“We Work Hard, We Play Hard!”—Fictional Gayspeak in the Italian Dubbing of “The Simpsons”: A Queer Audiovisual Translation Study





English linguistics, Queer Audiovisual Translation Studies, gayspeak, The Simpsons, dubbing


Despite being an animated sitcom, The Simpsons is a satire of contemporary American society and culture. This article intends to apply a queer perspective to Audiovisual Translation Studies, in line with what Flotow (2019) defined the third approach to gender-focused audiovisual translation, that is, the investigation of gay and queer source texts and their treatment in the target text. This study deals with the process of sexualisation of fictional gay men through fictional gayspeak. The analysis focuses on excerpts where the Italian dubbing departs from the original, and the strategies that have been used to reproduce gayspeak into Italian. The investigation rests on the idea that translation is a gender-constructing activity implying the queering of the target text, which is a process that varies from language to language.

Author Biography

Davide Passa, Sapienza Università di Roma

Davide Passa is a PhD candidate in Studies in English literatures, cultures, language, and translation (language and translation studies curriculum) at Sapienza University of Rome (tutor: Irene Ranzato), where he has also been nominated graduate teaching assistant. He is a member of AIA (Associazione Italiana di Anglistica). He teaches English, Spanish and French in various linguistic institutes. His research interests are the fictional use of dialects and gayspeak, Queer Studies, Sociolinguistics, Discourse Analysis, and (Audiovisual) Translation Studies. He is particularly interested in the verbal characterisation of queer speakers in dramatic dialogues.


Baker, Paul. Sexed Texts. London: Equinox. 2008.

Bauer, Heike. Sexology and Translation. Cultural and Scientific Encounters Across the Modern World. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015.

Booker, M. Keith. Drawn to Television. Prime-Time Animation From The Flintstones To Family Guy. Westport: The Praeger Television Collection, 2006.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2006.

Chagnon, Karina. La manipulation et la censure du discours queer dans la traduction française de deux séries télévisées: Les enjeux de la réception. Master’s thesis, Concordia University. 2014.

Collins COBUILD. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/. All websites last visited on 08/12/2020.

Crystal, David. The English Tone of Voice: Essays in Intonation, Prosody and Paralanguage. London: Arnold, 1975.

De Lucia, Daniel. Il gergo gay italiano. Il Novecento e gli anni Duemila. Edizioni Accademiche Italiane. 2015

De Marco, Marcella. “Gender Portrayal in Dubbed and Subtitled Comedies.” New Trends in Audiovisual Translation. Edited by Jorge Díaz Cintas. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2009. 176-196.

---. “The ‘Engendering’ Approach in Audiovisual Translation.” Target 28.6 (2016): 314-325.

Disney Plus. https://www.disneyplus.com/it-it/series/i-simpson/3ZoBZ52QHb4x

Dyer, Richard. “The Role of Stereotypes.” Media Studies: A Reader. Edited by Paul Marris and Sue Thornham. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999.

Ferrari, Chiara. “Dubbing The Simpsons: Or How Groundskeeper Willie Lost His Kilt in Sardinia.” Journal of Film and Video 61.2 (2009): 19-37.

Fusari, Sabrina. “Idioletti e dialetti nel doppiaggio italiano de I Simpson.” Quaderni del CeSLiC. Edited by Donna Rose Miller. Bologna: CeSLiC, 2007.

Gross, Larry. “Out of the Mainstream.” Journal of Homosexuality 21.1-2 (1991): 19-46.

Harvey, Keith. “Describing Camp Talk: Language / Pragmatics / Politics.” Language and Literature 9 (2000): 240-260.

---. “Translating Camp Talk. Gay Identities and Cultural Transfer.” The Translation Studies Reader. Edited by Lawrence Venuti. London: Routledge, 2004. 446-467.

Henry, Matthew A. The Simpsons, Satire and American Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Hodson, Jane. Dialect in Film and Literature. Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014.

Lakoff, Robin. Language and Woman's Place. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Legman, Gershon. “The Language of Homosexuality: an American Glossary.” The Language and Sexuality Reader. Edited by Deborah Cameron and Don Kulick. London: Routledge, 2006. 19-32.

Lewis, Elizabeth Sara. “‘This is my Girlfriend, Linda.’ Translating Queer Relationships in Film: A Case Study of the Subtitles for Gia and a Proposal for Developing the Field of Queer Translation Studies.” Other Words: The Journal for Literary Translators 36 (2010): 3-22.

Lippi-Green, Rosina. English with an Accent: language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge, 2012.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/.

Monello, V. “Translating Italian into Italian | A Case Study: The Italian dubbing of The Simpsons.” Translation Journal 2017. https://translationjournal.net/January-2017/translating-italian-into-italian-a-case-study-the-italian-dubbing-of-the- simpsons.html.

Orrù, Paolo. “Lingua e alterità. Lo stereotipo dell’omosessuale nel cinema italiano del Novecento.” LID’O. Lingua Italiana D’Oggi 9. Roma: Bulzoni Editore, 2014. 47-86.

Oxford English Dictionary. https://www.oed.com/.

Pavesi, Maria, Maicol Formentelli and Elisa Ghia. The Language of Dubbing: Mainstream Audiovisual Translation in Italy. Peter Lang, 2015.

Ranzato, Irene. “Gayspeak and Gay Subjects in Audiovisual Translation: Strategies in Italian Dubbing.” Meta 57.2 (2012): 369-384.

---. Translating Culture Specific References on Television. Ney York: Routledge, 2015.

Swann, Joan, et al. A Dictionary of Sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

Urban Dictionary. https://www.urbandictionary.com/.

Villanueva Jordán, Iván. “You Better Work. Camp Representation of RuPaul’s Drag Race in Spanish Subtitles.” Meta 60.2 (2015): 376.

von Flotow, Luise. “Translation Effects: How Beauvoir Talks Sex in English.” Contingent Loves: Simone de Beauvoir and Sexuality. Edited by Melanie C. Hawthorne. Richmond: University Press Virginia, 2000. 13-33.

von Flotow, Luise and Daniel E. Josephy-Hernández. “Gender in Audiovisual Translation Studies: Advocating for Gender Awareness.” The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation. Edited by Luis Pérez-González. London: Routledge, 2019. 296-312.

Zwicky, Arnold M. “Two Lavender Issues for Linguists.” Queerly Phrased. Language, Gender and Sexuality. Edited by Anna Livia and Kira Hall. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 21-34.






Articles (general section) - English language and linguistics