The renowned author of children's and youth literature, Otfried Preußler, has died at the age of 89. His famous novel characters such as 'Räuber Hotzenplotz', 'kleine Hexe' or 'Krabat', to mention just a few, live on.
Preußler not only brought German-speaking children into the world of great reading. His works have been translated into 55 languages.
The translation of children's and youth literature is not exactly a simple task for literary translators. It was once asked how the folk song of 'Räuber Hotzenplotz', entitled "Alles neu macht der Mai" should be translated into the various foreign languages. In this instance, the translator has to find the correct adaptation.
It is interesting to take a look at the various book titles that have been given to Preußler's works abroad. Preußler had taken the name "Hotzenplotz" because of its onomatopoeic quality. The name should describe a wild, sinister person, hence the dark tonality with the double use of 'o'.
Henceforth, the reader in another target language should experience something similar when browsing in 'Hotzenplotz', as would a German reader. For this purpose, the various translators and their proofreaders have selected different names for the evildoer.
In the English version, the name 'Hotzenplotz' is kept, and the attribute of 'Robber' is simply added. In Afrikaans, the name sounds similar to the German: "Die Rower Hotsenplots". In Danish, it sounds quite different: Here, the name 'Hotzenplotz' becomes „Røveren Runkeldunk“. French displays a very different version of the translation with the use of "Le Brigand Briquambroque". Spanish uses a different play on words through its selection of the title „El Bandido Saltodemata“. Norwegian takes a very different approach in its translation of the name, using the "Røver Pannebrask", as has Portuguese with the name "O Ladrão Catabrum", or the Finnish translation of the name „Ryöväri Hurjahanka“.
Onomatopoeia plays an especially important role in the translation of children's literature, and in these works, the creation of character names is often an onomatopoeic process.