Publication details [#3706]

Sidiropoulou, Maria. 1998. Offensive language in English-Greek translation. Perspectives 6 (2) : 183–199.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Source language
Target language
Person as a subject


Using three texts as paradigms, this article discusses how the treatment of taboo issues varies across cultures. The article focuses on how offensive language (references to sex, defecation, etc.) is dealt with in English-Greek translation, in three different genres, and how this reflects cross-cultural variation in the toleration shown by audiences in these two cultures. In a new translation situation, Greek cannot tolerate offensive items, whereas in prose and theatre translation it tolerates stronger offensive values. Brown and Levinson’s positive/negative politeness patterns are used to describe translators’ mediation of offensive items. In a press news translation situation, translators adopt a negative politeness strategy which neutralizes the offensive value of items. A positive politeness strategy favours accuracy, which has a neutralizing effect in prose translation, and an explicitation effect in theatre translation. Translators’ behaviour, thus, differs from genre to genre, notably in terms of the taboo item’s intentionally operative function.
Source : Based on abstract in journal