Transadaptation strategies in dubbing hybrid-text type advertisements into Arabic – is vernacular the panacea?

د. رشيد يحياوي
معهد دراسات الترجمة، جامعة حمد بن خليفة


Often times, transadapting/transcreating advertisements into distant languages and cultures is a challenging undertaking, as the content of most advertisements is very culturally laden. What exacerbates the translator’s task is the fact that certain texts are a mixture of text types and genres.
This paper’s primary objective is to present a study that investigated the strategies employed in audiovisual translation to deal with an array of issues that arise in the dubbing of a hybrid text type for dubbing into Arabic. An audiovisual advertisement, which is an amalgam of humor, scientific jargon, and cultural/religious references, is used as a case study.
The advertisement to be addressed was produced by as a campaign for raising awareness on colon cancer. It is a cartoon staring Homer from The Simpsons series. Because it is an animation, it is, more often than not, spared the wrath and criticism of viewers, perhaps because people take The Simpsons to be outrageously beyond reality, while if the same were to be done in reality, people would find the images quite shocking.
A secondary objective of the study was to test the translation of humorous passages, often linked to human anatomy and Homer’s blunt remarks. Verbal humor is one of the most difficult aspects in audiovisual translation, and some even consider it ‘untranslatable’ (Raphaelson-West 1989).
A Think Aloud Protocol, in the form of question prompts, was used as a method to gather part of the data, as it was key to gauging participants’ own agency in terms of decision making in the translation process and in validating these decisions. Participants were given the option of transadapting the advert into Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or in one of its vernaculars. Arabic, being a multi-glossic language (Elgibali 1988), allows for wider testing opportunities to establish better ways to translate any text type or genre.
The results show that the overwhelming majority (73%) of the translators opted for using Arabic vernacular, and 90 % preferred the domestication macro-strategy, with adaptation as a micro-strategy gaining the lion share in transferring humor into Arabic vernacular.

KEYWORDS: Transadaptation, advertisement, dubbing, humor, strategies, Arabic vernacular.