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The translation of humor in video games: a case study

Lepre, O; (2015) The translation of humor in video games: a case study. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Over the last thirty years, the practice of game localization has become more and more widespread and has started to attract a growing academic interest. However, the translation of humor in games has received little scholarly attention, despite the fact that humor is a fundamental component of games and can be a difficult area to translate. In this view, the thesis is aimed at identifying and classifying the main types of humor in games and the way in which their translation from English into Italian has been tackled, highlighting how the interactive nature of games may affect translation. As the audiovisual features of games are incredibly varied and cannot always be assimilated to the established categories of audiovisual translation, the thesis also discusses how the various audiovisual modalities of games can have an impact on localization. Then, it examines three popular games that are particularly suitable for this analysis, as they feature plenty of humorous dialogues and situations: The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), Day of the Tentacle (1993) and Discworld (1995). The thesis pays particular attention to instances of humor based on cultural elements, as they are especially likely to cause disruptions in a translated text. The research looks at how often humor is intrinsically based on culture-specific references and analyses how translators deal with them. This issue appears particularly relevant in the case of games, as unfamiliar references can most easily damage the user’s experience. The final part of the thesis discusses the retranslation of games. By comparing the old and new translations of two games in the corpus, the thesis aims at seeing if and how translation choices have changed across time. As one of the retranslations was made by fans of the game, the thesis also aims at giving insight into the phenomenon of fan translation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The translation of humor in video games: a case study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Translation, Video games, Localization, Humor, AVT, Retranslation, Fan translation
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > CMII
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1468872
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