Dark humour as a culture specific phenomenon: a study in screen translation

Bucaria, Chiara (2008) Dark humour as a culture specific phenomenon: a study in screen translation, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Lingue, culture e comunicazione interculturale, 20 Ciclo.
Documenti full-text disponibili:
[img] Documento PDF (English) - Accesso riservato - Richiede un lettore di PDF come Xpdf o Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (13MB)


The present study aims at analyzing how dark humour as a cinematic genre travels cross-culturally through a specific mode of audiovisual translation, i.e. dubbing. In particular, it takes into consideration the processes involved in dubbing humour from English into Italian as observed in the English- and Italian-language versions of ten British and American dark comedies from the 1940s to the 2000s. In an attempt to identify some of the main mechanisms of the dark humour genre, the humorous content of the films was analyzed in terms of the elements on which specific scenes are based, mainly the non-verbal and verbal components. In the cases in which verbal elements were involved, i.e. the examples of verbally expressed humour, the analysis was concerned with whether they were adapted into Italian and to what effect. Quantification of the different kinds of dark humour revealed that in the sample of dark comedies verbal dark humour had a higher frequency (85.3%) than non-verbal dark humour (14.7%), which partially disconfirmed the first part of the research hypothesis. However, the significance of contextual elements in the conveying of dark humour, both in the form of Nsp VEH (54.31%) and V-V (V+VE) (21.68%), provided support for the hypothesis that, even when expressed verbally, dark humour is more closely linked to context-based rather than purely linguistic humour (4.9%). The second part of the analysis was concerned with an investigation of the strategies adopted for the translation of verbal dark humour elements from the SL (English) into the TL (Italian) through the filter of dubbing. Four translational strategies were identified as far as the rendering of verbal dark humour is concerned: i) complete omission; ii) weakening; iii) close rendering; and iv) increased effect. Complete omission was found to be the most common among these strategies, with 80.9% of dark humour examples being transposed in a way that kept the ST’s function substantially intact. Weakening of darkly humorous lines was applied in 12% of cases, whereas increased effect accounted for 4.6% and complete omission for 2.5%. The fact that for most examples of Nsp VEH (84.9%) and V-AC (V+VE) (91.4%) a close rendering effect was observed and that 12 out of 21 examples of V-AC (PL) (a combined 57%) were either omitted or weakened seemed to confirm, on the one hand, the complexity of the translation process required by cases of V-AC (PL) and V-AC (CS). On the other hand, as suggested in the second part of the research hypothesis, the data might be interpreted as indicating that lesser effort on the translator/adaptor’s part is involved in the adaptation of V-AC (Nsp VEH) and V-V (V+VE). The issue of the possible censorial intervention undergone by examples of verbal dark humour in the sample still remains unclear.


Gestione del documento: Visualizza la tesi