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Jagiellonian University

Institute of English Studies

Paulina więch



Thesis presented in part fulfilment

of the requirements for the degree
of Bachelor of Arts at
the Jagiellonian University of Kraków
written under the supervision of
dr hab. Grzegorz Szpila

Kraków 2018
Uniwersytet Jagielloński
Instytut Filologii Angielskiej

Paulina więch



Praca napisana pod kierunkiem

dr hab. Grzegorza Szpili

Kraków 2018
INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................. 2

CHAPTER 1: Puns and Humour............................................................................................. 3

CHAPTER 2: Methods applied in puns translation ............................................................... 14

CHAPTER 3: Distinct translation methods applied in The Penguins of Madagascar........... 25

CONCLUSION...................................................................................................................... 36

REFERENCES....................................................................................................................... 37


The first chapter of the study is primarily concerned with theoretical aspects of wordplay as a
phenomenon prevailing in different branches of linguistics. The examination aims at exposing
the mechanisms working in wordplay and at an analysis of the elements pivotal in creating
humour with regard to the functions of those elements. Terms such as: context, ambiguity,
disjunctor, connector are scrutinised with regard to their relevance in verbal humour. The
work also discusses conditions indispensable in the creation of puns. Additionally, the first
chapter of the study, to a great extent, focuses on presenting taxonomies based on specific
criteria reflecting the distinctions that occur in the organization of puns. The classifications
are dealt with in the first chapter with a view to unfolding different fields of linguistics
exploited and critical in the creation of humour. Apart from the analysis of structural
configuration, the chapter also discusses sense relations present in puns. The second chapter
treats of various proposals of translation methods applied in translating wordplay. Techniques
in puns translation as offered by Delabastita, Offord, Chiaro, Fuentes Luque, Weissbrod and
Gottlieb are described in a comparative manner. The third chapter is an application of those
methods in the translation from English into Polish of the American cartoon series The
Penguins of Madagascar.


1. Puns and humour

1.1 Classification of jokes

When analyzing humour, the most common distinction is made between jokes that owe their
humorous effect primarily to the reality found beyond the linguistic layer, context and the
ones inherent in language. The former rely on the text as well but in the sense that the comic
is merely transferred through the linguistic means. The latter, on the other hand, are
independent of the represented reality in that when replaced by different, synonymous
linguistic structures, they lose their humorous aspect at best or even the entire sense at worst.
In similar manner, Attardo points toward the discrepancy between “referential” and “verbal”
jokes (Attardo, 1994: p. 95); Bergson between “the comic EXPRESSED and the comic
CREATED by language” (Bergson, 1900/1911, p. 103); Alexander between “non-linguistic”
and “linguistic” jokes (Alexander, 1997: p. 17); Fuentes between “plays on words” and “plays
on ideas” (Fuentes Luque, 2010: p. 185); and finally Hockett between “poetic” and “prosaic”
jokes (Hockett, 1977: p. 262). The latter however deviates from the remaining classifications
in that the division is made upon the analogy to the two types of form, particularly evident
when translational issues are concerned. The “poetic” jokes are compared to poems in their
translational complexity, as opposed to the “prosaic” ones, which are rendered in the target
language without great difficulties. The “poetic” comic stems from language-specific
linguistic items, whilst the “prosaic” comic aims at more universal interpretation and therefore
exceeds the constraints imposed within one linguistic system.

1.2 Context in comic audiovisual productions

The concept of ambiguity constitutes a fundamental and integral part in puns. A word must be
ambiguous in order to be considered a pun. A pun ought to combine two senses. However,
this requirement seems to be trivial since “all words are ambiguous, vague, or unspecified if
they are not taken in context” (Attardo, 1994: p. 133). Taking into consideration this
ambiguity as an ubiquitous and intrinsic linguistic feature, one is coerced into discerning
between ambiguity as an element constituting “non-significant wordplay” and as an element
appearing in “significant wordplay” (Delabastita, 1996: p. 133). The former is met with
unconscious and automatic contextual rejection of other senses, whilst the latter is present in
wordplay proper, leaving the recipient of wordplay puzzled as to the equal relevance of two or
more potential meanings. Significant wordplay, as opposed to the insignificant, compels
greater reflexivity on the semantic and formal dependencies. Given this internal ambiguity of
linguistic items, the role of context appears to be fundamental in determining the comic aspect
of puns. Judging by the context, one may disambiguate “a tangle of potential ambiguities and
associations, which are not normally perceived as significant in ‘ordinary’, non-punning
discourse” (Delabastita, 1996: p. 129). When the context eliminates all but two “opposed” and
“concocted” senses in a word, the word becomes a pun. In other words, after applying a pun
in the context (either verbal or situational), its meanings ought to denote two distinct realities,
where one of the sense exclude the other and the simultaneous activation of both meanings
contravenes the rules of logic (Attardo, 1994: p. 134). An ambiguous word, although its
senses may be “opposed,” must also meet the second requirement, namely, its co-text must
allow for the process of disambiguation of all the other, redundant senses present in a pun
(Attardo, 1994: p. 133). Nevertheless, the inherent, “disambiguating force of context” hinders
the sustenance of the two meanings (Attardo, 1994: p. 134). As Delabastita proposes in his
book on wordplay, contexts which trigger the two senses in a pun may be either “verbal or
situational” (Delabastita, 1996: p. 129). The former, also called co-text, entails all the
linguistic forms and structures which surround a pun. Those units might be either
graphological or phonological. The situational context, also referred to as physical context, is
found beyond the textual reality. The situational context includes time, location, people,
physical objects and actions. Whilst the former is ubiquitously relevant, as puns are types of
verbal humour, the latter is more crucial where representation, or the reconstruction of
physical aspects of reality is prevailing, for instance, in multimedia or in mass media.

Basing on this criterion of context, Sikora classifies humorous situations characteristic

for animated movies into three groups. “Nonverbal humor,” including visual humour, is
exclusively triggered by the situational context. This type of humour is independent of
language, and thus doesn’t apply to puns. The second type, “verbal and visual humor” is
linguistically dependent, but situational context is pivotal in determining comic effect. To
illustrate, a pun which owes its humour to an element belonging to the visual representation
falls under this category. This element enables the recipient to associate another sense of the
word, and in this way provokes the oppositional ambiguity of meanings. The third type,
labelled as “verbal humor” may be further divided into humour inherent in the represented
reality but expressed through language; linguistic humour resulting solely from the choice of
linguistic units; and humour stemming from cultural impact, which consists in both references
to particular national reality, and language of various dialects and registers. The context in the
latter subcategory being situational, or more specifically, socio-cultural, and verbal in the two
former ones (Sikora, 2013: p. 301).

1.3 Ambiguity and disambiguation in puns

The process of disambiguation leading to exposure of the two final senses of a word is
achieved through two verbal elements which have different functions. One of them, connector
is “the ambiguous element of the utterance which makes the presence of two senses possible.”
The second element disallows for a complete disambiguation, which is present in a standard,
devoid of puns conversation, Attardo calls “disjunctor” (Attardo, 1994: p. 135). The similar
analysis of disambiguation is offered by Solska. She proposes more evident definitions: “two
essential elements of a pun, namely the ambiguity-carrying element, or the ‘conjunctor’ and
the ambiguity-enabling element, or the ‘disjunctor’” (Solska, 2012a: p. 174). “Disjunctor,”
then, is an element either of the verbal or situational context which prevents from final
disambiguation and thus triggers the second meaning of a pun.

1.4 Horizontal vs. vertical distinction

In scrutinizing the functions of a connector and disjunctor, one more, relevant distinction
between horizontal and vertical configuration ought to be brought to mind. When two either
formally similar or identical linguistic entities are present in the stream of the text, we talk of
“horizontal” organisation. Horizontal puns, also called syntagmatic, involve exploitation of
two similar (S1≈S2) or identical signs (S1=S2) in the text. While the first imposes one meaning
[S1(M1)], the second points to the other meaning [S2(M2)]. By way of contrast, we may have
only one linguistically realised concept carrying ambiguity, when we encounter “vertical,” or
paradigmatic structure. In this organisation, to one sign, which doesn’t reappear later on in a
particular co-text, two possible senses are assigned [S(M1/M2)]. Just like in the case of
horizontal puns, vertical puns may be based on either the identity of form [S1=S2(M1/M2)] or
the form similarity [S1≈S2(M1/M2)].

