Dubbing British Humour and Culture: A Re-reading of Four Weddings and a Funeral

Paola Clara Leotta


In the literature on the translation of humour, much attention is devoted to questions relating to its (un)translatability, especially of audio-visual texts, where the degree of difficulty increases because of their inherent characteristics, such as time or space limitation in dialogues and scenes. The aim of this paper is to explore the transposition of Verbally-Expressed Humour) in Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell 1994), from a pragmatic-discursive perspective (Chiaro 1992; 2007), which enables light to be shed also on the cultural factors (Toury 2012) behind the choices of the elements for translating humour. The analysis of a corpus of selected scenes is carried out by comparing the English and Italian (dubbed) versions, focusing on three main strategies (Pavesi 2005) followed by translator-adaptors in rendering humour in Italian, namely equivalence, downgrading/downtoning, and omission, which are discussed both qualitatively and quantitatively. For the purposes of this paper, I refer to figures of speech, lip synchronization, swear words, puns, idioms, proverbs, quotes from songs, film titles, famous celebrities, whenever they are used for humorous purposes. The hypothesis is that the difficulties inherent in the art of screen translation are an important vehicle in weaving relations of cultural identity and in conveying them to the audience from an intertextual perspective. What primarily emerges as a result is the translators’ preference for the strategy of equivalence as well as for that of “exemplification”. It is clearly shown that innovative thinking and creative decision-making on the part of translators can result in a successful translation, even with a culturally bound element in a contextually bound medium.


humour; four weddings and a funeral; translation strategies

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2018.i11.549


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