Gender-Specific Charactonyms in Persian Translation of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2

Document Type : Original Article


PhD of Translation Studies, Department of English Translation Studies, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran


The present research aimed to investigate gender-specific charactonyms in the Persian Translation of John Bunyan’s (1684) The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2. It also aimed to reveal whether the TL preferred equivalents for the SL gender-specific charactonyms could convey the meanings and the characteristics of the names in the Persian translation. The material was borrowed from the book Seir-o Solouk-i Za’ir, Bakhshe Dovom (‘سیر و سلوک زائر، بخش دوّم’) translated by Golnaz Hamedi in 2002 (1381), and also its French and Arabic translations. Thus, SL gender-specific charactonyms were compared with TL equivalents in Evelyn Hatch’s (1992) macro-level analysis. According to Hatch (1992), characters, as one of the main elements of a story, play a significant role and affect the macrostructure of the story. The results showed that the Persian equivalents used by Hamedi (2002) ranged from transparent to problematic ones. Hamedi (2002) less preserved the meanings of the names and sometimes replaced the female charactonyms with already-used male charactonyms that affected the novel due to the change of the characteristics and additional information the charactonyms bear in their inner forms.


1. Introduction

Gender psychologically, socially, semantically, and grammatically has its definitions. Oxford English Dictionary defines gender as “the state of being male or female as expressed by social or cultural distinctions and differences, rather than biological ones; the collective attributes or traits associated with a particular sex, or determined as a result of one's sex.” A name may be considered semantic gender and socially or culturally refers to a specific gender due to the traits the name bears. The male and female-gendered names are used among different social groups over the globe.

Some languages like French, German, Arabic, and English have a grammatical gender system, a form of name class system. In these languages, gender refers to names bearing one value of the grammatical category. Inflections of verbs and pronouns can distinguish each class of nouns (masculine, feminine, and neuter). Applying adjectives, pronouns, and verbs relating to a noun of such a class can be obligatory or arbitrary, and gender markers vary from one language to another language.

There is no gender segregation in the structure of the Persian language. Still, the effect of gender on the language can be seen at the level of language vocabulary through the gender markers of Arabic names. Feminine marker suffixes are used in Persian, and three primary markers exist from which we can tell that a noun is feminine. These are ة/ ـةcalled at-taa’ al-marbutah, ـى called alif al-maqsuurah, andاء/ـاء  called alif al-mamduudah. Examples are the feminine names Zohre ‘زهرة,’ Kobrā ‘کبری,’ and Zahrā ‘زهراء’ respectively. Such feminine names were borrowed from Arabic, and they usually possess these feminine markers. A name such as Maryam مریم’ without any feminine marker is called real feminine.

One type of proper noun is charactonym. Charactonym is a name given to a literary character that suggests a distinctive trait of the character. Charactonyms are also called significant names, functional names, descriptive names, and label names. Authors invent and use charactonyms in their works to present deeper meanings hidden behind the names. Gender-specific charactonyms, as well as referring to gender, bear a characteristic, feeling, state, idea, concept, and doctrine. They are employed as main elements of a story to say more than a merely referential expression to names.

Authors skillfully use charactonyms as a stylistic device in their works to state hidden meanings behind the names. Challenges of using the charactonyms appear on behalf of the translator(s) and, or TL reader(s). The translator’s task is to decode the author’s intended meaning and the characteristics of a charactonym. The charactonym suggests a deeper meaning in its inner form and stem.  Also, when TL readers do not grasp the charactonyms’ hidden meanings, they may be deprived of reality, a name that refers to a more significant truth, characteristic, feeling, concept, or doctrine. The challenge is more important when two different language systems are studied, one as the source language, and the other as the target language.

The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2 abounds gender-specific charactonyms, and each significant name is characterized by Bunyan (1684) to represent a trait or additional information behind the name. Gender-specific charactonyms (typically feminine ones) refer to historical, cultural, and religious realities Bunyan (1684) intended to introduce in his work. Studying gender-specific charactonyms includes semantics, linguistics, morphology, phonology, word-formation, and gender study, and the meaning has the first place in this characterization.

