Humour in Translation, What Makes It


Humour is an important aspect in day to day communications. Humour plays a major role in films, literary works, and general art. When you deep dive and take a look at humour, you will notice that the roots of it are located within a specific linguistic and cultural context. Text can be made interesting with the proper usage of humour. On the other hand, humour can contribute a lot towards making text engaging as well.



Understanding humour


When you are trying to translate humour, you will come across numerous challenges. If you can overcome those challenges, you will be able to retain humour in the newly translated language as well. Then it is possible for you to make sure that the new piece of content can deliver the same level of effectiveness when compared to the original piece of context.


Humour is associated with many different manifestations. Hence, you can consider it as one of the most defining aspects that you can find in humanity. Humour is something linguistic, cultural, and universal. These aspects of humour are making life difficult for a translator to proceed with translation work. In fact, the translator will have to maintain intelligibility throughout translations to ensure that humour is retained at all times.


What gives life to humour in translation?


Humour in translation can take place due to errors in translation. In other words, irregularities in translation can give life to irregularities. Along with that, it is also possible for you to see discrepancies between different items that the translators are attempting to translate.


Even the skilled translators can give life to humour in translation. That’s mainly because of ignorance. On the other hand, translators who lack the skill and who are not aware of the cultural differences that exist between two languages translated will often create humour in translation. Along with humour in translation, you will be able to see how ambiguity takes place in translations. This will make the translator fail to communicate the message to the audience in an effective manner. This will eventually give life to a comedic or a humorous effect.


It is also possible for the errors in translation to create comedic humour. This is somewhat similar to intentional humour. Accidental humour can also contain culture-specific and linguistic features. Here, words that generate humour will be available in the text. It will be able to convey humour to the readers.


Are there any uses in humour in translation?


You can find some prominent uses linked with humour in translation as well. For example, you can often see how they are linked with commercial entertainment. When you take a look at media streaming platforms, you will be able to discover lots of examples to prove the above-mentioned fact.

People get attracted to the humour, which is created intentionally with the translation. As a result, there is a possibility to communicate the core message in a commercial video to the audience in an effective manner.


How to overcome humour in translation?


While working as a professional translator, you need to have a solid understanding of how to overcome humour in translations that you do. That’s where you need to figure out the main factors that can contribute towards humour in translation. Along with that, it is possible for you to overcome those factors and make sure that humour is eliminated from your translation at all times.


Here are the most prominent factors that can result in humour within translations?


  • Ambiguity


Words that are rhyming, alliterative, patronymic, and homonymic can give life to humour in translation. On the other hand, wordplay that includes one-liner, puns, witticisms, and limericks can also give life to humour in translation.


In most of the instances, machines can give life to humour in translations. That’s because machines don’t have a clear understanding of how to eliminate humour. They just do translations based on the way how they are programmed to work. Hence, ambiguity and humour in translation become inevitable.


  • Semantic overlap


The semantic overlap is another prominent factor that can contribute towards humour in translation. This can take place due to the inability of the interlocutor to understand homographs, homonyms, and semantically related synonyms. Here, words that are similar to each other will subordinate and superordinate relationships. This can give life to humour as well as confusion.


When the semantics are overlapped, there is no possibility to distinguish them. This can make the translations provide humorous results.


  • Lexical gaps


Lexical gaps can give life to humour in translations as well. Here, lexical gaps are the phrases or words that don’t have any direct translation in the target language. It is important for a translator to have a solid understanding of the target language. Then he will be able to capture the lexical gaps that can be found in the target language. Along with that, it is possible to eliminate humour in translations.


This article first appeared on Harry Clark blog

Also, read The Benefits of Global Translation Services and Going International