 52 Nivellen (Degen or Fanger) 48 GT
Nohorn 95 Nohorn 92 LE
Ostrit 19 Ostrit 14 W
Piętnastka 95 Fifteen 93 LE
Płotka 43 Roach 39 GT
Pokrzywka 175 Nettly 168 EW
Pomrów, Paszkot i Dzirżygórka 128 Tinglant, Fodcat and Wieldhill 123 QP
Renfri 91 Renfri 88 LE
rycerz Rainfarn 126 knight Rainfarn 121 QP
Segelin 19 Segelen 14 W
Stammelford 256 Stammelford 250 LW
Tavik 95 Tavik 92 LE
Toruviel 198 Toruviel 191 EW
Treska 9 Treska 4 W
Tyrss 165 Tyrss 158 VR5
Velerad 10 Velerad 5 W
Vereena 63 Vereena 59 GT
Virginia 223 Virginia 217 LW
Vizimir z Novigradu 12 Vizimir of Novigrad 7 W
Vyr 95 Vyr 92 LE
Wawrzynosek 250 Laurelnose 244 LW
Yennefer 38 Yennefer 34 VR2
Yolop 181 Slow 174 EW
Żarłoczka 57 Glutton 53 GT
Zatret Voruta 146 Zatret Voruta 140 QP
Zivelena 146 Zivelina 140 QP

5.2.1 Inauthentic – artificial[ | ]

As it was mentioned in the second chapter of this thesis, Sapkowski pays much attention to personal names he uses. He tries to sound as authentic as possible. There are, however, names that are not present in the real world and show no resemblance to those known to the reader's culture. Though artificial, these names still sound genuine. The author himself mentioned that he did not want his characters to have names that would remind the reader of various sounds produced by human or other of the examples. organisms. Let us have a look at some of the examples.

  • elfish names: Sapkowski invented elfish language for the needs of the witcher cycle and the vast majority of artificial personal names he uses include characteristic features of this language, i.e. ‘ae’ cluster or double consonants, like in ‘Chireadan’;others are:‘Errdil’, ‘Galarr’, ‘Toruviel’;
  • other names bear characteristics of both elfish and human, so called common, language – e.g. ‘ai’ or ‘th’ clusters:‘Caldemeyn’, ‘Crach an Craite’, ‘Ethain’, ‘Falwick’, ‘Fenne’, ‘Foltest’, ‘Irion’, ‘Medell’, ‘Nohorn’, ‘Ostrit’, ‘Tyrss’, ‘Vereena’, ‘Vyr’, ‘Zatret Voruta’, ‘Zivelena’.

Stok decided to leave all these names intact, as they sound foreign both to the Polish and English readers. There is only one name in this category that caught my attention, namely ‘Segelin’ which changed into ‘Segelen’ in The Witcher short story – this however was clearly a literal, as later in the same story we read about ‘Segelin’.

5.2.2 Inauthentic – realistic[ | ]

A fantasy world would be incomplete without characters bearing mysteriously sounding names. These may be entirely invented by the author or, as Sapkowski prefers, bear some resemblance to the real existing names. As it was stated before, the author likes to make use of various languages and such is also the case with inauthentic, realistic personal names. The majority of names from this category were directly taken by the translator into the English version without changing their form. These include:

  • Latin: ‘Aridea’ (‘Aridus’ – dried out), ‘Dalka’ (‘Dalia’), ‘Duny’ (a diminutive of ‘Duncan’, just like ‘Benjamin’ → ‘Benny’);
  • German: ‘Fredefalk’ (‘Friede’ – freedom + ‘Falke’ – falcon), ‘Rainfarn’ (German name for ‘Tansy’ – a perennial herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family German ‘Rogener’ – female (en.wikipedia.org)), ‘Roegner’ (an anagram of fish), ‘Rumplestelt’ (‘Rumpelstilzchen’ – a character and a fairy tale originated in Germany and used by Brothers Grimm), ‘Stammelford’ (a compilation of two surnames – German ‘Stammel’ and English ‘Ford’);
  • other: ‘Adalia’ (Portuguese ‘Adelia’), ‘Calanthe’ (a plant of orchid genus), ‘Cerro’ knoll – as an allusion to feminine curves), ‘Karelka’ (Spanish ‘cerro’ – hill, (Czech ‘Karel’), ‘Marilka’ (Polish ‘Marylka’ – a diminutive of ‘Maryla’), ‘Nenneke’ (Swedish ‘Nenne’), ‘Nivellen’ (Dutch ‘nivelleren’ – to level, to even out), ‘Pavetta’ (French ‘Paulette’), ‘Renfri’ (‘Renfrew’ – one of districts in Scotland), ‘Tavik’ (Byelorussian ‘Tavija’), ‘Vizimir’ (Slavonic ‘Wyzimir’), ‘Yennefer’ (English ‘Jennifer’).

There are also a few names that were created with the use of Polish morphemes and therefore have some meaning to the Polish reader. In such cases Stok decided to translate them directly into English:

  • single words: ‘Dzierzba’ (“bo pojmanych żywcem lubiła nabijać na zaostrzone kołki” (Sapkowski 2005: 90)) → ‘Shrike’ (“because she liked to impale the people she caught on a sharp pole while they were still alive” (Sapkowski 2007: 88)), ‘Kłykacz’ (‘kły’ – ‘fangs’) → ‘Fanger’, ‘Piętnastka’ (a numeral noun – ‘15’) → ‘Fifteen’, ‘Pokrzywka’ (a diminutive of ‘pokrzywa’ – ‘nettle’) → ‘Nettly’, ‘Wyrod’ (a possible shortened form of ‘zwyrodnialec’ – ‘degenerate’) → ‘Degen’;
  • compounds: ‘Myszowór’ (‘mysz’ – ‘mouse’ + ‘wór’ – ‘sack’) → ‘Mousesack’, ‘Dzirżygórka’ (‘dzirżyć’, a dialect form of ‘dzierżyć’ – ‘to wield’ + ‘górka’ – ‘a small hill’) → ‘Wieldhill’, ‘Nosikamyk’ (‘nosić’ – ‘to carry’ + ‘kamyk’ – ‘pebble’) → – ‘laurel’ + ‘nosek’ – ‘a small nose’) ‘Carrypebble’, ‘Wawrzynosek’ (‘wawrzyn’ → ‘Laurelnose’.