2. Review of the Related Literature

Charactonyms are significant names, and they express the characteristics of the bearer. The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2 is an allegory, and it abounds the meaningful names (functional names). Famous authors employ charactonyms as a stylistic device to refer to in-depth meanings and represent their skills in writing. Bunyan wrote the book in 1684 and characterized women with prominent roles. The characterization is around unmarried and married women, and the names are called gender-specific charactonyms. Greg Johnson & Thomas R. Arp (2015) state, “Ultimately it is the quality of characterization by which a literary story stands or falls.” (p. 146)

Characterization is the most significant element of the art in any good literary work, and in-depth characterization is the favorite one authors use in their works. Writers have enough skill and insight to create their human and inhuman characters. Characters can be simple, complex, variable, ambiguous, and multi-dimensional. Authors like K. M. Weiland (2018) have their strategies to create the characters and present points of characterization.

Weiland (2018) describes naming characters in her book entitled Crafting Unforgettable Characters. She presents several pointers for characterization, including avoiding names that begin with the same letter, choosing realistic names, choosing historically/geographically accurate names, establishing gender with neutral names, and don’t be afraid of changing names where necessary. (pp. 21-24)

Weiland (2018) states:

It’s been my policy (although admittedly not always strictly observed) to avoid using two names starting with the same letter in the same story. After being introduced to a character, most readers stop reading his name and simply recognize the character by the shape of the letters as their eyes skim over the page. If two characters share names that begin with the same letter— and particularly if the names are similar in size and shape—readers can easily misread and confuse them. (pp. 21-22)

Two main schools are identified in translating the proper names; the first school advocates that the proper names are denotative, a proper name only refers to something or someone, and the second school advocates that proper names are connotative. It mentions the meaningfulness of the proper names and refers to what is denominated.

Scholars such as Saint Jerome, Martin Luther, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Eugene Nida suggested different translation strategies. Moreover, other strategies were presented by scholars like Sándor G. J. Hervey and Ian Higgins (1992), Theo Hermans (1988), Anthony Pym (2004), and Peter Newmark (1988a) to render the proper names. Hervey and Higgins (1992) present the strategies of exotism, transliteration, and cultural transplantation for translating personal names. (p. 29) Hermans (1988) holds that copying, reproducing, transcription, and transliteration are the four strategies for the translation of names. (p. 13) Pym (2004) believes that “proper names are untranslatable simply because they do not have to be translated” (p. 92).

Newmark (1988a) describes that people's names should not be translated when their names have no connotation in the text. (p. 214) Translating the names of saints, monarchs, and popes is sometimes considered an exception. Newmark (1988b) goes on to describe the translation of fictional characters as:       

While surnames in fiction often have deliberate connotations through sound and meaning, the translator should explain the connotations in a glossary and leave the names intact (except, of course, in allegories like Pilgrim's Progress, Everyman, etc… where the characters are not specifically English). (p. 71)

Alexander Kalashnikov (2006) describes, “names characterizing their referents are called charactonyms. They are fictional names, containing in their stems elements of common nouns and other parts of speech, created by a writer to characterize a character” (p. 1). Kalashnikov (2006) presents the strategies used in translating charactonyms or functional names. There are eight types of translation equivalents: 1. Usual equivalent; 2. Usual equivalent with irrelevant coloring; 3. Occasional equivalent; 4. Occasional equivalent with irrelevant coloring; 5. Equivalent with a changed characteristic; 6. Equivalent with a changed characteristic and irrelevant coloring; 7. Irrelevant equivalent; and 8. Irrelevant equivalent with irrelevant coloring. (pp. 2-3)

Kalashnikov (2011) introduces two types of charactonyms; veiled charactonyms and charactonyms personalia which are subdivided into two groups; charactonyms personalia with common stems and names of famous people given to literary characters. (pp. 207-213) Veiled charactonyms hide the meanings in their inner forms. Charactonyms personalia with common stems represent a trait in the inner form of a charactonym personalia, and names of famous people are eternal and well-known ones.

