Computational Pun-derstanding
Computer-assisted translation of humorous wordplay

The translation of wordplay is one of the most extensively researched problems in translation studies, but until now it has attracted little attention in the fields of artificial intelligence and language technology. In Computational Pun-derstanding, we study how professional translators process wordplay, with particular attention to the tools, knowledge sources, and working processes they employ. We then decompose these processes and look for parts that can be modelled computationally as part of an interactive, computer-assisted translation system. With this “machine-in-the-loop” paradigm, language technology is applied only to those subtasks it can perform best, such as searching a large vocabulary space for translation candidates matching certain phonetic and semantic constraints. Subtasks that depend heavily on real-world background knowledge—such as selecting the candidate that best fits the wider humorous context—are left to the human translator.

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