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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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Preface: Laugh and the world laughs with you: tickling people’s (transcultural) fancy: Delia Chiaro

Extract

DELIA CHIARO

Preface

Laugh and the world laughs with you: tickling people’s (transcultural) fancy

At the turn of the twenty-first century the subject of humour and matters that relate to it such as smiling, laughter and positive well-being in general, have become a popular topic in the media. Naturally, such interests spring from research in academia disseminated in scientific journals – technical papers the contents of which slowly filter down to the press, TV and other media and thereby made accessible to the general public. Yet, it is not only departments of medicine, psychology, philosophy, anthropology and linguistics, traditionally occupied with Humour Studies that are attracting public interest. Today even the more mathematical social sciences such as economics have discovered the importance of humour, with scholars such as Bruno Frey applying economic methods to explore the concept of happiness (Frey, 2002).

Nonetheless, leaving aside the trend in public interest for all that is positive in terms of health and wellbeing that urges people to adopt a lifestyle which includes a series of positive actions and much laughter/smiling/joking etc. it is worth bearing in mind that verbal humour is no longer restricted to the gags of comedians, naturally occurring conversation, literature and printed collections of jokes. Verbally expressed humour travels across the planet in real time not only by means of traditional media such as film, television and video-games, but possibly, and above all, through e-mail, social media, blogs and all that is transmitted...

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