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Translating Humour in Audiovisual Texts

Edited By Gian Luigi De Rosa, Francesca Bianchi, Antonella De Laurentiis and Elisa Perego

Humour found in audiovisual products is, of course, performative in nature. If we consider instances of humour – any droll moment occurring in today’s fare of mixed-genre products as a composite of cognition, emotion, interaction and expression – we see that the verbal code becomes just one component of four equally significant elements. And, as ‘expression’ is not limited to verbal output alone, humour may of course be created in absence of a verbal code. Translating humour for audiovisuals is not too different from translating verbal humour tout court. What makes humour occurring within audiovisual texts more problematic is the fact that it may be visually anchored; in other words a gag or a joke may pivot on verbal content directed at a specific element that is present within the graphic system of the same text. As the term itself suggests, audiovisuals contain two overlying structures: a visual and an auditory channel each of which contain a series of both verbal and non-verbal elements which inextricably cross-cut one another. The contributors in this collection of essays present a series of case studies from films and video-games exemplifying problems and solutions to audiovisual humour in the dubs and subs in a variety of language combinations.
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Playing with humor: the translation of humor in video games: Ornella Lepre



Playing with humor: the translation of humor in video games

Despite the widespread diffusion of video games and the importance of localization for a market that is increasingly global, the translation of games is the object of comparatively little attention in the field of Translation Studies. In recent years, the number of contributions in this area has increased, with researchers focusing on both the technical (Bernal-Merino, 2007) and cultural (O’Hagan, 2007; Mandiberg, 2009; Mangiron & O’Hagan, 2006) aspects of localization. However, the translation of video game humor is still somewhat neglected, despite acknowledgement in the field of Game Studies that humor has an important role in enhancing player experience (Dorman & Biddle, 2006 and 2009). Moreover, few authors have analyzed the ways in which such humor is rendered into different languages. Notwithstanding the common elements that video games share with other audiovisual media, this paper focuses instead on their distinguishing traits. In addition, it aims at identifying characteristic features of humor in video games and the implications of those features for translation.

After presenting, in Section 1, a variety of methods employed in video games to achieve a humorous effect, Section 2 illustrates specific forms of humor that, due to the peculiarities of the medium, are especially frequent in video games. In particular, Section 2 describes how video game humor builds on the close relationship between the player and the game world, frequently breaking the theatrical fourth wall for humorous purposes and...

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