Abdolreza Rostami (2022), in his article entitled Gender-Specific Charactonyms in Persian Translation of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress, deals with gender-specific charactonyms in Part 1. The research aimed to reveal the charactonyms’ conveyance of meaning and translation strategies applied in two Persian translations, Siyahat-i Masihi, translated by J. L. Potter in 1926, and Seir-o Solouk-i Za’ir, translated by Golnaz Hamedi in 2002. Rostami (2022) concluded that the translators applied two different translation strategies: Potter (1926) translated and preserved the titles of gender-specific charactonyms with deeper meanings, and Hamedi (2002) ignored the gender and distanced from the rendition of gender-based names and their titles. (p. 37)

The lack of theories about the translation of charactonym(s) bearing the characteristics of the names’ bearers is evident from translation studies scholars. The problem stems from adhering to or rejecting the meaningfulness of proper nouns. The present research emphasizes how the names are connotative, imply gender, and possess particular references.

3. Method

The research focuses on gender-specific charactonyms in the Persian Translation of John Bunyan’s (1684) The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2 according to Evelyn Hatch’s (1992) model. 

3.1 Corpus

The Source Text (ST) is The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2 written by John Bunyan (1684) and published by Christian Classics Ethereal Library. The Target Texts (TTs) include the book Seir-o Solouk-i Za’ir, Bakhshe Dovom (‘سیر و سلوک زائر، بخش دوّم’) translated by Golnaz Hamedi in 1381 (2002), Tehran: Medhat publication. As Seir-o Solouk-i Za’ir, Bakhshe Dovom is the only Persian translation found in Iran, The French and Arabic ones are employed to compare and analyze the charactonyms where necessary. The French version is the book Voyage du pèlerin translated by PG translator (1855). Québec: Chez Samizdat, sous St-Augustin. The Arabic version is Siahate Al-Masih, Al-Qesm o Al-Thani, published in 1873. 

3.2 Procedure

The procedure of this study includes five steps as the following: 1. The Source Text (ST) is read to recognize the SL gender-specific charactonyms. 2. The Target Texts (TTs), including Persian, French, and Arabic ones, are examined, and the preferred equivalents to the SL charactonyms are elicited. 3. The analysis is conducted to study the gender, characteristics, and traits of the SL charactonyms. 4. It examines the conveyance of the charactonyms’ characteristics through the equivalents. 5. The discussion and conclusion are presented based on the obtained results.

3.3. Research Design

The present research is qualitative and is considered a descriptive-analytical corpus-based study. Hatch’s (1992) macro-level analysis (characters and their roles) is chosen as the theoretical framework of this study. Hatch (1992) emphasizes the components of stories, and believes that four elements are vital for analyzing the macrostructure of a story which can be summarized as follows: 1- orientation, this includes the time of occurrence, the place of occurrence, and characters and their roles, 2- the goal of the story, 3- the statement of the problem, and 4- conclusion. (p. 165)

4. Results

Character names and their meanings are important, and they put the readers in the story world. The names created by Bunyan (1684) have their stems and meanings referring to in-depth meanings, history, and biblical references. Correct character names having the meanings and characterizing functions are considered significant elements of a story. The meanings of the names vary from simple and transparent to complex and challenging. Gender-specific charactonyms, especially those that refer to females, are more important because Bunyan (1684) intended to convey a hidden truth through the female names. Arguing and analyzing the names help the readers better understand charactonyms and their suggestive meanings.

Bountiful: Bountiful is Mercy’s sister in this novel, and its preferred Persian equivalent is Sexāvatmānd ‘سخاوتمند’.

“I had a sister named Bountiful, that was married to one of these churls” (p. 163).

"خواهری داشتم به نام سخاوتمند که با یکی از این لئیمان ازدواج کرده بود." (حامدی، ص. 237)

Christiana: The central literary character in Part 2 is Christiana. defines that “Christiana is a feminine form of the masculine name Christian, which derived from the Latin name Christianus (from “christianus sum” = I am a Christ) and is of ancient Greek origin (from Christós / Χριστός).”

“MR. SAGACITY: Who? Christiana and her sons? They are like to do as well as Christian did himself; …” (p. 127).

"بصیرت: «چه کسانی؟ همسر مسیحی و فرزندانش هم شائق اند راه مسیحی را بروند و اگر ..." (حامدی، ص. 187).

Hamedi (2002) selects the Persian equivalent Hamsar-e masihi ‘همسر مسیحی’ for the charactonym Christiana throughout the novel.

Diffidence: The quality or state of being diffident is called diffidence. Diffidence is Giant Despair's wife. She encourages her husband to punish the pilgrims in the Doubting Castle.

“At that the old Giant comes to the gate, and Diffidence his wife follows.” (p. 201)

"دیو و در پی اش زوجۀ بدگمان او ظاهر گشتند." (حامدی، ص. 290)

The equivalent Badgomān ‘بدگمان’ was selected for the name Diffidence in Part 2. The charactonym Diffidence first appears in Part 1 as the following:

“Now Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence” (p. 83).

"دیو عظیم الجثه را همسری بود به نام تردید" (حامدی، ص. 136).

The translator first introduces the literary character Diffidence as Tardid تردید’, but in a shift, she replaces the TL equivalent Tardid ‘تردید’ with the name Badgomān ‘بدگمان’. The problem arises when Hamedi (2002) already renders two other male charactonyms as Badgomān ‘بدگمان.’ There are two different charactonyms named Mistrusts in the book The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 1. Mistrust is employed for two literary characters; Mistrust in the story of “Mistrust and Timorous”, which appears five times, and Mistrust as one of three brothers in the story of “Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt.” One is Timorous’s friend, and the other is a member of a rogue group. When Christian arrived at the top of the Hill Difficulty, two men came toward him from the opposite direction. The name of the one was Timorous, and the other was Mistrust.

“Now when he was got up to the top of the hill, there came two men running amain; the name of the one was Timorous, and of the other Mistrust” (p. 36).

"مسیحی از جای برجست و با سرعت به راه افتاد و شتابان به راه ادامه داد تا به قلۀ کوه رسید، در آنجا دو نفر را دید که سخت می دویدند، نام یکی خائف و نام دیگر بدگمان بود." (حامدی، ص. 59)

The first Mistrust was translated by Hamedi (2002) as Badgomān ‘بدگمان’.

Now there happened at that time to come down the lane from Broadway-gate, three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, three brothers; and they, espying Little-Faith where he was, came galloping up with speed.. (p. 90)

هنگانی که سست عهد به زیارت می رفت، چون ما در آن جایگاه به استراحت پرداخت، ناگاه از دروازه سه تن سست عنصر با نامهای بزدل، بدگمان، و گناه که با یکدیگر برادر بودند همزمان با آماده شدن سست عهد برای ادامۀ سفر به سوی او آمدند و .... (حامدی، ص ص. 147-148)

Hamedi (2002) also employs the equivalent Badgomān ‘بدگمان’ to the second Mistrust, one of three brothers. She selects the single Persian equivalent Badgomān ‘بدگمان’ to three literary characters; both charactonyms Mistrusts in two different stories and the charactonym Diffidence in Part 2. Here, the distinction between the literary characters, their roles, and their genders becomes problematic due to the similarity and repetition of the TL preferred equivalent Badgomān ‘بدگمان’ to three different personalities.

Dull: A young woman named Dull attempted to turn the travelers out of the way.

Mr. Great-Heart: Yes, they turned several out of the way. There was Slow-pace that they persuaded to do as they. They also prevailed with one Short-wind, with one No-heart, with one Linger-after-Lust, and with one Sleepy-head, and with a young woman, her name was Dull, to turn out of the way and become as they. (p. 153)

فیّاض: «آری تنی چند را از راه به در کردند. چون کند قدم، که او را ترغیب کردند که مانند ایشان عمل کند. یا نسبت به تند باد یا شقی القلب یا با آن دیگری به نام شهوت پرست یا نیز کسانی چون خواب آلوده یا زن جوانی مسمّی به کودن را سبب شدند که با آنان همگام شوند. (حامدی،  ص. 222)

Although the selected Persian equivalent Kowdan ‘کودن’ to the name Dull is transparent and acceptable, the equivalents Fayyāz ‘فیّاض’ and Tondbād ‘تندباد’ to the male charactonyms Mr. Great-Heart and Short-wind are problematic, and it makes the sentence awful. The equivalent Fayyāz ‘فیّاض’ was used to the already-existing charactonym Great-Grace, and the meaning of the equivalent Tondbād تندباد’ is the opposite of Short-wind’s meaning.

Grace: Grace is a feminine name, a form of Gracie from Latin. Hamedi’s (2002) preferred equivalent to the name Grace is Otufat ‘عطوفت’.

“Mr. Mnason: Then Mr. Mnason stamped with his foot, and his daughter Grace came up.” (p. 196)

"مناسون پای برکوفت و دخترش عطوفت ظاهر گشت." (حامدی، ص. 284)

The Arabic equivalent Ne’mat ‘نعمة’ suggests a closer meaning to the name Grace than the Persian one.

"فنادی مناسون ابنتهُ التی یقال لها النعمة" (ناشناس، ص. 175).

The French variation Grâce was used by PG translator (1855) to the name Grace. (p. 248)

“Là-dessus, Mnason se mit à frapper du pied sur le plancher, et aussitôt parut sa fille, Grâce” (p. 248).

Humble-Mind: Humble-Mind is one of the maidens of the House Beautiful. She appears in the Second Part;

“Then the Porter rang his bell, as at such times he is wont, and there come to the door one of the damsels, whose name was Humble-Mind” (p. 158).

"سپس حاجب زنگی را نواخت، در این هنگام در کنار در دوشیزه ای ظاهر گشت، که نامش فروتنی بود." (حامدی، ص. 230)

Madam Bubble: She is the witch who represents the world’s temptations;

“Then I asked her name, and she told me it was Madam Bubble.” (p. 215)

"سپس نام وی را جویا گشتم، گفت: ورّاج بانو." (حامدی، ص. 309)

Hamedi (2002) prefers to use the equivalent Verrāj-e bānu ‘ورّاج بانو’ to the female charactonym Madam Bubble, and other translators deal with it differently.

The Arabic translation:

"فسالتها عن اسمها فقالت اسمی الباطلة و هذا نزهَّنی عنها اکثر و اما هی فلازمتنی بتملیقاتها" (ناشناس، ص. 222).

The French translation:

“Sur cela, je lui demandai son nom qu’elle me dit être madame Vanité.” (p. 271)

Arabic and French translators behaved the charactonym Madam Bubble other than what Hamedi (2002) did. The Arabic equivalent Bātele ‘باطلة’ and the French one Vanité have the same meaning in Persian. According to Bubble’s characteristics, a witch, temptress, and voluptuous, the closer meaning is Bātel bānu باطل‌بانو’.

Mercy: The name Mercy was rendered by Hamedi (2002) as Rahmat ‘رحمت’.

“Mercy: Then said Mercy, I confess my ignorance; I spake what I understood not; I acknowledge that thou doest all things well.” (p. 139)

"پس رحمت گفت: «اقرار به نادانی خود می کنم، از موضوعی صحبت می کنم که آن را درک نمی کنم، می دانم که بر هر چیزی به خوبی وقوف دارید.»" (حامدی، ص. 202).

Mrs. Love-the-Flesh, Mrs. Lechery, and Mrs. Filth:

Then Mrs. Light-Mind added as followeth: Come, put this kind of talk away. I was yesterday at Madam Wanton’s, where we were as merry as the maids. For who do you think should be there but I and Mrs. Love-the-Flesh, and three or four more, with Mrs. Lechery, Mrs. Filth, and some others: so there we had music and dancing, and what else was meet to fill up the pleasure. (pp. 132-133)

سپس بانو سبک مغز گفت: «بهتر است بدین بحث پایان دهیم و در مصاحبت هرزه بانو و نیز بانوانی چون حبّ ذات، پلیدی، شهوت پرست و برخی دیگر مسرور و شادمان به گرد هم جمع شده وسایل لهو و لعب را مهیا سازیم. (حامدی، ص. 194)

Mrs. Timorous, Mrs. Bat’s-Eyes, Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs. Light-Mind, and Mrs. Know-Nothing: The five women are Christiana’s neighbors.

So Mrs. Timorous returned to her house, and Christiana betook herself to her journey. But when Timorous was got home to her house she sends for some of her neighbors, to wit, Mrs. Bat’s-Eyes, Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs. Light-Mind, and Mrs. Know-Nothing. So when they were come to her house, she falls to telling of the story of Christiana, and of her intended journey. (p. 132)

"پس بانو خائف به منزلش مراجعت کرد و همسر مسیحی هم راه سفر در پیش گرفت. چون خائف به خانه رسید، دیگر بانوان همسایه چون شب کور، کوته فکر و سبک مغز را از عزیمت همسر مسیحی باخبر کرد" (حامدی، ص. 193).

