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Academic Paper

Title: The Translation of Prosody and all that Aggro: A case study of Arabic-English subtitling
Paper URL:
Author: Mohammad Ahmad Thawabteh
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Al-Quds University
Linguistic Field: Translation
Abstract: This paper explores the difficulty of translating prosodic features from Arabic into English, illustrated with two subtitled Egyptian films, Ramadan fawqa il-Burkān and Amn Dawlah subtitled by Arab Radio and Television into 'Ramadan Atop the Volcano' and 'State Security' respectively. The study shows that Arabic prosodic traits, such as length, rhythm, stress, pitch, intonation, and loudness in speech are difficult to retain on the screen without giving up parts of the semantic and lexical substance. This is perhaps due to the little linguistic affinity existing between English and Arabic (the former is an Indo-European language whereas the latter belongs to the Semitic language family) and also to the translation mode per se (i.e., subtitling) with its transference from spoken to written language, a mode which entails loss of prosodic features. The paper argues that failure to preserve prosodic features may jeopardise intercultural communication unless maximal use of semiotic webs is taken into account. The paper concludes that three strategies are employed, namely (1) avoidance, whereby the original prosodic traits are left undealt with; (2) the replacement of the original prosodic features with a lexical item in the target language; and (3) the use of punctuation marks.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Venue: Audiovisual Translation
Publication Info: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier (WVT) Publishing House

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