With reference to this division, further investigation on the functions of a connector and
disjunctor is possible. In horizontal puns based on the exact isomorphism, the connector and
disjunctor are “non-distinct” (Attardo, 1994: p. 138). To put it in a different way, the
functions of the two ambiguous linguistic items overlap, so that both of them function as a
connector and disjunctor at the same time. Indeed, each of them makes bringing both senses
together possible (connecting function) and the co-presence of the two disrupts the process of
complete disambiguation (function of disjunction). Alternatively, in horizontal puns based on
formal resemblance, there is no actual ambiguity, since the two signs differ. In place of one,
ambiguous connector, there are two formally similar elements. The connectors bring out their
formal resemblance. In this same configuration, the function of disjunctor also overlaps with
the function of connector. Juxtaposition of two connectors unveils two distinct, possible
meanings and interrupts in (disjuncts) one reading of the text, as both senses fit and may be
applied in the context. We are presented, then, with a case where ambiguity is both caused
and enabled by the juxtaposition of the two forms. In vertical puns exploiting only partial
formal identity, the position of a connector also coincides with the position of a disjunctor. In
this configuration, apart from the disjunctor realised by the linguistic items surrounding the
connector, the connector itself serves as a disjunctor, because “it actively creates the
ambiguity where none exists by allowing the hearer to identify the “target” expression with
which the encoded concept is to be contrasted” (Solska, 2012b: pp. 190-191). In vertical puns
based on the exact isomorphism, functions of a connector and disjunctor do not overlap. The
disjunctor ‘reveals’ the already existing ambiguity of the connecting element. Thus, the
connector exploiting the exact formal identity and combining two different meanings is
deprived of this additional role of a disjunctor. With reference to this function allocation and
horizontal/vertical division another phenomenon becomes apparent, namely, discrepancy
between the exploitation of complete and partial formal identity in puns.

1.5 Near (broad) vs. exact (narrow) puns

Another division of puns is based on their formal resemblance. Adopting this criterion,
Alexander postulates the distinction between what he calls a “narrow (or exclusive)” pun and
a “broad (or inclusive)” (Alexander, 1997: p. 17). A similar classification is offered by
Partington, who applies terms “exact” and “near” in his division (Partington, 2006: pp. 114-
115). Both authors qualify phenomena such as polysemy, homonymy, homophony and
homography as narrow, or exact puns. As for the second group of broad puns, its boundaries
seem to be more flexible and vague. “It is sufficient for a person to allude to a word or to
distant formal similarities” in formation of a near pun (Alexander, 1997: p. 18). The term
‘paronym’ may, then, fall under this category.

For the purpose of clarity, a discussion on those semantic phenomena in terms of their
formal relations would be favourable. When the two lexemes are represented by the two word
forms, of which identity is present on both graphological and phonological levels, those
lexical units are claimed to be homonyms. When it comes to the polysemy, the distinction
from the latter is highly problematic and unclear, as the two polysemous words also share
their form. When the relatedness of two meanings is apparent, it is likely that the two words
are polysemous, rather than homonymous. One may recognize polysemy as extension of one
meaning. That is, the meaning is extended, when one sign starts to embrace vaster semantic
area of one base concept. Etymology is another crucial term in determining boundaries
between polysemy and homonymy. Two approaches are possible in establishing this
dichotomy: synchronic and diachronic (Croft, Cruse, 2004: p. 111). From diachronic
perspective, we analyse the historical origin of words and their common lexical source. The
synchronic distinction between homonymy and polysemy is more vague, as it is exclusively
based on connection between two meanings. Instead of historical origin being the main
criterion, “popular etymology” is a leading differentia in establishing this dichotomy. As
Lyons explains, “popular etymology” is recategorisation of words as either homonymous or
polysemous, which is motivated by a current view on semantic relatedness between two
words, regardless of their historical origin (Lyons, 1995: p. 59). Discrepancy arising from the
two perspectives indicates the fuzzy nature of differentiation between the two phenomena of
homonymy and polysemy. As opposed to homonyms, polysemous words are included in the
same dictionary entry. All the same, this differentiation is far from clear-cut distinction and
varies radically. Homophony occurs when the phonemic structure of two lexemes is the same,
whilst their spelling differs. In the opposite situation, two homographs share their spelling, but
are pronounced differently. This ‘ideal’ correspondence between the forms on at least one,
phonological or graphological level, authorises them as exact puns. Paronyms, by contrast,
may be classified as near puns in their formal deviation – “their phonemic representations are
similar but not identical” (Attardo, 1994: p. 111). Their relevancy at the phonological level,
exclusively, may be rooted in the fact that the majority of puns is employed via spoken
language. As to the formal correspondence between paronyms, their degree of similarity is not
specified. In other words, there are no clear criteria which rank words as paronyms.

Basing on the two previous sections (1.4 and 1.5), the classification below may be
offered to outline the dependencies existing between the mentioned dichotomies
(horizontal/vertical, broad/narrow, connector/disjunctor distinctions):

S1 = S2
S1 ≈ S2
(polysemy/ homonymy/ homophony/

S1/S2 (M1/M2) S (M1/M2)

S1: ring-tails S: cured

S2: rings M1: recovered from a disease

M1: small raccoonlike mammals of the order M2: prepared by chemical o physical processing
Carnivora, inhabiting southwestern North America for keeping or use
and having grayish or brownish fur and black- VERTICAL
banded tail
M2: circlets usually of precious metal worn
especially on the finger S2(M2)

It is my honor to introduce King Julien, leader of lemurs, A: Wow, he's violent! But cured!
lord of the ring-tails, et cetera, et cetera, et cet-er-a! B: Like a Christmas ham!

(s01e05) (s01e09)

connector: ring-tails connector: cured

non-distinct distinct
disjunctors: lord, ring-tails disjunctor: a ham

S1(M1) S2(M2) S (M1) S (M2)

S1: booger S: knock them dead

S2: sugar M1: to move them strongly especially to

admiration or applause
M1: a piece of dried nasal mucus
M2: to strike them to death
M2: a white crystalline carbohydrate used as a
sweetener and preservative
Pineapple upside-down cake glazed with brown booger. A: Okay, here’s what I see. Lights, music, artsy hats, a
My mistake. Brown sugar. performance that will knock them dead!
B: Yes! And if they are dead then they cannot vote for
(s01e05) that ridiculous penguin!


connectors: booger, sugar connector: knock them dead

disjunctors: brown booger, brown non-distinct disjunctor: they are dead non-distinct

Table 1
1.6 Taxonomies of puns

There are many criteria in categorization of puns. Attardo proposes three main differentia in
dividing puns: “linguistic phenomenon,” “linguistic structure” and “phonemic distance.”
Examining the first two types of taxonomies enables full comprehension of various linguistic
aspects of wordplay. What is more, it also allows for more incisive analysis of puns’ structure
in relation to distinct linguistic levels.

1.6.1 Linguistic phenomenon

The classification of puns by linguistic phenomenon comprises all the formal relations
between puns, with reference to the degree of similarity and the level at which the similarities
occur, namely, phonological and graphological level. The taxonomy doesn’t entail any criteria
exceeding graphological or phonological level such as semantic aspects, and hence repudiates
the polysemy/homonymy distinction. Additionally, the taxonomy based on linguistic
phenomenon differentiates between horizontal (syntagmatic) and vertical (paradigmatic) puns.
This type of classification resembles and elaborates the division presented in Table 1, of
which main focus was to point out the dependencies between linguistic realizations of
connectors and disjunctors in various types of punsters. The taxonomy with linguistic
phenomenon as the leading criterion is proposed by Delabastita in his book:

Homonymy Homophony Homography Paronymy


So how long until the royal MARLENE (OTTER): Okay, It is my honor to introduce
pain recovers? okay. I failed. I failed! King Julien, leader of lemurs,
Everybody, I failed! There. I lord of the ring-tails, et
(s01e13) am an Otter-Failure. cetera, et cetera, et cet-er-a!

(s01e10) (s01e05)


Nuts make you nuts! Look alive men, I’ve got my Pineapple upside-down cake
freak-on for recon. glazed with brown booger.
(s01e13) My mistake. Brown sugar.

Table 2

(Delabastita, 1996: p. 128)

1.6.2 Linguistic structure

The next type of taxonomy is based on the subdivision of linguistics into the following
categories: phonology, graphology, morphology, semantics and syntax. As compared with the
previous one, this model of classification is more general and involves more complex

analysis. The taxonomy by linguistic structure is offered by Alexander, who distinguishes six
types of linguistic levels exploited in different types of wordplay: the graphological,
phonological, morphological, syntactic, lexical-semantic and pragmatic or discourse level
(Alexander, 1997: p. 20). As for puns, which are primarily “textual phenomena," the
pragmatic feature appears to be insignificant and thus may be suspended in classifying puns
(Delabastita, 1996: p. 129). Exploitation of discourse level by puns is not exclusive. That is to
say, the pragmatic level does not constitute the main input in punsters and it merely functions
as an extra contextual trigger, disjunctor. Discourse, then, is not an independent factor in
establishing a pun, but rather an additional feature which may enhance humorous effect of a
pun. Delabastista also proposes the taxonomy which parallels linguistic categories. He,
however, does not differentiate between the graphological and phonological levels, and
divides the lexical level further into the two groups, according to the exploited phenomena:
polysemy and idiom (Delabastita, 1996: p. 130). Drawing on those two classifications, the
following taxonomy of puns with regards to their exploitation of different linguistic features
may be propounded:

1) the graphological level:

This level entails all form similarities as far as the graphemes or letters are concerned. The
level includes homographs as well as homonyms. Delabastita discusses it together with the
phonological level supposedly on the account of the narrow scope of puns covered by the
graphological structure.

