Translation of Humour in Media From English Speech to Swedish Subtitles: A Pilot Study of Selected Episodes in the Sitcom Friends

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: The aim of this pilot study is to analyse the translation of humour in selected episodes in theAmerican sitcom Friends from speech to Swedish subtitles in terms of linguistic and culturalaspects. The study was conducted qualitatively by choosing several episodes and thoroughlyanalysing the translation of linguistic and culture-specific features in order to explore whatstrategies of translation were implemented on different kinds of jokes, noting the constraintsof interlingual subtitling. For linguistic jokes, a word-for-word strategy was used, as themorphology, syntax and lexis of Swedish language allowed it. The humorous utterances thatincluded idiom and cultural-reference, on the other hand, did not allow the same strategy, as itwould lead to misunderstandings. Neither could an equivalent expression be used, as it did notexist in Swedish. Overall, the findings were that an appropriate translation strategy forlinguistic jokes between English and Swedish that preserves both the linguistic ambiguity andthe humour is word-for-word, while in the translation of idioms and cultural references, literaltranslation causes loss of humour.

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