Translating humour in audiovisual media

Peter Zolczer


The article investigates humour translation in audiovisual media concentrating on two modes of audiovisual translation: dubbing and subtitling. The corpus consists of humorous scenes collected from two popular American situational comedies, namely Friends (1994) and The Big Bang Theory (2007). The analysis is based on the comparison of the humorous scenes in their original (English) audio track with their dubbed and subtitled Hungarian versions. Only those humorous scenes were selected and analysed in which the humorous load is mediated by language- and/or culture-specific humorous elements. The study focuses on the differences between the scenes’ humorous load in their original, dubbed, and subtitled versions. The methodology of the research is based on Juan José Martínez-Sierra’s case study “Translating Audiovisual Humour” (2009). The results show that in certain cases there is a difference between the humorous load in the dubbed and subtitled versions which can be traced back to the differences between the constraints of dubbing and subtitling.


humour, translation, audiovisual, dubbing, subtitling

Full Text:



Antonini, R. (2005). ‘The perception of subtitled humour in Italy: An empirical study’, in Chiaro, D. (ed.), HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, Special Issue Humor and Translation, 18 (2), pp. 209–225.

Bartolomé, A. I. H. & Cabrera, G. M. (2005). ‘New trends in audiovisual translation: The latest challenging modes’. Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies 31, pp. 89–104.

Bartrina, F. & Espasa, E. (2005). ‘Audiovisual translation’, in Tennent, M. (ed.), Training for the New Millennium. Pedagogies for Translation and Interpreting, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 83–100.

Chaume Valera, F. (2004). ‘Synchronization in dubbing: A translational approach’, in Orero, P. (ed.), Topics in Audiovisual Translation, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 35–52.

Chiaro, D. (2009). ‘Issues in audiovisual translation’, in Munday, J. (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Translation Studies, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 141–165.

Cho, S-E. (2014). Basic Concepts in the Theory of Audiovisual Translation. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Available online: [Accessed 20 August 2014].

Díaz Cintas, J. (2003). ‘Audiovisual translation in the third millenium’, in Anderman, G. & Rogers, M. (eds.), Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd, pp. 192–204.

Díaz Cintas, J. (2009). ‘Introduction – Audiovisual translation: An overview of its potential’, Díaz Cintas, J. (ed.), New Trends in Audiovisual Translation, Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 1–12.

Fois, E. (2012). ‘Audiovisual translation: Theory and practice’. Between 2/4, pp. 1–16.

Gottlieb, H. (2001). ‘Subtitling: visualizing filmic dialogue’, in Garcia, L. & Pereira Rodríguez, A. M. (eds.), Traducción subordinada (II). El subtitulado, Vigo: Servicio de la Universidad de Vigo, pp. 85–110.

Klaudy, K. (1999). Bevezetés a fordítás gyakorlatába. Budapest: Scholastica.

Linde, Z. de & Kay, N. (1999). The Semiotics of Subtitling. Manchester: St. Jerome.

Luyken, G-M. et al. (1991). Overcoming Language Barriers in Television: Dubbing and Subtitling for the European Audience. Manchester: European Institute for the Media.

Martínez-Sierra, J. J. (2009). ‘Translating audiovisual humour. A case study’. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 13/4, pp. 289–296.

Zolczer, P. (2014). ‘The constraints of translating humor in audiovisual media’, in Zolczer, P. et al. (guest eds.), Eruditio–Educatio, special issue Humour in Contemporary Societies 3/9, pp. 106–116.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Publication ethics and malpractice statement