Summary and Conclusion

As I have discussed throughout this chapter, the ultimate purpose of translating humor is to maintain the humor in the translated text as it was in the source text. Accordingly, the categories I have identified throughout the previous sections are an aid in determining what type of humor is being used in each case. For each category, I have suggested a type of translational strategy based on Epstein’s models (2012) for expressive language in children’s literature. These are summarized in the following table, listed by category, in Table 18.3.

I would argue that the heavy reliance on adaptation strategies is due to the nature of humor itself as a culturally driven aspect of comics. Both cultures considered in the discussion, Italian and Anglo-American, appear to have either similarities in their approach to humor or influences on each other (in the comics medium at least); where they differ, it is mostly because of a typology of narrative strategy in the joke or the language aspect of it. Following Attardo’s suggestions, therefore, removes the

Table 18.3: Summary of strategies per category

Category of humor




If the references are present in translation


If the references are absent in translation








Adaptation via grammatical/orthographic representation If the features are present in translation Compensation via grammatical/orthographic representation If the features are absent in translation

Political (In) Correctness








If the elements are understandable Addition

If the elements are not readily understandable


Give precedence to one of the elements, as long as at least one category is maintained

issues raised by the latter, as the translation will obviously have to switch from the source language to translated language yet maintain the tension between the elements that ultimately create the humorous effect of the joke, sketch, panel, and/or dialogue.

Building on a combination of pre-existing theories and strategies, I have devised my own framework to identify and analyze the humor present in the source texts of comics. For each typology, I then proceeded to suggest, through examples, potential strategies to successfully reproduce sign-play, at least at a level of intended rather than actual or perceived humor. These strategies appear to be sufficiently functional, based on the presupposition that a translator might not be able to modify the images and should therefore use them as reference. Nevertheless, additional research into the translation of comics will not only provide readers in the Anglo-American market with more entertainment material but will also allow for better, more contextualized criticism and healthy cross-pollination and influence. In order to achieve this, the framework developed here ought to be an excellent foundation for future scholarship.

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