Ameriški najstniški svet v specifiki podnaslavljanja filma Juno

UNIVERZA V MARIBORU FILOZOFSKA FAKULTETA Oddelek za prevodoslovje





DIPLOMSKO DELO





Veronika Orešnik





Maribor, 2009

UNIVERZA V MARIBORU FILOZOFSKA FAKULTETA Oddelek za prevajalstvo





Diplomska naloga




AMERIŠKI NAJSTNIŠKI SVET V SPECIFIKI PODNASLAVLJANJA FILMA JUNO





Veronika OREŠNIK

Mentorica: izred. prof. dr. Michelle GADPAILLE Somentor: mag. Simon ZUPAN

Maribor, 2009

UNIVERSITY OF MARIBOR FACULTY OF ARTS Department of Translation Studies





Diploma Paper




THE AMERICAN TEENAGE WORLD: CASE STUDY OF SUBTITLING IN THE MOVIE JUNO





Veronika OREŠNIK

Mentor: Dr. Michelle GADPAILLE Co-mentor: Simon ZUPAN, M.A.

Maribor, 2009

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


First and foremost I would like to express my gratitude towards Dr. Michelle Gadpaille and Simon Zupan, M.A., for their numerous helpful observations and suggestions, to which this diploma paper is indebted. I would also like to thank translator Damjan Zorc for the Slovene subtitles of the movie Juno, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to my family and friends, who supported me through my studies.

U N I V E R Z A V M A R I B O R U



F I L O Z O F S K A F A K U L T E T A Koroška cesta 160

2000 Maribor







I Z J A V A





Podpisana Veronika Orešnik, rojena 17. 12. 1984, študentka Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Mariboru, smer prevajanje in tolmačenje – angleščina ter pedagogika, izjavljam, da je diplomsko delo z naslovom Ameriški najstniški svet v specifiki podnaslavljanja filma Juno pri mentorici izred. prof. dr. Michelle Gadpaille in somentorju mag. Simonu Zupanu, avtorsko delo.

V diplomskem delu so uporabljeni viri in literatura korektno navedeni; teksti niso prepisani brez navedbe avtorjev.





__________________________________

(podpis študenta-ke)





Maribor, ______________________
(datum)

THE AMERICAN TEENAGE WORLD: CASE STUDY OF SUBTITLING IN THE MOVIE JUNO

Abstract

Besides offering wonderful entertainment, the movie Juno introduces its audience to numerous aspects of the American teenage world. The movie itself is like a teenage rebel: it is different, it does not moralize and it is full of teenage problems, slang and humor – every piece of it is taken from the world of teens. The translator of the movie must immerse himself in this world to solve various translation difficulties, complicated by cultural, linguistic and subtitling restrictions. In the analysis and evaluation of subtitling, a differentiation between translating plain text and translating film dialogue is made, strategies for subtitling are discussed and constraints within which the subtitler must perform are explained. According to Birgit Nedergaard-Larsen’s (1993) clarification, culture-bound elements are divided into those of the extralinguistic and those of the intralinguistic kind. Features of figurative language (particularly simile, metaphor, alliteration and allusion) and their translation strategies are discussed. An overview of Slovene slang is provided, starting with theoretical points of Slovene linguists and the influences of Serbo-Croatian, German and English on Slovene slang and ending with the recent development of cyber slang and slang exploitation in advertising. On the basis of careful analysis of slang in the movie Juno, several features of American slang are explained with regard to Slovene translation. Here, attention is paid to the influence of American slang on Slovene, their comparison and the differences between the original dialogue and the translation. However, the main body of discussion involves the analysis of particular problems from the movie Juno and the provision of new solutions. The translation problems are divided into three main categories: culture-bound elements, figures of speech and slang. Special focus is given to the translation of allusions and figurative slang, since both have received little attention in Slovene linguistics and translation theory.


Key words: subtitling, culture, slang, rhetorical devices, allusions.

