Tekstning af humor

Tine Camilla Petersen & Andreas Ardal Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Subtitling is a translation process involving several restrictions. The most prevalent restrictions concern time and space due to the fact that dialogue in comparison to text is comprehended at a more rapid speed, which at times entails a significant reduction of the source text. Because of the above-mentioned restrictions ten subtitling strategies have been introduced to help Danish subtitlers create subtitles that are easy for the target group in question to read and understand. However, these strategies were developed for subtitling in general, and do not cover specific areas such as humor. When subtitling humor, one has to make sure that the humoristic effect is transferred to the target text in order to give the new target group the same experience as the original target group. Therefore, the goal of this thesis is to develop a model which can be used to analyze humor, and thus facilitate the process of subtitling humor. The model is developed by selecting the most useful analytical elements of six humor theories by considering how they would work in a subtitling context. The model is then tested on jokes realized by different types of humor found in the American sitcom Will & Grace. These analyses of the different types of humor showed that the model works considerably better with jokes realized by lexical and syntactic ambiguities as well as blends, which constitute partial ambiguities. The results of the analysis have led to a model consisting of the following elements: context, narrative structure (NS), scripts, connector, disjunctor, language (LA), and Raskin’s maxims of the non-bona-fide communication mode of joke-telling. In the analysis process “context” is the element to consider initially as it regards taking into consideration whether anything is unstated in terms of an ambiguous element. The elements that lay the foundation of the model are the two scripts, the connector and the disjunctor. Maintaining these elements in the target text ensures that the humoristic effect is maintained as well. Script1 is the initial obvious semantic interpretation of a joke, and script2 is the second more subtle semantic interpretation of the joke. The disjunctor, which is the punch line of a joke, usually appears terminally and makes the switch from script1 to script2. The connector is an ambiguous element containing two contextual meanings corresponding to script1 and script2. The two elements, NS and LA, concern the narrative structure and the style of language. When dealing with interlingual subtitling, it is important to be as faithful as possible to the source text, which involves taking into consideration NS and LA. Finally, Raskin’s maxims of the non-bona-fide communication mode of joke-telling can be used to condense the source text, which is necessary in order to obey the time and space restrictions. The maxims ensure that only the essential parts of a joke are left. The model is meant as a tool to get a better understanding of the joke in question by cognitively expressing one’s thoughts when deconstructing the joke. By interpreting which elements are essential for the realization of the joke, the model thus facilitates the process of subtitling humor. It is, however, meant for jokes realized by different kinds of ambiguity, and is limited in the number of analytically advanced elements.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages174