A model for Hebrew translation of British humor: Amplification and overstatement

Omri Asscher


The influence of translational norms on the translation of humor manifested in prose fiction has not been a focus of much research. This paper will try to establish the existence of an institutionalized strategy of amplification, presumably born out of a wish to bridge the cultural gap reflected in two different national traditions of literary humor. The effect of amplification, as it is implemented in the various Hebrew translations of Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers and Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, is analyzed on the basis of Attardo’s General Theory of Verbal Humor (Attardo 2001, 2002). The use of amplification as a model for the translation of humor from the beginning of the 20th century, and its diminishing currency from the 1980s onwards are also discussed.

Table of contents

In the past, research on humor and translation has touched on a large variety of subjects, such as the translatability of puns and wordplay (Delabastita 1996), the translation of irony (Mateo 1995), and the subtitling of screen comedy (Chiaro 2003, Antonini 2005), among many others. Furthermore, there has been much theorizing on verbally expressed humor, on the one hand, and much study of the role translational norms play in the translation process, on the other. Yet only few scholars have integrated the two, and examined the influence of norms on the translation of humor manifested in prose fiction. Only recently have some scholars related historical translation practices to immediate humorous effects (e.g. Weissbrod 1999, Antonopoulou 2002, Vandaele 2002). It seems that there is still [ p. 238 ]much work to be done to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the translation of humor, and to draw on recent developments in the relevant fields of research.

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