The challenges of translating humour

Posted in Translation



I translated a joke I'd heard once, from English into French. I was so proud of myself because a) I translate the other way and b) I was able to keep the sense of the joke by adapting it rather than translating it. Nobody else seemed to get excited by this stupendous feat though, much to my disappointment. However, I am not alone in realizing that translating humour into another language isn't as easy as "knock-knock" / "toc-toc": http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/books/review/the-challenges-of-translating-humor.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

Oh, and the joke I translated? It went something like this:

What kind of bee gives milk? A boo-bee!

My adaptation:

Quel sort de ton donne le lait? Un téton!

Still cracks me up after all these years!

 


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