A Study of Subtitle Translation Strategies Used to Translate the Offensive Language in Billions

Niko Hernando(1*),

(1) English Department, Faculty of Humanities and Creative Industries, Petra Christian University
(*) Corresponding Author


This study examines the expressions considered as offensive language produced by all characters in their workplaces in Billions and the subtitle translation strategies used to translate them. The writer applied two theories: Battistella’s (2005) theory of offensive language and Pedersen’s (2011) theory of subtitle translation strategy. This study was done using a qualitative approach. The expressions produced fall into all four categories: Vulgarity, Epithets, Profanity, and Obscenity. In addition, four out of six subtitle translation strategies are used to translate the offensive language: Substitution, Omission, Generalization, and Direct Translation. Both Retention and Specification are not used. Some expressions that are linguistically considered offensive language may not carry the offense when applied in a certain context of the conversation. Substituting the offensive language with another local expression ensures the message is delivered and maintains the unpleasant impression whereas euphemizing or eliminating it may significantly alter the original nuance.


subtitle translation strategy, offensive language, workplaces

Full Text:



Amazon. (n.d.). Amazon.com: Customer reviews: Billions season 1. Amazon. Retrieved

February 21, 2022, from https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B019ZUZ3RU/ref=atv_dp_cr_see_all?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews

Ávila-Cabrera, J. J. (2016). The treatment of offensive and taboo terms in the subtitling of

reservoir dogs into Spanish. TRANS. Revista de Traductología, 20, 25–40. https://doi.org/10.24310/trans.2016.v0i20.3145

Baruch, Y., Prouska, R., Ollier-Malaterre, A., & Bunk, J. (2017). Swearing at work: The mixed

outcomes of profanity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 32(2), 149–162. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmp-04-2016-0102

Battistella, E. L. (2005). Bad language: Are some words better than others? Oxford University


Matkivska, N. (2014). Audiovisual translation: Conception, types, characters’ speech and

translation strategies applied. Studies About Languages, 0(25), 38–44. https://doi.org/10.5755/j01.sal.0.25.8516

Pedersen, J. (2011). Subtitling norms for television: An exploration focussing on extralinguistic

cultural references. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Prasetyo, R. B., & Setyaningsih, R. W. (2016). Negotiated taboo in Sylvia Day’s bared to you

erotic novel. Anglicist, 5(2), 134–144. http://journal.unair.ac.id/ANGLICIST@negotiated-taboo-in-sylvia-day%E2%80%99s-bared-to-you-erotic-novel--article-11338-media-94-category-8.html

Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). Billions. Rotten Tomatoes. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/billions

DOI: https://doi.org/10.9744/katakita.10.2.207-214


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Supported by:

Indexed in:





Stats (installed since 17 December 2018)
View My Stats