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Translating Audio-Visual Humor--A Case Study

Translating Audio-Visual Humor--A Case Study



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18 February 2009 
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Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t794297831
Juan José Martínez-Sierra
Castellón, SpainOnline Publication Date: 13 April 2006
To cite this Article
Martínez-Sierra, Juan José(2006)'TRANSLATING AUDIOVISUAL HUMOUR. A CASESTUDY',Perspectives,13:4,289 — 296
To link to this Article: DOI:
Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 Juan José Martínez-Sierra, Castellón, Spain
This article presents a descriptive and discursive analysis of how elements in humorous ex-tracts from an animated American television show (The Simpsons) fared in overcoming linguisticand intercultural barriers in dubbing (English-Spanish). The analysis is based on several Transla-tion Studies and Pragmatics methods and on a taxonomy of humorous elements in audiovisualtexts. These were used to (1) quantify and (2) analyse the humorous elements in the source andtarget texts, (3) calculate the percentage of humour in the source texts that had been realised in thetarget versions, (4) make observations on humour translation in animated serials; and, finally, (5)create a list of translational tendencies – potential norms – in humour translation in audiovisualtexts.
English-Spanish; audiovisual translation; humour; intercultural communi-cation; norms; relevance.
The objectives of the study discussed here were:firstly, to set up a method for the analysis of humour in audiovisual trans-lation by means of the relevance theory, descriptive studies, and certainintercultural communication approaches;secondly, to describe some mechanisms in the translation of humour inaudiovisual texts; and,thirdly, to identify translational tendencies that could serve in future stud-ies, which might confirm or disprove the existence of translational normsin humour translation in audiovisual texts.
For this study, I selected
The Simpsons
 , an animated American television serialthat is telecasted in many countries. The focus was on the translation – mainlyvia dubbing – of excerpts from the series in order to identify tendencies in hu-mour translation in audiovisual texts. The programme was ideal for this pur-pose, since most segments in the source version were humorous and should beso in the translated versions as well. Besides, the humour in a good many ofthese comical segments was based on elements of the cultural context.The choice of this series was determined by several factors: (a) it is popular,(b) it has been aired for about fi�een years, (c) I personally like it, and (d) all epi-sodes show two characteristics that I consider relevant to the study: a humorousnature and cultural specificity. Thus, the only selection criterion applied to thetwenty episodes initially screened was that they were available to me (on VHStapes or DVDs).I chose four episodes from different seasons (namely the 2
 , 5
 , 8
 , and 11
The reason for this selection was that these episodes would reflect – to a degree– the logical evolution of the series in the course of not simply one year, but overthe fi�een years of running time.The episodes eventually selected were (including the title of the English
0907-676X/05/04/289-8 $20.00Perspectives: Studies in Translatology© 2005 Juan Rosé Martínez-SierraVol. 13, No. 4, 2005
2005. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology. Volume 13: 4
source text and the title of the dubbed (Castilian) Spanish version):
Bart vs. Thanksgiving
Bart en el Día de Acción de GraciasCape Fear
El Cabo del MiedoTreehouse of Horror VII 
Especial Halloween VII Beyond Blunderdome
 Más allá de la Cúpula del Fracaso
In the four source versions, I identified a total of 365 examples of humour.These were analysed as a whole, while 63 of them were singled out for specificstudy.
Theoretical frame
This study is primarily encompassed within the communicative-sociocultur-al approach of Translation Studies. The framework of the study is based on de-scriptive, manipulation-school, functionalist, and relevance theories, since, ac-cording to my own concept of ‘translation’, it is not possible to conduct a studylike this by limiting it to a single approach. There is, in addition, some influencefrom Cultural Studies (as culture is a key element) and Pragmatics (which wasused in the analysis).
A taxonomy of humorous elements
My study elaborates the taxonomy of jokes formulated by Patrick Zabalbeas-coa (1993 and 1996).
ad hoc
taxonomy came to consist of 8 levels and wasused for analysing the audiovisual jokes in the chosen sample. Below, I provide(in bold) one illustrative example of each element - all from the episode ‘
Tree-house of Horror VII 
Community-and-Institutions Elements
refer to cultural or intertextual fea-tures that are rooted and tied to a specific culture.
Example: [Situation] Homer has been abducted by aliens. He witnesses howtwo aliens adopt the appearance of two well-known American politicians (Rob-ert Dole and Bill Clinton).
[screaming in terror]
Oh, no!
 , bio-duplication,
nude conspiracies
...Oh my God!
Lyndon LaRouche
was right!
These types of elements can include, like here, politicians (Dole, Clinton,and LaRouche), celebrities,
an organisations, a newspapers, books, films,etc. The reference can be explicit or implicit and acoustic as well as visual.Elements in this category present or evoke the image of some specific ref-erent in the culture.2.
Community-Sense-of-Humour Elements
 , the topics of which appear to bemore popular in certain communities than in others, an idea that does notimply any cultural specificity, but rather a preference. Hence, they are nottied to specific cultural elements, but to “the deposit of knowledge, expe-rience, beliefs, values, … acquired by a group of people in the course ofgenerations through individual and group striving” (Samovar and Porter1997: 12-13); in short, to
in its broadest sense. Again, the referencecan be explicit or implicit, acoustic or visual.

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this is great work, it could really help me with my MA thesis, I would really appreciate it if you could email it to milenamancic@gmail.com. Hope it's not too much to ask, thank you in advance!
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please, send me the article to my email: sinkib(at)yahoo.com thanks
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Hello, I'm doing a research project about the translation of humour and this article would relly help me. Would you please email it to me to this adress: carovalencia23@gmail.com. Thank you for your help.

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