The name Mrs. Know-Nothing was omitted in its first appearance.

“Then said Mrs. Know-Nothing, And what, do you think she will go?” (p. 132).

"سپس بانو جهالت گفت: «تصور می کنید به کجا می رود؟»" (حامدی، ص. 194).

The TL equivalent Jahālat جهالت’ was once chosen for the male charactonym Ignorance in Part One.

“Here, therefore, they met with a very brisk lad that came out of that country, and his name was Ignorance.” (p. 89)

"در همین مسیر بود که به جوان چالاکی که از آن سرزمین می آمد برخورد کردند و مسیحی از این جوان که جهالت نام داشت پرسید از کدام سوی می آید و به کجا می رود." (حامدی، ص. 145)

As well as using the single equivalent Jahālat ‘جهالت’ to two different charactonyms Ignorance and Mrs. Know-Nothing, the gender of the Persian name Jahālat جهالت’ was not considered in Hamedi’s (2002) translation. The name Jahālat ‘جهالت’ originates from the Arabic language. It is a feminine name and its masculine one is Jahl ‘جهل’.

There are two charactonyms named Inconsiderate; Mrs. Inconsiderate and Inconsiderate, a man. Hamedi (2002) prefers to employ the Persian equivalent Kutahfekr کوته فکر’ to the female name Mrs. Inconsiderate and Bimobālāt ‘بی مبالات’ to Inconsiderate, the male one.

“Then these three, to wit, Wild-head, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic, drew upon me, and I also drew upon them.” (p. 207)

"سپس آن سه تن که به نامهای کله شق، بی مبالات، و اهل عمل نامیده می شدند، مرا به سوی خود خوانده و عقیده داشتند که چنانچه ایشان را انتخاب کنم چیزی از دست نمی دهم." (حامدی، ص. 298)

Madam Wanton: Wanton is a temptress woman and popular resident of the City of Destruction. Madam Wanton is Mrs. Timorous’s friend. The translator selects the equivalent Harze bānu ‘هرزه بانو’ for the female charactonym Madam Wanton.

“I was yesterday at Madam Wanton’s, where we were as merry as the maids.” (p. 132)

" ... و در مصاحبت هرزه بانو و نیز بانوانی چون حبّ ذات، پلیدی، شهوت پرست و برخی دیگر مسرور و شادمان به گرد هم جمع شده وسایل لهو و لعب را مهیا سازیم." (حامدی، ص. 194)

In a shift, Hamedi (2002) uses the equivalent Fattāne ‘فتانه’ to the name Wanton.

“Oh, Mercy, that thy father and mother were here; yea, and Mrs. Timorous also: nay, I wish now with all my heart that here was Madam Wanton too.” (p. 153)

"و ای رحمت اگر والدینت اینجا بودند و نیز بانوانی چون خائف و فتانه، مطمئنا در قلب ایشان هم مؤثر می افتاد" (حامدی، ص. 221).

Wanton may be the person who attempts to seduce Faithful from his destination in Part one, and Hamedi (2002) introduces her as Fattāne ‘فتانه’.

“Faithful: I escaped the slough that I perceive you fell into, and got up to the gate without that danger; only I met with one whose name was Wanton, that had like to have done me mischief.” (p. 53)

"وفادار: «من از آن باتلاق که شما درون آن افتادید به سلامت جستم و بدون برخورد با خطری به دروازه رسیدم ولی در عوض شخصی را ملاقات کردم به نام فتانه که نزدیک بود مرا منحرف سازد.»" (حامدی، ص. 86)

The translator first introduces the charactonym Wanton as Fattāne فتانه’ in Part One. Still, in a shift, she replaces the preferred equivalent Fattāne ‘فتانه’ with Harze bānu ‘هرزه بانو’ in Part Two., Following the story, the name Harze bānu ‘هرزه بانو’ is once again replaced with Fattāne ‘.فتانه’ Here, the lack of consistency is evident.

