Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34674

Still Needed:

$40326

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Translation
Question: When a book, film or TV program is translated into another
language, what do translators do when puns, anagrams or other
wordplay is involved?
To use one example, one mystery story I read had the solution hinge
on the homophone floorless/flawless. When translated, this would
'break' and the premise fails.
Another example is the movie Sneakers. The plot hinges on an
anagram 'Setec Astronomy'/'too many secrets'.

Reply: Various ways. What you do depends on the kind of text, the skill of the translator, and whether or not there is an analogous pun.

Anthea Bell, the translator of the Asterix and Obelix books is especially brilliant. She doesn't translate every pun: sometimes a pun in the original French will not be a pun in English, while new puns are introduced.

The names in Asterix are all puns. The names of the two heroes work equally well in French and in English. But others don't. The bard is "Assurancetourix" (=Comprehensive Insurance) in Frencg but "Cacofonix" in English, which makes a more appropriate pun for the character, this time.

It's a very interesting thing to study. As an obsessive comparer of translations, I can also tell you that the way L'Occitane perfumes are said to smell varies quite a bit from language to another!

Anthea
Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
 
Date: 13-Oct-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Translation    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (08-Oct-2013)
  2. Re: Translation    Nancy J. Frishberg     (08-Oct-2013)
  3. Re: Translation    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (07-Oct-2013)
  4. Re: Translation    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (07-Oct-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions