As with so many other language categories, a closed and final definition of our object of study, the proper noun or (proper) name, is virtually impossible due to its variability. The many attempts to reach a definition have always met exceptions that invalidate them. However and not without its own problems, probably the most useful definition is the one derived from the referential approach, which states that: “a proper name or proper noun is any word or phrase which is prototypically used to denote a unique item and thus distinguish it from its fellows.”
Names (used here as an abbreviation of “proper names”) are a special category within languages due to their apparently mere deictic nature, deprived of meaning beyond mere denomination (although, as we will see, this is not really so). Consequently, translation as an operation which mainly deals with the transfer of meaning faces here an item that may seem impossible to tackle, and it is therefore frequent to hear simplistic statements such as that names are not translated or even that they are untranslatable.
In this entry we will try to address the complex nature of this language item and of its translation, showing that names are indeed translated and that their translation takes multiple forms, from literal repetition to the most radical transformations when textual and cultural circumstances make the translator think it advisable to resort to all sorts of translation shifts.
|Javier Franco Aixelá|
|Franco Aixelá, Javier. 2022. "Names" @ ENTI (Encyclopedia of translation & interpreting). AIETI.|