Much-afraid: She is Mr. Despondency’s daughter and has a minor role in the novel;

“They were seven days in destroying of that; and in it of pilgrims they found one Mr. Despondency, almost starved to death, and one Much-afraid, his daughter: these two they saved alive.” (p. 202)

حال آنکه این اقدام هفت روز به طول انجامید.

در آن قلعه زائران بسیاری را در اسارت یافتند، از جمله زائری به نام یأس که از گرسنگی در حال موت بود به همراه دخترش بیمناک که آنها را از چنگال مرگ نجات دادند. (حامدی، ص. 291)

Prudence, Piety, Charity, and [Discretion]: The four unmarried sisters Prudence, Piety, Charity, and Discretion were first used by Bunyan in 1678 in The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 1. Hamedi (2002) employed the Persian equivalents Tadbir ‘تدبیر,’ Taqvā ‘تقوا,’ Mehrbāni ‘مهربانی,’ and Basirat ‘بصیرت’ to the female charactonyms Prudence, Piety, Charity, and Discretion respectively. An example is the following:

“Then he began to go forward; but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill.” (p. 45)

"پس او آهنگ رفتن کرد ولی بصیرت و تقوا و مهربانی و تدبیر خواهش کردند تا دامنه کوه او را همراهی کنند." (حامدی، ص. 72)

Later, three of them, Prudence, Piety, and Charity, appeared in Part 2. 

“I am the more willing to stay a while here, to grow better acquainted with these maids: methinks Prudence, Piety, and Charity, have very comely and sober countenances.” (p. 160)

"بسیار شائقم مدّتی را در اینجا بگذرانم و با دوشیزگان خوش منظر و موقر این عمارت چون تدبیر، تقوا و مهربانی بیشتر آشنا شوم" (حامدی، ص. 232).

In a shift, Hamedi (2002) employs the already-used female Persian equivalent Basirat ‘بصیرت’ to the male charactonym Sagacity with eight times repetitions.

“Then said Mr. Sagacity, (for that was his name,) It is the City of Destruction, a populous place, but possessed with a very ill-conditioned and idle sort of people.” (p. 126)

"مرد که بصیرت نام داشت پاسخ داد: «شهر فنا است، مکانی پر ازدحام با مردمانی باطل و در موقعیتی به غایت شیطانی.»" (حامدی، 1381، ص. 185)

Hamedi (2002) did not distinguish between several names, the meanings, and the gender. Still, other translators like Arabic and French translators chose different names in their translations to show the distinct meanings and the gender the names bear. The examples are the charactonyms Discretion and Mr. Sagacity that Hamedi (2002) employed the single equivalent Basirat ‘بصیرت’ to two different gender-specific charactonyms.

The Arabic translation of the charactonym Discretion is the following:

"وَ قَرَحَ الْحَاجِبُ الْبَابَ فخَرَجَتْ فَتَاةٌ کَریِمَةٌ بَارِعَةُ الْجَمَالِ یُقَالُ لَها الْحِکْمَةُ" (ناشناس، ص ص. 61-62).

And the charactonym Mr. Sagacity was translated as Basir بصیر.

"فنمت و رایت حلماً ثانیاً و اذا برجلٍ شیخٍ یقال لهُ البصیر" (ناشناس، 1873، ص ص. 2-3).

The Arabic translator selects the names Hekmat ‘حِکْمَةُ’ and Basir ‘بصیر’ to specify and distinguish the meanings, characteristics, and gender both charactonyms Discretion and Mr. Sagacity possess. Putting the gender system of the Arabic language aside, the translator could apply a translation strategy of not employing a single equivalent to two or more SL different charactonyms.

The French translation of the charactonym Discretion is the following:

“Là-dessus, le Vigilant tira la cloche, au son de laquelle il vit descendre une jeune personne fort modeste et gracieuse, nommée Discrétion, qui demanda au portier pourquoi il avait sonné.” (p. 54)

And the charactonym Mr. Sagacity was translated as M. Sagacité;

“C’est, répondit M. Sagacité, (car tel était son nom) la ville de Perdition, ville extrêmement populeuse, mais qui est habitée par des gens oisifs et de mauvais aloi.” (p. 161)

The French translator uses two different names la Discrétion and M. Sagacité, along with the female gender marker la and the male title M. to show the difference in the meanings and the gender the author intended.