Stok used the above-mentioned method to translate two more names – ‘Pomrów’ and ‘Paszkot’. The first one was probably associated by the translator with a Polish noun ‘mrowienie’ – ‘tingle’, therefore the name became ‘Tinglant’ in English. name was split into two parts: ‘pasza’ – ‘fodder’ and ‘kot’ – ‘cat’. As The second a result we found ‘Fodcat’ in the English version of the book. The problem is that both names are authentic names of two animals. ‘Pomrów’ is “one of the largest kinds of keeled air-breathing land slug in the world” (en.wikipedia.org), and ‘paszkot’ is “a common member of the thrush family Turdidae” (en.wikipedia.org). The English equivalent of the second name is ‘Mistle Thrush’, therefore I believe that ‘Mistle’ or even simply ‘Thrush’ would be a better option here.

I would also like to have a more detailed look at some other names in this category. The first is witcher Geralt's best friend ‘Jaskier’, whose name is a clear reference to a real existing flower. The English version of this character is called ‘Dandilion’ – a variation of English ‘dandelion’, which also is a flower. The problem is those are completely different plants. ‘Jaskier’ is ‘buttercup’ in English, and that ‘dandelion’ is ‘mniszek lekarski’ in Polish. Sapkowski himself does not give any reason for which ‘Jaskier’ is called that way, we only know that the author wanted him to have a name after a flower (www.sapkowski.pl). When Geralt meets the bard for the first time, he sees him wearing bright colours. Such garish clothes could be described in Polish as ‘jaskrawe’ and when we add the author's wish to name the character after a flower we get ‘Jaskier’. This may be the reason why the character is named ‘Dandilion’ in the English version as it both refers to a flower and is similar to an English word ’dandy’, which perfectly describes the bard's clothing and behaviour.

The second example is ‘baron Eylembert of Tigg’. This character is better known for his nickname – ‘Kudkudak’ – as he likes to perform a crow of a rooster. Sapkowski used this alias, because it is one of the variants of Polish onomatopoeic word for the sound of a crowing rooster. Thus, we might expect that Stock would make use of the English version of the onomatopoeia – ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’. Instead, she used the Polish word and created a similar sounding ‘Coodcoodak’. The next name that caught my attention was ‘stara Naradkowa’. The suffix ‘-owa’ is characteristic in Slavonic languages, especially Czech, for creating female versions of family names. The original name in this case would probably be ‘Naradek’, therefore like ‘old Naradek woman’ in the English version. we might expect to read something Instead, we find ‘old Nan the Hag’. Stok's decision is peculiar for two reasons. Firstly, English female given name ‘Nan’ is in no way similar to ‘Naradek’ and secondly, the is only later in the original Polish name does not suggest that this woman was a hag. It text that we read about her doings which may have something to do with witchcraft.

The last name worth having a more detailed look at in this category is ‘Yolop’. In The Edge of the World short story, bard Dandilion says: “Jest ballada o parobku imieniem Yolop (…)” (Sapkowski 2005: 181). The name is a variation of ‘Jołop’ and a clear reference to Bajka o popie i jego parobku Jołopie by Alexander Pushkin (1987). The English title of the story is The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda, therefore one should expect that the translator would make use of the English version of the name. Instead we read: “There’s a ballad about a farmhand called Slow (…)” (Sapkowski 2007: 174). Why such a difference? First of all we should take a look at the . ‘Балда’ original title of Pushkin's work – Сказка о попе и о работнике его Балде means something like ‘a fool, a stupid person’ in Russian. As we can see the English name ‘Balda’ is a direct transfer and lost its original meaning. Julian Tuwim, the translator of the tale into Polish, decided to retain the meaning and used ‘Jołop’, which also means ‘a person slow on the uptake, dull, stupid’. Stok either did not know the original source of the name or she deliberately wanted to convey the meaning of both Russian and Polish version, therefore she used an adjective ‘slow’ as the name of the man.

5.2.3 Authentic[ | ]

The authentic names are always the least problematic, as it is enough to transfer them into TT or to look for the equivalent in the TL, provided the TC has the tradition of translating the names. When it comes to English culture, it “keeps the first names of foreign persons unchanged” (Newmark 1988: 35) and that is why there is not much work for the translator here. Let us have a look at some examples of authentic personal names used by Sapkowski.

  • German: ‘Adda’, ‘Haxo’, ‘Krepp’;
  • Polish: ‘Drogodar’, ‘Nimir’, ‘Treska‘ (all three Old Polish), ‘Duda’ (compare contemporary Polish painter ‘Jerzy Duda-Gracz’);
  • Scandinavian: ‘Eskel’, ‘Lille’;
  • English: ‘Virginia’, ‘Hereward’ (from 11th century nobleman ‘Hereward the Wake’);
  • Czech: ‘Libusze’ → ‘Libushe’ (‘sz’ changed into ‘sh’ because of pronunciation matter), ‘Velerad’;
  • other: ‘Fialka’ (Bulgarian), ‘Ilka’ (Hungarian), ‘Iola’ (Byelorussian), ‘Lenka’ (Slovakian), ‘Borg’ (compare Swedish tennis player ‘Björn Borg’).

There are also two names which were directly translated into English. Both are the names of animals. ‘Płotka’ – Geralt's horse – became ‘Roach’ and ‘Żarłoczka’ – a cat of Geralt's friend – became ‘Glutton’.

