The translation of wordplay in literary texts: Typology, techniques and factors in a corpus of English-Catalan source text and target text segments
Universitat Jaume I (Castelló, Spain)
The present study aims to analyse wordplay translation on the basis of the three aspects mentioned in the title—wordplay typology, translation techniques and relevant factors. The theoretical framework is eclectic but draws particularly on Delabastita (1996, 1997) and Lladó (2002). Empirical analysis is based on three English source texts and six Catalan translations, and focuses on two main issues: the frequency distribution of pairs of ST + TT segments across translation techniques, and the possible correlation(s) between translation techniques and factors influencing decision-making. It is observed that translators tend to use techniques implying a negative punning balance, i.e. resulting in some degree of loss of punning activity. Moreover, some factors identified in the literature are seen to correlate with the use of particular translation techniques. Finally, in the last section an attempt is made to go beyond description and explanation and to assess wordplay translation techniques in terms of their suitability as translation solutions.
This article is an attempt to analyse three important aspects of wordplay translation: the nature of wordplay, the techniques used in its translation, and the factors that are likely to impinge upon wordplay translation. It is important to define and classify the phenomenon under scrutiny in order to set limits to one’s task. Secondly, it is necessary to identify one or more relationships between source-text (ST) and target-text (TT) segments. Several terms have been used to refer to such a [ p. 265 ]relationship (e.g. procedure, method, shift, strategy, technique, solution type); in this paper the term technique, as defined by Hurtado (e.g. 2001: 268), will be preferred. As has been argued elsewhere (Zabalbeascoa 2004, Marco 2004, 2007), classifications of translation techniques for particular translation problems are better suited to accounting for the specifics of each problem than general typologies, postulated as valid for any textual segment. Finally, the identification of the factors at work in the translation of wordplay will enable us to (tentatively) move towards explanation, i.e. towards determining why certain techniques are preferred under certain circumstances. Not all relevant factors are accessible through textual analysis, as some of them are closely related to the translator’s personality and skills or to the features of the translation brief and therefore could only be accessed via questionnaires or interviews. As a result of this limitation, emphasis will be laid on textual factors deriving from the nature of wordplay.
A. Primary literature (works making up the corpus)
1966 (first published 1895). “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. London and Glasgow: Collins. 321–384.
1994La importància d’ésser seriós (translated by Antoni V. Pérez i Sancho). Valencia: Rotgle Edicions.
1998La importància de ser Frank ((translated by Jaume Melendres). Barcelona: Institut del Teatre.
B. Secondary literature
1997 “There Must Be Some System in This Madness. Metaphor, Polysemy and Wordplay in a Cognitive Linguistics Framework”. Dirk Delabastita, ed. Traductio. Essays on Punning and Translation. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Presses Universitaires de Namur 1997 137–154.
1987 “Translating Puns. Possibilities and Restraints”. New Comparison 3. 142–159.
1997 “Mapping Shakespeare’s Puns in French Translations”. Dirk Delabastita, ed. Traductio. Essays on Punning and Translation. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Presses Universitaires de Namur 1997 233–260.
1997 “What Is It that Renders a Spoonerism (Un)translatable?”. Dirk Delabastita, ed. Traductio. Essays on Punning and Translation. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Presses Universitaires de Namur 1997 271–291.
1997 “The Contextual Use of Idioms, Wordplay, and Translation”. Dirk Delabastita, ed. Traductio. Essays on Punning and Translation. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Presses Universitaires de Namur 1997 155–176.
1996 “’Curiouser and Curiouser’: Hebrew Translation of Wordplay in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’”. The Translator 2:2. 219–234.
1996 “Translating Jokes for Dubbed Television Situation Comedies”. The Translator 2:2. 235–257.
2004 “Translating non-segmental features of textual communication: The case of metaphor within a binary-branch analysis”. Daniel Gile, Gyde Hansen and Kirsten Malmkjær, eds. Claims, Changes and Challenges in Translation Studies. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins 2004 99–111.