AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 8, Number 2 May 2024 Pp.30-50

Lost in Adaptation: Exploring the Phenomenon of Over-Translation in Arabic Translations of English Movies

Department of English and Translation, College of Science and Arts,
Jeddah University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Corresponding Author: woalsubhi@uj.edu.sa


This study examines the process of Arabic translations of English movies, focusing on their impact on cultural and linguistic fidelity. It uses comparative, textual, and linguistic analysis and audience perception surveys to understand the differences between the original English source material and the Arabic translations. The comparative analysis reveals significant differences in cultural references and humour between the two languages, with over-translation being a significant theme. However, the study acknowledges instances where fidelity to the source text is maintained, showcasing the translators’ success in preserving cultural authenticity. The textual analysis highlights occasional deviations from the original text due to cultural and linguistic adjustments, impacting the overall translation quality. The linguistic analysis examines translators’ strategies to bridge linguistic gaps, highlighting cases of over-translation and substantial deviations. The study also highlights translators’ challenges in conveying humour, wordplay, and cultural references within subtitles and dubbing constraints. Audience perception surveys reveal instances where translations fail to convey specific cultural nuances, indicating a minor loss of impact and understanding. The findings highlight the need for a refined and culturally sensitive approach to audiovisual translation to enhance the quality and authenticity of cross-cultural narratives.

Cite as:

Alsubhi, W. O.  (2024). Lost in Adaptation: Exploring the Phenomenon of Over-Translation in Arabic Translations of English Movies. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 8 (1), 30-50.


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Dr. Waleed Obaidallah Alsubhi is Assistant Professor of Translation at the University of Jeddah. He received his Master’s Degree in Translation from Sheffield University, and his Ph.D. in Translation Studies from Birmingham University, UK. He worked as a translation project manager for several translation and localization projects. He also works as Consultant for several institutions. His research interests are translation and cognition, translation technology, audiovisual translation and localization. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3831-0333