Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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"Facci Lei!": Subtitling Humour in 'Fantozzi' (1975)

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posted on 2021-12-07, 14:31 authored by McKenzie, Rory

Subtitling provides scholars and translators alike with the challenge of negotiating meaning across languages and cultures in an extremely limited space. The subtitler faces many restrictions than can severely affect a translation. However, subtitles are central to making films more widely and easily accessible. These difficulties are challenging at the best of times and are compounded by the specific difficulties of translating comedy. Humour is both universal and at the same time culturally specific. Anthropologists, sociologists, literary theorists and scholars have amply demonstrated how deeply intertwined humour, culture, and language are. It is for this reason that the current project will expand on the literature of subtitling humour, applying the relevant theories associated with both subtitling and translating humour to the Italian film classic Fantozzi (1975).  The character Ugo Fantozzi has been a cult figure in Italian culture and society since his appearance in Italian cinema and literature in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the films in particular he has come to represent the average Italian of the post-economic miracle, whose life does not quite match the dreams of wealth and prosperity emphasized by the media. Fantozzi epitomises the average, and while his character has received little academic attention to date more credible academic studies are emerging since the death of his creator, Paolo Villaggio, in 2017. Fantozzi, therefore, provides the perfect cultural product for a discussion of what it means to translate Italian culture and humour, combining this with considerations about the emerging field of translation studies of subtitling.  By providing a complete translation of Fantozzi in English, accompanied by a critical commentary, in this thesis I attempt to show how, despite all the restrictions imposed by the field of subtitling, as well as the difficulties of translating humour, a subtitler can still produce well thought out and reliable subtitles that convey the cultural and comedic aspects of film, and more specifically of this beloved Italian icon.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Literary Translation Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Languages and Cultures


Sonzogni, Marco; Bernardi, Claudia