Taboo and Offensive Language in Audiovisual Translation: A Spanish to English Case Study of the Television Series Paquita Salas

No Thumbnail Available
Wilkinson, MicKayla
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
Subtitling and translating works are incredibly difficult tasks to tackle, especially in the case of taboo and offense language. In the world of audiovisual translation, there is a limited amount of research on this problem, specifically on translations from Spanish to English. This project analyzes the subtitles from the Netflix original show Paquita Salas, which was originally created in the Spanish language. Specifically, this study considers the offensive Spanish word, “puta”, which appears seventeen times within the first season of the show, as a case study. This word, by itself or paired with other words in a phrase, can be translated into English to mean a large variety of different things, ranging from “prostitute”, to “freaking”, to “son of a bitch.” This project reveals that of the five impacts (maintained, softened, intensified, neutralized, or omitted) that can occur because of the translation of the offensive word or phrase, over half of the time the impact is one that alters the intent of the word from its original form. This can be for many reasons, many of which relate to the translator’s culture and that of the translated text. When meanings get lost in translation in different forms of media, much confusion can be created for the viewers. It is crucial that subtitles reflect the original intent of the message. This thesis allows others to see examples of these types of errors, as well as the ability to teach from its findings. By identifying common patterns and mistakes, translators are able to ensure that they make an effort to prevent it from happening.
College of Liberal Arts, audiovisual translation, offensive language, corpus linguistics