De udskældte tekstere - inkompetente eller udfordrede oversættere? Et speciale om dansk tekstning af amerikansk humor

Tina Henriksen Friis

Student thesis: Master thesis


Despite great English skills many Danish viewers of American sitcoms depend on the Danish subtitles to be able to fully understand and be entertained by the jokes that make the TV shows amusing. However, there is a general discontent with the quality of subtitles among Danish viewers, who feel that the subtitles do not live up to their purpose and are poorly done. This poor quality is linked to the subtitlers, who are often blamed for being incompetent and having insufficient knowledge of American culture. Due to this general dissatisfaction this thesis seeks to uncover the reason why Danish subtitlers produce target texts, which presumably do not live up to the requirements and expectations of the recipients. In order to uncover this reason the thesis includes several translation theories, which are relevant when transferring humorous American lines into Danish subtitles. These theories include Lita Lundquist's theory on translation in general, which forms the very basis of an analysis of any source text, as the theory deals with the fundamental elements of the text, such as characters, style, and time and place. While it is always important to gain knowledge of a source text's fundamental elements before translating it, some texts require a more specified and thorough initial analysis. When dealing with humorous texts, the translator must also consider the type and intention of the humor in the source text. For this reason, the thesis includes the theories of Jeroen Vandaele and Cintas & Remael, which are employed to analyze each joke's intention and type respectively. Obtaining a great insight into the humorous source text prior to translating it is utterly important when one seeks to produce an appropriate and satisfying target text. However, when this target text consists of subtitles, there is an extra set of rules to be followed. The set of standards for subtitling in Denmark written by Danish subtitler Ib Lindberg is also included in the theory section of this thesis, as subtitles should comply with these standards in order to be of high quality. These three areas of translation theory collectively form the basis of the analysis in this thesis. 222 examples of lines and matching subtitles have been gathered for the analysis, and 23 of these covering different types of humor have been analyzed to uncover their quality. The analysis indicates that there are only a few instances, where the relevant theories are in conflict making it very challenging and difficult for the subtitler to produce appropriate subtitles. Generally, there is a correlation between compliance with the theories and quality of end product, as all good subtitles in the analysis are translated according to the theories. Furthermore, the analysis stresses the importance of the subtitler's knowledge of American culture, as the high quality subtitles indicate a good knowledge, while the low quality subtitles indicate the opposite. So, it would seem that the viewers are not wrong in their criticism of the Danish subtitlers, as the subtitlers could be more competent in complying with the relevant theories and having greater knowledge of American culture when producing subtitles.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages123