Investigating the Strategies of Translating Euphemism: The Case of Iraqi Students of Translation

  • Ahmed Qadoury Abed Mustansiriyah University College of ArtsTranslation Department
  • Hala Ghanim Mohammed Mustansiriyah University College of ArtsTranslation Department


This paper investigates the strategies of translating English and Arabic euphemism to both languages of Arabic and English used by Iraqi students of translation. It also addresses the directionality of languages in this context by determining whether the subjects of the current study find it more challenging to render Arabic euphemisms into English or vice versa. The paper defines the types of euphemism and outlines strategies for translating them, using extracts containing euphemistic and non-euphemistic expressions on topics such as death, work, impairment and lavatories, collected from 55 students. The conclusion is that literal translation was the most common strategy in translating Arabic and English euphemistic expressions for death and lavatory. Again, literal translation is popular for rendering work and impairment euphemistically into English, while substitution is used for translation into Arabic. Direction of the language played a role in choosing different strategies,  while switching from English into Arabic in terms of translating euphemistic expressions for lavatory, work and impairment; however, it had no impact on translating euphemistic expressions for death. Translating work and impairment euphemistically are challenging because of a lack of knowledge about commonly used soft expressions in either culture. The same applies to English expressions for lavatory; raising knowledge is therefore needed. The statistical analysis confirmed the use of non-euphemistic expressions as a direct translation of source text euphemism.



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