Translation Studies 2020

Ольга Сеньків

Кам’янець-Подільський національний

 університет імені Івана Огієнка

Науковий керівник: кандидат філологічних наук, доцент

О.В. Галайбіда



Cтаття розкриває особливості використання і складнощі перекладу засобів гумору у казках відомого британського письменника Л.Керролла.

Ключові слова: засоби гумору,  каламбур, гра слів, нонсенс, дотепність.

Fairy tales by a famous British writer Lewis Carroll created a vivid example of literary tale in world literature. Lewis Carroll is a representative of English classic nonsense in the 19th century literature. His tales about Alice are the pinnacle of humour and nonsense.

Works by Lewis Carroll are complicate for translation. There are several translations of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland into Ukrainian. One of them is done by V. Korniienko [9].

According to N. Demurova, one of the most important components on which the humour of Lewis Carroll’s works is based is pun [4, p. 102].

Linguistics still does not have a generally accepted definition of the notion of “pun”, so it is often called the “word play”. The most common definition of this term is wit, which is based on the use of words different in meaning but similar in sound or in the use of different meanings of the same word [2, p.82].

There are practically no comic situations in L.Carroll’s books –humour in his works is based on a word play and related concepts. L. Carroll is not a humorist in the ordinary sense of the word. First of all, he is interested in the gap that exists between the usual fixed use of language units and the concepts that they mean. And this is where the translator faces great difficulties.

The humor of the characters and situations is relatively easy to translate, while the word play is not, since when translating, a writer is to operate the categories of another language related to a whole different range of images and associations.

“Alice in Wonderland” is known to be created for a very narrow circle of friends. Therefore, we find in it a large number of references and jokes, which are understood only by the close circle of people. That is why some jokes sound not so funny unless you know their real background.

The author often uses the sentences that even English scholars such as Jeff Pallam, for example, cannot interpret clearly and are not certain whether such sentences do not violate grammar rules and can be used in language and speech: “Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise” [8].

L.Carroll widely used nonsense in his tales, which also created some difficulties for translators.

Nonsense is formed by rethinking the formulas, postulates, and principles of the traditional sense, which is the resource for the formation of nonsense, so there are some mechanisms for moving from one to the other. The most powerful of these mechanisms is the inversion of those cultural categories and behaviors that make traditional sense. Nonsense often acts as a somewhat ironic critique of traditional meaning. According to the American researcher S. Stewart, “nonsense, play and paradox … are methods for innovation and evaluation” [1]. By inverting some generally accepted norms, works of nonsense literature force the reader to look at them with a “fresh eye” and re-evaluate what seemed self-evident.

In L. Carroll’s works, the word is often understood too literally and is not related to the context. For example, Alice’s dialogue with the White King in “Alice in Wonderland” constantly goes from a metaphorical to a literal level: “I beg your pardon?” asked Alice. “It seems respectable to escape” said the King [8]. Here the metaphorical formula for the politeness of “I beg your pardon” is taken literally by the King, introducing an element of nonsense. In the same dialogue we read an excerpt: “nothing like eating hay when trying to paint,” he remarked to her, as he munched away. “I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,” Alice suggested, “or some sal-volatile.” “I said no,” King replied. [4] In this case, reducing the phrase to the literal sense of the word shatters the message code, creating a comic nonsense effect. A comic effect occurs when we pretend to take literally a phrase used figuratively, or when our attention is drawn to the actual aspect of a metaphor [11, p. 159].

In addition to this, reading “Alice in Wonderland” is complicated by the bright national color. Many characters and symbols are natural for the English reader, but not for the readers who do not know British history and traditions. For example, the confrontation between the Lion and the Unicorn (England and Scotland), the indistinguishable Tweedledum and Tweedledee (the heroes of children’s rhymes) are rooted in the English folklore.

Many translators had to make every effort trying to “sit down in two chairs” at the same time. Here are just a few examples; Alice asked, “Why is your cat smiling so much?” The Duchess replies briefly and clearly:This is a Cheshire cat – that’s why!” [8] and that was enough as many Englishmen knew the famous saying, “Smile like a Cheshire cat.” which means smile broadly.

So, rendering the meaning of paradox and pun constructions in “Alice in Wonderland” is a real challenge for a translator. He is to take into consideration the knowledge of historical facts, phraseological units and way of thinking of the British people.


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  8. 8. Carroll, L. Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.: Progress publ., 1979. 234p.