5.3 Plants and stones[ | ]

Names of plants and stones discussed in present section:

Original page Translation page Short story
arenaria 213 arenaria 207 VR6
bieluń 26 stramonium 22 W
chmiel 178 hops 170 EW
ciemiężyca 26 veratrum 22 W
czworolist 34 true-love 29 W
dętogłów 213 puffheads 207 VR6
głóg 26 hawthorn 22 W
gwiezdolistny nostrix 213 star-leafed melilote 207 VR6
inkluz 24 inclusion 19 W
jaskółcze ziele 34 celandine 29 W
konopie 178 hemp 170 EW
len 178 flax 170 EW
łubin 176 lupins 169 EW
macierzanka 83 thyme 80 LE
niezmiar 213 measure-me-not 207 VR6
pęczki tojadu 65 wisps of monkshood 61 GT
pokrzyk 27 banewart 22 W
skorocel 213 fastaim 207 VR6
stawikrew 213 pondblood 207 VR6
storczyk mysichwost 213 mousetail orchid 207 VR6
świetlik 27 eyebright 22 W
tojad 27 monk's hood 22 W
turzyca 44 sedge 40 GT
wilczomlecz 26 spurge 22 W
wronie oko 213 raven's eye 207 VR6
wyciąg z pokrzyku 103 nightshade 100 LE
wyka 176 vetch 169 EW
zasuszony bukiecik tojadu 46 bunch of dried monkshead 47 GT
żółwi kamień 28 turtle-stone 24 W

5.3.1. Inauthentic[ | ]

Geralt as a witcher uses not only his strength, agility and fighting skills to cleanse his path of the enemies but also enhances his abilities by using minerals and various kinds of potions brewed from different sort of plants. Sapkowski, to make his works as realistic as possible, makes use of authentic flora. Sometimes, however, he invents a couple of names himself using Polish morphemes. As these names have their meaning for the source reader, Stok translated them directly into English.

  • Stones:
    • ‘żółwi kamień’ → ‘turtle stone’;
  • plants:
    • ‘dętogłów’ (‘nadęty’ – ‘puffed up’ + ‘głowa’ – ‘head’) → ‘puffheads’,
    • ‘niezmiar’ (‘nie’ – ‘not’ + ‘zmierzyć’ – ‘to measure’) → ‘measure‐me‐not’,
    • ‘skorocel’ (‘skoro’ from an expression ‘biec skoro sił’ – ‘to run as fast as possible’ + ‘cel’ – ‘aim’) → ‘fastaim’,
    • ‘stawikrew’ (‘staw’ – ‘pond’ + ‘krew’ – ‘blood’) → ‘pondblood’,
    • ‘storczyk mysichwost’ (‘storczyk’ – ‘orchid’, ‘mysi’ – ‘mouse’s’ + ‘chwost’ an old Polish ‘ogon’ – ‘tail’) → ‘mousetail orchid’.

While the translator made an interesting choice of words translating ‘niezmiar’ into ‘measure-me-not’, which clearly refers to ‘forget-me-nots’, she did not avoid some mistakes or strange translations.

Firstly let us have a look at ‘wronie oko’. The name evidently includes the name of a bird – ‘wrona’ → ‘crow’. Therefore, it is unclear to me why Stok decided to translate the plant into ‘raven’s eye’. I understand that both ‘crow’ and ‘raven’ belong to the same “genus Corvus in the family Corvidae” (en.wikipedia.org), however, I see no reason for which one should use both names interchangeably.

The second item I would like to describe here is a stone which Sapkowski called ‘inkluz’. The witcher Geralt describes it as “a sapphire with a pocket of air trapped within the stone” (Sapkowski 2007: 19). In the English version of The Witcher short story we read about ‘inclusion’. It is a real existing word, however, it does not refer to the stone as a whole but only to “a solid body or a body of gas or liquid enclosed within the mass of a mineral” (dictionary.reference.com). In Polish, this would be ‘inkluzja’, which is undoubtedly the source of the stone's name used by the writer.

While ‘inkluz’ has practically no meaning in contemporary Polish – in Old Polish it referred to hermits or monks who decided to close themselves in monastic cells in order to devote their lives to asceticism and contemplation (Gloger 1900-1903) – I believe that Stok could leave this name unchanged.

The last example worth mentioning here is ‘gwiezdnolistny nostrix’. There is no problem with the first part of the name which was translated into ‘star-leafed’. The name ‘nostrix’, however, is nowhere to be found in any real existing botanical garden. We have to remember that Sapkowski sometimes likes to play with words and this time he did it as well. ‘Nostrix’ is a variation of ‘nostrzyk’ which translates into English as ‘melilot’ also known as ‘sweet clover’ (en.wikipedia.org). The translator decided to use ‘melilote’, which according to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language is a Middle English version of the same plant.

5.3.2 Authentic[ | ]

When it comes to names of authentic plants and weeds, Stok's job was much easier, as it was enough to look for the English equivalent. Therefore, we have such names as:

  • ‘arenaria’ → ‘arenaria’,
  • ‘bieluń’ → ‘stramonium’,
  • ‘chmiel’ → ‘hops’,
  • ‘ciemiężyca’ → ‘veratrum’,
  • ‘głóg’ → ‘hawthorn’,
  • ‘jaskółcze ziele’ → ‘celandine’,
  • ‘konopie’ → ‘hemp’,
  • ‘len’ → ‘flax’,
  • ‘macierzanka’ → ‘thyme’,
  • ‘łubin’ → ‘lupins’,
  • ‘świetlik’ → ‘eyebright’,
  • ‘turzyca’ → ‘sedge’,
  • ‘wilczomlecz’ → ‘spurge’,
  • ‘wyka’ → ‘vetch’.

With three from the above-mentioned examples, the translator decided to use names which are more commonly known – ‘eyebright’ for ‘euphrasia’, ‘sedge’ for ‘carex’ and ‘spurge’ for ‘euphorbia’.

Also in this category, we find some examples of Stok's curious translation decisions. In The Witcher short story we read about ‘czworolist’, whose English equivalent is ‘paris’. The translator decided to change the name into ‘true-love’ (‘True-lover’s Knot’ is the common name of ‘Paris quadrifolia’ – which, according to en.wikipedia.org, is the best known species of the paris genus). Such a decision would be clearer if the plant had properties of creating a sort of love potion. This, however, is not the case as Sapkowski writes nothing about the characteristics of this herb and the situation in which he mentions it has nothing to do with love. I believe that using ‘quadrifolia’ in the English version would be a simpler and better choice.

There are also two more examples of Stok's inconsistence. The first one is ‘pokrzyk’. This plant appears in two short stories – The Witcher and The Lesser Evil. The official English name of this plant is ‘atropa belladonna’ or ‘atropa bella-donna’ – none of this was used by the translator, however. More common names are ‘belladonna’ or ‘deadly nightshade’ and Stok decided to use the latter one in the shortened version – namely ‘nightshade’ – however, only in The Lesser Evil short story. When it comes to The Witcher, she uses ‘banewart’. The problem is that such a word does not exist. What the translator meant was probably ‘banewort’, which is another common name of ‘atropa belladonna’. While this change of a letter could be a typographical error it is still unclear to me, why she decided to name the same plant in two different ways in two short stories.

The second example is ‘tojad’, which appears in The Witcher and A Grain of Truth short stories. Here the inconsistence is of a different sort than with the above-mentioned case. The Wikipedia gives us several common names of ‘aconitum’, which is the official English name for ‘tojad’. These are “aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard's bane, women's bane, Devil's helmet or blue rocket” and Stok chose to make use of the second one. There would be nothing wrong with it, were it not the fact that every time Sapkowski mentions ‘tojad’, we find a practically different version of the English equivalent:

  • ‘pęczki tojadu’ → ‘wisps of monkshood’ (in A Grain of Truth),
  • ‘tojad’ → ‘monk’s hood’ (in The Witcher),
  • ‘zasuszony bukiecik tojadu’ → ‘bunch of dried monkshead’ (in A Grain of Truth).

This time a literal is out of question as the differences between the words are too distinct, therefore I see no reason for Stok to use three different names for the same plant.

5.4 Monsters and creatures[ | ]

Names of monsters and creatures discussed in present section:

Original page Translation page Short story
bazyliszek 11 basilisk 6 W
błędaki 172 misguids 165 EW
bobołak 11 bogeyman 7 W
bobołaki 86 weretots 83 LE
bruxa 67 bruxa 63 GT
burdałaki 185 were-brawls 178 EW
chimera 169 chimerae 162 VR5
d’ao 256 d’ao 250 LW
d’jinni 238 djinns 232 LW
diabeł 178 devil 171 EW
duchy lampy 238 spirits of the lamp 232 LW
dżinn 222 djinn 216 LW
fauny 232 fauns 226 LW
gnomy 90 gnomes 88 LE
graveir 121 graveir 116 VR4
gryf 169 griffin 162 VR5
jednorożec 168 unicorn 161 VR5
kikimora 45 kikimora 41 GT
kociozmora 80 felispectre 77 LE
kotołak 187 werecat 180 EW
lewiatan 220 leviathan 214 LW
mantikora 121 manticore 116 VR4
mglak 121 fogler 116 VR4
monstrum 150 monster 144 QP
nimfa 167 nymph 160 VR5
płaczka 11 rusalka 7 W
potwory 174 monsters 167 EW
przeraza 121 chimera 116 VR4
przeraza 169 chimerae 162 VR5
rusałka 6 water nymph 1 W
rusałka 11 fairy 7 W
rusałka 64 rusalka 59 GT
straszydło 125 monster 120 QP
straszydło 150 horror 144 QP
troll 167 troll 160 VR5
upiory 11 kobolds 7 W
upiory 171 spectres 164 EW
upiry 185 ghosts 178 EW
utopiec 11 vodnik 6 W
utopiec 187 drowner 180 EW
wampirzyca 67 vampire 63 GT
widłogon 167 forktail 160 VR5
wilkołak 11 werewolf 7 W
wyvern 121 wyvern 116 VR4

Paraphrasing the words of James Brown's song we could say that “this is a witcher’s world but it would be nothing without monsters in it”. Geralt's job is slaying monsters for money and that is why Sapkowski had to make his world full of various creatures and monstrosities. Some of those were taken from folk tales or mythology and some were invented by the author. When it comes to the mythological and folk names it was enough for the translator to check the English equivalents. Therefore, we can read about:

  • ‘bazyliszek’ → ‘basilisk’,
  • ‘chimera’ → ‘chimera’,
  • ‘diabeł’ → ‘devil’,
  • ‘dżinn’ → ‘djinn’,
  • ‘faun’ → ‘faun’,
  • ‘gnom’ → ‘gnome’,
  • ‘gryf’ → ‘griffin’,
  • ‘jednorożec’ → ‘unicorn’,
  • ‘lewiatan’ → ‘leviathan’,
  • ‘mantikora’ → ‘manticore’,
  • ‘nimfa’ → ‘nymph’,
  • ‘rusałka’ → ‘rusalka’,
  • ‘troll’ → ‘troll’,
  • ‘wampir’ → ‘vampire’,
  • ‘wilkołak’ → ‘werewolf’.

The majority of monsters, however, have names that were either entirely created by Sapkowski or are similar to some already existing ones. Here, we can observe two translation approaches. The first one is a direct transfer of the original names into the English version. This group includes such examples as: ‘bruxa’, ‘d’ao’, ‘graveir’, ‘kikimora’, ‘wyvern’.

In her second approach, Stok translated into English those names, which consisted of morphemes comprehensible for a Polish reader. For example:

  • ‘błędaki’ (‘błądzić’ – ‘wander around in circles’, therefore those are monsters who make you lose your way) → ‘misguids’,
  • ‘burdałaki’ (‘burda’ – ‘brawl’ + ‘łak’ suffix like in ‘wilkołak’ – ‘werewolf’) → ‘were‐brawls’,
  • ‘duch lampy’ → ‘spirit of the lamp’,
  • ‘kotołak’ (‘kot’ – ‘cat’ + ‘łak’ suffix) → ‘werecat’,
  • ‘mglak’ (‘mgła’ – ‘fog’) → ‘fogler’,
  • ‘widłogon’ (‘widły’ – ‘fork’ + ‘ogon’ – ‘tail’) → ‘forktail‘.

The category of monsters and creatures is probably the most evident example of the translator's inconsistency. The group consists of creatures both mythological or folk and invented by Sapkowski.