2) the phonological level:

This level involves all sound similarities. Phonemic features may either be compared on the
segmental or suprasegmental level in punning. What is important is that the level is not
restricted to any form boundaries. In other words, exploitation of formal similarity at the
phonological level does not necessarily has to coincide with the word boundaries. Punning,
therefore, might be achieved through the manipulation of the text articulation and speech
pauses. The phonological structure is exploited in homophones and homonyms.

3) the lexical-semantic level

a. polysemy

This subcategory entails all polysemous words. The extension of a meaning of a

word occurring at a denotative or a connotative level allows for potential
ambiguity in words. Moreover, discrepancy between the literary and figurative
level of senses, each extending towards a different semantic direction, broadens
the range of possible senses. This subcategory, as opposed to the next one,
concerns semantics as the study of the meaning properties of an individual lexical
item in isolation, not of the whole phrases.

b. idiom

This subcategory also embraces puns as independent meaningful linguistic units at
the word-level but additionally, it also entails the whole linguistic expressions
comprised of separate words. The puns are based on ambiguity stemming from the
semantic discrepancy between words as the smallest meaningful components, and
words as a fixed cluster of lexical items, of which overall meaning is far from the
sum total of meanings of those same lexical items when disconnected.
Phraseological units are hallmarked by their non-compositionality, that is,
semantics of the idioms are not predictable from the meaning of the separate
morphological components. In this manner, one is likely to encounter a wide
range of puns owing its ambiguity to the disparity between the senses of
independent and separate linguistic entities, and the senses of formulaic
expressions, which are semantically autonomous.

4) the morphological level

Puns exploiting the morphological structure, similarly to the idiomatic ones, involve
manipulation of words at the two levels. The first level incorporates the interpretation of a
word as an autonomous whole. It deals with a lexical unit at its final stage of production, as a
total outcome of word formation processes. The second level, by contrast, pertains to the
analysis of lexemes as derivatives, combining smaller meaningful components (prefixes,
suffixes, roots). Morphological punning involves distinguishing the two levels and exploiting
them in order to create ambiguity. The meaning of derivational affixes or roots is opposed
with the meaning of either complex or compound word, and this opposition constitutes a
potential for wordplay.

5) the syntactic level

The syntactic structure may provide another source of ambiguity. Both combining
constituents into larger units and parsing the larger units into the smaller components involves
grouping words into parts of speech. High productivity of conversion among other word
formation processes in English permits an open interpretation in terms of word class
distribution. Moreover, unelaborate inflectional system, e.g. overt differentiation between
only two grammatical cases, and analytic nature of English contribute to creation of potential
ambiguity in phrases and sentences. Functional ambiguity contingent upon word order, and
word class ambiguity of constituents is, then, inexorable and results in sentence semantics

Look alive men, I’ve polysemy idiom A: Fortunes are mere A: The whole
got my freak-on for superstitions. world’s gone
recon. A: Wow, he's A: Something B: Yes, these stitions topsy-turvey.
(s01e15) violent! But smells fishy. are super. That is why B: So it’s up to us
cured! B: Yeah, I don't you mustn’t listen to to make turvey
B: Like a know about him. This is a curse. topsy again.
Christmas these guys... Your friend has been (s01e08)
ham! A: No, I mean given a misfortune
(s01e09) the stink of cookie.
actual fish, (s01e23)
Maurice. Open
a window.
Table 3

1.7 Explicit and implicit sense in puns

Another noteworthy contrast apparent predominantly in vertical paronyms, but also present in
vertical homophones and homographs, revolves around the notion of sense accessibility.
Sense in a pun is either easily accessible, unequivocal and explicit, or it is latent, merely
implied and implicit. To illustrate, in a vertical paronym, the first sense is explicit, since the
word form remains unaltered and it directly points toward the intended meaning. However,
the second sense in a paronym on paradigmatic axis needs to be inferred, due to the formal
deviation of a lexical unit encoding the intended sense. In this way, the second meaning is
implicit and requires some mental effort to be recognized. Ultimately, after grasping the
second meaning, the ambiguity of the two opposed senses in a pun is apparent. The similar
case is found with homophones and homographs on paradygmatic axis, the only difference
being that what is left explicit in speech (homphones) and explicit in writing (homographs)
becomes tacit when the level on which it retains ambiguity is changed. In other words, if
homophones are transmitted via written media, the coexistence of two senses in one form is
no longer the case, as the phonemic identity is replaced by graphemic dissimilarity.
Analogically, when homographs are uttered in speech, one of the explicitly stated sense
becomes latent, because pronunciation exposes formal deviation of these puns. However,
when the criterion is applied to homonyms, the discrepancy becomes far less clear-cut
between an explicit and an implicit sense. Yet, to a great extent, this distinction is associated
with the pragmatic approach. The superficial meaning in a homonym is the one the recipient
expects by assuming that the utterer acts in compliance with Gricean maxims and the
cooperative principle. The superficial meaning, then, is the one which is automatically
required and dependent upon the immediate context, it is the one which is induced for the
sake of coherence in meeting the demands of the pun’s immediate context. By way of
contrast, the underlying meaning of a homonym is not the standard one, or anticipated with
regard to any kind of social compromise in that it is obvious and presupposed by the hearer.
Instead, it is the additional and unconventional meaning which requires further reflection due
to its non-obvious nature. However, it bears also mentioning that this sense dichotomy is
deployed solely in vertical puns. As it happens, when the same/similar word form reoccurs

but with different meaning evinced through distinct co-text, the two senses of a pun are
overtly accessible.

1.8 Sense interrelations in puns

Creation of any pun requires certain amount of witticism or cognitive effort, yet in some of
them, beyond the two carefully juxtaposed senses exquisite logic is concealed, and their
invention entails considerable ingenuity and cleverness. A degree to which a particular pun is
humorous and witty more often than not corresponds with the interrelations between senses in
this pun. On purely linguistic level, a pun ought to evoke the effect of lexical ambiguity in
that the two lexemes accidentally sharing the same word form are not contextually rejected,
and hence both fit in the sentence. However, departing from the linguistic point of view,
punning supposed to crave the underlying logical justification for bringing about the two
senses, which would be found behind that lexical-semantic ambiguity. In the following
analysis some elements are based on Attardo’s study on “The Organization of Senses in a
Pun.” The first criterion in examining sense dependencies in puns raises the fundamental
question whether the two senses of those contextually suitable lexemes are logically
connected. If there is, indeed, some rationalization found behind their coexistence in one word
form, further question is to be brought up, whether the two senses equally fit in the context in
terms of both logical and linguistic structure (linguistic context/co-text). If the two readings,
interpretations are equally possible, it may be argued that the level of ambiguity reaches its
peak. Precisely, when both senses apply interchangeably, one can never tell which sense was
primarily meant, because neither linguistic nor logical disambiguation of meanings is
possible. On the other hand, if the criterion of the simultaneous appropriateness of both senses
is not fulfilled, hierarchical distinction is applied. One alternative sense becomes apparently
more prominent in its contextual setting over the other at the time its interpretation. The
justification behind the superiority of this one sense over the other arises from either the
grammatical constraints (surface layer) or the contextual relevance of a sense (deep layer), or
both (Attardo, 1994: pp. 136-137). What needs to be acknowledged at this point is the fact
that the number of senses in puns is by no means contrived to only two. Given the latter
assumption, more accurate would be the term ‘all senses present,’ instead of just ‘both
senses.’ All the same, this meticulous approach must be suspended with the view to arriving
at some conclusions through the formation of more general statements. The preceding
analysis on sense interrelations in puns and explicit/implicit sense distinction is formulated in
an orderly manner as follows:

Is there a logical connection between the two senses?


It is my honor to introduce King How many senses apply?

