Volume 62, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0521-9744
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9668
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


The transfer of offensive and taboo language in subtitling may position translators’ choices in a challenging and controversial situation, given the effect that such terms can cause on the audience (Díaz Cintas 2001a). Nowadays, it seems that dealing with this type of language starts to gain more attention in academic circles, as it belongs to colloquial language within a low register, and as such we do speak in diverse manners depending on the context we are in. This paper delves into the way offensive and taboo language has been subtitled into European Spanish. In order to conduct this study, the subtitling of the DVD version of Quentin Tarantino’s multilingual film (2009) has been described and analyzed, resorting to a multi-strategy design (Robson 2011) which combines quantitative with qualitative data, under the umbrella of the descriptive translation studies paradigm. Accordingly, the main purpose of this analysis is to determine any regularities in the way in which offensive and taboo language has been dealt with in this particular case study, considering the technological restrictions of subtitling as well as the translational strategies employed. Thus, this study aims to shed some light on the way this type of language has been transferred on the screen.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ávila-Cabrera. José J
    2013 “Subtitling Multilingual Films: The Case of Inglourious Basterds”. RAEL: Revista Electrónica de Lingüística Aplicada12: 87–100. [dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=4648324].
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Ávila Cabrera , José J
    2014 The Subtitling of Offensive and Taboo Language: A Descriptive Study. Ph.D. dissertation. Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.
  3. Ávila-Cabrera, José J
    2015 “An Account of the Subtitling of Offensive and Taboo Language in Tarantino’s Screenplays”. Sendebar26: 37–56. [revistaseug.ugr.es/index.php/sendebar/article/view/2501/3789].
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Allan, Keith , and Kate Burridge
    1991Euphemism and Dysphemism: Language Used as Shield and Weapon. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Allen, Irving L
    1983The Language of Ethnic Conflict: Social Organization and Lexical Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Azzaro, Gabriele
    2005Four-Letter Films: Taboo Language in Movies. Rome: Aracne.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bucaria, Chiara
    2009 “Translation and Censorship on Italian TV: An Inevitable Love Affair?” VIAL: Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics6: 13–32.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Chaume, Frederic
    2004Cine y traducción. Madrid: Cátedra.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Creswell, John W
    2003Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd edn). Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Dalzell, Tom , and Terry Victor
    2008The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (8th edn). London and New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Díaz Cintas, Jorge
    2001aLa traducción audiovisual: el subtitulado. Salamanca: Almar.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. 2001b “Sex, (Sub)Titles and Videotapes”. InTraducción subordinada II: el subtitulado (inglés – español/galego), ed. by Lourdes Lorenzo García and Ana M. Pereira Rodríguez , 47–67. Vigo: Universidad de Vigo.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. 2012 “Clearing the Smoke to See the Screen: Ideological Manipulation in Audiovisual Translation.” Meta57 (2): 279–293. [id.erudit.org/iderudit/1013945ar]. doi: 10.7202/1013945ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/1013945ar [Google Scholar]
  14. Díaz Cintas, Jorge , and Aline Remael
    2007Audiovisual Translation: Subtitling. Manchester: St Jerome Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fernández Fernández, M. Jesús
    2006 “Screen Translation. A Case Study: The Translation of Swearing in the Dubbing of the Film South Park into Spanish”. Translation Journal10 (3). [www.bokorlang.com/journal/37swear.htm]
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Filmer, Denise
    2014 “The ‘gook’ goes ‘gay’. Cultural Interference in Translating Offensive Language”. Intralinea15. [www.intralinea.org/archive/article/the_gook_goes_gay].
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Greenall, Annjo K
    2011 “The Non-Translation of Swearing in Subtitling: Loss of Social Implicature?” InAudiovisual Translation in Close-up: Practical and Theoretical Approaches, ed. by Adriana Şerban , Anna Matamala , and Jean-Marc Lavaur , 45–60. Bern: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Hughes, Geoffrey
    2006An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-Speaking World. New York and London: M.E. Sharpe.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Jay, Timothy B
    1980 “Sex Roles and Dirty Word Usage: A Review of the Literature and a Reply to Haas”. Psychological Bulletin88 (3): 614–621. [www.mcla.edu/Undergraduate/uploads/textWidget/1457.00013/documents/jay2.pdf]. doi: 10.1037/0033‑2909.88.3.614
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.88.3.614 [Google Scholar]
  20. 2009 “The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words”. Perspectives on Psychological Science4 (2): 153–161. doi: 10.1111/j.1745‑6924.2009.01115.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01115.x [Google Scholar]
  21. Lung, Rachel
    1998 “On Mis-Translating Sexually Suggestive Elements in English-Chinese Screen Subtitling”. Babel44 (2): 97–109. doi: 10.1075/babel.44.2.02lun
    https://doi.org/10.1075/babel.44.2.02lun [Google Scholar]
  22. McEnery, Tony
    2006Swearing in English. Bad Language, Purity and Power from 1586 to the Present. London and New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Robson, Colin
    2011Real World Research: A Resource for Users of Social Research Methods in Applied Settings (3rd edn). Chichester: Wiley.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Scandura, Gabriela L
    2004 “Sex, Lies and TV: Censorship and Subtitling.” Meta49 (1): 125–134. [id.erudit.org/iderudit/009028ar]. doi: 10.7202/009028ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/009028ar [Google Scholar]
  25. Soler Pardo, Betlem
    2011Swearing and Translation: A Study of the Insults in the Films of Quentin Tarantino. Ph.D. dissertation. Universitat de València.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Spears, Richard A
    2000NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions. Illinois: NTC.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Toury, Gideon
    1980In Search of a Theory of Translation. Tel Aviv: Porter Institute.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Vinay, Jean-Paul , and J. Jean Dalbernet
    1995 “A Methodology for Translation”. InThe Translation Studies Reader (2nd edn), ed. by Lawrence Venuti , 84–93. London and New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Wajnryb, Ruth
    2005Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language. New York: Free Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Flor de mi secreto, La[Flower of My Secret, The]. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Spain: CiBy 2000, and El Deseo S.A., 1995 103 min.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Gran Torino. Directed by Clint Eastwood. USA: Matten Productions, Double Nickel Entertainment, Gerber Pictures, Malpaso Productions, Media Magik Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, WV Films IV, and Warner Bros 2008 116 min.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Inglourious Basterds. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. USA and Germany: Universal Pictures, The Weinstein Company, A Band Apart, Zehnte Babelsberg, and Visiona Romantica 2009 155 min.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. South Park. Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Directed by Trey Parker. USA: Comedy Central Films, Comedy Partners, Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, and Warner Bros 1999 81 min.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error