chapter  5
16 Pages

Comedy Under Fire

Subtitling Two and a Half Men Into Arabic
ByAmer Al-Adwan, Rashid Yahiaoui

Research on audiovisual translation in the Arab World has been expanding dramatically over the last decade, covering few cultural and linguistic issues. However, there is not much attention devoted to the investigation of subtitling comic audiovisual material into Arabic. Needless to say, translating comedy into another language and culture requires extra attention and consideration of the accepted norms in the target culture. Therefore, this chapter attempts to address this much-needed research and sheds light on the difficulties that Arab subtitlers usually encounter in tackling sex-related humorous instances. In this chapter, a comparative analysis between the dialogue of season 12 of the American sitcom Two and a Half Men and its Arabic subtitles is conducted. The translation of taboo humour in this sitcom proves to be extremely challenging, as it heavily relies on sexuality and some other ‘distasteful topics’, including swear words and suggestive bodily functions. Drawing on descriptive translation studies, the chapter shows that Arab subtitlers tend to resort to a set of strategies in tackling sensitive humorous instances that could be embarrassing or offensive to Arab viewers, even if this implies distorting or eliminating the intended humour.