Explicitations and other types of shifts in the translation of irony and humor


The goal of this article is to examine the differences in the use of explicitation strategies when translating irony and humor, based on a comparative model that distinguishes between cues for the two phenomena. The study suggests that translations of irony manifest more explicitations, whereas translations of humor yield more non-explicitating shifts. This finding can be interpreted as indicating that while the explicitation of humor may override its function altogether, the explicitation of irony does not necessarily do so, since the implied criticism is not eliminated. This finding further strengthens the claim that irony is inherently critical, whereas humor is not.

Table of contents

Explicitation, a concept first introduced by Vinay and Darbelnet (1958), refers to the process of making what is implicit in the original explicit in the translation (Klaudy 2003). The concept of explicitation can be interpreted both in terms of the translation process, as a technique, and the translation product, as a textual feature (Pápai 2004: 145). The Dictionary of Translation Studies defines it as a phenomenon that frequently leads to TT stating ST information in a more explicit form than that of the original. Such a process is brought about by the translator elaborating on ST, for example by adding explanatory phrases, spelling out implicatures or inserting connectives to ‘help’ the logical flow of the text and to increase readability (Shuttleworth and Cowie 1997: 55).

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.


Primary Sources

1952, first in 1554. Lazarillo de Tormes. Buenos Aires: Espasa-Calpe.Google Scholar
1997Chayei Lazarillo Ish Tormes Korotav Utlaotav. Tel Aviv: Am Oved. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel
1968Don Quijote de la Mancha, texto y notas de Martín de Riquer. Barcelona: editorial Juventud.Google Scholar
1994Hahidalgo Hacharif Don Kichote de la Mancha. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Etxebarría, Lucía
1999Amor, curiosidad, prozac y dudas. Barcelona: Random House Mondadori.Google Scholar
2004Ahava, Prozac, Sakranut Usfekot. Tel Aviv: Am Oved. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Heller, Joseph
1955Catch 22. New York: Dell Publishing Co. Inc.Google Scholar
1970Milkud 22. Tel Aviv: Bitan. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Mendoza, Eduardo
1979El misterio de la cripta embrujada. Barcelona: Seix Barral.Google Scholar
2005Taalumat Hakever Hamekhushaf. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Parent, Gail
1976David Meyer is a Mother. New York: Bantam.Google Scholar
1989David Meyer Hu Ima. Tel Aviv: Kineret. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Shem, Samuel
1978The House of God. New York: Dell.Google Scholar
1987Beit Haelohim. Lod: Zmora Bitan. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
Vargas Llosa, Mario
1977La tía Julia y el escribidor. Buenos Aires: Punto de lectura.Google Scholar
1984Doda Julia Vehakatvan. Jerusalem: Keter. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
1973Pantaléon y las visitadoras. Madrid: Punto de lectura.Google Scholar
1973Pantaléon Ve”sherut Hamevakrot”. Jerusalem-Tel Aviv: Schocken. In Hebrew.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