Julien, leader of lemurs, lord of the
ring-tails, et cetera, et cetera, et cet- BOTH ONE
MARLENE (OTTER): Okay, okay. I So how long until the royal pain (King
(s01e05) failed. I failed! Everybody, I failed! Julien) recovers?
There. I am an Otter-Failure.

lord of the ring-tails Otter-Failure royal: King Julien

(explicit sense) (explicit sense) pain: King Julien is sick

lord of the rings utter failure royal pain: King Julien is not
liked by the speaker
(implicit sense) (implicit sense)
(explicit senses)
The explicitly given phrase The confession and admittance
“lord of the ringtails” brings on to failing justifies the use of All the senses logically fit into the
an implicit sense “lord of the “utter failure,” but it also contextual criteria, on both levels:
rings”. Yet, there is no logical conduces the use of “Otter- idiomatic (compositional) and
relation between the two Failure” in the context of one’s literate (individual). However, the
juxtaposed senses. own acknowledgement, self- meaning beyond phraseological
reflexion, self-portrayal. In this expression is preferred due to both
case, then, both meanings are contextual relevance and
equally suitable. There are no primarily, grammaticality.
any grammatical constraints and Accounting for selectional
the degree of relevance of each restrictions, the verb ‘to recover’
sense is equivalent. requires [+ANIMATE] semantic
feature for its subject.

Table 4


2. Methods applied in puns translation

There already exist some insightful and abstruse studies on strategies in translating puns. Yet,
there are still much more research devoted to the field dealing with translation of verbal
humour in general. Undoubtedly, the most elaborate and valid contribution to study on
methods in translating puns may be credited to Delabastita. In his book, There's a Double
Tongue: An Investigation Into the Translation of Shakespeare's Wordplay, with Special
Reference to Hamlet, he puts forward nine strategies backed up by the translation practice of
four languages. Delabastita enumerates the methods in a rather liberal way, giving that his list,
apart from two translation options being pun into pun and pun into non-pun, consists of other,
seven possibilities. As a matter of fact, the existence of those two options would exclude other
types of puns translation. Nevertheless, as it is with all taxonomies, the categories are not
entirely exclusive. The second list of techniques in pun translation, as suggested by Offord in
Traductio: Essays on punning and translation, is also based on the translation practice of
Shakespeare’s work into other languages. Offord mentions six strategies in translating puns.
The two proposals will be compared with other, smaller collections of techniques amidst a
wider variety of methods within the area occupied with translating all types of verbal humour.

2.1 Methods presented by Delabastita.

1. pun into pun

The pun in the ST has its equivalent in the TT at the more or less same point in the linguistic
material and may, nevertheless, differ in terms of either linguistic mechanism, formal
structure, or semantic structure from the original pun.

a) linguistic mechanism

The first case occurs when the TT pun does not correspond with the ST pun in the type of a
lexical structure being exploited. For instance, a homophonous pun (phonological features)
may be rendered as a pun owing its existence to the non-compositional features of
idiomaticity (lexical features).

b) formal structure

Secondly, puns may differ formally in translation at two levels. On the one hand, with regards
to the type of configuration they form, namely, horizontal or vertical, and on the other, in
terms of the occurring linguistic phenomena comprising semantic-formal interrelations
present within puns: homonymy/homophomny/homography/paronymy.

c) semantic structure

Last area concerns pure semantics and allows for three major possibilities: either the pair of
puns share both their meanings, or their share only one of the meanings, or none of the
meanings is equivalent. Respectively, those three translation solutions are denoted as parallel,
semi-parallel, and non-parallel. Yet, this typology appears to be too simplistic in it trying to
label the relations between the ST and the TT by pertaining to such an equivocal term as
semantic equivalence. Therefore, another subdivision is proposed instead, with regards to the
semantic distance:

i. The TT pun renders the non-punning context of the ST pun rather than the pun itself,
so that the target pun is located within the fragment of the text neighbouring with the
source pun.

ii. The semantic fields of the two puns are parallel with some shifts in meaning
noticeable in one of the SL pun’s reading. Particularly, this semantic parallelism in the
translated puns may be found on the non basic level, so that the superordinate terms
are semantically related, yet on the level at which they are realized in the text, as
cohyponyms, their meanings deviate.

iii. One or both meanings in the TT pun are not related with the original pun and the
semantic domains to which the meanings of the pairing puns belong are likewise

iv. Translation of the source pun results in differences between the co-text of the ST and
the TT. In other words, transferring wordplay brings out significant changes in the
fragment which extends beyond the translated pun itself.

2. pun into non-pun

The pun in the original text is transferred as a non-pun, meaning it lacks the ambiguity
characteristic for a pun, and the coexisting senses are either dispersed onto the separate forms
or one meaning is chosen and then rendered through one word form. Whilst the former
strategy is more often applied in the case of horizontal puns, the latter is to a great extent
limited to the vertical configuration, allowing one word form only. Thus, this technique is
further divided into:

a. pun into selective non-pun

One meaning out of two is transferred in the target language.

i. surface translation

The explicit, surface meaning of the ambiguous word is rendered in the TT.

ii. exegetic translation

The implicit, deep meaning of the ambiguous word is rendered in the TT.

b. pun into non-selective non-pun

Both meanings of the ST pun are present in the TT.

c. pun into diffuse paraphrase

Particular semantic components of the ST pun are present in the TT, but they are
dispersed throughout the text, that is, their location is not parallel with the physical
position of the lexemes standing for those meanings in the original text.

3. pun into related rhetorical device (punoid)

The pun is replaced with other rhetorical figure or trope that exploits the signifier or the
signified and the signifier and thus has some verbal humour in it. For instance, alliteration,
rhyme, epizeuxis, chiasmus, irony, etc. may serve as substitutes of puns in the TT.

4. pun into zero (zero translation)

The string of text containing the pun is omitted in the TT, in other words, the part with the
pun is simply cut out and absent in the target text in the process of transfer.

5. pun ST = pun TT (direct copy)

The signifier in the ST is transferred directly, in its unchanged form. This method is often
applied to bilingual wordplay, that is, when the third linguistic code is applied in the ST as a
borrowing, which happens to be also functioning in the target language.

6. pun ST = pun TT (transference)

Transference, like direct copy, transfers the signifier, but it differs from the latter in that it
does not leave the semantic features unadapted to the context of the TL. Specifically, some
semantic components of the SL signified are transferred to the TL signified and so as a result,
the TL signifier denotes larger semantic area than in its standard use in the target linguistic

7. non-pun into pun (addition)

The TT pun has no correspondent pun in the original text. The procedure may be treated as a
compensatory procedure, but may as well be introduced for any other reason. The method can
be employed by the translator whenever the target language repertoire renders semantic
ambiguity possible and the context permits two possible senses in that it does not
disambiguate the word enough. The translator, then, uses this potential ambiguity to create
independent from the ST verbal humour. What is worth mentioning here, to not to conflate
this technique with the following one, is that the pun in the target language is more or less
semantically equivalent to the string of text it replaces.

8. zero into pun (addition – new textual material)

The TT pun cannot be identified as a counterpart of any textual fragment in the SL. This kind
of addition of new information may be driven, again, by the need of compensation for the
failure of rendering the wordplay at the other point in the original text.

9. editorial techniques

It is the second, inferior channel of communication between the translator and the recipients,
metatext, which serves mainly as a disintegrated from the primary text source of additional
information indispensable in perceiving the overall sense of the ST wordplay. Delabastita
differentiates between the two subtypes of this translation method: footnotes and anthological

a. footnotes

Footnotes include either comments on the ST wordplay with the intention of making the
audience aware of such existence or justification for particular translation solutions of the
ST pun.

b. anthological translation

The translator summons various translation methods applied in translating one excerpt
containing wordplay in order for the recipient to perceive every aspect of the ST
wordplay, with separate treatment of the form and meaning. The common, most essential
feature present in all of the proposed translation choices establishes sound semantic basis,
whereas the sum total of all alternative renderings conduces to the full and faithful picture
of the original wordplay.

(Delabastita, 1993: pp. 191-220)

2.2 Methods presented by Offord

Offord’s list of strategies not only differs from the previous proposal as to the number of
translation solutions, but also as to the terms used in defining them:

1. “ignore the pun completely”

The translator ignores the pun completely when none of the ST pun exact meanings is
transferred in the TT, and simultaneously, the form of wordplay is ignored in translation, too.
However, the pun in the original text, unlike with the case of Delabastita’s pun into zero
method (4), has its formal correspondent in the TT, of which meaning does not precisely
overlap with any of the ST pun senses, yet it is to some extent semantically motivated.

2. “imitate (Shakespeare’s) technique”

The translator manages to imitate the technique applied in the original text when the pun in
the ST is replaced by a pun in the TT. Yet, that still does not fulfil all the requirements, since
imitation encompasses not only a pun for a pun exchange, but additionally, a pun in the TT
ought to carry the same semantic features in both possible readings as the ST pun. Only then
is the pun qualified as a genuine imitation of the technique applied in the ST.

3. “major explicitly on the primary or surface meaning”

4. “major explicitly on the secondary, underlying meaning”

Offord further differentiates between the selective non-pun retaining the primary, explicit
meaning and the selective non-pun rendering the second, implicit meaning.

5. “mention both meanings”

Similarly as in the case of Delabastita’s non-selective non-puns or diffuse paraphrases (2bc),

two meanings of the ST pun are separately ascribed to two equivalent word forms in the TT.

