How to Translate a Joke

Humor is, without a doubt, one of the hardest things to translate. This was definitely apparent in the worldwide coverage of the Egyptian uprising earlier this year: jokes were central to the protests, but according to Al Masry Al Youm, unless they were written in English they were often lost in translation.

Is it possible to translate a joke? Of course, but it can be difficult because jokes often depend on “inside knowledge” that has to be explained to outsiders.  As the saying goes, “if you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny anymore.” Also, what people consider funny can vary from place to place. Consider, for example, how different American humour is from British humour, even without a language barrier to cross.

Al Masry Al Youm looked at the English translations of two popular (and funny) Egyptian novels to get a better idea of how translators handle this particular hurdle. Read more

French Guy in Milton Keynes

Everyone knows “an English man in New York”, the song of the great singer Sting. As soon as I arrived in Central station of Milton Keynes, this song has echoes in my head. I told myself “I am the French guy in Milton Keynes” who will start an internship for K International. But it’s difficult to compare the two cities and also difficult to compare an English man in NYC whose native language is English and a French guy who arrives in Milton Keynes whose native language is French (especially since we know the reputation of French with English!).

When I arrive in Milton Keynes I was greeted by my internship supervisor named Richard Brooks (general manager of K International). He invited me to a great restaurant and we ate pizzas and drank a beer. Then, he showed me the city centre and surroundings by car.

Milton Keynes was formally designated as a new town on 23 January 1967. Indeed, it’s a very modern city composed of large extent and avenues. Read more

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