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The Translation of Irony

Newmark (1998: 24) elaborates on irony in translation as the following words:

Irony in translation is lost unless it is perceived and understood. I suspect it is not used in languages that have had little contact with others, and/or where a religious constraint against lying precludes it. Basil Hatin has pointed out that Arabic readers normally take sentences literally, and therefore misinterpret the sophisticated irony that appears in Western writing. Adjectives like 'interesting', 'remarkable', 'curious', 'odd' are misunderstood. Sentences like 'The Israeli government can take all credit fo. . . .' are construed as Israeli propaganda, where in fact they are ironical. Innocence of irony is the glory of little children, who always believe what you say and possibly the handicap of speakers of languages who have little contact with other languages.

Newmark, Peter. 1998. More Paragraph on Translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, Ltd.

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