AMERIŠKI NAJSTNIŠKI SVET V SPECIFIKI PODNASLAVLJANJA FILMA JUNO



Povzetek

Film Juno, ki ga odlikujejo pikantni in zabavni dialogi, popelje slovenskega gledalca v ameriški najstniški svet. Film je kot najstniški upornik: drugačen, nemoralističen, obravnava številne najstniške probleme, vsebuje obilico slenga in humorja – sleherni delček filma je vzet iz najstniškega sveta. Prevajalec se mora zato potopiti v ta svet, da lahko razvozla prevajalske neznanke, prepletene s kulturnimi in jezikovnimi preprekami kot tudi z omejitvami podnaslavljanja. V diplomskem delu sem najprej pojasnila razlike med prevajanjem običajnih besedil in filmskih dialogov ter spregovorila o omejitvah, s katerimi se srečujejo prevajalci pri podnaslavljanju, in o strategijah podnaslavljanja. Tako kot Birgit Nedergaard-Larsen (1993) sem tudi jaz ločila kulturno specifične izraze na zunajjezikovne in znotrajjezikovne. Nadalje sem se osredotočila na značilnosti besednih figur, predvsem primere/komparacije, metafore, aliteracije in aluzije, ter na strategije njihovega prevajanja v slovenščino. Opravila sem pregled slovenskega slenga, od teoretičnih izhodišč slovenskih jezikoslovcev in vpliva srbohrvaščine, nemščine in angleščine na slovenski sleng, do zaključka z novejšim razvojem internetnega slenga in izkoriščanjem slenga za oglaševalske namene. Na osnovi natančne analize slenga v filmu Juno, sem pojasnila nekatere značilnosti ameriškega slenga in se ob tem ozrla na slovenski prevod filma. Tu sem se osredotočila na vplive ameriškega slenga na slovenskega, njuno primerjavo ter razlike med izvirnim dialogom in prevodom. Osrednji del diplomskega dela pa je predstavljala analiza posameznih problemov, ob katerih sem iskala nove, ustreznejše rešitve. Prevajalske probleme sem obravnavala po naslednjih osnovnih kategorijah: kulturno specifični izrazi, besedne figure in sleng. V primerih sem se osredotočila predvsem na prevajanje aluzij in figurativnega slenga, saj sta bili ti področji doslej deležni le malo pozornosti v slovenskem jezikoslovju in prevajalski teoriji.


Ključne besede: podnaslavljanje, kultura, sleng, besedne figure, aluzije.

CONTENTS


1. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................... 1

2. SUBTITLING .................................................................................................. 3

3. THE MOVIE JUNO......................................................................................... 8

4. SLOVENE SUBTITLES OF THE MOVIE JUNO ........................................... 9

4.1 Culture-bound Elements ............................................................................. 9

4.1.1 Translating Culture-bound Elements in Subtitles ................................. 9

4.1.2 Culture-bound Problems in the Movie Juno ....................................... 13

4.2 Figures of Speech ..................................................................................... 25

4.2.1 Simile ................................................................................................ 26

4.2.2 Metaphor ........................................................................................... 27

4.2.3 Alliteration ........................................................................................ 29

4.2.4 Allusion ............................................................................................. 31

4.3 Slang ........................................................................................................ 43

4.3.1 Slovene Slang .................................................................................... 43

4.3.2 Slang in the Movie Juno .................................................................... 54

4.3.3 Examples from the Movie Juno ......................................................... 65

5. CONCLUSION .............................................................................................. 72

6. BIBLIOGRAPHY AND OTHER RESOURCES ........................................... 75

LIST OF FIGURES


Figure 1: Tony Little Gazelle ............................................................................. 21
Figure 2: McGruff the Crime Dog ...................................................................... 36
Figure 3: Sea-Monkeys ...................................................................................... 37
Figure 4: ThunderCats and Thunderbirds ........................................................... 41
Figure 5: Mobitel’s pocket dictionary for text messaging ................................... 52
Figure 6: Mobitel advertisement for Itak Džabest ............................................... 53
Figure 7: Si.mobil advertisement for BlackBerry Smartphones .......................... 53
Figure 8: IziMobil advertisement for SPAR izipaket ........................................... 53
Figure 9: The classic red-and-white Etch A Sketch model .................................. 69





