A Thud or a Bang?: A Study of the Translation of Onomatopoeia in Manga

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: This bachelor’s thesis was written with the aim to analyze how Japanese onomatopoeia in manga are translated from Japanese to English, and if and how the translation changes the meaning in context. This was done by using two Japanese manga as material – Haikyuu!! and Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma. Data was collected through digital copies, and sports-related and cooking-related onomatopoeia were of focus during the data collection. The material was analyzed using Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA) as well as previous research to examine the translation process of onomatopoeia, possible changes in meaning as well as the onomatopoeia’s correlation to the visual modes of the image. The results indicate that the translation of a Japanese onomatopoeia is heavily dependent on if the onomatopoeia also exists in English. The results further demonstrate the onomatopoeia’s important relation to other parts of the image in manga, as this altered the meaning in the English version at times. Typography was especially relevant as a change in font was shown to alter the interpretation of the sound in the English version.

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