Publication details [#10346]

Dolitsky, Marlene. 1988. The translation of nonsense. Babel 34 (2) : 80–89.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Journal DOI


When picking up a nonsense piece, the immediate reaction is that it does not make sense, that it does not mean anything. However, it does mean something. There are four distinct types of semantic deviations that can be found in a nonsense text: 1) lexical deviaton, where no commonly accepted, or coded, meaning has yet been attached to a word or words being used; 2) phonetic nonsense, where sounds are put together not so much to create meaning as for the amusement the sonority itself offers; 3) semantic contradiction, where coded signs combine in such a way that the relation of the given combination to the world as we know it is opaque and/or self-contradictory; 4) pragmatic nonsense where basic assumptions of speech acts do not hold. The present article mainly deals with the translation of lexicial deviation and pragmatic nonsense.
Source : P. Van Mulken