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The dilemma of subtitling Arabic metaphors into English: Pedagogical and practical perspectives

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submitted on 2023-11-02, 09:16 and posted on 2023-11-02, 10:23 authored by Amer Al-Adwan, Hanan Al-Jabri

Despite the fact that subtitling is the most prominent form of audiovisual translation (AVT) in the Arab World, few training centers and academic institutions prepare subtitlers for the industry. The present paper sheds light on one of the thorny issues that Arab subtitlers often encounter, namely that of translating metaphorical expressions into English. In particular, it investigates how fourteen students enrolled in the MA program in Audiovisual Translation at Hamad Bin Khalifa University dealt with Arabic metaphors in their subtitling tasks. The students were asked to subtitle two extracts from the famous Syrian series Maraya, and write a commentary on the most problematic issues they encountered during the process. Drawing mainly on Pedersen's (2017) translation strategies for metaphors, the analysis reveals that the students resorted to four strategies: converting metaphor to sense, reproducing the same image in the target language (TL), replacing the image in the source language (SL) with a standard TL image and literal translation. It is also noted that some students faced issues with the Syrian dialect spoken by the original characters of the series, and this resulted in an inaccurate or even in some instances incorrect translation. It is recommended that during their training students should be exposed to more audiovisual materials that contain challenging metaphorical expressions, and should be encouraged to research and read relevant literature on the topic. This will qualify them to become professional subtitlers with a strong academic background, and will certainly improve the quality of their subtitling.

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Published in: Ampersand
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences - HBKU

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