Translation and Crime: The Case of Subtitling English Thrillers into Arabic

Mohammad Ahmad Thawabteh


In subtitling, communication is seen as more than a matter of linguistic representation on screen. To relay the perceived meaning to the Target Language (TL) audience, other polysemiotic channels should then be taken into full consideration. This paper analyses a corpus of three scenes taken from a thriller entitled Crash (2004), broadcast on MBC4 satellite channel in 2010. The paper reveals that whilst the Source Language (SL) dialogue is highly confrontational and inflammatory, the Arabic subtitles ameliorate the dialogue, thus giving rise to a head-on clash with other polysemiotic elements of the moving picture. The paper also shows that the semiotic modalities should be explicitly encoded in the subtitles on screen. When these modalities are universal, translation avoidance strategy is an outlet. This strategy is employed to meet the expectations of the target audience which belongs to Arab culture of little affinity with that of English. The paper finally reveals that although foreignising strategy is advocated in subtitling, domesticating strategy is still a valid choice for the subtitler.



Subtitling; thriller; domesticating; foreignising; polysemiotic channels.

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Print ISSN: 1648-2824
Online ISSN: 2029-7203