The first monster I would like to mention is called ‘bobołak’ – a humanoid small creature covered with fur (Sapkowski 2005). The name appears in two short stories – The Witcher and The Lesser Evil. In the first one we find ‘bogeyman’ and in the second we read about ‘weretot’. The latter uses two morphemes – ‘were’, as in ‘werewolf’ and ‘tot’, which is an informal version of ‘a small child, a toddler’. Therefore, such a name would represent the outward appearance of the original. ‘Bogeyman’, which is also known as ‘boogeyman’ or ‘boogie man’, is an English equivalent of Polish ‘bebok’ or ‘bobok’, which might be the name that Sapkowski used creating his ‘bobołak’. As we can see, both ‘bogeyman’ and ‘weretot’ are good translations of the original, however Stok should make up her mind and use only one of these.

The next example will be an English name ‘chimera’. As it was mentioned before, it is a perfectly known name of a mythological creature and when Sapkowski writes about ‘chimera’ in the Polish version of The Voice of Reason 5 we also find ‘chimera’ in Stok's translation. In the very same short story there is also another creature mentioned – ‘przeraza’ – and this time the translator used ‘chimera’ as well. ‘Przeraza’ or ‘chimera pospolita’ is a fish from Chimaeridae family, that is probably why the translator decided to use ‘chimera’ as the name for this creature. The problem is that the animal described by Sapkowski is in no way similar to any fish, moreover, it does not even live in water. The English name ‘chimera’ used for this creature is wrong for two reasons – first, it was already assigned to another monster; second, it does not represent the characteristics of the creature it describes. I believe that the name used in The Witcher computer game – ‘frightener’ – would be a better choice, as it is strictly connected both with the creature's name and features: ‘przeraza’ comes from a Polish verb ‘przerażać’ → ‘to frighten’.

‘Rusałka’, just like the example before, has its commonly known English equivalent – ‘rusalka’. Sapkowski mentions this Slavonic mythological character in three short stories – The Witcher, The Grain of Truth and The Voice of Reason 5. Three stories and three different English names. In the last two stories we read about ‘rusalka’, which is the result of Stok's decision to use the official equivalent of the original. In the first one, however, Sapkowski writes about this creature two times and we find two different names in the English version – ‘water nymph’ and ‘fairy’. Both names refer to the characteristics of ‘rusałka’. I see no reason, however, for the translator not to use ‘rusalka’ as it is still the same creature we are reading about. What is more peculiar, there is still one more creature in The Witcher short story which was also translated by Stok as ‘rusalka’, namely ‘płaczka’. This time, however, the decision seems completely wrong as the two have nothing in common.

The next monster I would like to describe is ‘utopiec’. As the name suggests it is a creature that comes to existence whenever a man drowns and comes back to life. Its main occupation is to take careless swimmers under the water and drown them. Therefore, a ‘drowner’, which was used by Stok in The Edge of the World short story, seems to be a perfect choice. That is why, I see no reason for her, to change the creature's name into ‘vodnik’ in The Witcher short story. I am aware that there is a mainly positive character from Slavonic mythology – ‘wodnik’, which is a water spirit similar in appearance to ‘utopiec’, however “one should not confuse Vodnik with a Drowner (…) as the latter one is always trying to harm people” (pl.wikipedia.org, my own translation). There are also two general terms I would like to elaborate on. The first one is ‘straszydło’, which appears in A Question of Price short story. When Sapkowski mentions the name for the first time, we read about ‘monster’ in the English version, which seems all right. The problem appears in the second place, where Sapkowski writes about “straszydła i monstra” (Sapkowski 2005:150). ‘Monstra’ are obviously ‘monsters’, so if the translator stuck to her first choice, we would have ‘monsters and monsters’, which is evidently ridiculous. Instead, she changed ‘straszydła’ into ‘horrors’, which also represent the features of the creatures. Such inconsistence could be avoided, had she used, for example, the term ‘fright’ or ‘bogey’ in both cases.

The second example is ‘upiór’, which is mentioned in two short stories – The Witcher and The Edge of the World. As it was the case with ‘rusalka’, here we have two stories and two, or even three, different English names for the same monster. In the first story, Stok changed the creature into ‘kobold’. Such a decision is incomprehensible as ‘kobold’ is a specific sprite of German folklore and is in no way similar to ‘upiór’, which can be translated into English as ‘ghost’, ‘phantom’, ‘revenant’ or ‘spectre’. The latter option is the one used by the translator in the second short story, so as we can see she is aware of the possible English equivalents but still decided to use two different names for the same creature. There is also one variation of the ‘upiór’ name in The Edge of the World short story, namely ‘upir’. The name is mentioned by an uneducated peasant, hence the change in the pronunciation. Since Stok used ‘spectre’ in the same story, one might expect her to use a variation of this name as it was the case with the Polish original. Instead, she changed the creature's name yet again, this time into ‘ghost’.

The last name I would like to discuss in this part is ‘kociozmora’. Having read The Lesser Evil short story, we see that this name is a deliberate change of the name ‘kikimora’, which was left intact by the translator in other stories. That is why the reader could expect some play of words and a name that would be similar in pronunciation to the original monster. Instead we find a translated version. ‘Kociozmora’ consists of two morphemes ‘kocio’, a form of ‘kot’ → ‘cat’ → ‘felis’ in Latin and ‘zmora’ → ‘spectre’, which combined together give us ‘felispectre’. Such a name is a perfectly created equivalent, provided that ‘kociozmora’ was to be treated as a separate name not connected in any way with ‘kikimora’. By translating it directly into English, the translator omitted the author's humorous play on words.

Polish skrzaty and chochliki are both translated as imps.

Polish wiyuny and wily are both translated as myriopodan.

