Is humour translatable?

Searching for successful translated comedy.

Discuss books, film, tv, music, games and all other arts here.

Moderators: Blip, The_Metatron

Is humour translatable?

#1  Postby pinkharrier » Dec 26, 2011 4:59 am

Humour is both a gift and a serious subject. I was watching an example of Yes Minister
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-FxrQI_Ymk[/youtube]
and I wondered if it had been dubbed into Russian (or anything) and how had it gone down with the audience. Perhaps someone reading this as a second language can say.

Then I thought would the reverse be possible as in great examples of Russian etc comedy being dubbed (as opposed to sub titles) into English and perhaps some links of quality.

Some scenes I suspect are so language nuanced that the translation would be lost (possibly Robbie Coltrane playing Samuel Johnson).
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOSYiT2iG08[/youtube]
I'm a rational skeptic. Touch wood.
User avatar
pinkharrier
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 828

Australia (au)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Is humour translatable?

#2  Postby Berthold » Dec 26, 2011 5:22 am

Just don't overlook that, while there are problems with translation in many cases, it works well in many others.

Comedies by Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw have had huge international success, for example.
Berthold
 
Posts: 479
Age: 70
Male

Austria (at)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#3  Postby pinkharrier » Dec 26, 2011 7:47 am

Good point Berthold. Interested in what non-German humour do you value and what German language humour do you rate as equal.

Cheers

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_tRTKqrJRI[/youtube]
I'm a rational skeptic. Touch wood.
User avatar
pinkharrier
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 828

Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#4  Postby Zwaarddijk » Dec 26, 2011 1:57 pm

Humor is very cultural, but you can learn the humor of other cultures as well. If you translate a work of humor from cultures with relatively different kinds of humor, the resulting work will require more effort - essentially, that the reader learn to appreciate a new kind of humor. (The occasional reader might already appreciate the kind of humor, but the majority won't get it.)

EDIT: of course, by now, the kinds of humor common in American movies might have gotten such wide exposure that a lot of people outside of their origin might have (even without really thinking of it) learned to appreciate that humor. Also, I would expect Hollywood humor after Hollywood gained international popularity (but before that popularity had made people care to learn to appreciate that kind of American humor) to be somewhat reduced to whatever least common denominator you could expect - naturally, such content will appeal to a relatively large group of people internationally.
Zwaarddijk
 
Posts: 4334
Male

Country: Finland
Finland (fi)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#5  Postby james1v » Dec 26, 2011 2:01 pm

I think visual comedy travels best.
"When humans yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon". Thomas Paine.
User avatar
james1v
 
Name: James.
Posts: 8953
Age: 62
Male

Country: UK
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#6  Postby Zwaarddijk » Dec 26, 2011 2:03 pm

Yeah, pun-based humor doesn't stand a chance to visual comedy when it comes to translation.
Zwaarddijk
 
Posts: 4334
Male

Country: Finland
Finland (fi)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#7  Postby katja z » Dec 26, 2011 2:22 pm

Zwaarddijk wrote:Yeah, pun-based humor doesn't stand a chance to visual comedy when it comes to translation.


True. On the other hand, character humour and situational humour usually fare very well in translation.

Puns can often be replaced by different ones. I'd say in general, this works better in fiction and theatre than in film; if you're staging a translated text, you could always adapt the visuals if required, something you can't do in film.

Another factor to consider (not just with humour) is to what extent understanding a particular text requires the knowledge of very specific cultural references. At some point, the question is not whether something is translatable, but whether translating something that cannot be appreciated without a thorough knowledge of the original language and culture makes any sense at all.
User avatar
katja z
RS Donator
 
Posts: 5353
Age: 40

European Union (eur)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Is humour translatable?

#8  Postby John P. M. » Dec 26, 2011 2:30 pm

Here's one example of Norwegian humor (or humor in Norwegian), which is subtitled in English. And if you look at the pun made from around 1:05, you can see that the translator had to go for a different pun than the original. In Norwegian, the pun works because "serien" (=the series) is pronounced the same as "ser igjen" (= see again). So in English, the pun became "see Reese" = "series", which perhaps doesn't make much sense, but at least is an OK attempt at conserving the humor.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tWBMJk9TNY[/youtube]
User avatar
John P. M.
RS Donator
 
Posts: 2913
Male

Country: Norway
Norway (no)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#9  Postby Erin » Dec 29, 2011 6:36 pm

Eddie Izzard has a few insights on the topic, as he does stand-up in French and English. On "Dress to Kill" DVD, one of the extras is a stand-up show he did in French with a commentary track. He also mentions that this bit:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1sQkEfAdfY[/youtube]

...worked just as well in front of a French audience as it did an English-speaking one.
User avatar
Erin
 
Posts: 272
Age: 38
Female

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#10  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 29, 2011 6:56 pm

Sorry translating comedy is very difficult and hardly works.
Dutch humour is so different from Flemish and German humour. For example Tommy Cooper was popular here but programmes like QI just go over the majority of people. Abfab is also very popular. The sub titles make you laugh though.
Myths in islam Women and islam Musilm opinion polls


"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
User avatar
Scot Dutchy
 
Posts: 43119
Age: 72
Male

Country: Nederland
European Union (eur)
Print view this post

Re: Is humour translatable?

#11  Postby Macros1980 » Dec 29, 2011 6:57 pm

Ah. Erin beat me to it.
To presume that your one-in-64-million chance thing is a miracle is to significantly underestimate the total number of... things... that there are. -Tim Minchin
User avatar
Macros1980
 
Posts: 737
Age: 40
Male

United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post


Return to The Arts & Entertainment

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest