The Translation of Images and Words in the Asterix Comic Books


  • Adriano Clayton da Silva Departamento de Linguística Aplicada, State University of Campinas


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Adriano da Silva has a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics (Translation) at the Institute of Language Studies of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil, and currently he’s a PhD student in Translation at the same University. His field of research is Comics Translation. He has presented and published several works on Translation and Comics at congresses and symposiums in Brazil. His post-graduation studies have allowed him to delve into paramount areas such as Applied Linguistics, Semiotics, Psychology, Anthropology, Communication and, of course, Translation, always associating this knowledge to comics research. In 2014 he worked as assistant professor in a two-month training course on Translation, offered to the general public at Unicamp. 


There are few academic papers exploring the possibilities of the translation in multisemiotic environments, like the Comics, although the consumption of them is increasing, including the translated ones. In the comics, the images, as the words, have different meanings in each society and, therefore, need to be considered in translation. Images, words and exclusive comic elements (ECE) - as the balloon or onomatopoeia - represent a major challenge to the translator, especially when the images and the ECE cannot be modified by copyright issues. The aim of this study was to understand how non-verbal elements affect the translator's choices. The methodology was qualitative, documentary, descriptive and interpretive, i.e. dependent on the sensibility and interpretation of the researcher. Data analysis was conducted using four printed comic albums of the French character Asterix, with their versions in the original language and their translations for the Brazilian public. The research has been proved fruitful and profitable because it required, in addition to the theoretical foundation in the field of translation studies, the search for other theories in the fields of Arts, Applied Linguistics, Semiotics and others. Special emphasis was given to Multimodality and Paratranslation, theoretical tools that allow rethinking of the images and translations. As a result, it was concluded that the images and ECE really influence the translator's choices, since their work and freedom are limited to places such as interior of balloons, the title, the footnotes and other rare places in a frame. More than limited, the translation has to fit into spaces originally not planned for it. And it must be in "harmony" with the images and what the ECE are "saying" in each frame and in the general context of the album, strip, cartoon or any of the possible genres of the Comic Supergenre. The translator, therefore, must not only know the source/target languages and cultures, but must also know the pictorial elements and other semiotic and symbolic systems that affect the numerous social contexts that arise in the interplay between images, ECE and words.


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