Translation Problem of Humour | Статья в журнале «Молодой ученый»

Авторы: ,

Рубрика: Филология

Опубликовано в Молодой учёный №10 (90) май-2 2015 г.

Дата публикации: 11.05.2015

Статья просмотрена: 148 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Кобякова И. К., Кобзева Н. А. Translation Problem of Humour // Молодой ученый. — 2015. — №10. — С. 1408-1410. — URL (дата обращения: 17.12.2018).

В статье рассматривается проблема юмора и способы его перевода. Обращается внимание на базовые категории, их дефиниции. Эмпатируется адекватный перевод. Сохраняются авторские прагматические интенции. Раскрывается лингвокреативная активность адресанта.

Ключевые слова: текст, юмор, перевод, интерлингвальные и интеркультурные векторы.


The article in question deals with the problem of humour and its ways of rendering. Categories are being focused upon and described in terms of definitions. The adequacy of translation is being paid attention to. The authors’ aims of the texts are not excluded either.

The paper deals with humour as a form of the authors’ linguocreative reevaluating activity, which should not be overlooked in the process of translation.

Keywords: text, humour, translation, interlingual and intercultural vectors.


Humour is a thinking category specifically represented in an original text. For a foreigner it is very difficult to comprehend humour as a cross-cultural category. Limited thesaurus does not allow understanding humour as it is. A translator is supposed to be a highly educated person of a broad thesaurus, deepknowledge in many spheres of life, in terms of its political, economic and cultural background of the ethnic community.

Humour as a complicated phenomenon covers more than one sphere. No wonder that it is dealt with by psychologists and psycholinguists. Recently, several theories of humour have been proposed (Pretence Theory by Clarc and Gerring that deal with humour and irony in a psychological aspect). But none of them has ever tried to solve thesignificant problem: «How should humour be rendered into other languages? Is it possible to render it from original texts into translation ones? And if it is possible, can all the types of humour be successfully rendered into foreign language?"

Some people take it for granted, the others try to exaggerate its advantages or hyperbolize its drawbacks; emphasising the unattractive and sometimes even ugly side of life, expressingamusing things about it. But it is important to keep humour fresh and original.

There are some reasons to state, that humour is relevant to an artistic and aesthetic connotation of the text and belongs to the elements of the prime significance [1]. Humour (as a means of creative subjective modality) is a form of the author's appraisal opinion. Practically in modern English and American prose, humour is presented as an original way of world view [2].

Before dealing with the translation of humour one should acknowledge the meaning of itscategory and subcategories, the ways of their verbalization.

Humour arouses amusement, laughter, the capacity of recognizing something funny. Humour is a means of cheerful and puzzling towards reality. The attempts of defining humourwere made by philosopher Agnes Repplier (1858–1950), a social critic, who assumed that humour was associated with tolerance. Humour brings a deep and friendly understanding.

Humour is the form of paradox. Paradox is good, great and unexpected at the same time.

Cf. "—Did I meet you in Tolerado?

—No, I never was in Tolerado. Neither was I. It must have been two other fellows» [3].

«A notice was put up on the door of office: «If you haven't anything to Do, Don't Do it Here!" [3].

Alongside with development of linguistics new and specific definitions of humour appeared. Now there are quite a great number of them. For example: «Humour — the expression of one's thoughts, in order to make one's remark forceful» [4] or: Humour, irony is the use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.

Humour presupposes a highly developed intellect and can only exist within the framework of specific sociolinguistic conditions; the most important among these is a love of the mother tongue and aesthetic pleasure derived from its use [3].

The problem of translation of humour has not been paid proper attention to. It is enormously important and significant. The loss of humour in translation can lead to the loss of information of the author's style's, make his work of literature in a target language uninteresting and faked [5].

We distinguish two types of humour: situational and linguistic. Situational humour is usually realized in some sentences contexts that rarely exceed a paragraph.

Situational humour often appears as the discrepancy between outward and inner characteristics of an object described.

Cf. Professor — «You can't sleep in my class». Student — «If you didn’t talk so loud I could» [3].

Professor — «A fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer»

Student — «No wonder so many of us fail in our exams'" [3].

With linguistic humour the figurative meaning is realized gradually in a broad context (in some paragraphs, short story) [3]. Humour is to be kept in the target text. The loss of it can tell on its coherence and the main idea [5].

Cf. Popularity is the crown of laurel which the world puts upon bad art. Whatever is popular is wrong [6].

More marriags are, ruined nowadays by common sense of the husband than by happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly rational being [6].

The research of linguistic mechanism of humour enables the analyst to discover many relevant items of language structure and semantics overlooked in previous linguistic researches and to give new assessment tofacts. Humour is always implicit, the context serves as a marker of it. While achieving the humorous effect authors use both verbal and non-verbal means involved in the play on social/linguistic experience. Humorous effect is verbalized by traditional and non-traditional means, actualizing the adaptive principles of language. Cf. situational humour:-

1) There is a man outsidewith a wooden leg, Mr.Smith.

What's the name of hisother leg! [3].

2) Policeman — " Miss, youwere driving sixty miles anhour!"

She — «Oh, isn't thatsplendid I only learned todrive yesterday» [3].

Cf. linguistic humour:

1) Jessie — «Her husband didn't leave her muchwhen he died, didn’t?"

Jennie -" No, but he lefther very often when hewas alive» (Pocheptsov1981: 280).

2)Teacher — 'When was Rome built?"

Percy— At night.

Teacher — Who told youthat?

Percy — «You did. You said Rome wasn't built in aday» [3].

Linguistic means of humour vary and translation of humour is rather a complicated task. Translation consists in rendering information from one language into another. The assignment of the translator extends far than a mere translation. Translator's task is not only to convey the meaning, the thoughts of an author but also to keep intact the laws of both languages. The process of transformation results in creating linguocultural equality of the text. The translating is assumed to be both interlingual and intercultural.

The aim of any rendering isto reach adequacy, i.e. to make a text matching to standards of the target language preserving as many peculiarities of the author's style and the work of literature as possible. Humour is the use of words in a context to express something illogical to provoke laughter. The lack of knowledge on the part of the translator deprives the text of the national colouring. So all this should be taken into account for a translator to render humour in a proper way. Consequently the next step in humour translation is to convey it into the target language. Among all the ways of transformation syntax flexibility comes into the foreground.




1.      Komissarov, V.N. 1990. Teoriya perevoda. Moscow, Vysca Skola.

2.      Glickberg, Ch. 1969. Vision on Modern Literature. The Hague: Nijhoff.

3.      Pochptsov, G.G. 1981. Language and Humour. Kiev: Vysca Skola.

4.      Hornby 1996. The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English.Moscow: Sigma Press.

5.      Kobyakova, I.K. 2007. Кreatuvne constujuvannia vtorunnukh utvoruvan v anglomovnonu duskursi. — Vinnitsa: Nova knuga.

6.      Wilde, O. 1986, Aphorisms. The Book of Irish Humour. Moskva: Raduga Publishers.

Ключевые слова

перевод, текст, юмор, интерлингвальные и интеркультурные векторы


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