Translation can be viewed as a communicative device that brings together aspects from a variety of relevant fields, including literary and cultural studies, psychology and linguistics (Gutknecht, 2002). For literary translation, translators need to deal with figure of speech, puns, wordplay, and cultural expressions that involve multiplicity of meanings. Drama translation is a specific area in translation studies. Among other genres of literature, drama is not only written to be read but also to be staged. In translating Shakespeare’s play, translators may face the challenge of conveying the playful effects of puns and allusions.
Puns and allusions play an extremely important role since they are intended for dramatic effects, and are expected to evoke immediate responses among the audiences. Due to the asymmetry of language systems, Chinese and English, and cultures (western and eastern), it occurs some linguistic difficulties (e.g. the semantic or pragmatic effects) in shifting one language into another language to achieve the equivalent dramatic effects in translation. An effective translation depends on whether the target readers can make sense of the dramatic effects of pun and allusion conveyed in the translations. The translation strategies that translators used also influence target readers’ understanding of the text.
This paper adopts Delabastita’s model of translation techniques for pun and Leppihalme’s approaches for rendering allusions to discuss the translation of Shakespeare’s play script on Hamlet by Bian Zhi-lin ( 卞之琳 ). This paper pays particular attention to the analyses of the specific linguistic art works of pun and allusion, and what their possible effects are in the Chinese translation.