Verbal, visual, and verbal-visual puns in translation: cognitive multimodal analysis

Keywords: cognitive translation analysis, domestication, foreignization, verbal pun, verbal-visual pun, visual pun


This paper presents results of cognitive multimodal analysis of English to Ukrainian and English to Russian translations of verbal, visual and verbal-visual puns found in the American animated tragicomedy sitcom “BoJack Horseman”. We have found that translation of verbal puns presupposes overcoming constraints caused by linguacultural specificity of the pun-producing source-text linguistic expressions (idioms and/or allusions). Translation of visual puns entails constructing an illuminating verbal context, which facilitates interpretation of the images. Translation of verbal-visual puns, both those in which the incongruous conceptual structures are cued verbally, and the image dubs the text, and those in which one of the incongruent structures is cued verbally and the other is triggered visually, demands reconciling the image with the text on top of coping with linguacultural specificity. We have revealed that to render the analyzed puns the translators resort to three basic translation procedures: retention, reduction, and replacement. Literal translation resulting in retention of a pun leads to foreignization of the target text unless the recipients can be expected to infer the pun due to the impact of cultural globalization. In all analyzed cases, translators failed to retain pun meanings cued by the image. Reduction and replacement result in complete (causing a loss of a pun) compulsory (imposed by linguacultural constraints) domestication. Reduction instantiates as choosing a target-language expression that cues only one of the two incongruent conceptual structures engaged in a pun and replacement presupposes using a target-language expression that compensates for the loss of a pun by creating a different humorous stimulus. In a multimodal/multimedial context, a target-text verbal expression can be replaced by a verbal-visual one.


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How to Cite
Kovalenko, L., & Martynyuk, A. (2021). Verbal, visual, and verbal-visual puns in translation: cognitive multimodal analysis. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (22), 27-41.