Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Translation No.4 May, 2015 Pp. 22-41
Strategies of Subtitling Satire: A Case Study of the American Sitcom Seinfeld, with
Particular Reference to English and Arabic
University of Salford, Manchester UK
Subtitling humor is a challenging task for the translators. The complexity in translating humor lies in the fact that humor is bound to the culture it is produced in, and in some cases, it is attached to the syntactical and semantic aspects of the source language. One of the most frequently used type of humor is satire; this form of humor is common in political context. However, satire is also used in TV shows, especially situational comedies. This paper present a detailed analysis of the subtitling strategies used by the Arab subtitle to transfer satire in the American sitcom, Seinfeld, into Arabic. The study also uncovers the factors that might govern the subtitle’s decisions and choices. The study draws on the General Theory of Verbal Humor (GTVH); Attardo & Raskin 1991), Attardo’s (2002) model of analyzing and translating humor, and Pedersen’s (2005) model of subtitling extra-linguistic culture-bound references. The analysis reveals that the subtitle managed to transfer language-based satire, using some interventional techniques. However, culture-based satire was a problematic issue, forcing the subtitler to retain all cultural references in the target text (TT) without any modifications, resulting in humourless subtitles. This study is motivated by the fact that research on the subtitling of humor in television comedy programmes is a relatively new field, especially in the Arab world where there is a huge shortage of research in the field of subtitling humour.
Keywords: culture-based satire, humorous effects, language-based satire, satire, subtitling, GTVH