Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 17, June 2008

Aladdin Al-Kharabsheh

Unintentional Humour in the Translation of Jordanian Shop Signs


This paper examines unintentional humour, as a non-bona-fide instance of communication, in the translation of shop signs in the Jordanian public commercial environment. It shows that unintentional humour not only permeates a shop sign's translated version, but is also indissolubly linked to its lingua-cultural and social context. Closer scrutiny reveals that unintentional humour, just like intentional humour, essentially emerges from script opposition and script overlap (Raskin, 1985), where the communicator unconsciously infringes one or more of the Maxims of Conversation (Grice, 1975). The analysis also indicates that, in interlingual communication, unintentional humour hinges upon the interaction between the mediated script and the receiver, apart from the producer; particularly, upon the output of the communicator's interlingual translation competence, which is extricably bound to be conducive of humour-inducing potential.

Keywords: unintentional humour; script opposition; infringing a maxim; translation competence; interlingual/intercultural communication

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