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Academic Paper

Title: The Translatability of Gestures: A Case Study of Arabic-English Subtitling
Author: Mohammad Ahmad Thawabteh
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Al-Quds University
Linguistic Field: Translation
Subject Language: Arabic, Standard
Abstract: This paper explores how Arabic gestures are dealt with in English subtitles, illustrated with a subtitled Egyptian film: Ramadan atop the Volcano, subtitled by Arab Radio and Television (ART). The study shows that nonlinguistic bodily movements, such as gestures, facial expressions, etc. are as important for the flow of communication as linguistic codes are. With regard to translation, the study reveals that the most frequent strategy is an avoidance of rendering SL gesture whereby the target audience is left to forge its own interpretation of the gesture. This strategy may jeopardise intercultural communication especially between languages of little linguistic and cultural affinity, e.g., Arabic and English. Following Karamitroglou (2000), Shwartz (2002), and Orero (2004), the study argues that a rendition of the SL gesture in which the linguistic codes, i.e. subtitles concurrently with gesticulation may produce optimal translation.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Bahri Publication
Publication Info: International Journal of Translation Vol. 23, No. 2, Jul-Dec 2011

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