6. “create new wordplay”

The method requires some explanation, since its name may be a bit misleading when
compared with the third strategy offered by Delabastita. This technique is not reduced to the
other forms of rhetorical devices related to wordplay, but may also entail replacement of the
original pun with a target language pun. What distinguishes, then, this technique from the
second one (imitation) is the semantic features of the TT pun. Whereas its location in the text
and formal structure perfectly correspond with the location and formal features of the ST pun,
at least one of the senses of the pun in the target language differs. Thus, a pun formally
parallel yet semantically non-equivalent is treated here equally with other kinds of wordplay,
which are non-equivalent even at the purely formal and functional level.

(Offord, 1997: p. 241)

2.3 Methods of translating wordplay

The other four lists of techniques used in translating wordplay in general are more
heterogeneous in nature and offer little diversity of strategies.

Chiaro proposes four solutions in treating wordplay in translation:

1. “leave the VEH unchanged,”

which corresponds with Delabastita’s direct copy (5). This method of rendering
wordplay ‘untranslated’ is shown as a solution in transferring, for instance, proper

2. “replace the source VEH with a different instance of VEH in the TL,”

which overlaps with pun into pun translation proposed by Delabastita (3) and Offord’s
creation of new wordplay (6). The method presented by Chiaro stipulates replacing a
pun with a pun without any necessary concern about the linguistic mechanism, formal
structure and above all, semantic equivalence as such, but rather it aims at retaining
the type of wordplay employed in the ST and primarily, its functional aspects.

3. “replace the source VEH with an idiomatic expression in the TL,”

which again, in the case of this specific type of wordplay we are dealing with, alludes
either to pun into pun translation (3) or imitation of the original technique
(semantically parallel) (2) and creation of new wordplay (semantically semi-parallel)
(6), as offered by Offord. The strategy involves replacing the pun based on lexical
polysemy as its linguistic mechanism with the pun owing its humorous nature to
lexical idiomacity (literal vs. figurative reading). As to the semantics of the TT pun, it
renders at least one meaning of the ST pun.

4. “ignore the VEH altogether,”

which overlaps with pun into non-selective non-pun rendering in Delabastita’s

proposal (2b) and either with major explicitly on the primary or surface meaning (3),
or with major explicitly on the secondary, underlying meaning (4), taken from
Offord’s strategies. This technique is not to be confused with neither the omission of
the fragment of the text which contains the pun nor with replacing the pun with its
non-pun semantic alternative. Instead, this method pertains to focusing on only one
semantic equivalent out of two or more meanings being played on when transferring
the ST pun.

(Chiaro, 2010: pp. 6-8)

The following distinction, proposed by Fuentes Luque is drawn between the four translation
options with reference to the degree to which comic effect is lost in the transfer.

1. “Literal translation:”

a solution which in most cases fails to transfer the humour and leaves the audience
puzzled as to the source of amusement among the SL recipients in the original text.
This method is reminiscent of Delabastita’s pun into selective non-pun (2a) and
Offord’s major explicitly on primary/secondary meaning (3/4).

2. “Explanatory translation:”

a method which transfers all the semantic information of wordplay, but fails in
rendering its structure, thus, losing comic effect. Emphasis being put on the
explanation, this translation option may be understood in terms of Delabastita’s
editorial technique (9), which aims at unveiling the justification beyond the humorous
aspect of a particular type of wordplay to the TL audience. However, this technique
may be also compared to Delabastita’s pun into non-pun transfer, either non-selective
or diffuse paraphrase (2bc) in their transferring both meanings of a pun without any
regard to the formal correspondence present in the original text. In this sense, the
explanatory translation bears also resemblance to Offord’s mentioning both meanings

3. “Compensatory translation:”

the method directly refers to the solutions given by Delabastita, non-pun into pun (7)
and zero into pun (8), where wordplay is introduced when non such exists in the text,

but rather serves as a compensatory device in translation. Ultimately, the method
enables humour transfer, although at a different point in the text than in the original.

4. “Effective or functional translation:”

a solution which enables complete transfer of comic and hence the reaction among the
SL audience is the same as among the TL audience. This presumably ‘ideal’ technique
is found similar to Delabastita’s pun into pun or pun into punoid rendering or Offord’s
imitation of the original technique (2) or creating new wordplay (6).

(Chiaro, 2010: pp. 185-186)

Weissbord provides other three solutions in treating wordplay in translation:

1. “employing all stylistic levels and historical strata accessible in the target language,
even if they have no parallel in the source text”

The first option describes the situation where the translator makes use of all possible
linguistic aspects in order to create wordplay, even if it has no proper formal
correspondent in the original text. Thus, it reflects the idea of introducing the pun
where non such exists, presented in Delabastita’s list as non-pun into pun (7) and zero
into pun translation (8).

2. “changing one or more of the meanings of the original wordplay so that they can be
condensed again into one word or words similar in form or sound”

The method licenses losing some semantic values of the original text in view of
keeping the function of a particular type of wordplay in the TL text. Again, this
resembles the already discussed case of pun into pun translation (1), or creating new
wordplay (6), where semantic qualities have been relegated to a second priority in
translation process for the sake of preserving the form of a pun.

3. “changing the type of wordplay or its location in the text”

For the sake of clarity, it is advisable to dissect this method into the two subparts:

a. “changing the type of wordplay in the text”

Failing to render the original form of a pun, the translator may use their
innovation to introduce a different type of rhetorical device in order to sustain
the level of comic preserved in the original text. This, to a great extent pertains
to Delabastita’s pun into punoid exchange (3) and Offord’s new wordplay (6).

b. “changing the location of wordplay in the text”

Alternatively, when neither form of the SL wordplay may be preserved, the

translator may resolve to relocating the original wordplay to some different
point in the text. Thanks to this solution, only the wordplay physical position
differs, with the amount of humour being unchanged. As a result, in place
where originally the pun is employed, the TL text lacks any form of wordplay,
and vice versa, where the TL pun occurs, its formal SL correspondent is
devoid of any such verbal humour. This method may be viewed in terms of
Delabastita’s non-pun into pun technique (7).

(Delabastita, 1996: p. 221)

The next inventory of methods was invented with the main focus on using subtitling as the
media in language transfer. Three alternatives are put forward in handling verbal humour:

 “rendered verbatim, with or without humorous effect”

This literal translation without any regard to maintaining comic in the TT resonates with pun
into pun translation (1), exclusively if the humour is retained. Otherwise, when comic is not
transferred, only one meaning rendered verbatim is preserved as in pun into selective non-pun
translation (2a) in Delabastita’s proposal.

 “adapted to the local setting, to maintain humorous effect”

Wordplay in the original text is retained in the TT so that the humorous effect is preserved but
only by means of free adaptation of the source verbal humour to the local setting of the TT.
The solution pertains to Delabastita’s pun into punoid translation choice (3) as it involves the
creation of other type of wordplay.

 “replaced by non-wordplay”

The original pun is simply translated into either selective or non-selective non-pun, or into
diffuse paraphrase (Delabastita’s 2 method).

 “not rendered, using the space for neighbouring dialogue”

The pun in ST is neither functionally nor semantically rendered. It corresponds with

Delabastita’s pun into zero transfer (4). Additionally, the textual space comprising the pun in
the ST is incorporated in the neighbouring dialogue in the TT, so that the visual representation
in the cartoon is in concordance with the auditory speech.

 “inserted in different textual positions, where the target language renders it possible”

Wordplay in the TT occurs at different from the ST points in the text. The method applied by
a translator driven by the need of compensation for a pun lost elsewhere echoes Delabastita’s
non-pun into pun solution (7).

(Delabastita, 1997: p. 210)

All of the above mentioned lists of translation solutions may be in an extremely simplistic
manner compared and labelled with regard to the most diverse and elaborate proposal of
Delabastita, which includes nearly all of the translation techniques, but Offord’s method of
ignoring the pun completely.

Delabastita Offord Chiaro Fuentes Luque Weissbrod Gottlieb

replace the source

VEH with a different changing one or more
of the meanings of the
imitate Shakespeare’s instance of VEH in the rendered verbatim,
effective or functional original wordplay so
PUN → PUN technique, create new TL, replace the source with or without
translation that they can be
wordplay VEH with an humorous effect
idiomatic expression condensed again into
one word or words
in the TL
similar in form or

major explicitly on the

rendered verbatim,
primary or surface
with or without
meaning, major ignore the VEH
a) SELECTIVE literal translation humorous effect,
explicitly on the altogether
replaced by non-
secondary, underlying

mention both replaced by non-

b) NON-SELECTIVE explanatory translation
meanings wordplay

c) DIFFUSE replaced by non-

explanatory translation

adapted to the local

PUN → RELATED changing the type of
create new wordplay setting, to maintain
wordplay in the text
humorous effect

not rendered, using the

PUN → ZERO space for neighbouring

leave the VEH



inserted in different
employing all stylistic textual positions,
compensatory levels and historical
NON-PUN → PUN where the target
translation strata accessible in the
language renders it
TL, changing the
location of wordplay
in the text
employing all stylistic
compensatory levels and historical
translation strata accessible in the

EDITORIAL explanatory translation


ignore the pun


Table 5

2.4 Some restrictions as to the application of methods concerning audiovisual translation
through dubbing

Two essential problems of phonological and strictly physical nature appear in dubbing,
namely, articulation of strings of sounds, particularly, articulatory gestures such as mouth
movements, and amount of time designated for a character to utter their lines. Regardless of
those two, editorial techniques are automatically dismissed in dubbing as a variant in
audiovisual translation.

