The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 24

QUICK TIPS
for Translating Humor

WHEN TRANSLATING HUMOR
THAT'S TIED TO A VISUAL:

Focus on finding something funny in your target language
that includes the visual. Adapt the joke or wordplay to
something that includes the imagery in some way, since the
viewer won't be able to ignore what they see.

Knock Knock,
Who's There?
Know Your Audience

known, since the approach

One of the most important

for an older audience. For

things to consider when
translating humorous content
is the target audience. For
a language such as Spanish
that has so many different
variants, knowing if you're
translating for a specific

we take translating content
for children is considerably
different than translating
example, we wouldn't be able
to use inappropriate language
or intricate vocabulary.

Is This Thing On?
Translating a Bad Joke

country or region, or if you

Another dilemma is when

need to use a " neutral " Latin

the joke that needs to be

American Spanish term, will

translated is bad (or very

determine what terminology

bad). Should the translator

you can and cannot use. For

transcreate it into another

example, if you encountered a

bad joke or think up

word like " cool " in English, it

something funnier? How

Know your target audience and try to find an equivalent in
the target culture that will resonate with them.

might be particularly difficult

can you be sure you're

to translate into Spanish.

translating something that

This is because " cool "

will be funny to the target

WHEN THERE'S A PUN OR WORDPLAY:

can be translated in many

audience? Well, you can't.

different ways depending on

You can try your best to

the context and the target

make someone laugh, but

audience (e.g., " guay " in

it's not up to you whether

Spain, " chévere " in Colombia,

or not they think a joke is

or " copado " in Argentina).

funny. You can, however, do

If you're translating for a

your research and try to cater

broader audience, you'll need

to a specific audience (the

to avoid using regionalisms.

more specific, the better) to

This adds an extra layer of

produce the desired laugh.

challenge to the adaptation.

You can also examine the

WHEN THERE'S A PUNCHLINE:

Time the punchline correctly so as not to ruin it for the
audience. Remember that timing is everything in humor!

WHEN THERE'S A CULTURAL REFERENCE:

You might need to transcreate this entirely, so think about
something new that could preserve some of the essence of
the original.

WHEN THE ORIGINAL JOKE IS BAD:

Think about the author's intention. Are they actually trying
to make the audience laugh? Was the bad joke used on
purpose to achieve some other comedic effect? Answering
these questions will help determine if you should translate it
into something funny or produce another " bad joke " in the
target language.

24

The ATA Chronicle | March/April 2021

The age of the target
audience will also need to be

intention of the author.
For example, perhaps the

www.atanet.org


http://www.atanet.org

The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021

Contents
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 1
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 2
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - Contents
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 4
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 5
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 6
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 7
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 8
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 9
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 10
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 11
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 12
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 13
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 14
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 15
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 16
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 17
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 18
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 19
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 20
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 21
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 22
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 23
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 24
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 25
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 26
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 27
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 28
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 29
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 30
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 31
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 32
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 33
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 34
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 35
The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 36
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/chronicle/20210304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/chronicle/20210102
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com