Humour can occur on different levels, through words, images, the interplay of both, or it can also reside inside the plot itself. They can be:
Linguistic jokes (or language-specific humour/jokes, e.g. puns)
Cultural jokes (or culture-specific humour/jokes, e.g. ethnic jokes)
Universal jokes (the unexpected)
Translating and subtitling humour is a matter of priorities and choices. It requires creativity and a tendency to be funny. It is the translator’s job to decide whether or not to translate a bad joke, how to tackle cultural and linguistic oriented jokes, and whether to admit defeat with those jokes that ultimately can’t be translated.
When translating humour through the audiovisual modality of interlingual subtitling, the translator has to consider a series of factors, such as the genre of the clip, the readership, the understanding of the target readership in relation to the source culture and how the target audience perceives Britain and British-ness. Check out this video of ‘The Two Ronnies’. How would you go about translating their puns and innuendos into other languages?
Here at GoLocalise, we pride ourselves on being funny people, and our subtitlers have the professionalism required for translating and subtitling any genre of text, including funny, cultural-specific and even bad jokes.