Characters’ mouth movements captioned directly on the screen restrain the translator
from complete omission of the string of text containing a pun in the original. Any sound
equivalent of the SL pun is favourable in order to avoid the situation when silence is
accompanied by visible mouth gestures, which consequently, leads to communication
hindrance. Only is “zero translation” possible when the characters do not perform speech acts
ostensibly towards the audience, on the screen. Text omission is possible, then, either when
the speaking protagonists do not appear at all or when they are shown in a way, that their
articulatory movements are not visible, for instance, when they are turned back towards the
viewers or captioned at some farther distance. The same applies to the method which includes
addition of new material to the TL text. Incongruity inevitable in adjusting a dialogue to a
character who is seen to remain silent introduces the feeling of confusion among the audience
or, even more, may mislead them as to the performer of this speech act.

Time restrictions are main factor in choosing and implementing one translation option
over the other. The amount of time assigned to one character must be reflected in translating
dialogues, so as to not disturb the established conversational exchange. In the case of puns in
the original text, time limits coerce the translator into rejecting some translation techniques
which involve explaining the whole semantic load which is carried by a pun through the use
of separate word forms denoting this selection of varying meanings.

Last but not least, the third major issue relevant for the translator strictly deals with such an
individual phenomenon as the element presented on the screen and incorporated in the
wordplay. In such a case, the pun cannot simply be replaced by its functional equivalent but
must account for the semantic structure of the SL pun, which encompasses this visual feature.
Consequently, the translator is left with a relatively narrow scope of translation possibilities.
Indeed, both frequently applied selective non-pun transfer and zero translation are dismissed.
Particularly, selective non-pun becomes inapplicable here, since the visual element present on
the screen cannot be dismissed by the viewer and therefore, must find its vehicle in the TT.
On the other hand, the word form in the TT corresponding to the meaning of this non-verbal
disjunctor cannot be included in the text without the second sense of the source pun, due to
the fact that the latter one is the explicit, most accessible and relevant meaning in a given


3. Distinct translation methods applied in The Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins of Madagascar is a famous American animated television series produced by

the two companies: DreamWorks Animation TV and Nickelodeon Productions. The dialogues
are translated into Polish by Tomasz Robaczewski. The cartoon is not a prototypical one, as
its audience is by no means restricted to children only. On the contrary, witty humour inherent
in language and many cultural references appeal particularly to the older viewers. Both
idiomatic language and colloquialisms are of paramount importance in creating verbal
humour as a potential material for puns. Linguistic ambiguities, though essential and mostly
appreciated in cartoons, are considered highly problematic in their rendering to the target
language, taking into consideration restrictions upon translators rooted in transferring
audiovisual content using dubbing technique. Yet, as shown below, the task is not
unattainable, given the wide array of methods in dealing with wordplay.

3.1 PUN → PUN

A. parallel linguistic mechanism, formal structure and semantic structure

MARLENE: Okay, here’s what I see. Lights, music, artsy hats, a performance that will knock
them dead!
KING JULIEN: Yes! And if they are dead then they cannot vote for that ridiculous penguin!

MARLENKA: Ok, ja widzę to tak. wiatło, muzyka, mieszne czapki. Zrobimy takie show, że
padną trupem.
KRÓL JULIAN: Wła nie! Albowiem trupy nie zagłosują na tego głupiego pingwina!
a) parallel linguistic mechanism:
semantic-lexical (idiomatic)

b) parallel formal structure:

horizontal: knock them dead, they are dead
horizontal: padną trupem, trupy
homonymy: S1=S2 (dead, trup)

c) semantic structure:
ST: S1 knock someone dead M1 to amuse, astonish, or impress someone S2 dead M2 no longer
TT: S1 pa ć trupem M1 to be very surprised S2 trup M2 corps
(ii) semantically parallel structure as both semantic domains are parallel in the two puns with
some insignificant shifts in meaning

B. parallel linguistic mechanism, parallel formal structure and semi parallel semantic

MASON: Gack-attack, anti-vomiting syrup. We’ll take the “U” out of spew. Hmm, appetizing.
Sorry old boy, looks like you’re all plugged up until the medicine wears off.

MASON: Deutorin, syrop przeciw-wymiotny. Producent uprzedza, że nie przyjmuje zwrotów.

Hmm... nie dziwię mu się. No cóż, wygląda na to, że dopóki lek działa, niczego z siebie nie
a) parallel linguistic mechanism:
lexical-semantic (polysemy)

b) parallel formal structure:

vertical: plugged up
vertical: wykrzeszesz
homonymy S1=S2 (to plug up, wykrzesać)

c) semantic structure:
ST2: S1=S2 to be plugged up (M1 to become stopped up or obstructed M2 to be obstructed so
that substances cannot pass through)
TT2: S1=S2 wykrzesać (M1 to muster up and bring out the remnants of something from
oneself M2 to remove something to the outside)
(iii) semantically semi-parallel structure, as one of the two meanings (M1) in the TT pun do
not correspond with one of the meanings in the original pun

C. distinct linguistic mechanism, parallel formal structure and semi-parallel semantic

SKIPPER: Right. So, chimp what’s that fortune really say?
MASON: Fine. It says “You will soon meet a foul end”.
PRIVATE: Skipper, do you realize what just happened? Ducks are waterfowl. And so, a duck’s
bum is a fowl end. Rico met a fowl end. The curse was real!

SKIPPER: Wła nie. No więc, jaką tre ć miała jego przepowiednia?

MASON: Dobrze. Taką, że wkrótce spotka go straszny koniec.
SZEREGOWY: Szefie, czy pan nie rozumie co tu się stało? Za chwilę koniec odcinka, a to
znaczy, że Rico jednak spotkał straszny koniec. Rico spotkał straszny koniec! Wróżba była

a) distinct linguistic mechanism:

phonological → lexical-semantic (polysemy)

b) parallel formal structure:

horizontal: foul end, fowl end
horizontal: koniec, koniec odcinka
homophony (foul/fowl)
homonymy S1=S2 (end, koniec)

c) semantic structure:
SL1: S1 foul M1 very disagreeable or displeasing; horrid S2 fowl M2 a bird that is used as food
or hunted as game
SL2: S1=S2 end (M1 the termination of life or existence; death M2 either extremity of
something that has length)
TL: S1=S2 koniec (M1 death M2 the last part of a period of time, event, activity, or story)
(iii) semantically semi-parallel structure, as out of the two SL puns, one only is translated into
the TL and it retains one of the two meanings (M1) in the source pun.
(iv) additionally, translation results in differences between the co-text of the ST and the TT. In
the case of this particular scene, the lines referring to the duck is ignored, and instead, the end
of the episode is mentioned, which is not reflected in the source text. Thus, significant
changes are brought out in the process of transfer in the string of text extending the pun itself.

D. distinct linguistic mechanism, semi-parallel formal structure and semi-parallel

semantic structure
SKIPPER: Ring-a-ding-ding, you're a king.
MAURICE: Me? Uh-uh. I'm just the king's right-hand man. And you know, if the king's right-
hand man becomes the man, then the king's left with no right-

SKIPPER: No to zostałe królem.

