Translating Puns

Nicholas C. Rossis

Pure Bread Cat pun | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

As anyone who’s been following my blog for a while surely knows, I love puns and bad dad jokes (often the same thing). And I often use them in my work, especially in my children’s books. Which becomes rather problematic when translating them into Greek. How can someone translate puns decently?

Rick van Mechelen, aka “that translation student“, recently shared an interesting post on this very subject. He cites Dirk Delabastita 1996 work* to divide puns into four categories of ambiguity. These are homonymy, homophony, homography, and paronymy, each of which is better suited to different forms of communication:

CategoryDefinitionExample
HomonymyA pun where a word with multiple meanings is used to give multiple meanings at once.A hard-boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
HomophonyA pun using two words that sound identical, but have different spellings.‘Mine is a long and…

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