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What’s funny in one language isn’t necessarily funny in another. Maysoon Zayid’s “I got 99 problems … palsy is just one” presented many challenges for TED translators bringing the hilarious talk into their language. As she tells stories from her life as a Palestinian-American comedian with cerebral palsy, Zayid cracks with wordplay. For translators, it’s one thing to convey meaning, but how do you let non-English speaking audiences in on the joke? “If you have to explain the joke, it’s no longer funny,” says Greek translator Dimitra Papageorgiou. But if you do a good job, says Meric Aydonat, who translated the talk into Turkish, “it looks so natural that your translation becomes funny in itself.”

Maysoon Zayid, for one, appreciated the thought that went into each and every translation of her talk. “Hands down my favorite part of being a speaker at TEDWomen was seeing my talk translated. Every time a new language was added, I would post it on Facebook because it made me so happy,” she says. “As a bilingual comic, I know how hard it is to translate comedy and I love everything these volunteers did, especially in tackling ‘can can.’ I’m thrilled that so many people were willing to take on this challenge. Together we proved that comedy really is a universal language.”

Source: Funny in 33 languages: The art of translating Maysoon Zayid’s hilarious TED Talk | TED Blog