MORIS: Ja? Y... Może i jestem prawą ręką króla, ale wiesz, jak prawa ręką króla wyciąga rękę
po władzę, to ręczę ci, że wtedy król—

a) distinct linguistic mechanism:

lexical-semantic (idiomatic) (prawa ręka)
phonological →
lexical-semantic (polysemy) (wyciągać rękę, ręczyć)

b) semi-parallel formal structure:

vertical: left → horizontal: prawa ręka, wyciąga rękę, ręczę
homonymy S1=S2 (left) → homonymy and paronymy S1=S2≈S3 (ręka/ręczyć)

c) semantic structure:
ST: S1=S2 left (M1 abandoned M2 the left hand)
TT: S1 prawa ręka M1 one’s closest and most trusted partner S2 wyciągać rękę po M2 to reach
out for S3 ręczyć M3 to assure
(i) the TT pun renders the non-punning, immediate context of the ST pun apart from the pun
(iii) semantically semi-parallel structure as only one sense in the TT pun is equivalent with the
non-punning, immediate context of the source pun:
right-hand man becomes the man: prawa ręka króla wyciąga rękę po władzę
the second meaning of the TT pun differs, this time, from the ST pun proper:
then the king’s left with: to ręczę ci, że wtedy król

E. distinct linguistic mechanism, distinct formal structure and parallel semantic
KOWALSKI: From egg to egg-head in one gigajolt.
KOWALSKI: Czym skorupka za młodu nasiąknie, tym... kaczor zabły nie.

a) distinct linguistic mechanism:

morphological level (compound: egghead) → semantic-lexical (idiomatic)

b) distinct formal structure:

horizontal: egg, egg-head → vertical: skorupka
paronymy: S1≈S2 (egg/egghead) → homonymy: skorupka

c) semantic structure:
ST: S1 egg M1 a round object with a hard surface, that contains a baby bird, snake, insect etc
S2 egghead M2 someone who is very intelligent, and only interested in ideas and books
TT: S1 skorupka M1 hard layer covering something from the surface S2 Czym skorupka za
młodu nasiąknie (tym na staro ć trąci) M2 knowledge acquired in youth later determines
human personality and behaviour
(ii) semantically parallel structure, as the semantic fields of the two puns are parallel with
some slight shift in meanings

(auto racing)

KING JULIEN: It is time to, gum up the works.

MAURICE: We’re on it.
Maurice and Mort begin chewing and spitting gum at the penguins.

KRÓL JULIAN: No to zobaczymy, kto ma lepsze ogumowanie.

MORIS: Robi się.

a) distinct linguistic mechanism:

semantic lexical (idiomatic) → semantic-lexical (polysemy)

b) semi-parallel formal structure:

vertical: gum
vertical: ogumowanie
homonymy S1=S2 (gum) → paronymy S1≈S2 (ogumienie/guma) S3 „ogumowanie”

c) semantic structure:
ST: S1 gum up the works M1 to interfere with the proper functioning of something S2 gum M2
chewing gum
TT: S1 ogumienie M1 tyres S2 guma M2 chewing gum → S1+S2 „ogumowanie” (neologism)

(iii) semantically semi-parallel structure, as one of the two meanings (M1) in the TT pun do
not correspond with one of the meaning in the original pun

F. distinct linguistic mechanism, parallel formal structure and non-parallel semantic

KING JULIEN: Wouldn’t it, Maurice? Are you sure?
MAURICE: Uh... Yeah, I am pretty sure.
KING JULIEN: And I’m pretty not.! Wait! No! Uh... I’m pretty. Very, very pretty! So
pretty. Mort, tell me I am pretty.
MORT: You are pretty.
KING JULIEN: Thank you. See Maurice. Mort agrees with me. Case closed.

KRÓL JULIAN: Czy aby Moris, jeste pewien?

MORIS: No, tak, wła nie jestem pewien.
KRÓL JULIAN: A ja niczego nie jestem pewien. Chociaż, zaraz, jestem!... niczego sobie.
Jestem niczego sobie! Mort za wiadczy. Mort, mów, jestem, czy nie jestem?
MORT: Jeste , czy nie jeste .
KRÓL JULIAN: Dziękuję. Widzisz, Moris? Mort przyznał rację mi. Wygrałem.

a) distinct linguistic mechanism:

phonological and syntactic → lexical-semantic (idiomatic)

b) parallel formal structure:

horizontal: I’m pretty not (sure), I’m pretty
horizontal: niczego nie jestem pewien, jestem niczego sobie
homonymy S1=S2 (pretty, niczego)

c) semantic structure:
 phonological linguistic mechanism:
SL: S1=S2 pretty (M1 pleasing or attractive in a graceful and delicate way M2 to a fair degree)
TL: S1 niczego M1 a pronoun denoting non existence of a given thing or event S2 niczego
sobie M2 cool, acceptable

 syntactic linguistic mechanism:

SL: S I’m pretty not (sure) (M1 I’m not pretty sure M2 I’m not pretty)
(iii) semantically non-parallel structure, as none of the ST pun meanings are rendered in the
corresponding TT pun.
(iv) What is more, the translation results in differences between the co-text of the ST and the
TT. Particularly, with reference to this specific dialogue, one sense of either ST or TT pun is
extended onto another lines in the scene, so that apart from the target pun, the immediate
context likewise differs in comparison with the source pun.

G. distinct linguistic mechanism, semi-parallel formal structure and non-parallel

semantic structure

MASON: Gack-attack, anti-vomiting syrup. We’ll take the “U” out of spew. Hmm, appetizing.
Sorry old boy, looks like you’re all plugged up until the medicine wears off.

MASON: Deutorin, syrop przeciw-wymiotny. Producent uprzedza, że nie przyjmuje zwrotów.

Hmm... nie dziwię mu się. No cóż, wygląda na to, że dopóki lek działa, niczego z siebie nie
a) distinct linguistic mechanism:
phonological → lexical-semantic (polysemy)

b) semi-parallel formal structure:

vertical: U
vertical: nie przyjmuje zwrotów
homophony (U/you) → homonymy S1=S2 (zwrot)

c) semantic structure:
ST1: S1=S2 U (M1 a phoneme M2 2nd person personal pronoun)
TT1: S1=S2 (przyjmować) zwrot [M1 (to accept) a return payment M2 (to receive) something
that has been returned]
(iii) semantically non-parallel structure, as both of the two meanings as well as their semantic
domains in the TT pun do not correspond with those in the original pun


A. PUN → selective NON-PUN

KING JULIEN: To impress this girly monkey you most knock her feet off.(King Julien points at
his feet) This is how I have gotten my many girlfriends.
MAURICE: What girlfriends?
KING JULIEN: You don’t know them, they all live in Canada, but trust me when I tell you, they
are made up. With lipstick and powders and such. But you know, tastefully.

KRÓL JULIAN: Je li chcecie poderwać samiczkę, musicie mieć czyste stopy. Oto, jak
uwiodłem wszystkie laseczki, które uwiodłem.
MORIS: Wszystkie, znaczy które?
KRÓL JULIAN: Nie znasz ich, bo mieszkają w Kanadzie, takie sobie wymyśliłem, więc się nie
mądrzyj! I mają szminkę, i sztuczne rzęsy też, ale no wiesz, z tych lepszych.

(i) surface translation

a) lexical-semantic (polysemy) linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure: vertical/homonymy: S1=S2 (to make up)
c) semantic structure
ST: S1=S2 make up (M1 to devise as a fiction or falsehood; invent M2 to apply cosmetics)
TT: S wymy lić (to imagine something that does not exist) = ST M1 (surface, explicit

(ii) exegetic translation

non-verbal, visual disjunctor: feet (character’s attribute)

a) lexical-semantic (idiom) linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure vertical/homonymy: S1=S2 (feet)
c) semantic structure
ST: S1 to knock someone’s feet off M1 to thoroughly impress, overwhelm, or excite someone
S2 feet M2 the terminal part of the leg, below the ankle joint, on which the body stands and
TT: S (musicie mieć czyste) stopy M terminal part of the leg, below the ankle joint, on which
the body stands and moves = ST M2 (exegetic, implicit meaning)

B. PUN → non-selective NON-PUN

SKIPPER: Hold up chimp. I smell monkey business here.

SKIPPER: Nie tak prędko, kolego, czuję tu jaki małpi przekręt.


a) lexical semantic (idiom) linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure: vertical/homonymy: S1=S2 (monkey)
c) semantic structure
ST: S1 monkey business M1 silly, mischievous, or deceitful conduct S2 monkey M2 any of
various tailed primates of the suborder Anthropoidea, excluding the apes
TT: S1 małpi (ST M2) S2 przekręt (ST M1)


KOWALSKI: Fortunes are mere superstitions.

KING JULIEN: Yes, these stitions are super. That is why you mustn’t listen to him. This is a
curse. Your friend has been given a misfortune cookie.

KOWALSKI: Wiara w przepowiednie to projekcja własnych lęków.

KRÓL JULIAN: Wła nie, a własnych lęków każdy się boi i dlatego trzeba się bać przepowiedni.
Tu nie ma żartów. Ten nieszczę nik padł ofiarą klątwy czarnego ciasteczka.

a) morphological linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure: horizontal/homonymy S1=S2 (super)
c) semantic structure
ST: S1 superstitions M1 irrational beliefs that an object, action, or circumstance not
logically related to a course of events influences its outcome S2 super M2 very large,
great, or extreme
TT: pleonasm (rhetorical device) własnych lęków każdy się boi: everyone is afraid of
their own fears

3.4 PUN → ZERO

As previously mentioned, this technique is rarely applied in audiovisual productions, as the
characters engaged in a dialogue are visible for the audience, so that leaving no sound when
the protagonists clearly speak with all the mouth movements noticeable would inevitably lead
to the incongruity and consequently, confuse the recipients.
In the example below, the text in the original is not physically omitted, but instead, to
compensate for the loss of the pun, the immediate co-text following the ST pun is extended,
with the view to preserving accordance between the characters’ visible articulation and the
auditory information.

