La traducción de juegos de palabras

Vídeo de la lección

Definición de un juego de palabras

En el vídeo de la lección, te mostramos las siguientes definiciones:

  • Wordplay is the general name for the various textual phenomena in which structural features of the language(s) are exploited in order to bring about a communicatively significant confrontation of two (or more) linguistic structures with more or less similar forms and more or less different meanings (Delabastita, 1996).
  • Recurso lingüístico que consiste en la ambigüedad de dos o más palabras juntas o dentro de una misma expresión por incorporar más de un posible significado al mismo tiempo (polisemia*). A menudo se usa con fines humorísticos.

*Según la RAE, la polisemia es la «pluralidad de significados de una palabra o de cualquier signo lingüístico».


Principales técnicas de traducción

Anjana Martínez Tejerina (2012)

Definiciones de las técnicas

  • Literal translation by polysemous unit: Whenever a unit of the target language offers the same meanings as its formal equivalent in the original language thanks to linguistic coincidence we label it as literal translation by polysemous unit.

Por ejemplo: Cut the cards | Corta las cartas.

  • Literal translation by non polysemous unit: This technique consists on using a unit in the target language that is only formally equivalent, that is to say, it conveys only one of the semantic loads expressed in the original text.

Por ejemplo: el diálogo de Sheldon/Seldom en la película When Harry Met Sally.

  • Neutralization: When conveying polysemy is complicated, the translator may opt for neutrality in order to avoid the audience astonishment or detachment.

Por ejemplo: It’s about a foot too much | Treinta centímetros de más. [’30 centimetres too much’]

Context: Harpo grabs an axe and pretends to cut the sailor’s foot.

  • Substitution: This technique consists on the semantic modification of the original version, but maintaining the same recourse in which the original pun is based: polysemy.

Por ejemplo:   I’ll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head, not in mine.

  Le aseguro que yo también tengo la lengua larga, cuando es preciso.

  [‘I assure you that I also have a longue tongue (be indiscreet) when I need to’.]

  • Recreation: This translation technique substitutes the resource on which the original pun is based for a different humorous resource such as paronimy, similicadence, false etymology or irony. As happened with substitution, the semantic modification of the original version caused by this creative technique may have different degrees.

Por ejemplo: el diálogo de Sheldon con Amy en TBBT.

  • Omision: This translation technique consists on the complete elision of the message.

Ejemplo de un juego de palabras en VO

Escena de la película When Harry Met Sally (1989)

  • Harry:   Obviously you haven’t had great sex yet.
  • Sally:   Yes, I have.
  • Harry:   No, you haven’t.
  • Sally:   It just so happens that I have   had plenty of good sex.
  • Harry:   With whom?
  • Sally:   What?
  • Harry:   With whom did you have this   great sex?
  • Sally:   I’m not going to tell you that!
  • Harry:   Fine, don’t tell me.
  • Sally:   Shel Gordon.
  • Harry:  Shel? Sheldon? No, no, you didn’t   have great sex with … Sheldon.
  • Sally:   I did too.
  • Harry:   No you didn’t. A Sheldon can do your income taxes. If you need a root canal Sheldon’s your man, but humping and pumping is not Sheldon’s strong suit. It’s the name. Do it to me ‘Sheldon‘, you’re an animal ‘Sheldon‘, ride me big ‘Sheldon‘. Doesn’t work.

Ejemplo de un juego de palabras traducido

Escena de la serie The Big Bang Theory


  • Amy: Would you like to come in for a nightcap?
  • Sheldon: If you are referring to the beverage: you know, I don’t drink. If you are referring to the hat you have on while wearing a night shirt holding a candle, I have one.


  • Amy: ¿Pasas a tomar algo relajante?
  • Sheldon: Si te refieres a una bebida alcohólica, ya sabes que no bebo. Si te refieres a las pastillas que toma la gente para dormir a pierna suelta, tampoco tomo.