The Translation of Substitution and Ellipsis in Arabic Subtitling




Arabic subtitling, cohesion, ellipsis, substitution, translation shifts


This paper investigates the trends in translating cohesive devices while subtitling English-speaking films into Arabic through examining a corpus of 20 films. It looks at how translators deal in particular with substitution and ellipsis and how their approaches serve the cohesiveness of the subtitles. The paper also looks at the translation shifts resulting from those approaches. The study is based on Halliday and Hasan's model of cohesion (1976). The analysis has found a considerable number of shifts occurring while dealing with the cohesion of the target texts. Repetition stands to be the most dominant cohesive tie that is used as a counterpart of substitution and ellipsis in the English originals, making explicitation the main strategy in translating such ties in Arabic subtitles. Substitution comes second while ellipsis and reference are found to be marginal. In their tendency to avoid ellipsis, translators opt for repetition or substitution as cohesive devices in Arabic subtitles.


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Author Biographies

Sattar Izwaini, American University of Sharjah

Earned his PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), UK. He is an Associate Professor at the American University of Sharjah, UAE where he teaches translation at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He acted as the coordinator of the MA program in translation at AUS (2011–2014), and has taught languages, linguistics and translation in Britain and the Arab World. His research interests include corpus-based translation studies, audiovisual translation, localization, terminology, machine translation, and contrastive linguistics & translation.

Hafsa Al-Omar, Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities

Holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Translation from Ajman University of Science and Technology and a Master’s in English/Arabic/English Translation and Interpretation from the American University of Sharjah. She worked as a Senior Interpreter at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, Abu Dhabi, and as a Technical Translator in KEO International Consultants and Broadway Malyan, Abu Dhabi. She currently works as a Translator at the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities in Abu Dhabi.




How to Cite

Izwaini, S., & Al-Omar, H. (2019). The Translation of Substitution and Ellipsis in Arabic Subtitling. Journal of Audiovisual Translation, 2(1), 126–151.



Research articles