The Translation of Puns a Semantic or Pragmatic Equivalent

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Anas Kamal Abdurrahman Khanfar

This study investigates the translation of puns from English into Arabic, with specific reference to advertisements. It highlights the graduate and undergraduate students’ choice of meaning (pragmatic or semantic). It also highlights the influence of context upon puns, and considers whether there are other factors that influence the process of translation (such as socio-cultural factors). In exploring these points of engagement, the researcher employs questionnaires to test whether participants adhere to the pragmatic or to the semantic equivalent. In addition, he employs the Pun Decomposition Process (referred to as PDP) to identify the pun word, assign the appropriate context and determine the accurate meaning. The findings reveal that punning as a rhetorical device is one of the aspects of indirectness; as a consequence, puns are inherently misleading (by virtue of the fact that each pun word obtains more than one meaning. This feature helps to explain why students frequently encounter difficulties when engaging with puns. Secondly, pun words are frequently associated with confusion and incorrect translations. The third finding is that both graduate and undergraduate English department majors of An-Najah National University confronted two main challenges: broadly speaking, these challenges could be reduced to context and culture. Finally, this study revealed that translators should attain vital information about the socio-cultural background of the context in which the pun words occur because it enhances the understanding of the pun words and enables translators to capture the real meaning of each individual pun.

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