That Poor Little Thing: The Emotive Meanings of Diminutives in Polish and Russian Translations of Alice in Wonderland




Lockyer, Dorothy

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The emotive connotations of diminutives in English are a source of controversy among scholars, while the Slavic languages of Polish and Russian are considered ‘diminutive-rich’ with diminutives that convey diverse nuances. Thus, the translation of diminutives between English and Slavic languages has either been portrayed as difficult or has been ignored altogether. However, an analysis of Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and several of its translations into Polish and Russian shows that English has many diminutives, some of which are ‘untranslatable’, while many diminutives can be easily translated. Yet, the strong emphasis on diminutives in Polish and Russian produces diminutives in the translations that do not appear in the original text and are not typical of English. What becomes evident is that the obstacles in translating various diminutive constructions provoke the question: What are the semantic-pragmatic differences between English and Polish/Russian diminutives and how do these differences affect translation?



diminutives, literary semantics, translation, English language, noun phrases, adjectives, Slavic languages, Polish, Russian, children's literature, Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll