The translation of wordplay in literary texts: Typology, techniques and factors in a corpus of English-Catalan source text and target text segments

Josep Marco
Universitat Jaume I (Castelló, Spain)

Abstract

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.

Keywords:
Table of contents

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.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

References

A. Primary literature (works making up the corpus)

Swift, Graham
1996Last Orders. London: Picador.Google Scholar
1999Les últimes voluntats (translated by Carme Geronès and Carles Urritz). Barcelona: Destino.Google Scholar
Wilde, Oscar
1966 (first published 1891). “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. London and Glasgow: Collins. 17–167.Google Scholar
2000 (translation first published 1930). El retrat de Dorian Gray (translated by Rafael Tasis Marca). Barcelona: Ediciones B/Proa.Google Scholar
1992El retrat de Dorian Gray (translated and adapted by Carolina Quílez Knowles). Valencia: Tres i Quatre.Google Scholar
[ p. 295 ]
1998El retrat de Dorian Gray (translated by Jordi Larios). Barcelona: Quaderns Crema.Google Scholar
1966 (first published 1895). “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. London and Glasgow: Collins. 321–384.Google Scholar
1994La importància d’ésser seriós (translated by Antoni V. Pérez i Sancho). Valencia: Rotgle Edicions.Google Scholar
1998La importància de ser Frank ((translated by Jaume Melendres). Barcelona: Institut del Teatre.Google Scholar

B. Secondary literature

Alexieva, Bistra
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.Google Scholar
Delabastita, Dirk
1987 “Translating Puns. Possibilities and Restraints”. New Comparison 3. 142–159.Google Scholar
1994 “Focus on the Pun: Wordplay as a Special Problem in Translation Studies”. Target 6:2. 223–243.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
1996 “Introduction”. The Translator 2:2. 127–139.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
1997 “Introduction”. Dirk Delabastita, ed. Traductio. Essays on Punning and Translation. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Presses Universitaires de Namur 1997 1–22.Google Scholar
ed. 1996Wordplay and Translation. Special issue of The Translator 2:2. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix.Google Scholar
ed. 1997Traductio. Essays on Punning and Translation. Manchester and Namur: St. Jerome and Presses Universitaires de Namur.Google Scholar
Díaz Pérez, Javier Francisco
2008 “Wordplay in film titles. Translating English puns into Spanish”. Babel 54:1. 36–58.Google Scholar
Greimas, A.J.
1966Sémantique structurale. Paris: Le Seuil.Google Scholar
Guiraud, Pierre
1953Index du vocabulaire du symbolisme. Paris: Klincksieck.Google Scholar
Hurtado Albir, Amparo
2001Traducción y Traductología. Introducción a la traductología. Madrid: Cátedra.Google Scholar
Klitgård, Ida
2005 “Taking the pun by the horns. The translation of wordplay in James Joyce’s Ulysses”. Target 17:1. 71–92.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Leech, Geoffrey
1969A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Leppihalme, Ritva
1996 “Caught in the Frame. A Target-Culture Viewpoint on Allusive Wordplay”. The Translator 2:2. 199–218.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
1997Culture Bumps. An Empirical Approach to the Translation of Allusions. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Lladó, Ramon
2002La paraula revessa. Estudi sobre la traducció dels jocs de mots. Bellaterra: Servei de Publicacions de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
Mallafrè, Joaquim
1991Llengua de tribu i llengua de polis. Barcelona: Quaderns Crema.Google Scholar
Manini, Luca
1996 “Meaningful Literary Names. Their Forms and Functions, and Their Translation”. The Translator 2:2. 161–178.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Marco, Josep
2004 “Les tècniques de traducció (dels referents culturals): retorn per a quedarnos-hi”. Quaderns. Revista de traducció 11. 129–149.Google Scholar
[ p. 296 ]
2007 “The terminology of translation: Epistemological, conceptual and intercultural problems and their social consequences”. Target 19:2. 255–269.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Mateo Martínez-Bartolomé, Marta
1995La traducción del humor: las comedias inglesas en español. Oviedo: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Oviedo.Google Scholar
McKerras, Ross
1994 “How to Translate Wordplays”. Notes on Translation 8:1. 7–18.Google Scholar
Offord, Malcolm
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.Google Scholar
Rabadán Álvarez, Rosa
1991Equivalencia y traducción. León: Universidad de León.Google Scholar
Terrence Gordon, W
1986 “Translating Word-Play: French-English, English- French”. Babel 32:3. 146–150   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Todorov, Tzvetan
1977Théories du symbole. Paris: Le Seuil.Google Scholar
Toury, Gideon
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.Google Scholar
Veisbergs, Andrejs
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.Google Scholar
Weissbrod, Rachel
1996 “’Curiouser and Curiouser’: Hebrew Translation of Wordplay in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’”. The Translator 2:2. 219–234.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Zabalbeascoa, Patrick
1996 “Translating Jokes for Dubbed Television Situation Comedies”. The Translator 2:2. 235–257.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
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.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
[ p. 297 ]