Taboo and  translation

  ترجمه جملات و یا کلمات تابو چه در کتاب و یا در زیر نویس و یا دوبله فیلمها، مترجمان را به چالش می کشد. مطلب زیر ، چهار استراتژی مهم پیرامون این مساله را بیان می کند.

Taboo and Scholars

    The Victorian theorist James Frazer associated taboo with primitive cultures (cited in Robinson 1996) but more recent thinkers, including Freud (1950), Douglas (1966) and Robinson (1996), have shown how taboo is present in modern cultures as addiction and obsession. “Taboo as obsession or addiction would be the ideo-somatic fabric that holds society together, the shared bodily feel for right and wrong that causes us to shudder (and feel powerfully and fearfully attracted to) socially deviant behaviour” (Robinson 1996: 28). In his influential essay Totem and Taboo (1950) Freud shows how taboo denotes something inaccessible or unapproachable; it drives covert prohibitions and restrictions and as such implies something untouchable or something that should be kept out of reach: “the principle prohibition, the nucleus of the neurosis, is against touching” (Freud 1950: 27). The inherent danger of taboo lies in its ability to infect, to spread contagion.

According to Toury (2004) “translation is a kind of activity which certainly involves at least two languages and two cultural traditions, and hence different conventions and norms, so translation activity has cultural significance in societies” (p.207).

The role of Taboo translation in our life

In our modern life, the introduction of new technologies and subsequent boom in satellites, television, as well as the Internet, has made the world a much smaller place allowing different nations, cultures and languages to interact more frequently. One of the biggest concerns of audiovisual translators is cultureand ideological items among which taboo expressions are of great importance.

Statement of the problem

According to Franco (1996) “translation mixes two or more cultures” (p.52). Translation is also a norm-governed activity. In the case of translating movies especially in the form of dubbing, the presence of norms is more obvious due to the ideological differences among different cultures and even within the same society in different periods of times. Pym (1999) believes that “norms change from place to place, time to time, and they are subject to the conditions of a society”(p.106). Such differences will be more conspicuous between Islamic (like Iran after the Islamic Revolution) and non-Islamic, particularly western, cultures.

Nowadays translating of movies in the form of dubbing plays an important role in every society and could affect the culture of the recipient society in a long period of time. Translation of movies can be manifested in the form of dubbing and subtitling. So many movies are bought every year from different countries with different cultures to Iran. In societies like Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, such norms are more tough and stricter due to the ideological changes in that period of time.

The present study is significant for providing guidelines to professional translators as well as translator trainees to transfer taboo words and sentences in movies into the target language culture.

Strategy for Taboo Translation

This study aims to investigate the most common strategies used in dubbing of taboo words and sentences such as censorship, euphemism, taboo to taboo and taboo to non-taboo from English into Persian in different movies dubbed in Iran.


  • Censorship: Censorship is one issue on which the cultural divide between the West and Islam turns out to be less wide than Westerner ordinarily assume. The most celebrated case of the last decade that of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verse, published in Britain in 1988 but banned in most Muslim countries brought the Western hypocrisy by different forces than in Muslim societies. (p.119)


I enjoyed drinking with you,Benjamin?

ترجمه نشده است.

  • Euphemism: Shoebottom (2005) states that “Euphemism derives from Greek words “eu” well+ “phem” speaking and it means “right silence” in ancient Greek” (p.1). In other words, euphemism is the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression to replace one that offends or suggests something unpleasant.


I’ve never been to a brothel, either.

.من هرگز به یک کلوپ شبانه نرفته بودم

  • Taboo to Taboo


Damn, that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

.لعنتی،این ناراحت کننده ترین چیزیه که میشنوم


  • Taboo to Non-Taboo

Well, you’re drunk every night.

.شما که هر روز روزه استراحتته


Franco, J. (1996). Culture-specific Items in Translation. In: R. Alvarez & M.     Carmen-Africa Vidal (Eds.), Translation, power, supervision (pp.52-78).       Clevedon/ Philadelphia/ Adelaide, Multilingual Matters LTD.

 VARNEY, JENNIFER, (1945–۲۰۰۵), Taboo and the translator

Examples and some definitions as sited in Yaghout Thesis

 گردآوری: هانیه عظیم زادگان