Research Article

Translating and Subtitling Taboo and Offensive Language into Arabic of some American Movies


  • Tayeb GHOURDOU Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Fes, Morocco


Translation expresses thoughts of social groups that are considerably different from one another. It could also be considered as a way of bringing cultures closer, which entails problems related to the way in which cultural elements are translated. There is always difficulty in understanding and translating a foreign text in which many cultural aspects and contexts are imbedded. The process of transferring these cultural aspects of texts necessitates the existence of equivalents (be they exact or near) and corresponding attributes in the Target Language (TL) to guarantee certain credibility and validity of the translation. Taboo words are one of these cultural aspects; they represent a big challenge to translators in the Arab world, as they are not tolerated by most conservative communities in the Arab world. This means that translators of movies (or subtitle producers) are obliged to resort to translating techniques to mitigate the degree of “indecency” while trying simultaneously not to lose the (im)moral and offensive impact of the expressed taboo words. The translation techniques used by movie translators vary from domestication and substitution to utter omission in order to lessen the translation constraints mainly related to religious profanity and moral offensiveness. So, this article attempts to show how translators use the previously mentioned techniques in order to bridge the gap between the original text of the movie and the target product text (subtitle).

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

6 (12)





How to Cite

GHOURDOU, T. (2023). Translating and Subtitling Taboo and Offensive Language into Arabic of some American Movies. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 6(12), 180–186.



audio-visual translation, culture, domestication, taboos, interlingual subtitling