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Children’s crime and detective fiction as a genre: What are its genre-specific features and how do they perform in translation? An analysis of six contemporary texts.

Laurindo Da Silva, Stephanie (2021). Children’s crime and detective fiction as a genre: What are its genre-specific features and how do they perform in translation? An analysis of six contemporary texts.. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The thesis investigates children’s crime and detective fiction (CCF) and its translation from English into German. The basis for the analysis is a corpus of six contemporary English source texts (STs), written for a readership between the ages of 9-12 years. The initial hypothesis is that CCF shares a range of features with adult crime and detective fiction (ACF), albeit often in modified form to make them suitable for a child readership, and that these features pose specific challenges for a translator due to the norms and constraints that govern children’s fiction (CF) as well as detective and crime fiction specific norms. The aim is to analyse the shifts between the two corpora that result in an altered effect in translation and to examine whether these changes suggest that there might be divergences between the underlying norms in the source and target corpora.

The thesis addresses a current research gap – there is no research into the translation of CCF at the time of writing to the best knowledge of the author. It also adds to the discussion around CCF as a genre since there are large discrepancies in existing research which has a tendency to either apply neat categories derived from ACF terminology to CCF texts or to remain vague about the elements which a text must possess in order to be part of the genre. This thesis arrives at a flexible definition that is nevertheless precise enough to create a coherent corpus with shared features which allows for a discussion of similarities and differences between the texts as well as how the features perform in translation. It also utilises ACF terminology but acknowledges the presence of multiple ACF elements within each CCF text, an aspect of CCF which some existing research does not address.

My findings have led me to conclude that CCF is indeed a genre with distinctive core features – the raison d’être for the text is an actual or suspected crime, the child protagonist sets out to actively investigate this crime and the text is written to suit the cognitive level of the child readership – as well as secondary features that are closely related to ACF such as clues and misdirection. The analysis of selected features shows that there are significant shifts between STs and target texts (TTs) but that the level of translator intervention varies widely between texts with some translators adhering more closely to the ST than others. The shifts themselves are frequently shifts in degree rather than substance – the level of suspense may, for example, be heightened or lessened in translation – and they often amplify elements of the text that facilitate reader engagement. Overall, the norms in the two corpora appear to coincide, with transgression and criminality being framed in a similar manner, for example. The thesis also suggests areas for future research to build on the findings which will be discussed below.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > English, Publishing & Creative Writing
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Laurindo Da Silva Thesis 2021.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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