Martyna Katarzyna Gibka, PhD

Cheery Littlebottom, Here'n'now and Mrs Slipdry

Terry Pratchett: A Literary Onomastician

A reader who enters Ankh-Morpork meets a plethora of inspiring characters’ proper names. The author in whose mind this city has its origins has been awarded a great number of literary awards, honorary doctorates and a knighthood. However, the onomasticon of his novels has attracted little attention of onomasticians. Now, Sir Terry is no longer with us in person. Let this first international project on literary onomastics (not dissimilar to Gaspode) be also a tribute to one of the most highly onomastically aware author of our times.

The topic of the project
The functions of characters’ proper names in the City Watch series by Terry Pratchett in its original version and some of its translation.

A comprehensive analysis of functions of characters’ proper names in a series of novels (not an intuitive one, but one actually based on a scientific method) and in chosen translations of this series. Resulting overview of functions preserved, changed, lost. An insight into the (conceptual) nature of every function a character’s proper name in a novel can serve. A database enabling further research on methods of preserving the functions in question in literary translation – thus, the creation of a new onomastic discipline: literary translation onomastics.

The theory of two acts proposed by the author of this project in the doctoral dissertation “The functions of characters’ proper names in a novel. A theoretical approach and its application”.

1. The City Watch series by Terry Pratchett.
2. The Polish translation of the City Watch series by Terry Pratchett.
3. The …* translation of the City Watch series by Terry Pratchett.
4. The …* translation of the City Watch series by Terry Pratchett.
5. The …* translation of the City Watch series by Terry Pratchett.
6. The …* translation of the City Watch series by Terry Pratchett.

* Please fill this gap with the name of any language that is not English or Polish.

The leader of this project is its author – Martyna Gibka, PhD, a literary onomastician in mind, heart and soul.
Who can join?
Everybody who would like to do academic research on characters’ proper names in the City Watch series. You may, but you do not have to have an academic degree. What you absolutely must have is the will to spend some of your time working (I will not lie to you, working a lot) on the translation of the series into your (preferably) native tongue. If you do not have enough time to work with me on the translation of the whole series, please find another person to share the work with. Thought I’d say don’t do it? Got you!

Participants' task in more detail:
When you join this project, your aim will be a comprehensive analysis of functions of characters’ proper names in the translation of the City Watch series into the language of your choice. Your path will start at understanding the method I proposed for the analysis (I will help you with that), then you will have to take the first novel of the series and read it while simultaneously gathering the material needed. After that you will prepare a database for this novel with an analysis of functions. Then we will spend some time together (via skype, facebook, emails...) to make sure the analysis includes everything it needs to and to draw some conclusions. Finally you will write an article on the translation of this part of the series in your language. What then? Seven more novels :)
What you get from me:
- the methodology with its explanation
- the databases and analyses of the original novels
- help along the way and after each novel
- as much funding as possible - depending on the amount of money I will be able to raise for this project (you are welcome to try and find funding yourself as well)

Where are the results going to be shared?
All around the world.
At international onomastic conferences. At Terry Pratchett fans' meetings. At international conferences/symposia of literary translators. In widely-known scientific journals.

Write to me at
Do not wait for a better day to write, the worst day to do anything is tomorrow.

Ha ha, got you again! Unfortunately, I must add. I applied for some funds from the Polish National Science Centre. As you may have already guessed, they look at literary onomastic like at the three-legged dog I described earlier. However, this does not mean there will be no funding at all. For now I am funding my participation in this project out of my own pocket. I do intend to try again and again everywhere I can and I recommend you do as well. If you like this project, but for any reason cannot be its research participant, do not hesitate to help us find funding. You can also donate (some people I approach with this project start their response with asking me about funds for participants). The only funding this project will have as of the moment of its announcement will be another project. Let me name this other project something like this “Finding money for the advancement of literary onomastics by popularising onomastics among non-onomasticians”. More details in the link at the bottom of this page.

Anyway, regardless of the way you would like to take part in this project, please start by writing to me.

Confirmed participants:
Martyna Katarzyna Gibka (Poland)
Tamás Farkas (Hungary)
Gilles Quentel (Brittany)

"No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence."

― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Published works:
1. Gibka, M. K. (2018). The functions of characters proper names in Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett. Acta Onomastica LIX (pp. 54-68).

2. Gibka, M. K. (2018). The Functions of Characters’ Proper Names in Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett. Onomastica Uralica, 14, 203–214.