AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 7, Number 1. February  2023                         Pp.151-161

Subtitling Strategies of Swear Words and Taboo Expressions from English into Arabic in the American Sitcom Friends: Corpus-Based Study

Department of Languages and Literature
Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Fez, Kingdom of Morocco


The current study attempted to determine the techniques used to render swear words and the translation quality. The present study’s findings will help address the gaps in the literature and the translation practices related to translating taboo expressions and swear words. The study adopted a mixed method to conduct the analysis. The qualitative techniques of the study focused on identifying the strategies employed when working with audiovisual rendering, while quantitative techniques focused on quality assessment. It is important to note that no quantitative tests were carried out in the analysis to measure the quality of the study. From the investigation, the study confirmed that the most used translation techniques were omission and euphemism. Another reason to use omission as a translation approach is that some swear, and taboo words collide in English but not Arabic. Omission as a tactic may be appropriate if the translation does not create a vacuum on the screen that prevents viewers from thoroughly enjoying the film. Besides, the translator euphemistically interpreted various curses and forbidden phrases to contain such subtle offensiveness and vulgarity. This method is acceptable if it does not alter the essence of meaning. On quality, the study found that most of the subtitles are of low quality. While the approach provides a quantitative assessment, a qualitative assessment is also essential. Previous research on subtitling swears words and prohibited terms needs to be expanded. A paradigm that governs the tactics employed in Arabic-to-English subtitling is also required.
Keywords: Arabic translation, friends movie, swear words, subtitling strategies, taboo words

Cite as:

Mounadil, T.  (2023 Subtitling Strategies of Swear Words and Taboo Expressions from English into Arabic in the American Sitcom Friends: Corpus-Based Study. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 7 (1):151-161.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol7no1.11


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Tounssi Mounadil has taught English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) for over 15 years, both in the United States and Morocco. In 2018, he earned a master’s degree in Translation Technology and Specialized Translation from Cadi Ayad University in Morocco. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University in Fez, Morocco. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4136-4671