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An Investigation of Dark Jokes Translation Strategies in Persian Subtitled Versions of Joker Movie

Aynaz Samir

English Department, Tabaran Institute of Higher Education, Mashhad, Iran

Corresponding author: Aynaz Samir,English Department, Tabaran Institute of Higher Education, Mashhad, Iran. Email: aynazsamir@yahoo.com


Introduction: Humor does travel cross-linguistic and cultural barriers. Humor is a crucial aspect of mass entertainment and intercultural communication. The translation of humor is also a challenging task for translators as they should have sufficient knowledge of the source and target languages to comprehend the context of the situation. Regardless of the growing interest in Audiovisual Translation, subtitling humor, particularly dark jokes, in movies remains on the periphery of translation studies. This study aimed to determine the strategies used by Iranian translators in subtitling dark jokes in movies based on Molina and Albir’s (2008) model. Methodology: The corpus of the study consisted of a crime and drama film entitled Joker (2019) movie. In the selected movie, 24 dark jokes were identified. To achieve the study objective, two Persian-subtitled versions of the Joker movie were analyzed. The obtained data were described using descriptive statistics (i.e., frequency, percentage) and the Chi-Square test. The obtained results indicated that Amplification, Literal Translation, and Modulation were the most frequently applied strategies in subtitling jokes. Results: A chi-square test of independence showed that Iranian translators had different strategies in the subtitling of dark jack. Of different employed strategies, the literal translation was the first commonly used strategy. Conclusion: The research findings can enhance translation students, subtitlers, and fansubbers’ understanding of the subtitling strategies being adopted by translators in subtitling dark jokes in movies.


The rapid growth in technology has given a unique chance for advanced developments in media. Broadcasting audiovisual programs in different languages through mass media has increased the importance of translating audiovisual texts into other languages for people of different nations. The importance of media and the demand for audiovisual translation (AVT) has led to the academic study of this special branch of translation (Cintas & Anderman, 2008). The audiovisual translation was discussed by some translation scholars, such as Delabastita (1989), Diaz Cintas and Remael (2007), and Gottlieb (1997). Many definitions have been given to explain AVT, such as Ghaemi and Benyamin, (2015, p. 40), who claimed that “audiovisual language transfer denotes the process by which a film or television program is made comprehensible to a target audience that is unfamiliar with the original’s source language”. Diaz-Cintas (2009, p. 6) considers “AVT as a powerful activity, which is a significant form of intercultural communication”. Audiovisual translation, as a new branch in translation studies, has been subcategorized into subtitle and dubbing (Chiaro et al., 2008). Gambier (2009) defined the categories of free commentary, sight translation, consecutive interpreting, subtitling, intralingual subtitling, dubbing, voice-over or half-dubbing, interlingual subtitling, bilingual subtitling, real-time subtitling, simultaneous interpreting, and audio description for AVT studies.

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