Oversættelse af ordspil: En analyse af oversættelsesstrategier i forbindelse med ordspil i Alice i Undreland

Maria Boel Olsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Translating wordplay – an analysis of the translation strategies regarding wordplay in Alice i Undreland Within translation, the translator may be faced with many different challenges depending on the text, the content, the recipient of the translation, etc. One of the main challenges within literary translation is aesthetic features such as wordplay. Scholars have long been debating whether translation of wordplay is even possible. Some believe that the translation of wordplay, by definition, is impossible, while others see it as particularly challenging, yet possible. Lewis Carroll was known for his way with words and his most famous work, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is indeed a testament of this. The children’s classic contains one genius wordplay after another which makes the book interesting and fun to read, not only for children, but for adults as well and especially for those interested in language. It is just as interesting for students of translation to look at how translation of such wordplay can be done. By looking at Ejgil Søholm’s Danish translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I have thus sought to find out how he has translated the wordplay of the book and how well he has succeeded in doing so. I have used Anne Schjoldager’s theories on translation to categorise Søholm’s translation, to find out which type of macrostrategy he has used and to analyse which types of microstrategies he has used when translating the wordplay in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Furthermore, I have added Dirk Delabastita’s theory on translation of wordplay to analyse the types of wordplay that exists in the book and the types of translation methods that Søholm has used when translating the wordplay. I have gathered as many examples of wordplay as possible from the original book as well as the translation by Søholm. These examples have then been analysed based on the theories of Schjoldager and Delabastita. The analysis has shown that Søholm has successfully translated more than half of the wordplay that appeared in Carroll’s text. There are also a few examples of wordplay which Søholm has not been able to translate into Danish. He has, however, added some wordplay of his own, and actually has more examples of wordplay in his translation than there are in Carroll’s original text. By analysing the translation strategies used by Søholm, I have found that the most common strategy used is adaptation. By using this translation strategy, he has not only translated the wordplay, but also adjusted them so that they work in Danish and in a Danish context. Many examples have also been translated using the microstrategy direct translation, but when doing this, Søholm has been able to retain the wordplay in the target language. In many cases, this can be done due to the similarity between the Danish and English language. Since the two languages are historically related, many words sound alike which, in some cases, makes the translation of wordplay easier than it would be between languages that are not as similar. Another microstrategy often used by Søholm is addition. He has used this strategy when adding wordplay of his own. Throughout the analysis it has become evident that Søholm has managed to recreate a Danish version of the children’s classic and even to maintain the wordplay that is so characteristic of the book. Søholm has adapted his translation so well to the Danish language and audience that readers who do not know the origin of the story of Alice would never suspect the book of being a translation.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages81