Rainbow of Translation: A semiotic approach to intercultural transfer of colors in children's picture books

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD candidate of semiotics and culture studies, University of Tartu, Estonia

2 Art University of Isfahan


Abstract The aim of intercultural translation is to communicate. Communication is acted via verbal as well as visual means. The interaction of verbal and visual means of communication makes a set of complex situations which demand special attention in translation. One context in which the interaction of visual and verbal elements gets vital importance is children’s picture books. Color is an integral part of children's books and a visual mode of communication. For the translator, to interpret symbolic colors, cultural knowledge of the source and the target cultures is required. To see how the cultural meaning of colors can be transferred and how the interrelationship of words and colors can be achieved, Nida and De Waard’s (1986) Adaptation Theory was utilized in this study. The theory was applied to eight children’s colored picture books aimed for school-aged children. Six of the books were originally written in English and translated into Persian and two of them were the other way round. The analysis of the data showed that the required features of the above-stated theory was rarely followed by translators and illustrators, and, except in one case, color symbolism was not considered by them. Findings of the study indicate that since visuals are inseparable elements of translating children's picture books, translators/illustrators should be dressed with enough information of visual-cultural aspects of translation in general, and of color symbolism in particular.