Translation of Taboo Expressions in Arabic Subtitling (Sattar Izwaini)
Translation of Taboo Expressions in Arabic Subtitling
When subtitling in Arabic, translators often tend to mitigate taboo expressions in order not to offend prevalent sensitivities. These fall mainly within six categories: God and religion, sexual references, body parts, alcohol and drugs, social designations (including labelling and name-calling), and other offensive elements. For this study, the subtitles of twenty-three English-language screen productions were investigated. It was found that translation is managed by choosing less or non-offensive expressions. Culturally sensitive elements are toned down by using generalization, substitution, and deletion. These strategies result in levelling out the translation, failure to convey the pragmatic meaning, register shift and the establishment of translation norms. The paper analyzes the ways in which Arabic subtitling seeks to avoid the offensive associations a direct translation might have and how the translation is formulated to achieve that end. The outcomes of this kind of management are linked to the translation strategies used and to the related issue of censorship.
Keywords: taboo, subtitling, culture, Arabic, translation norms
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