There's a Double Tongue : Investigation into the Translation of Shakespeare's Wordplay
The pun is as old as Babel, and inveterate punsters like Shakespeare clearly never lacked translators. This book critically examines the evergreen cliché that wordplay defies translation, replacing it by a theory and a case study that aim to come to grips with the reality of wordplay and its translation. What are the possible modes of wordplay translation? What are the various, sometimes conflicting constraints prompting translators in certain situations to go for one strategy rather than another? Ample illustration is provided from Hamlet and other Shakespearean texts and several Dutch, French, and German renderings. The study exemplifies how theory can usefully be integrated into a description-oriented approach to translation. Much of the argument also rests on the definition of wordplay as an open-ended and historically variable category. The book's concerns range from the linguistic and textual properties of Shakespeare's punning and its translation to matters of historical poetics and ideology. Its straightforward approach shows that discourse about wordplay doesn't need to rely on stylistic bravura or abstract speculation. The book is concluded by an anthology of the puns in Hamlet, including a brief semantic analysis of each and a generous selection of diverse translations.