How to transcreate/translate humour? According to the specialist Katia Spanaki: “Humour is an essential part of everyday communication and an important component of innumerable literary works and films and of art in general. It is rooted in a specific cultural and linguistic context, but it is also an indispensable part of intercultural communication and mass entertainment. When trying to translate humour, culturally opaque elements and language-specific devices are expected to make the translator’s work difficult, while some elements are ultimately not transferred at all“.
Looking at this trailer, we can see that subtitles are adapted to the characters’ way of speaking (see minute 1:11). It is hard to decide how to translate and how to adapt this kind of language peculiarities. We have to find a way to create the same joke by adapting it into another language and culture. Transcreation is about taking a specific concept in one language and completely recreating it in another language: this is the case of translating humour.
As you can see, a humorous situation has been successfully transcreated into another language. Translating this kind of humour can be difficult (or sometimes even impossible): if getting a good result when dubbing is complicated, translating and adapting humorous content, which is full of stereotypes, internal jokes and references to characters in a given context, is even more tricky. This is why we transcreate, because it is not only a matter of translating but also creating and manipulating the text to obtain the same effect as the one in the source language.
Written by Olga Jeczmyk: Translator-Interpreter, Social Media and Content Manager as well as Communication and Terminology Trainee. Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg.
- Hoffman, J. (2014) The challenges of translating humor. Available at: http://nyti.ms/2jlTQv0 (Accessed: 24 January 2017).
- Peiró, P. and País, E.E. (2017) La difícil traducción del humor. Available at: http://bit.ly/2jPXrjc (Accessed: 24 January 2017).
- Spanakaki, K. (2007) Translating humor for Subtitling. Available at: http://bit.ly/2iZww7S (Accessed: 24 January 2017).