Interlingual Subtitling Of Metaphors English Language Essay

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So far it has been concluded that the number of researches about the interlingual subtitling of metaphors from English to Persian is considerably scant. Besides, the lack of adequate attention to the conditions which root in the nature of subtitling may strongly influence any research in the field or result in questioning the authenticity of the out-coming results. Therefore, the consideration of technical points regarding the methods of data collection and data processing plays a central role in any research.

This chapter tends to illuminate these vital issues to disambiguate the way the required data has been collected and processed in the current thesis. Accordingly, it tries to present a clear picture about the methodology which has been used by the researcher.

3.2. Aims of study

There have always been ups and downs in the subtitling of cinema-film due to the nature and unique features of this particular type of translation.

Certain constraints in subtitling such as time, space and the difference between the speed of the dialogues and the reading speed of the viewers as well as various semiotic channels which can be used to convey information in a subtitled film and many other features which have been referred to in the previous chapters make subtitling a hard nut to crack an at the same time an attractive proposition for researchers and translators. Although lack of adequate researches (both from qualitative and quantitative point of view) increases the need for doing more researches in the field.

The present thesis is aimed at investigating among a number of subtitled cinema-films from English to Persian to determine the current status of subtitling metaphors and to throw light on the present shortcomings in this type of translation. Moreover, it plans to evaluate the practicality of the strategies suggested by Newmark (1981; 1988) to translate metaphors in a subtitling context. Accordingly, this research presents a methodological way of subtitling English metaphors to Persian based on the strategies for translating metaphors (Newmark, 1988), the patameters in subtitling (Pedersen, 2005), The guidelines in subtitling (Karamitroglou, 1998) and the cognitive theory of metaphors (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980).

The other objective of the present thesis is to study the possibility of applying the theory of 'linguistic imperialism' (Phillipson, 1992) in subtitling metaphors.

In general, 'linguistic imperialism' means the transmission of the dominant language (English) to other people. According to this theory, language becomes a tool to convey the dominant culture over to other cultures. In the frame of this theory, Phillipson (1992) criticizes the unprecedented growth of The English language as an international language among the former colonies of England such as India, Pakistan and Malaysia and its new colonies like the whole Europe.

Islamic Republic of Iran is among the leading Islamic countries with a highly religious government which roots in Islamic values. Safeguarding these values against what Iranian authorities use to call 'western cultural invasion' has always been among the most important issues of the ruling religious government. Western movies in general and American movies in particular which are widely welcomed by Iranian youngsters (in particular) are considered as a way of influencing the Islamic culture in Iran. Despite the restrictions placed by the ruling system, the ongoing trend of illegal subtitling and distribution of such original movies at the level of Iranian society is undeniable.

The present thesis tries to study the possibility of influencing the Persian language and culture via the subtitles of such movies and in the frame of linguistic imperialism.

To summarize, the main objectives of this research can be expressed through the following questions:

1. What strategies are used by translators to deal with metaphoric expressions as culture-specific items in the subtitling of American movies to Persian?

2. What are the gaps in the subtitling of metaphoric expressions in the movies under study?

3. How can we stop the gaps and what strategies can be used to overcome these gaps?

4. What is 'English metaphorical imperialism' and how influential is it in the subtitling of American movies to Persian?

On the basis of what has been stated so far, the next chapter is devoted to the discussion and analysis of the collected metaphors in the form of subtitles and according to the considered theories and views of this thesis. In other words, chapter 4 will cover questions 1 to 3. The discussion of the possible way(s) in which American language and culture may influence Persian language and culture through movie subtitles and in the frame of linguistic imperialism will be considered in chapter 5.

3.3. Data collection

The required data for this thesis has been collected from among 20 American movies which have been listed in the appendix. The original American movies are prohibited in Iran due to the scenes which are against the accepted Islamic values. Hence, such movies which are usually subtitled in the countries such as Egypt and U.A.E. will be distributed in an illegal way and consequently in concealment in the Iranian society. Therefore, there is no access to person(s) who did the subtitling for such movies.

The genre of a cinema-film plays a highly influential role in the variety and number of the applied metaphors in that movie. So, the researcher has considered two genres (namely, romance and action) for the movies under this study (10 movies for each genre) to achieve more control on the number, variety and kind of metaphors. The main reason to select the movies in the stated two genres is the various and numerous applied metaphors in them. On the other hand, the strategies used by subtitlers to translate the metaphors in the movies offer the best excuse for the researcher to widely and deeply discuss the cases on the basis of the considered theories for this thesis.

The researcher has extracted the full transcript of the considered movies in this thesis from internet ( to compare with the spoken dialogues in order to avoid any possible mistake in understanding metaphors (e.g. slip of ear, local dialects, idiolects, etc). Accordingly, the extracted data for this thesis includes the English metaphors in the form of written dialogues and their associated subtitles in Persian.

3.4. Data analysis

This thesis benefits from a qualitative approach to analyze and discuss its data. On this basis, the manually collected data will be discussed according to the views issued by Newmark (1981; 1988) to taxonomize and translate different types of metaphors. In the mean time, the process of translating metaphors will be done with regard to the parameters of subtitling culture-bound references (e.g. metaphors) issued by Pedersen (2005) and the guidelines of subtitling between European countries collected by Karamitroglou (1998).

The attitudes by Newmark (1981; 1988) regarding metaphors play a pivotal role in the present thesis. According to Newmark (1988, pp. 106-112), metaphors should be grouped under the following 6 heads:

Dead metaphor: this type of metaphor "frequently relates to universal terms of space and time, the main part of the body, general ecological features and the main human activities" (ibid, p.106). Dead metaphors have lost their images through overuse. Newmark put idioms, metonyms and synecdoche in this group. Examples for dead metaphors are: 'at the foot of the hill', 'the arm of the chair' and 'square the circle'.

Clich‚ metaphor: this type of metaphor stands between dead and stock metaphors, and is "used as a substitute for clear thought, often emotively, but without corresponding to the facts of the matter" (ibid, p. 107). Clich‚ metaphors are usually used in two combinations: figurative adjective + literal noun (e.g. filthy lucre) and figurative verb + figurative noun (e.g. stick out a mile)

Stock or standard metaphor: Newmark (1988) has defined this type of metaphor as "an established metaphor, which in an informal context is an efficient and concise method of covering a physical and/or mental situation both referentially and pragmatically" (ibid, p. 108). Stock metaphors are usually applied in non-formal texts. Examples for this type of metaphor includes 'to oil the wheels' and 'keep the pot boiling'

Adapted metaphor: this type of metaphor is actually a stock metaphor that has been adapted into a new context by its speaker or writer, for example, the stock metaphor 'carrying coals to Newcastle' can be turned into an adapted metaphor by saying ' almost carrying coals to Newcastle'. Proverbs can be put into this category.

Recent metaphor: this type of metaphor is produced through coining and is spread in the SL rapidly. These metaphors often belong to slang. Examples for this type are 'pissed', meaning drunk, 'fuzz', meaning cop, and 'greenback', meaning bill.

Original metaphor: this type of metaphor is "created or quoted by the SL writer", and in the broadest sense, "contains the core of an important writer's message, his personality, his comment on life" (ibid, p.112). An example of this type is: Let's weigh the night of a village, and the slumber of a gazelle.

On the other hand, Newmark (1988) has considered the following strategies to translate metaphors:

- Reproducing the same image in the TL

- Replacing the image in the SL with a standard TL image which does not clash with the TL culture

- Translation of metaphor by simile, retaining the image

- Translation of metaphor (or simile) by simile plus sense, or occasionally metaphor plus sense

- Conversion of metaphor to sense

- Deletion. If the metaphor is redundant or serves no practical purpose, there is a case for its deletion, together with its sense component

- Translation of metaphor by the same metaphor combined with sense. The addition of a gloss or an explanation by the translator is to ensure that the metaphor will be understood

Newmark (1988, pp. 106-114) has also suggested that the translator should choose from among the above strategies on the basis of the type of the metaphor which is supposed to be translated. Therefore, he has offered the following guidelines to translate metaphors:

- Literal translation is not possible for dead metaphors.

- In vocative texts, "clich‚ metaphors should be upheld in the TT" (ibid, p. 107); however, in informative texts it can be replaced by sense or a more credible stock metaphor.

- In the translation of stock metaphors, the SL image should be reproduced in the TL. At times, the stock metaphors should be reduced to sense or literal language.

- Adapted metaphors should be translated by equivalent adapted metaphors. They may also be reduced to sense.

- Recent metaphors should be translated through componential analysis.

- In vocative texts, original metaphors should be translated in a literal way as they "contain the core of an important writer's message" (ibid, p. 112). However, if they are obscure or of little importance to the text, they should be reduced to sense or be replaced by a descriptive metaphor. In informative texts, the translation of original metaphors should be done through literal translation, reduction to sense or modification of metaphor.

Another point which has been taken into serious consideration in this thesis is the matter of influencing parameters in translation. Pedersen (2005) has mentioned a comprehensive list of influencing parameters in the subtitling of culture-bound references (e.g. metaphors) as follows:

- Transculturality: It stands for the concept that the cultural references which were once familiar only in one culture are now well-known in other cultures as well. Leppihalme (1994; qtd. by Pedersen, 2005, Transculturality, para. 1) considers three levels for transculturality; namely, transcultural reference, monocultural reference and microcultural reference.

- Extratextuality: It refers to the fact whether the reference exists out of the ST. If the reference can only be found in the ST, it is called text internal, but if it can be detected in a certain culture regardless of the text in hand, it is called text external. Transcultural references, monocultural references and microcultural references are all text external. On the other hand, if the reference is only constructed for the text or a series of texts, it should be considered as a text internal reference.

- Centrality of Reference: It is one of the most prominent and influential parameters which works at two levels, namely micro and macro level. If the reference plays a pivotal role in the film, or technically works at macro level, it should be highlighted in subtitles. In contrast, if it plays only a marginal role in the film or is considered as less important, or in a technical way works at a micro level, less attention should be given to it in the translation.

- Intersemiotic Redundancy: Interlingual subtitling is a type of translation which involves different semiotic channels. Gottlieb (1997; qtd. by Pedersen, 2005, Intersemiotic Redundancy, para. 1) refers to these semiotic channels as: the non-verbal visual channel (i.e. the picture), the non-verbal audio channels (e.g. music and sound effects), the verbal audio channel (i.e. the dialogues) and the verbal visual channels (signs and captions). Any overlap between the information being conveyed from these channels may result in intersemiotic redundancy.

- Co-Text: It refers to the situation in which there is an overlap between the information in the co-text (the dialogue) in a way that they make redundant features.

- Media-Specific Constraints: The semiotic switch in subtitling from the spoken word into the written one may cause a switch in the style and consequently make it more formal.

- Paratextual Considerations: This parameter has nothing to do with the text itself rather it is about the text. It includes issues such as national norms of subtitling, the company's guidelines and other in-house rules for subtitling, the interest of the clients about certain sorts of strategies, the norms that the subtitler prescribes to (foreignization, domestication, etc.), the genre of the film and the like.

To bring an example to illuminate how these two attitudes; namely, the attitude issued by Newmark (1981; 1988) and the one by Pedersen (2005) are incorporated here to serve the purposes of this thesis, we can consider the fact that the matter of choosing the strategies to translate metaphors is highly influenced by the aim of subtitling (e.g. entertainment, education).

Moreover, there will be a final evaluation to see whether the suggested subtitles follow the guidelines of subtitling among European countries (Karamitroglou, 1998).

3.5. Limitations

The title of the present thesis is 'English Metaphoric Translation in the Subtitling of American Movies to Persian'. Accordingly, this thesis tends to go for 'interlingual subtitling' and has nothing to do with other branches of AVT. The languages under this study are respectively English (as SL) and Persian (as TL); therefore, other languages are out of the interest here. In the mean time, the present study discusses the matter of subtitling metaphors; hence, it has nothing to do with other figures of speech or non-figurative language. The required data for this thesis has been extracted from 20 American movies which are listed in the appendix. Besides, it uses a qualitative approach to discuss and analyze its data and has no interest in the common statistical information of quantitative approach.

To summarize, the present thesis takes a cognitive approach (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980) in subtitling metaphors with regard to the suggested strategies for the translation of metaphors by Newmark (1981; 1988) and the suggested influencing parameters in subtitling by Pedersen (2005). Moreover, it tries to keep up with the guidelines of subtitling among European countries (Karamitroglou, 1998) during the study. And finally, the matter of subtitling metaphors from English to Persian will be considered from the cultural perspective and on the basis of the theory of linguistic imperialism (Phillipson, 1992).