Different names, along with gender markers, were employed for different charactonyms in the characterization of the Arabic and French versions of The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 1 and Part 2, to show the roles the charactonyms play, and to avoid ambiguous charactonyms and lack of consistency, and to preserve the macrostructure of the story as Hatch (1992) emphasizes characters, as one of the main elements of a story.

Table 1 Gender-Specific Charactonyms in Seir-o Solouk-i Za’ir, Bakhshe Dovom



refer to gender

Hamedi’s Translation



refer to gender

Hamedi’s Translation



همسر مسیحی











Mrs. Timorous






Mrs. Bat’s-Eyes

شب کور





Mrs. Inconsiderate

کوته فکر





Mrs. Light-Mind

سبک مغز





Mrs. Know-Nothing






Madam Wanton

هرزه بانو





Mrs. Love-the-Flesh

 حبّ ذات





Mrs. Lechery

شهوت پرست





Mrs. Filth



Madam Bubble

ورّاج بانو

5. Discussion

Based on translation strategies applied to translate the SL charactonyms, the meanings of the charactonyms range from transparent to confusing and problematic in Persian. The meanings of the charactonyms Bountiful, Dull, Innocent, and Marcy are transparent, and they are Sexāvatmānd ‘سخاوتمند,’ Kowdan ‘کودن,’ Bigonāh بیگناه,’ and Rahmat رحمت’ respectively. The Persian equivalent Mehrbāni ‘مهربانی’ to the charactonym Charity is a gender-free name. The Persian equivalent Verrāj-e bānu ‘ورّاج بانو’ to the charactonym Madam Bubble is an equivalent with a changed characteristic. The equivalents Badgomān بدگمان,’ Jahālat جهالت,’ and Xāef ‘خائف’ to the charactonyms Diffidence, Mrs. Know-Nothing, and Mrs. Timorous are problematic because the Persian equivalents were already used to other charactonyms in Part One with a lot of repetitions.

The names Basirat ‘بصیرت’ and Jahālat ‘جهالت’ are confusing ones in Seir-o Solouk-i Za’ir, and they confuse the readers about who’s who? Hamedi (2002) chose the female name Basirat ‘بصیرت’ for the female charactonym Discretion and the female name Jahālat ‘جهالت’ for the male charactonym Ignorance in Part One. In a shift, the female name Basirat ‘بصیرت’ was employed for the male charactonym Mr. Sagacity and the equivalent Jahālat جهالت’ to the female charactonym Mrs. Know-Nothing in Part Two. Not considering the gender and the closer meanings of already-repeated charactonyms and the new ones can undoubtedly confuse the readers to know the elements of the story. It leads to a lack of consistency between the charactonyms. According to Weiland (2018), similar names with the same letter easily mislead and confuse the readers. (pp. 21-22) It becomes more confusing when the charactonym’s meaning and gender intertwine with these nominal similarities.

6. Conclusion

Gender-specific charactonyms created by Bunyan (1684) intertwine with particular references and deeper meanings. The Persian equivalents used by Hamedi (2002) range from transparent to problematic ones. The meanings of the charactonyms Bountiful, Dull, and Innocent are transparent, and they are simply Sexāvatmānd ‘سخاوتمند,’ Kowdan ‘کودن,’ and Bigonāh بیگناه’ respectively. The names like Basirat ‘بصیرت’ and Jahālat ‘جهالت’ are confusing because they refer to two male and female genders. The name Basirat ‘بصیرت’ was used for the female charactonym Discretion, and the male charactonym Mr. Sagacity. The name Jahālat ‘جهالت’ was employed for the male charactonym Ignorance and the female charactonym Mrs. Know-Nothing. Hamedi (2002) less preserved gender-based names, the characteristics, and personality traits of the names. A lack of consistency of several charactonyms is also considered in two parts of this novel. The research reveals that the charactonyms’ meanings and gender in the story are essential, and not conveying them deprives TL readers of additional information the names bear.

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Volume 7, Issue 3
July 2022
Pages 91-106
  • Receive Date: 30 June 2643
  • Revise Date: 19 September 2643
  • Accept Date: 05 December 2643