Translation strategies of taboo words from English into Thai for film subtitling


  • Chotika Settanyakan


translation strategy, linguistic translation, taboo word, offensive word, film subtitle


This research aims to analyze and present strategies popularly used by professional translators for translating taboo words in film subtitles from English to Thai. The data samples were composed of pairs of original and translated taboo words collected from subtitles of films chosen randomly from the Box Office top-ranked 20 films of 2019. The translation analysis was divided into two areas: global translation strategies based on Newmark’s (1988) theory, and local translation strategies based on Davoodi’s (2009) theory. The analysis of the results showed that the translators used 6 strategies, in the following order of frequency: communicative translation (54%), free translation (18%), non-translation (15%), semantic translation (8%), faithful translation (4%) and idiomatic translation (1%). In addition, there were 5 local strategies used by the translators: taboo for taboo (44.4%), taboo with euphemism (20.4%), censorship (14.8%), applying euphemism (13%) and substitution (7.4%). These results imply that most translators value the translation of taboo words, and, therefore, prefer using taboo for taboo, as well as communicative translation strategies in order to create translations which effectively communicate in Thai while retaining fidelity to the English originals. In instances where translators encounter very rude taboo words, they will modify the taboo words in Thai so that the words are more polite.




How to Cite

Settanyakan, C. (2021). Translation strategies of taboo words from English into Thai for film subtitling. FOYER: The Journal of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education, 4(2), 302–357. Retrieved from