Tekstning af figurative idiomer fra engelsk til dansk: En empirisk undersøgelse af hvordan figurative idiomer oversættes i en tekstningssituation, herunder en undersøgelse af anvendelighedsgraden af etablerede oversættelsesstrategier for idiomer

Duong Dai Tran

Student thesis: Master thesis


Idioms pose a great challenge when translating from English to Danish. They are complex both in terms of syntactic construction and semantics, and can therefore often cause problems in a translational context. Figurative idioms, in particular, often present challenges to a translator due to their semantic covertness. Thus, the meaning of a figurative idiom is often different than the meanings of the individual words of which it consists. Furthermore, they can be culturally fixed, and thereby rooted in the history, society, etc. of a given country. These factors result in translational problems relating to their decoding and reproduction. Likewise, the art of subtitling is characterized by a set of conditions and limitations which inevitably limit the range of options of a translator. These limitations reflect different aspects, including the specific media in which such a translation takes place, but also the particular form of translation that characterizes subtitling. When juxtaposed with the aforementioned complexity of the figurative idiom, a translator thus faces a multitude of challenges, when confronted with the task of subtitling a figurative idiom. This thesis examines how figurative idioms in English are translated in Danish subtitles. Furthermore, it sets out to examine the applicability of the established translation strategies for idioms found in literal translation theories, as well as the effects, that the various conditions and constraints in subtitling have on the aforementioned strategies. As a theoretical basis for the empirical study and the analysis, a great deal of attention has been given to establish the nature of the figurative idiom, in order to determine the features most likely to cause problems for a subtitler. Also, a presentation and discussion of the established translation strategies for idioms are provided, which will serve as the analytical tool. The empirical study encompasses nine translated figurative idioms from four American movies, in which the translator’s chosen strategies will be discussed, as well as an examination and discussion of alternative strategies, which could have been applied. The study shows an application of several different strategies when subtitling figurative idioms. Certain tendencies were, however, found: The established translation strategies for idioms were found applicable in a subtitling context. A clear preference for literalization strategies were found in the translation of the nine idioms. Only one adherence strategy was used. Thus, it was determined that the preservation of the style of the original text did not have a high priority among the translators involved. Furthermore, a distinct preference for using a paraphrase strategy was found, and was the case in three of the nine examined translations. This strategy was not applicable, however, whenever the idiom was a noun phrase. The study also established the extent to which the different restraints in subtitling had on a subtitler’s choice of strategy. The time and space constraints did not significantly hamper the application of any translation strategies. This was found to be due to the limited length of idioms, which typically occur in the presence of a longer dialog. The sound issue relating to the filmic media did also not have a greater effect on the strategic choices. However, the Danish viewers’ knowledge of English did at times present the translator with some challenges, but this was not regarded as a major issue. Lastly, the issue relating to the picture of the filmic media only played a minimal role in the subtitling of figurative idioms. This was due to the fact that figurative idioms have their own figurative image, and it therefore only proved significant when both the literal and idiomatic meanings were applied.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages77