Translation of humour in literature
Yeo, Marianna Xue-Na
Date of Issue2017-07-12
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The translation of humour has always posed a challenge to translators as they translate the various forms of humour that exist in text, as the ability to discern what is humourous in the culture of the target language would require an understanding of the said culture. With a focus on the translation of exaggeration and puns as the chosen type of humour portrayal, this paper sets out the discuss the challenges faced by translators when they are translating humour written by the author, taking into account the cultural references in the source text that is native to the society of the source language, and the strategies to be applied when translating said cultural references. The choice of strategy employed in the translation of the extract in this paper is the theory of functional equivalence, which according to Newmark (1988), is replacing a cultural word or reference in the source language with its equivalent in the target language, with the usage of transcription or “borrowing”, which according to Harvey (2000) is a reproduction or transliteration of the original term in certain cases where the cultural reference in the humour is understood by the readers of the translated text. In conclusion, the understanding of culture, whether that of the culture of the source text, or the culture that is being translated into, is important in the translation of humour. It is important for the translator to understand the culture of the society portrayed in the source text as that is the first step to recognising the humour portrayed by the author of the original text. The understanding of the culture of the society of the target reader is important as well as the translator would need to identify and have knowledge of what kind of humour is acceptable in the target reader’s society, as well as to know boundaries of what topics might be taboo or forbidden by the authorities, and to take note not to cross these boundaries.