Alexander, Richard J.
1997Aspects of Verbal Humour in English. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.Google Scholar
Attardo, Salvatore
1997 “The Semantic foundation of cognitive theories of humor”. Humor 10. 395–420.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
[ p. 203 ]
2003 “Introduction”. Journal of Pragmatics: The Pragmatics of Humor 31 1287–1294.Google Scholar
Asscher, Omri
2007Stylistic Norms and Hebrew Translation of British humor. (M.A. thesis under the supervision of Dr. Nitsa Ben-Ari, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 2007).Google Scholar
2010 “A model for Hebrew translation of British humor: Amplification and overstatement”. Target 22:2. 237–263.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Baleghizadeh, Sasan and Sharifi, Ahmad
2010 “Explicitation of implicit logical links in Persian-English translation”. Translation & Interpreting 2:2. 57–65.Google Scholar
Becher, Viktor
2010a “Towards a more rigorous treatment of the explicitationhypothesis in translation studies”. trans-kom 3:1. 1–25.Google Scholar
2010b “Abandoning the notion of “translation-inherent” explicitation: against a dogma of translation studies”. Across languages and cultures. 11:1. 1–28.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2011 “When and why do translators add connectives? A corpus-based study”. Target 23:1. 26–47.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Blum-Kulka, Shoshana
1986 “Shifts of Cohesion and Coherence in Translation”. Julianne House and Shoshana Blum-Kulka, eds. Interlingual and Intercultural Communication: Discourse and Cognition in Translation and Second Language Acquisition Studies. TÜbingen: Gunter Narr Verlag 1986 17–35.Google Scholar
Booth, Wayne C.
1961The rhetoric of fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Catford, John C.
1965A Linguistic Theory of Translation: An Essay in Applied Linguistics. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Clark, Herbert H. Richard J Gerrig
1984 “On the Pretense Theory of Irony”. Journal of Experimental Psychology/General 113:1. 121–126.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dagut, Menachem
1981 “Semantic ‘voids’ as a problem in the translation process”. Poetics Today 2:4. 61–71.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dascal, Marcelo
1983Pragmatics and the Philosophy of Mind. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dascal, Marcelo and Elda Weizman
1987 “Contextual Exploitation of Interpretation, Clues in Text Understanding: an Integrated Model”. Jef Verschueren and Marcella Bertuccelli-Papi, eds. The Pragmatic Perspective. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1987 31–46.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dictionary.com, LLC
Englund Dimitrova, Birgitta
2005Expertise and Explicitation in the Translation Process. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Garmendia, Joana
2010 “Irony is critical”. Pragmatics & Cognition 18:2. 397–421.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Grice, Herbert Paul
1968 “Utterer’s meaning, sentence meaning, and word meaning”. Foundations of Language 4. 1–18.Google Scholar
1975 “Logic and Conversation”. Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan, eds. Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press 1975 41–58.Google Scholar
1978 “Further notes on logic and conversation”. Peter Cole, ed. Pragmatics 9. New York: Academic Press 1978 113–127. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Haverkate, Henk
1990 “A Speech act Analysis of Irony”. Journal of Pragmatics 14:1. 77–109.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Hickey, Leo
1998 “Perlocutionary Equivalence: Marking, Exegesis and Recontextualisation”. Leo Hickey, ed. The Pragmatics of Translation. Cleavdon: Multilingual Matters 1998 217–232.Google Scholar
Hirsch, Galia
2008Between Irony and Humor: a Pragmatic Model Based on Textual Analysis of Literary Works and their Translations. (Phd dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Elda Weizman, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, 2008).Google Scholar
[ p. 204 ]
2011a “Redundancy, irony and humor”. Language Sciences 33. 316–329   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2011b “Between Irony and Humor: A Pragmatic Model”. Pragmatics & Cognition, 19:3. 530–561.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Jeffers, Jennifer
1995 “Beyond Irony: The Unnamable’s Appropriation of its Critics in a Humorous Reading of the Text”. The Journal of Narrative Technique 25:1. 47–66.Google Scholar
Klaudy, Kinga
1996Back-Translation as a Tool for Detecting Explicitation Strategies in Translation. Kinga Klaudy, Jose Lambert and Aniko Sohár, eds, Translation Studies in Hungary. Budapest: Scholastica 1996 99–114.Google Scholar
2003Languages in Translation: Lectures on the Theory, Teaching and Practice of Translation. Budapest: Scholastica.Google Scholar
Levenston, Edward A.
1976 “Towards a Comparative Stylistics in English and Hebrew”. English Teacher’s Journal (Israel) 15. 16–22.Google Scholar
Leuven-Zwart, Kitty van
1989 “Translation and original: Similarities and dissimilarities, I”. Target 1:2. 151–181.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1990 “Translation and original: Similarities and dissimilarities, II”. Target 2:1. 69–95.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Malmkjær, Kirsten
1998 ”Cooperation and Literary Translation”. Leo Hickey, ed. The Pragmatics of Translation. Cleavdon: Multilingual Matters 1998.Google Scholar
Nida, Eugene A. Charles R Taber
1969The Theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
Pápai, Vilma
2004 “Explicitation: A universal of translated text?Anna Mauranen and Pekka Kujamäki, eds. Translation Universals. Do they exist? Amesterdam-Philadelphia: Benjamins 2004 143–164.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Olohan, Maeve
2004Introducing Corpora in Translation Studies. Oxford: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Oring, Elliott
1989 “Between jokes and tales: on the nature of punch lines”. Humor 2:4. 349–364.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Øverås, Linn
1998 “In search of the third code: An investigation of norms in literary translation”. Meta 43:4. 571–588.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Raskin, Victor
1985Semantic Mechanisms of Humor. Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
Raskin, Victor and Salvatore Attardo
1994 “Non-literalness and non-bona-fide in language: An approach to formal and computational treatments of humor”. Pragmatics & Cognition 2:1. 31–69.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Séguinot, Candace
1988 “Pragmatics and the explicitation hypothesis.” TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction 1:2. 106–114.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1989 “The Translation Process: An Experimental Study”. Candace Séguinot, ed. The Translation Process. Toronto: H.G. Publications 1989 21–42.Google Scholar
Shlesinger, Miriam
1989Simultaneous interpretation as a factor in effecting shifts in the position of texts on the oral-literate continuum. (Unpublished MA Thesis, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 1989).Google Scholar
1995 “Shifts in cohesion in simultaneous interpreting”. The Translator 1:2. 193–214.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Shuttleworth, Mark and Moira Cowie
1997Dictionary of Translation Studies. Manchester: St. Jerome.Google Scholar
Sperber, Deidre and Dan Wilson
1981 “Irony and the Use-Mention Distinction”. Peter Cole, ed. Radical Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press 1981 295–318.Google Scholar
Toury, Gideon
1977Translational Norms and Literary Translation into Hebrew, 1930–1945. Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, Tel Aviv University. In Hebrew.Google Scholar
1980In Search of a Theory of Translation. Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, Tel Aviv University.Google Scholar
[ p. 205 ]
1995Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2004 “Probablistic explanations in translation studies: Welcome as they are, would they qualify as universals?” Mauranen and Kujamäki 2004 15–32.Google Scholar
Vinay, Jean-Paul and Jean Darbelnet
1958Stylistique comparée du franÇais et de l’anglais: Méthode de traduction. London-Toronto-Paris: Didier.Google Scholar
Weissbrod, Rachel
1992 “Explicitation in translations of prose-fiction from English to Hebrew as a function of norms”. Multilingua 11:2. 153–171.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1996 “ ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’: Hebrew Translations of Wordplay in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. The Translator 2:2. 219–234.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Weizman, Elda
1984 “Some Register Characteristics of Discourse Structure in Journalisitic Language”. Applied Linguistics 1. 39–50.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2001 “Addresser, addressee and target: Negotiating roles through ironic criticism”. Edda Weigand and Marcelo Dascal. Eds. Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins 2001 125–137.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2008Positioning in media dialogue: The case of news interviews on Israeli television. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Weizman, Elda and Marcelo Dascal
1991 “On Clues and Cues: Strategies of Text Understanding”. Journal of Literary Semantics XX:1. 18–30.Google Scholar
Wilson, Deidre and Dan Sperber
1992 “On Verbal Irony”. Lingua 87. 53–76.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ziv, Avner
1984Humor and Personality. Tel Aviv: Papyrus. In Hebrew.Google Scholar