Humour in Translation From English Into Arabic: Subtitles of the Comedy Sitcom Friends


  • Suhib A. Alnusairat Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Paramaswari a/p Jaganathan Universiti Sains Malaysia



audio-visual translation, humour translation, subtitling, Arabic, formal translation


This study aims to investigate the translation methods and strategies used in the Arabic subtitling of English sitcoms. The study's corpus was chosen from the popular TV show Friends. In the U.S. English version, humorous instances are discovered, identified, and divided into three categories according to Debra and Raphaelson-West's (1989) humour taxonomy. The eight strategies for translating cultural jokes outlined by Tomaszkiewicz (1993) and cited in Díaz-Cintas (2009), were adopted for the framework of the study to analyse the strategies applied in rendering humorous expressions in Arabic subtitling for English sitcoms. The findings revealed that universal jokes are easily transferred into different languages; however, linguistic and cultural jokes are difficult to translate due to language and cultural differences. Based on this study’s findings, formal translation was found to be the most utilized strategy in subtitling from English into Arabic. Besides formal translation, a functional strategy was also used in many cases. This study also implies that to successfully translate cultural jokes, it is preferable to develop humour in accordance with the visual setting of the film and then domesticate the translation.

Author Biographies

Suhib A. Alnusairat, Universiti Sains Malaysia

School of Languages, Literacies and Translation

Paramaswari a/p Jaganathan, Universiti Sains Malaysia

School of Languages, Literacies and Translation


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