The Subtitling of Taboo and Offensive Language into Arabic: A Case Study of 'White Chicks' and 'Perfect Find'
Keywords:cultural gap, euphemism, levels of acceptance, offensive language, subtitling, taboo
The present study investigates the use of different types of taboo and offensive language in two subtitled American movies: White Chicks and Perfect Find. The study discusses the common subtitling strategies used by Arab subtitlers to render instances of taboo and bad language found in the selected data. It also seeks to address the following two research questions: a) what are the types of taboo and offensive language in the selected data and what problems do they pose in subtitling; b) how did Arab subtitler(s) deal with taboo and offensive language and what subtitling strategies were used to render them. The classifications of taboo and offensive language by Ávila Cabrera (2014) are adopted in the current study. The research also draws on Gottlieb's (1992) taxonomy of subtitling strategies, Newmark's taxonomy of translation techniques (1988), and Williams' model (1975). The findings of the study showed that there were four types of offensive language found in the selected data, namely cursing, insult, derogatory tone, and expletive. In addition, four subcategories of taboo were found. These are references to body part, sexual reference, scatology, and ethical/racial taboo. The study also found that Arab subtitlers used nine types of strategies to render taboo and offensive language: transfer, euphemism, paraphrase, literal translation, omission, condensation, extension, dislocation, and generalization. The use of these interventional strategies indicates that, in many cases, taboo and offensive language were challenging for the subtitlers. The results of the study have gone some way towards enhancing our understanding of the nature of different types of taboo and offensive language, and how they are treated and transferred between very different languages and cultures.
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