The Translatability of English Profanity in Arabic Subtitles

Eid Mohammad Bhais
English Department, Al-Quds University
May, 2011
 
B.A. in English Language and Literature
Hebron University, Palestine
 

Abstract

The present study aims at investigating the translatability of English profanities into Arabic subtitles. The study argues that English profanities pose a translation challenge within the English-Arabic context. The data comprises three American movies, shown on MBC2, MBC4 and MBC Action from March to April, 2010, very much replete with profanities. The examples of English profanities (thirty in total) are categorised according to their occurrence in the Source Text (ST), then analysed against their Arabic subtitles. Descriptive translation approach, namely House’s (1974) model is pursued for the sake of the study. The study focuses on subtitling and reviews concepts and constraints of subtitling cultural- and lingual-related issues, taking cue from audiovisual translation (AVT) theorists, namely, Gottlieb, Delabastita, Schwartz and Karamitroglou. The study concludes that translation loss is inevitable in AVT, especially in the translation of English profanities into Arabic subtitles. Translation owes problems to the diversity existing between English and Arab cultures in terms of beliefs, traditions and linguistic values. Finally, the study reveals that English profanities into Arabic subtitles are deleted, clichéd, reduced or substituted insofar strategies are concerned.
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