Translation by omission

Omission means dropping a word or words from the SLT while translating. This procedure can be the outcome of the cultural clashes that exist between the SL and the TL. In fact, it is in subtitling translations where omission attains its peak in use. The translator omits words that do not have equivalents in the TT, or that may raise the hostility of the receptor. For example, Arab translators usually omit English taboo words such as ‘fuck off’ and ‘shit’, while translating films into Arabic, just for the sake of respecting the Arab receptors, who may not tolerate the use of these words because of their culture. The process is also resorted to when translating from Moroccan Arabic into English:

SL: /3annaq SaHbo wmšaw bžuž lyid flyid/.

TL: He held his boy friend tightly and went together.

Here, we notice that the translator omits the Arabic words /lyid flyid/, ‘hand in hand’, since this act may mislead English receptors into believing that the “boy-friends” are homosexuals.

(From Translation Procedures, by Marouane Zakhir, University of Soultan Moulay Slimane, Morocco)

Similar Comparative Stylistics of French and Englishprocedures, with slightly different names,  are very clearly illustrated in the Comparative Stylistics of French and English, by Jean-Paul Vinay and Jean Darbelnet.

This book was first published in 1958, so some scholars may dismiss it as outdated. Far from it! The incredible language insight of its two authors and the thriving bilingual context (Canada) within which their theories were developed, have made it  an all-time classic, a must-have on any translator’s bookshelf.

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Translation by omission

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