Volume 61, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0521-9744
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9668
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Phraseological Units rank high among the most complex linguistic segments for translators, whether because of their figurative nature, their culturally specific meaning or their pragmatic peculiarities. Such difficulties increase exponentially when PUs are expressed in a multimodal fictional environment, especially if the situated meaning of the unit relies on visual elements for its correct interpretation: the so-called visual phraseological units (PUs). In these cases, the literal wording of a PU is portrayed physically, thus making both the phraseological and literal meanings overlap. These visual PUs have progressively become a common device in TV programs such as sitcoms and cartoon series — this paper, in particular, uses the case-study of the well-known American cartoon series The Simpsons. However, their ubiquity has not triggered a comparable scholarly response, either from the field of phraseology or from that of translation studies, with some notable exceptions. The combination of a limited theoretical framework and the inherent traductological obstacles these units pose accounts for the poor or, at times, non-existent solutions when it comes to rendering them in other languages. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the felicity of the Spanish translations of visual PUs appearing in The Simpsons. Some tentative traductological solutions will also be provided alongside the inevitable shortcomings of the target language versions, in an attempt to provide practical ground with which to foster further research on the question.


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