5.5 Other proper names and common nouns[ | ]

Proper names and common nouns discussed in present section:

Original page Translation page Short story
„Pod Lisem” 7 The Fox 2 W
„Pod Tuńczykiem” 94 the Tuna Fish 91 LE
„Złoty Dwór” 94 the Golden Court 91 LE
akademia w Oxenfurcie 165 Academy in Oxenfurt 159 VR5
balwierz 123 the barber 118 QP
brzeszczot 48 blade 44 GT
chram Coram Agh Tera 63 the Church of Coram Agh Tera 58 GT
czarodziej 13 wizard 8 W
czarownik 13 sorcerer 8 W
czarownicy 96 magicians 93 LE
furtianka 165 gate-keeper 158 VR5
gizarma 51 guisarme 47 GT
gospoda „Stary Narakort” 7 Old Narakort Inn 2 W
Kaer Morhen 119 Kaer Morhen 115 VR4
kapłan 251 priest 245 LW
kapłanka 75 priestess 70 VR3
koncerz 51 sabres 47 GT
magicy 88 magicians 85 LE
najemny czarownik 96 hired magician 93 LE
partyzana 51 partisan 47 GT
prorocy 89 prophets 86 LE
rohatyna 51 javelin 47 GT
święto Belleteyn 122 the feast of Belleteyn 117 VR4
Święto Nis 109 the Feast of Nis 106 LE
trubadur 40 troubadour 36 VR2
uzdrowicielka 40 healer 36 VR2
wędrowni zabójcy bazyliszków;
domokrążni pogromcy smoków i utopców
11 Itinerant killers of basilisks;
travelling slayers of dragons and vodniks
6 W
wróżbitka 41 soothsayer 37 VR2
Znak Aard 32 Sign of Aard 27 W
Znak Aksji 46 Sign of Axia 42 GT
Znak Quen 68 Sign of Quen 64 GT
Znak Yrden 34 Sign of Yrden 29 W

The last category of the practical part is the most general one. I decided to put here names which do not fit into any of the previous groups. Generally, Stok follows two techniques while dealing with the names from this category. Whenever an item sounded foreign to the Polish reader she left it unchanged. For example:

‘Aard’ ‘Aksja’ → ‘Axia’ (‘ksj’ changed into ‘xi’ for pronunciation reasons), ‘Belleteyn’, ‘Coram Agh Tera’, ‘Kaer Morhen’, ‘Narakort’, ‘Nis’, ‘Quen’, ‘Yrden’.

However, when a name bore some meaning for the reader she used an already existing equivalent or translated it directly into English. As examples we can find the names of inns:

  • ‘Pod Lisem’ → ‘The Fox’,
  • ‘Pod Tuńczykiem’ → ‘The Tuna Fish’,
  • ‘Złoty Dwór’ → ‘The Golden Court’,

the names of occupations:

  • ‘balwierz’ → ‘barber’,
  • ‘czarodziej’ → ‘wizard’,
  • ‘czarownik’ → ‘sorcerer’,
  • ‘furtianka’ → ‘gate keeper’,
  • ‘kapłan’ → ‘priest’,
  • ‘kapłanka’ → ‘priestess’,
  • ‘magik’ → ‘magician’,
  • ‘pogromca’ → ‘slayer’,
  • ‘prorok’ → ‘prophet’,
  • ‘trubadur’ → ‘troubadour’,
  • ‘uzdrowicielka’ → ‘healer’,
  • ‘wróżbitka’ → ‘soothsayer’,
  • ‘zabójca’ → ‘killer’,

or the names of weapons or its parts:

  • ‘brzeszczot’ → ‘blade’,
  • ‘gizarma’ → ‘guisarme’,
  • ‘partyzana’ → ‘partisan’.

The translator did not avoid mistakes or awkward translation decisions here as well. Firstly, I will have a closer look at two specific weapons, namely ‘koncerz’ and ‘rohatyna’. The former, according to Wikipedia, “is a type of sword used by Polish-Lithuanian horsemen in the renaissance period. It is thin and long and generally used by a type of heavy cavalry (husaria) to go through an armour plate, but not to slash.” (en.wikipedia.org). If an English reader wanted to find the above definition typing Stok's version into a web browser, he or she would have some problems as the translator decided to change the name into ‘sabre’, which is far more general in its meaning. The name that appears in English Wikipedia's definition is ‘koncerz’. That is why, it was enough for the translator to leave the name intact, as it functions both in Polish and in English. Stok could also have used ‘estock’ or ‘stock’, which, according to www.kismeta.com, are weapons similar in appearance and usage to ‘koncerz’ and are known in western Europe (Koncerz site - warning! shockingly ugly).

The second example, ‘rohatyna’, is a kind of spear functioning both as a hunting and a battle weapon. It was used mainly for thrusting rather than slashing or throwing, therefore the term ‘javelin’, which appeared in the English version of the book, is wrong as it is “designed primarily for casting as a ranged weapon” (en.wikipedia.org).

The name ‘rohatyna’ is unique for the Polish language, therefore, the translator could have used ‘rohatyna spear’ or simply ‘spear’, but definitely not ‘javelin’. I understand that Stok's intention could be to make the text more comprehensible for an ordinary reader not interested in medieval weaponry, however this was not the case with the original. If Sapkowski had wanted the same, he would have written about ‘miecze i włócznie’ (‘swords and spears’) and not ‘koncerze i rohatyny’.

The witcher world is full not only of swords, spears, sabres and javelins but also of magic, spells and wizardry. That is why, Geralt meets many wizards, sorcerers and magicians during his adventures. All of them deal with practically the same kind of work, so it is somehow understandable if we use those names interchangeably. It is hard for me to understand, though, when Sapkowski uses two different names and Stok translates them into one name in the same short story. In The Witcher story we read about ‘czarodziej’ and ‘czarownik’, which were translated as ‘wizard’ and ‘sorcerer’ respectively. No problem in there. In The Lesser Evilstory we read about ‘magicy’, translated into ‘magicians’, which is also correct. However, when the Polish reader finds ‘najemny czarownik’, the English one could expect to find ‘hired sorcerer’, instead, we read about ‘hired magician’. In the same short story we read about ‘Rada Czarodziejów’ translated into ‘Council of Wizards’, so Stok was inconsistent only in the case of ‘najemny czarownik’. Both ‘wizard’ and ‘sorcerer’ are magic users whereas ‘magicians’ are more of performers. So when we read about “A conjurer for a fistful of silver (…) a freak of nature. An insult to human and divine laws” (Sapkowski 2007: 93), we can see that ‘hired magician’ could have been used as a derisive name.

