Lost in Translation again: Family Guy's "Blue Harvest" in English and French

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This paper analyses and compares the English and dubbed French versions of a cartoon parody of a Star Wars film in terms of intertextuality and translation phenomena at different levels. Data are provided by full transcripts of the English and French versions of "Blue Harvest", a one hour episode of the American animated series Family Guy which cleverly parodies Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977).

In a first part, we analyse the intersemiotic and intralingual translation of the original Star Wars film into its Family Guy cartoon parody. While the Family Guy characters in this special episode are recognizable blends (both visually and mentally) of the 'normal' cartoon characters and their Star Wars counterparts, the parodic effects draw on more than just the confrontation of these two story worlds, as the world of "Blue Harvest" throws elements from contemporary American society and politics into the bargain. The complex resulting blend (Fauconnier and Turner 2002) thus has at least three inputs: Star Wars, Family Guy and the realities of the US at the dawn of the 21st century.

The starting point of the second part of the analysis is the observation that much of the comedy and entertainment value of "Blue Harvest" is lost in its French dubbed version because many intertextual links and cultural allusions have been lost or, devoid of context, have become uninterpretable. Even allowing for the need at times to adapt translations to improve lip synchrony in the dubbing process, the 'interlingual' translation process has yielded a number of unfortunate mistranslations. Perhaps inevitably, puns and other humorous devices, often feeding on the complicated network of Star Wars references, proved very hard to translate.
Translated title of the contributionLost in Translation (bis): L'épisode "Blue Harvest" de Family Guy en anglais et en français
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 3 Dec 2009
EventAnnual BAAHE Conference Translation as Metaphor and Practice - Anvers, Belgium
Duration: 5 Dec 2009 → …


SymposiumAnnual BAAHE Conference Translation as Metaphor and Practice
Period5/12/09 → …

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