A Translational Comparison of the Acceptability of Profanity in Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian Film Subtitles

Authors

  • Janko Trupej

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/vestnik.12.7-26

Keywords:

audio-visual translation, profanity, film subtitles, shifts, censorship

Abstract

This article analyses the strategies for translating profanity in the Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian subtitles of 20 English-language films. Translations of 1,862 examples of profanity from the films into each of the three languages were examined, and the results showed both common characteristics and differences. In the Slovenian subtitles, 51.7% of the profanity was preserved, while this number is higher in both the Serbian (60.8%) and Croatian (63.1%) subtitles. In cases where several examples of a profane term or phrase were used in the same film, these were frequently translated differently, and this is true for the translation strategies in all three languages. There were objective reasons for not preserving profanity in approximately one-fifth of all the non-preserved examples in all three languages (SLO: 21.0%; SRB: 18.8%; CRO: 20.5%), while in the other cases the omissions can be attributed to (self-)censorship. A more detailed categorisation of examples of non-preserved profanity showed that in the Slovenian subtitles the strategy of deletion was used significantly more often (33.9%) than in the Serbian (26.9 %) and Croatian (26.1%) subtitles, while the differences between the categories modulation of register (SLO: 12.0%; SRB: 10.9%; CRO: 9.3%), radical change of meaning (SLO: 1.5%; SRB: 1.2%; CRO: 0.9%) and substitution with a pronoun (SLO: 0.9%; SRB: 0.2%; CRO: 0.6%) were less significant. Examples from the subtitles in each language illustrated that where profanity is frequently not preserved in translation, this may influence the macrostructural level of a film: i.e., it may affect the viewers’ understanding of events and characterisation, as well as the perception of relationships between particular characters.

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Published

23.12.2020

How to Cite

Trupej, J. (2020). A Translational Comparison of the Acceptability of Profanity in Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian Film Subtitles. Journal for Foreign Languages, 12(1), 7–26. https://doi.org/10.4312/vestnik.12.7-26

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