6 Conclusions[ | ]

Having discussed the theory of proper names and translation techniques I have presented numerous examples of the translation of proper names, nomenclature and common nouns in the collection of short stories entitled The Last Wish, written by Andrzej Sapkowski and translated by Danusia Stok. With authentic names or names present in the literature or folk tales there is no problem as it was enough for the translator to search for already existing English equivalents. Therefore, we can find, for example:

  • ‘chmiel’ → ‘hops’,
  • ‘wilczomlecz’ → ‘spurge’,
  • ’gryf’ → ‘griffin’ or
  • ‘wilkołak’ → ‘werewolf’.

When it comes to inauthentic names we can observe that the translator uses two main approaches while creating the English version of the book. Whenever a name bears any meaning to the Polish reader she translates it directly into English. For example:

  • ‘Dolina Kwiatów’ → ‘Valley of Flowers’,
  • ‘Kłykacz’ → ‘Fanger’,
  • ‘Wawrzynosek’ → ‘Laurelnose’,
  • ‘żółwi kamień’ → ‘turtle stone’.

However, if a name sounds foreign in the original she leaves it unchanged, sometimes providing a small change for pronunciation reasons. For example:

  • ‘Densele’,
  • ‘Novigrad’,
  • ‘Chireadan’,
  • ‘kikimora’ or
  • ‘Aksja’ → ‘Axia’.

Stok did not avoid mistakes in her translation, the biggest of which is probably the inconsistency. It is difficult to understand why one name is translated differently in different short stories or even the same one. For example:

  • a real existing plant ‘tojad’ was translated in three different ways:
    • ‘tojad’ → ‘monk’s hood’,
    • ‘pęczki tojadu’ → ‘wisps of monkshood’,
    • ‘zasuszony bukiecik tojadu’ → ‘bunch of dried monkshead’,
  • a creature called in Polish ‘rusałka’ became in the English version:
    • ‘rusalka’,
    • ‘water nymph’,
    • and ‘fairy’.

Having talked to the English speaking fans of The Witcher video game who have also read the book I learned that they would prefer all the names left intact as, according to them, it would represent the climate of the book better. With the names that bear specific meaning the translator could have used footnotes explaining what a given name means. This way the readers would have the feeling of reading the original and still understand what the author wanted to convey in the chosen names.

(Note: The chapters 7 and 8, concerning the summary of the MA thesis in Polish and English language, have been skipped.)

9 Appendix[ | ]

The list of other proper names and nomenclature used in creation of this thesis not discussed in detail in the practical part.

Geographical names
Original page Translation page Short story
Gelibol 56 Gelibol 52 GT
Guleta 170 Gulet 163 VR5
Kovir 84 Kovir 82 LE
Redania 228 Redania 222 LW
Riv 8 Rivian 3 W
Thwyth 130 Thwyth 125 QP

Personal names
Original page Translation page Short story
Abergard 109 Abergard 105 MZ
Abrad Zadrzykiecka 89 Abrad Jack‐up‐the‐Skirt 86 MZ
Akerspaark 159 Akerspaark 152 KC
Audoen 99 Audoen 96 MZ
Beau Berrant 228 Beau Berrant 222
Bernika z Talgaru 89 Bernika of Talgar 86 MZ
Civril 95 Civril 92 MZ
Dana Méadbh 208 Dana Meadbh 202
Dennis Cranmer 279 Dennis Cranmer 273 GR7
Dhun 177 Dhun 170
Dragomir 78 Dragomir 75 MZ
Draig Bon‐Dhu 128 Draig Bon‐Dhu 123 KC
Eist Tuirseach ze Skellige 127 Eist Tuirseach of Skellige 122 KC
Ermella 76 Ermellia 73 GR3
Evermir 88 Evermir 86 MZ
Filavandrel 198 Filavandrel 191
Geoffrey Monck 257 Geoffrey Monck 251
Jeż z Erlenwaldu 140 Urcheon of Erlenwald 134 KC
król Bran 128 King Bran 123 KC
król Dezmod 221 King Dezmod 216
król Heribert 228 King Heribert 221
król Vridank 129 King Vridank 124 KC
książę Hrobarik 132 Prince Hrobarik 127 KC
książę Windhalm 126 Prince Windhalm 121 KC
Lilit / Niya 86 Lilit / Niya 83 MZ
Lunini 165 Lunin 158 GR5
marszałek Vissegerd 128 Marshal Vissegerd 123 KC
miecz Balmur 154 sword Balmur 147 KC
Neville 252 Neville 246
Pomrów 128 Tinglant 123 KC
Primula 59 Primula 55 ZP
Roderick de Novembre 164 Roderick de Novembre 157 GR5
Rulle Asper lub Aspen 44 Rulle Asper, or Aspen 40 ZP
Silvena, pani na Naroku 88 Silvena, the lady of Narok 86 MZ
staruszek Abrad 89 old man Abrad 86 MZ
Stregobor 83 Stregobor 81 MZ
Supree 146 Supree 140 KC
Szalony Deï 146 Mad Deï 140 KC
Tailles z Dorndal 73 Tailles from Dorndal 70 GR3
Torque 196 Torque 190
Trigla 78 Trigla 75 MZ
Triss Merigold 235 Triss Merigold 229
Valdo Marx 223 Valdo Marx 217
Venimira 60 Venimira 56 ZP
Vesemir 119 Vesemir 115 GR4
Vratimir 226 Vratimir 220
Wielka Melitele 38 Great Melitele! 34 GR2
wielmożny Ravix z Czteroroga 124 Honourable Ravix of Fourhorn 119 KC
Zavist 85 Zavist 83 MZ
Żywia 211 Lyfia 204

Plants and stones
Original page Translation page Short story
piłorytka 213 sawcuts 207 GR6

