Real and Fantasy World Concepts in Children’s Fantasy Translation



children’s literature translation, children’s and young adult’s fantasy, food translation, linguistic world view


In this article, I attempt to bridge the academic disciplines of literary geography and children’s literature translation studies, thereby enriching the scholarly discourse surrounding the distinctions between the real and fantasy worlds within fantasy literature. Oziewics (2015), in his essays, characterises children's fantasy as a global phenomenon, asserting that children from any country and culture can readily immerse themselves in fantastical realms. However, the translation of children's fantasy literature is frequently perceived as a process of localisation, often involving a considerable degree of domestication, which may shift the concepts of real and fantasy world for a target reader. This study delves into the translator's strategies employed in translating food descriptions from fantasy realms, with a particular focus on Alexander O’Smith’s English translation of food within the fantasy world of Vision, as depicted in Miyuki Miyabe’s Bureibu Sut?r?  /Brave Story/ (2003). The narrative follows the journey of Wataru, a Japanese youth, who finds himself transported to the fantastical realm of Vision. Here, he encounters diverse inhabitants and engages in everyday activities, including the consumption of fantastical cuisine and the pursuit of sustenance. These vivid descriptions offer valuable insights into the distinctive geography, climate, and culture of Vision's world. Given that the story unfolds from the perspective of a protagonist who hails from Japan, the representation of Vision's surroundings, the description of real-world food, and the portrayal of fantasy commodities are all categorised in accordance with conventional Japanese linguistic norms. Drawing upon a comparative analysis of O’Smith’s translation strategies, I argue that the translation of food-related concepts significantly influences the overall depiction of Vision's fantasy world. Consequently, these translation choices bear a substantial impact on the reception and role of works like Bureibu Sut?r? (2003) within the target culture.


Boase-Beier, J. (2004) ‘Saying What Someone Else Meant: Style, Relevance and Translation.’ International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14(2), pp. 276-287.

Cavanaugh, J. R., Kathleen C. R., Alexandra J., Christine J., Martha K., and Amy P. (2014) ‘What Words Bring to the Table: The Linguistic Anthropological Toolkit as Applied to the Study of Food.’ Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 24(1), pp. 84-97.

Chiaro, D. and Linda R. (2015) ‘Food and Translation, Translation and Food. The Translator, 21(3), pp. 237-243.

Dahl, R. (1998/1964) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. London: Puffin.

Dore, M. (2019) ‘Food and Translation in Montalbano.’ In Balirano G. and Guzzo S. (eds) Food Across Cultures. Singapore: Springer, pp. 23-42.

Flyxe, M. (2002) ‘Translation of Japanese Onomatopoeia into Swedish (with Focus on Lexicallisation).’ Africa & Asia, 2, pp. 54-73.

Hall, E.T. (1959) Beyond Culture. New York: Doubleday.

Harris-Aber, A. (2021) ‘Review of Table Lands: Food in Children’s Literature. University Press of Mississippi, 2020, by Keeling, Kara K., and Pollard, Scott T.’ Children’s Literature, 49, pp. 247-251.

Hones, S. (2014) Literary Geographies: Narrative Space in. Let the Great World Spin. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Katan, D. (2004) Translation Cultures: An Introduction for Translators, Interpreters and Mediators. London: Routledge.

Keeling, K. K., and Pollard, S. T. (2020) Table Lands: Food in Children’s Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (2003) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: The University of Chicago press.

Lewis, C. S. (2008) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: Harper-Collins.

Massey, G. and Ehrensberger-Dow, M. (2017) ‘Translating Conceptual Metaphor: The Processes of Managing Interlingual Assymmetry.’ Research in Language, 15(2), pp. 173-189.

Miyuabe, M. (2003) Bureibu Sutōrī. Vol. 1, 2, 3. Tokyo: Kadokawa.

Miyuabe, M. (2009) Trans. O’Smith, A. Brave Story. San Francisco: VIZ Media LLC.

Needham, P. (2000) ‘What is Water?’ Analysis, 60(1), pp. 3-21.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Online ed (last accessed 13.07.2022). Cambridge University Press. ‘Loanword’. [Online] [Accessed 13 September 2022]

Oittinen, R., Ketola, A. and Garavini., M. (2018) Translating Picturebooks: Revoicing the Verbal, the Visual, and the Aural for a Child Audience. US: Routledge.

Oziewics, M. (2015) Justice in Young Adult Speculative Fiction: A Cognitive Reading. New York: Routledge.

Padron, R. (2007) ‘Mapping Imaginary Worlds.’ In Akerman, J. and Karrow, R. (eds) Maps: Finding Our Place In the World. Chicago & London: University of Chicago.

Potter, B. (2002/1904) The Tale of Two Bad Mice. UK: Warne.

Saler, M. T. (2021) As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary PreHistory of Virtual Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sasaki, A. (2020) ‘Translating Sounds: A Study into the Russian-Language Translations of Onomatopoeic Proper Names in the Twentieth-Century English-Language Children’s Literature.’ In Dybiec-Gajer, J. and Oittinen, R. (eds) Negotiating Translation and Transcreation of Children’s Literature. Singapore: Springer.

Sato, E. (2017) ‘Translanguaging in Translation: Evidence from Japanese Mimetics.’ International Journal of Linguistics and Communication 5(1), pp. 11-26.

Stanlaw, J. (2004) Japanese English: Language and Culture Contact. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Wakabayashi, J. (2021) Japanese-English Translation: An Advanced Guide. New York: Routledge.