A study of the translation of the book A Game of Thrones

Liis Bauer, Aleksandra Widz & Kristian Mouritzen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Abstract This project investigates how language variation has been translated interlingually, from a source text to a target text and what implications this might have resulted in. It investigates whether the meaning of language variation has been transferred directly or if meaning has been gained or lost in the translation process. The research’s empirical data is based on the fantasy novel A Game of Thrones, published in 1996 by the American author George R. R. Martin, as well as the Danish translation of the book Kampen om Tronen which has been translated by Poul Bratbjerg Hansen. Through analysis it was discovered that Martin stylises his novel so that it portrays a form of archaic language as well as it includes a group of characters who speak English as a second language. These two examples of language variation has been the center of attention in conducting this project. In order to attain a satisfactory answer to this research, a distinction between two theory chapters has been made. Whilst the first chapter is aimed to provide us with translation theory, the second chapter provides theory regarding language variation. The first chapter regards translation theory, including elements like equivalence, synchrony and diachrony. We further include a chapter on the visibility of the translator, drawing on theory by Schleiermacher, Nida, Venuti and Schjoldager. The theories of translation are applied in our project in order to get a wider and more nuanced understanding of the field of translation as a whole. This further implies that we have a broader understanding of our deselections and strengthens the perspective that our project would have looked differently, had we chosen to apply other theories. We have chosen to utilise the taxonomy of Schjoldager’s macro- and microstrategies in order to have a vocabulary and point of reference when analysing our empirical data. The second theory chapter includes a description of Standard English, sociolinguistic indexicality and English as a Lingua Franca. Knowing what Standard English entails, we can distinguish these characteristics to the language variation Martin creates, and with indexicality and English as a Lingua Franca we are able to explain why certain characters are stylised in certain ways and what meaning this gives to the text. The principled way of finding excerpts from the book is done by including only the chapters which concerns the character Daenerys. This limits our empirical data significantly, going from over 70 chapters to only 10. As this is still a vast quantity, we further limit ourselves by choosing to focus on the dialogue of the characters of Khal Drogo and Daenerys’ handmaids. The method for finding excerpts regarding the archaic language variation is slightly different, since we here are simply analysing the words that give the text an archaic impression. Through corpora we are able to prove whether the assumed archaic examples are indeed old or not. Through the used theory, the project concludes that the examples of language variations are not equally represented in the source text and target text. Instead, the analyses show that the language variation disappears to a large extent in the target text, both in regards to the archaic lexical choices as well as the Dothraki use of English as a second language. Based on the examples from the analyses, we are able to conclude that the characteristics of a target text oriented macrostrategy is present, and that the target text has been through a domestication process in order to better address the Danish recipients. Finally, we include a brief list of suggestions as to how the translation might have been done differently to keep the effect of the language variation present in the source text.

UddannelserEngelsk, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato16 jun. 2014


  • Kampen om Tronen
  • A Game of Thrones
  • translation
  • Winter is coming