Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2015
ISBN 978-967-13140-7-4

Analyzing Linguistic and Cultural Barriers to English-Thai Translation of Sarcasm in The Big Bang Theory

Panumas Arunsamran, Paradee Tungtang

Khon Kaen University


There has been a growing body of studies of humor translation, particularly focusing on the strategies in translating humor in particular. As a result, studies on linguistic and cultural barriers to English-Thai translations of humor, especially sarcasm, are still scarce. Hence, this study sought to shed some light on linguistic and cultural barriers to English-Thai translation of sarcasm in The Big Bang Theory. Out of twenty-three total episodes in the third season of The Big Bang Theory, thirteen were selected to be a sample. Based on a definition of sarcasm, the context and non-verbal expressions as a guideline, sarcastic utterances were initially identified and later validated by a native American speaker who is a cultural expert. Subsequently, linguistic and cultural barriers impeding the translation of sarcasm in Thai subtitles, compared to the English ones, were analyzed on the basis of Wong and Shen’s (1999) and Campanini’s (2000) theories on factors influencing translation. The study revealed that linguistic barriers to the translation of sarcasm were syntactic, lexical and semantic, whereas cultural barriers were based on intercultural barriers, namely culture- specific expressions and allusions.


Humor Translation, Linguistic and Cultural Barriers, Sarcasm, The Big Bang Theory

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