JULIEN: Yes. They send me signs because I am the king. You see that cloud, its saying to me
party with the Pansies.
MASON: Chimpanzees. And we are enjoying a peaceful morning, so if you don't mind...

KRÓL JULIAN: Tak, zsyłają mi znaki, albowiem jestem królem. Widzisz tę chmurę? Ona mi
mówi, imprezuj z małpami.
MASON: Ta, bardzo fajnie, ale my wolimy poczytać, je li byłby taki łaskaw.

a) phonological linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure: horizontal/paronymy (Pansies, Chimpanzees)


PRIVATE: Yay! Resume coochie-cooing, men!

Private has the egg under his feet. The boys continue coochie-cooing the egg. Julien is jealous and
begins rubbing his hands together, discussing his plans for the egg loud enough so that everyone
hears him.
KING JULIEN: Well, we'll see who's coochie-cooing when I-

SZEREGOWY: Hura! Ale nie przerywajmy kuci kusiania.

KRÓL JULIAN: Jeszcze zobaczymy kto będzie kici kusi kuciał, kiedy...

The form of the pun is transferred to the target language in its exact form in the ST. The pun’s
ambiguous reading is rooted in the onomatopoeic features of the word. The lexical item serves
both as a word unit, a verb but it also incorporates the sound of activity. The onomatopoeic
word has the two meanings, which differ according to the analysis of the pun as the symbolic
sign (lexical item) or the iconic sign (onomatopoeia). This arbitrariness pointing towards
universal and natural relationship between linguistic signs and phenomena in the world,
indeed, permits employing the method, since the sense remains unchanged in the TT after this

a) phonological linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure: vertical/homonymy: S1=S2 (coochie-cooing)


SKIPPER: We’ll see about that. Actions speak louder than words.
King Julien is yelling through a speaker, knocking Skipper backwards.
KING JULIEN: And this speaks louder than actions!

SKIPPER: To się jeszcze okaże. Czyny więcej znaczą niż głośne słowa.
KRÓL JULIAN: Nie, je li słowa są naprawdę głośne!

The fixed phrase actions speak louder than words is not only equivalently translated with
regards to the formal structure but also the meaning of the ST is transferred onto its
equivalent, since the rendered expression does not function as formulaic in the TT because it
does not entail the volume aspect („czyny więcej znaczą niż słowa”). The new meaning
component transferred on the TT pun entails the volume aspect and is additionally included in
the target proverb only to allow for the ambiguous reading of it on both literal and non-literal

a) lexical-semantic (idiom) linguistic mechanism

b) formal structure: horizontal/homonymy: S1=S2


A) compensatory pun

Mort comes back with an uprooted palm tree.

MORT: HUG THIS! (smashes the foot with the tree)
MARLENE: Wow, he's violent! But cured!
SKIPPER: Like a Christmas ham!

MORT: A tykaj się!

MARLENKA: Odbija mu palma, ale jest zdrowy.
SKIPPER: Jak nietryskane warzywka.

The ST pun cured is lost in translation and the translator decides to compensate for this loss
by using the co-text of the source pun as a new material for the TT wordplay. The palm tree
presented on the screen, being a relevant element for the audience, becomes the part of the TT
verbal humour and thus, functions as a non-verbal disjunctor activating the pun’s implicit and
non-compositional meaning.
ST: he’s violent → TT: odbija mu palma
a) lexical-semantic (idiom) linguistic mechanism
b) formal structure: vertical/homonymy S1=S2 (palma)
c) semantic structure:
TT: S1 odbija komu palma M1 to go insane S2 palma M2 a plant of the family Palmae with an
unbranched trunk crowned by large pinnate or palmate leaves

B) non-compensatory pun

SKIPPER: You and what army? Oh, that army.

MORIS: Meet Bada and Bing. Personal bodyguards to the king.

SKIPPER: Ta? A masz jakie wsparcie? A, czyli masz.

MORIS: To są Bolo i Lolo. Moi osobiści goryle, czyli ochrona.
The translator creates verbal humour where non such exists in the original just because the
target language renders such wordplay possible. The translator exploits the fact that Bada and
Bing are gorillas and creates a polysemous pun comprising both the explicit meaning, a
bodyguard and the implicit one, a gorilla.
ST: personal bodyguards → TT: osobi ci goryle
a) lexical-semantic (polysemy) linguistic mechanism
b) formal structure: vertical/homonymy S1=S2 (goryl)
c) semantic structure
TT: S1=S2 goryl (M1 a personal bodyguard, especially, tall and well-built M2 the largest
anthropoid ape)

3.8 ZERO → PUN

RAT KING: Rawwr! You and me bird, one on one. (Rico begins regurgitating a hammer).
Talking about no help from the flock.
SKIPPER: Agreed, no assist from the flock.
Rico swallows the hammer.

KRÓL SZCZURÓW: Ty i ja, ptaszku. Klata na klatę. I pamiętaj, żadnej pomocy z zewnątrz.
SKIPPER: Zgoda. Z wewnątrz też nie, Rico.

Unlike in the previous method, the pun in the TT has no semantic equivalence in the source
text. Indeed, the information added in the new textual material cannot be detected in the
source non-punning text.
The verbal disjunctor, „wewnątrz” is fundamental in transition to another sense present in the
pun and alludes to Rico’s storing his weapons inside his own body.

a) lexical-semantic (polysemy) mechanism

b) formal structure: vertical/homonymy S1=S2 (zewnątrz)
c) semantic structure
TT: S1=S2 zewnątrz M1 from someone else; thanks to someone else’s initiative M2 from outside the
boundaries of something (body, building, country)


As already mentioned, editorial techniques are not employed in non-graphic translation and
thus, dubbing alternative in media translation renders it impossible to incorporate this method.
Only the subtitling alternative enables the translator to engage in an inferior, so to say,
channel of communication with the audience, as the protagonists in the dubbed version, do
not communicate directly in using the target language but through the displayed on the screen
text . Given that fact, it may be claimed that the whole text comprised in subtitles is a sort of
translator’s commentary of metatextual level rather than direct and exclusive intercourse
between the characters. As a consequence, editorial techniques are excluded from the use in
the proper part of the audiovisual production and, at the very most, might be applied solely in
the closing credits.


The last technique, as proposed by Offord, is nowhere to be found in Delabastita’s wide scope
of wordplay translation solutions. The method involves losing the functional aspect of puns as
well as semantic features. Neither of the TT meanings overlap with present in the ST pun

KING JULIEN: Ahhh. Nicely done, Maurice. Now peel me a grape.

MAURICE: But that was...
KING JULIEN: Grape, Maurice. Grape. Not lip.

KRÓL JULIAN: Nawet niezły, Moris, ale teraz przynie mi pięć.

MORIS: Ale to był...
KRÓL JULIAN: Pięć, Moris. Pięć. A teraz japa.

In the dialogue above, the punning word, peel has neither semantic nor functional
correspondent in the TT.
ST: peel me a grape → TT: przynie mi pięć
ST: not lip → TT: a teraz japa


Humour inherent in language in audiovisual productions may appear as the most demanding one, both
for the audience in its recognition and comprehension, as well as for translators in their attempt to
transfer verbal humour to the target language. Moreover, puns, as one of the most effective and
wittiest sources of humour, involve complex mechanisms that need to be absorbed and understood by
the scriptwriter not only for wordplay to be successfully created, but also appreciated by the audience.
Thus, all the concepts enumerated in the first chapter, such as: disambiguation, concoction, opposition,
functions of disjunctor and connector, as well as the divisions with regard to both the formal and
semantic correlation and organization present in wordplay are, to say the least, highly significant and
non-negligible in any analysis of the comic nature of puns. Furthermore, the aforementioned notions
are equally crucial in the scrutiny of the choice of translation solutions applied by the translator in the
chosen fragments of the cartoon provided in the last chapter. Nevertheless, some limitations
concerning the practical part of the study seem inevitable, such as narrowing down the examination to
the presence of only two meanings in a pun. Another restriction pertains to the problematic stance on
whether the method involving replacement of the ST pun by a TT pun should be allowed for in
audiovisual translation in the case when the semantic domains of both of the pun’s meanings in the
target text differ from those of the original pun. Likewise, justifiability beyond the application of the
method which entails the addition of completely new text material with a view to creating a pun
without its equivalent in the ST remains questionable and may be even looked upon as a copyright
infringement given the evident departure from the source in the translator’s inventive contribution to
the text.


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