Monsters and creatures
Original page Translation page Short story
alp 66 alpor 62 ZP
amfisbena 85 amphisboena 83 MZ
bober 179 beaver 172
borowiki 11 spriggans 7 W
chobołdy 172 hobolds 165
chochliki 172 imps 165
d’jinni 238 djinns 232
diaboł 178 deovel 171
drakonid 169 draconid 162 GR5
dziworyby 81 the oddest of fish 78 MZ
dziwożona 167 dryad 160 GR5
geniusze 238 genies 232
ghul 121 ghoul 116 GR4
gigaskorpion 121 giant scorpion 116 GR4
ifrity 256 afreet 250
kerguleny 81 herrongs 78 MZ
klabatry 81 clabaters 78 MZ
koźloróg 193 sylvan 186
latawica 172 flying drake 165
latawiec 169 flying drakes 162 GR5
leszy 18 leshy 13 W
mamuny 172 mamunes 165
maridy 256 marides 250
Mora 172 Bane 165
mula 66 moola 62 ZP
nieludki 167 humanoids 160 GR5
niziołki 182 lowlanders 175
ociężnik 137 lobster 131 KC
ośmionogi 81 octopedes 78 MZ
piżmowiec 179 muskrat 172
płanetniki 186 wind sprites 179
pochmurniki 186 cloud sprites 179
potwór 152 monster 145 KC
potworności 174 monstrosities 167
potwory 174 monsters 167
rokita 187 willower 180
silvan 187 sylvan 180
skolopendromorf 130 centipedeanomorph 124 KC
skrzaty 80 imps 77 MZ
strzyga 13 striga 8 W
wąpierz 187 plumard 180
wijuny ziemne 185 earth myriapodans 178
wiły 172 myriapodans 165
wipper 45 vypper 41 ZP
wojsiłek 167 mecopteran 160 GR5
wróżki 238 fotune tellers 232
żagnica 121 aeschna 116 GR4
zjadarka 121 black annis 116 GR4
żyrytwa 121 ilyocoris 116 GR4
żywiołaki 171 werethings 164

Other proper names and common nouns
Original page Translation page Short story
akademia w Oxenfurcie 165 Academy in Oxenfurt 159 GR5
brama Powroźnicza 7 Ropers Gate 2 W
czarcie koło 65 devil's ring 61 ZP
diuk 73 Duke 70 GR3
dworzyszcze 22 palace 17 W
dziecko niespodzianka 149 child‐surprise 142 KC
emetyk 103 emetic 100 MZ
grododzierżca Wyzimy 9 castellan of Wyzim 5 W
hrabia Moën 73 Count of Moën 70 GR3
klucznik 255 warder 249
komes 61 regent 57 ZP
kuglarz za garść srebrników 96 conjurer for a fistful of silver 93 MZ
Mądra 190 Wise One 184
Mania Obłąkanego Eltibalda 86 the Mania of Mad Eltibald 83 MZ
Matka Natura 40 Mother Nature 36 GR2
menhiry Dauków 86 Dauk menhirs 83 MZ
mutantki 88 mutant 85 MZ
nekropolia 121 necropolis 116 GR4
nekropolie Wożgorów 86 Wozgor necropolises 83 MZ
niebieskie róże z Nazairu 58 blue roses from Nazair 53 ZP
nosacizna 171 glanders 164
novigradzkie korony 77 Novigrad crowns 73 GR3
pachołek 123 a servant 118 KC
pałac 26 palace 21 W
Prawo Niespodzianki 146 Law of Surprise 139 KC
Próba Traw 119 Trial of Grasses 115 GR4
Przekleństwo Czarnego Słońca 86 the Curse of the Black Sun 83 MZ
pularda 52 fowl 47 ZP
Rada Czarodziejów 86 the Council of Wizards 83 MZ
Rzeźnik z Blaviken 76 Butcher of Blaviken 72 GR3
ścierwojad 85 scavenger 83 MZ
świątynia Melitele 38 Melitele's temple 34 GR2
szarlatan 85 charlatan 83 MZ
szarm 252 spell 246
tridamskie ultimatum 102 Tridam ultimatum 99 MZ
twierdza Ortagor 155 Fortress Ortagar 148 KC
uroczysko 121 sacred site 116 GR4
urok 252 spell 246
warownia 119 fortress 115 GR4
wędrowna druidka 40 wandering druid 36 GR2
Wiedzący 12 Knowing Ones 8 W
wiedźmak 187 witchman 180
wiedźmin 7 witcher 2 W
wiedźminek 247 little witcher 241
Wiedźmińskie Siedliszcze 119 Witcher's Settlement 115 GR4
Wielka Macierz 40 the Great Mother 36 GR2
wielmoża 18 magnate 13 W
wieszczka 190 prophetess 184
wieszczki 40 oracles 36 GR2
władyka 61 lord 57 ZP
wyrocznie 89 oracles 86 MZ
zakon Białej Róży 76 Order of the White Rose 73 GR3
Zmiany 119 changes 115 GR4
Znak Heliotropu 232 Sign of Heliotrope 226
Znak Heliotropu 68 Sign of Heliotrop 64 ZP
Znak Szkoły Wilka 120 the Sign of the Wolf's School 115 GR4
Zwierciadło Nehaleni 89 Nehalenia's Mirrors 86 MZ

Bibliography[ | ]

  1. Fantastyka, 3 (30)/1985
  2. Fantastyka, 9/1987, p.4
  3. http://www.sapkowski.pl, my own translation
  4. Brzozowski, A., 2002, Wiedźmin i historia, In "Mówią wieki", 1/2002, p.41, my own translation
  5. Brzozowski, A., 2002, Wiedźmin i historia, In "Mówią wieki", 1/2002, p.41, my own translation
  6. Bereś S., Sapkowski A., 2005, Historia i fantastyka, Warszawa: SuperNowa, pp.268-269, my own translation
  7. Szelewski, M., 2003, Nazewnictwo literackie w utworach Andrzeja Sapkowskiego i Nika Pierumowa, Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek
  8. Sapkowski, A., 2005, Ostatnie życzenie, Warszawa: SuperNowa
  9. Sapkowski, A., 2007, The Last Wish, London: Gollancz, translated by Danusia Stok
  10. High fantasy
  11. Gloger, Z., 1900-1903, Encyklopedia Staropolska Ilustrowana (http://pl.wikisource.org/wiki/Encyklopedia_staropolska)