Monday 05th of December 2022


Framing Neapolitan swearwords in contemporary AVT scenario: swearing as a lingua-cultural phenomenon

Flavia Cavaliere, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II pdf_icon_30x30




Abstract: Swearing is a linguistic practice common to most societies and cultures, even though there is great variation in what constitutes swearing in different cultures and how it is expressed, depending on the hierarchy of values that are prevalent in a given society. Swearing is therefore an intrinsic part of a language (Dewaele 2010; Ljung 2011) and since any “structure of a language is a powerful tool for understanding a culture” (Sagarin 1968: 18), whatever one’s own personal attitudes are towards this phenomenon, the socio-cultural signicance of swearing must be acknowledged. Accordingly, in recent decades, the practice of swearing has been the subject of increasing amounts of scholarly investigation. Swearing is also becoming less marked as a sociolinguistic activity and it is no longer mostly confined to private interpersonal settings, but is progressively accepted in new domains including literature, television, films, social media, and so on (Henry 2006; Dynel 2012). The present paper investigates the different translation strategies chosen to render swearwords from the original Italian into the English subtitles in the film Gomorra (Garrone 2008) and the Italian TV series bearing the same title (Sky Italia 2014), both based on the eponymous book by Roberto Saviano. The study, conducted on a comparative, descriptive, non-judgemental basis, has been carried out by analysing the Italian audio scripts of the film and the TV series and the English subtitles contained in the Italian DVDs. The overall conclusion is that subtitles allow swearwords’ denotative and domesticated messages to get across; however, because no translations were available in English for the Neapolitan dialect items, many of the sociocultural-specific references embedded in the source text tend to remain opaque and swearwords’ sociopragmatic nuances are often flattened or even disappear.


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