A Case Study of the Audiovisual Translation of Wordplay
December 17, 2019 11:52 AM   Subscribe

The Dubbing of Wordplay: The Case of A Touch of Cloth is a paper by Lana Camilli at Dublin University examining the translation of the wordplay and puns in Charlie Brooker's A Touch of Cloth into French.
posted by EndsOfInvention (11 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is extraordinary, very interesting.

I adored "A Touch of Cloth;" I wonder, and it's not entirely clear from this academic research, whether the French audiences thought the dubbed version was indeed funny.
posted by chavenet at 12:15 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Reflexive verbs in romance languages are a rich source of onanistic innuendo, as I learned the hard way while trying to speak Italian based on a crash three-week study. I doubt it would translate well into English; generous use of "yourself" would work but would be too blatant.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2019

Fascinating stuff, but I'm having a hard time finding a definition of "PUNOID" that I can understand.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:52 PM on December 17, 2019

This was extremely interesting! Rock Steady, I found a definition of PUNOID that I could understand, hopefully it works for you too:
Punoid, a term invented by De-labastita, means a pseudo-wordplay. As the name of the technique implies, the aim of the translator is to express a recognized pun in terms of rhetorical devices other than homonymy or polysemy, e.g. repetition, alliteration, rhyme or irony. The output will thus constitute a wordplay, but not a pun.
posted by wilberforce at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Turtle's head" is also pretty popular in my house.
posted by wilberforce at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2019

This was great!

This is a lot less funny/punny, but as someone who reads in both English and French, I'm always interested to see how English translations of French works capture when characters shift from vous to tu (or less commonly vice versa) and in particular how translators deal with the verbs tutoyer/vouvoyer.

I sometimes see "stop being formal/let's stop being so formal" or variations thereof for translations for On se tutoie/On peut se tutoyer? but I don't find that particularly convincing, mainly because it doesn't feel like a very common thing to say in casual speech in English.

But I recognize it's hard, especially if your goal is to translate in a way such that the reader isn't abruptly reminded that they're reading a Book Translated From French, which will happen if you translate it as "well let's adopt tu" or something to that effect.
posted by andrewesque at 1:53 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

andrewesque, once I saw an English-language translation of a book where the characters used "you," but then at one point of of them says "Let's adopt 'thou,' shall we?" At which point they continued using "you."

Translation is a fascinating topic. Check out translations of the Jabberwocky--those are a really cool exercise.
posted by Sterros at 5:49 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Translating humor is particularly hard and I enjoyed the scholarly take on what are very childish jokes.

Going the other way (French->English), I was always impressed by the English translations of the Asterix books that often managed to squeeze in more puns into the text.
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:12 AM on December 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm glad the included my favorite joke from the show, where "Dat dere yute club" turns out to refer to a place literally named "Datdere Yute Club", although they weren't able to translate it.

(And they didn't mention the crowning detail, the sign outside the club having smaller print saying "Opened by Baron Peregrine Datdere-Yute, 2002", which ties into the British comedy tradition of making fun of pretentious upper class twits, etc.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:19 AM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's Dublin City University. We also have Dublin University (commonly known as Trinity College) and University College Dublin, and a few others less confusing and confused.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:46 AM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ah my bad, it was right there and I copied it wrong.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2019

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