LIST OF TABLES


Table 1: Extralinguistic culture-bound problem types......................................... 18
Table 2: Social variants of Slovene language ..................................................... 44
Table 3: Euphemisms for sex, genitalia and pregnancy....................................... 55
Table 4: The translation of the American slang term “totally” into Slovene ........ 59

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





1. INTRODUCTION


Colloquial language, slang and the various figures of speech used in spoken language are the most popular areas of language learning. They are vibrant, creative and popular modes of expression that we encounter in everyday English. Their development has accelerated recently with the advent of electronic media, and is tracked by online publications such as the Urban Dictionary.1





The main body of the discussion consists of three parts. In the second chapter, a distinction between translating plain text and translating film dialogue is made. Strategies for subtitling are discussed and constraints within which the subtitler must perform are explained. In the third chapter, the movie Juno is presented. In the fourth, central chapter, particular problems are examined using examples from Juno, a quirky drama-comedy about teenage pregnancy. In it, the English version


1 Urban Dictionary is a Web-based dictionary of slang words and phrases that documents the language of urban cultures and subcultures. Anonymous users can contribute to Urban Dictionary by submitting new definitions and voting on existing definitions.


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New terms

are “derived from existing words or from popular culture (especially film, television and the internet)” (Keeley 2007). Just as translators need to familiarize themselves with new words arising from new concepts and technologies, they also need to keep up with changing usage and slang. After all, colloquial language and slang are difficult to translate, because they are as much lessons about culture as they are lessons about language.

In the recently released movie Juno, they used slang “out the yin-yang”. Directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, the film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and received numerous positive reviews from critics. The screenwriter’s “unique verbal patter and ear for stylized but believable slang give the film its own color palette” (Carlson 2007).

In this paper, I have decided to decipher its slang, the various figures of speech and culture-bound elements, and discuss the ways of transferring them into the Slovene language.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





of the film is compared with its Slovene translation. The former is based on the original English script, which was also published in book form, entitled Juno: The Shooting Script (Cody 2008); the latter is based on the version that premiered in Slovenian cinemas on March 6th 2008 and was translated by Damjan Zorc (2008).

The problems met by the translator of this movie are of various kinds. In this paper, they are divided into three main categories: culture-bound elements, figurative language and slang. These categories are in practice significantly interrelated; for instance, the most frequently represented figure of speech allusion is closely linked to American teenage world, and the movie’s slang is both culture-bound and based on figurative expression. Regardless of the division, the paper mainly focuses on translation of allusions, on the one hand, and translation of figurative slang terms, on the other, since both have received little attention in Slovene linguistics and translation theory.


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2. SUBTITLING


Subtitling a movie differs from translating a paper text. The translator must take into account not only the content itself but also the images, soundtrack and music. The main task of the translator is to convert the spoken dialogue into written text. This is not only a change of medium, but the elusive voice of the film dialogue is captured and presented on the screen visually (Schwarz 2002). This affects the viewer’s perception of the film, because the written word may have a stronger impact than the spoken one.

The main problem in subtitling lies in the difference between the spoken language and the reading speed. In most cases, it is not possible to capture all the details from the dialogue in the subtitles. Because of the physical limitation of space and the pace of spoken word, reduction of the text is inevitable. Viewers who have to read the subtitles experience the movie differently because they have to focus on reading and may therefore miss some details from the movie.

The translator of the movie has to be aware of the function of the dialogue. The dialogue communicates the narrative. It identifies the time and place of the story and characterizes its protagonists by giving them idiosyncratic voices, such as dialect, register, color and delivery of speech. Dialogue can also affect viewer’s emotions and send moral or political messages (Schwarz 2002). As is the case in Juno, it can contain several linguistic tricks, such as metaphor, alliteration and rhyme.

The translator has to produce subtitles which read naturally and are comprehensible to the viewers. S/he has to retain the same style and mood as in the dialogue. This demands special skills, in particular a rich vocabulary of synonyms. The translator also has to be able to adapt and re-write difficult parts of the dialogue. As Caillé (cited in Schwarz 2002) describes it, this type of work is “perpetuelle gymnastique intellectuelle” (“ongoing intellectual gymnastics”). Good subtitles are clear, simple and adequate. The translator has to be pragmatic


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and produce subtitles that can be read and understood within a few seconds as they appear on the screen. The viewers should not be primarily focused on the subtitles. They serve only as aid in understanding the narrative, so they must remain subordinate to the rest of the visual and oral stimuli.

The oral and visual clues in the movie must be recognized by the translator. According to Barbara Schwarz (2002), the images that appear on the screen can include the following features:

- Architectural or geographical landmarks

- Icons from mass culture like pop music or television

- Historical or political events

- Symbols of political or religious significance

The translator must understand their significance in the SL culture and identify them for the TL audience.

The soundtrack can also contribute to the density of the movie by evoking images or emotions with sounds, noises and carefully chosen music. In the case in Juno, “the film opens to strains of acoustic indie pop” which is a “way to convey the vibe and atmosphere the characters live in” (Carlson 2007). The lyrics describe the characters and support the story. They have not been translated, so the TL audience is deprived of experiencing the film’s content through the lyrics.

The translator should be especially attentive to the non-verbal clues (accents, dialects, registers, etc.), facial expressions, hand gestures and body language. S/he must be able to interpret these, which means that the translator is, as Katan (cited in Schwarz 2002) points out, “a cultural mediator”. Geographical and historical knowledge of the source language culture as well as the familiarity with personalities from popular culture are therefore necessary. The translator must be aware that his or her cultural identity might influence the interpretation of the foreign culture.


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Gottlieb (cited in Schwarz 2002) describes subtitling as a “balancing act”, whereby the dialogue is translated into lines of text, “conveying a maximum of semantic and stylistic information”. Baker (cited in Schwarz 2002) further states that in subtitles the volume is typically reduced by one third. Indeed, the subtitles of the movie Juno contain 36% fewer words.2





Although the problems in subtitling will mostly be linguistic and cultural in nature, the medium itself imposes several considerable restrictions and further complicates an already difficult task: making a good translation. These restrictions are mainly the limitation of the screen space and the limited duration of a subtitle (Lam 2006: 14). This means that the subtitler has to capture the essential meaning of what is being said, and s/he has to turn that into a sentence using a maximum of 32 characters per line. Therefore, for a subtitler, it is perhaps even more pressing to fully understand what is being said. If the sentences are to be broken up in two lines, the ideal would be to make the upper and the lower line of the same length. Bur often, that is not possible, so it is preferable to make the upper line the longer




2 English contractions, such as isn’t, that’s and you’re, count as one word.


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According to Kovačič (1996), such reduction is achieved through a decision-making process, where the translator decides what has to be translated and what can be left out. This process is influenced by three factors: the type of programme, the target audience and the aesthetic aspect of the language.

The type of programme may range from lightweight comedy or cartoon to educative or investigative documentaries. The different emphasis is reflected in the language: a comedy has to convey humor, whereas s documentary focuses on the content. The translator must also consider who the target audience is and adapt the choice of vocabulary and syntax. Films with mass-appeal should be accessible to everybody, so the language should be fairly simple and the subtitles of a manageable size. Finally, the translator should pay regard to the aesthetic value of the language. If the film dialogue contains figures of speech, such as metaphor, alliteration or rhyme, the translator’s task is to translate these as adequately as possible.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





of the two (Lam 2006: 17). What is the most important is that the lines should be divided reasonably and form a complete logical entity. Also, very long sentences should be broken into logical entities. The audience will have less trouble comprehending the thought if it is expanded over two subtitle flashes, instead of five. There should never be just one word in the lower line, nor should the lines end with a linking word (in, ter, pa) (Žagar, cited in Bratina 2007: 60-63).

The whole art of subtitling lies in shortening the dialogue as much as possible and still retaining the essence (Žagar, cited in Bratina 2007: 64). The translator should retain the pieces of information that are essential for the comprehension and appreciation of the target film as a whole. S/he should not attempt to transfer everything, even when this is spatio-temporally possible. According to Karamitroglou (1998), there exist three major categories of linguistic items that can be omitted:

- Padding expressions

: These are usually empty of semantic load and their presence is mostly functional, padding-in speech in order to maintain the desired speech flow.

Tautological cumulative adjectives/adverbs


: The first part of these double combinations has an emphatic role which can be incorporated in a single-word equivalent. Examples: great big huge, super extra extremely, teeny weeny tiny.

Responsive expressions


: The expressions, such as yes, no, ok, please, thanks, thank you and sorry, are recognized by the majority of European people, when clearly uttered, and could therefore be omitted from the subtitles. However, when they are not clearly uttered or when they are presented in a slang or colloquial version, they are not recognizable and should, therefore, be subtitled.

Two of these categories also apply to the movie Juno. First of all, the film dialogue is replete with padding expressions typical of slang. These include expressions like, so, kind of, sort of, well, I mean and you know. Secondly, the


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-





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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





movie contains various responsive expressions which are not standard, but uttered in slang and should therefore be subtitled. These are jeez, whoah, betcha, yeah, see ya, wow and eww.


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3. THE MOVIE JUNO


The movie tells the story of a 16-year-old girl, Juno, who gets pregnant while sexually experimenting with her best friend Paulie. After seeking a way out in suicide and abortion, she decides to give the baby up for adoption, and finds a perfect-looking couple in the local advertising magazine, Penny Saver. But her visit to the couple, Mark and Vanessa, causes an emotional tornado because Mark realizes he is not ready to grow up and become a father. Besides, Juno’s state of advanced pregnancy encounters disapproval in school and from a sterile, prejudiced society. Yet, “pregnancy is not the biggest drama for Juno”; her “real struggle is to find both genuineness and permanence in love” (Walden 2008).

The story’s “plotline is simple and there are no earth-shaking realizations”. But the movie’s “affectionate humor and respect for the frailty of humanity” remind the viewers that “drama does not have to be so brutal”. The movie evokes “a warm awareness of simply being at home in one’s skin” which makes it a pleasurable experience (Walden 2008).

The movie’s dialogue follows the model of 1930s screwball comedy: it works “with overwhelming firepower and wit”. Juno “is not necessarily on the cutting edge of IM jargon or obscurantist adolescent slang. But she has got a nimble tongue and her intelligence eventually wins the viewer over” (Anderson 2007).


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4. SLOVENE SUBTITLES OF THE MOVIE JUNO

4.1 Culture-bound Elements


4.1.1 Translating Culture-bound Elements in Subtitles


More and more concepts are shared and understood between different cultures. However, there are still many expressions which reflect the morals and values of a particular culture and have no true equivalent in the TL. To deal with these cultural terms successfully, the translator has to be not only bilingual, but also bi-cultural. The two main strategies when dealing with cultural terms are known as “domestication” and “foreignisation”. Venuti (cited in Schwarz 2003) defines the process of “foreignising a translation” as “taking the reader over to the foreign culture, making him or her see the (cultural and linguistic) differences”. The viewers of a subtitled film are immersed in the foreign culture by listening to the foreign language and seeing unfamiliar behavior, sights, sound and music. The subtitles therefore do not need to emphasize the foreign aspect; they must rather act as an interpretation. They must fill the cultural gaps and help the TL viewers understand the narrative (Schwarz 2003).

There are a range of strategies for dealing with culture-bound terms, moving from complete non-translation at the one end to total adaptation at the other (Nedergaard-Larsen 1993: 219). The terms that should be translated literally, word-for-word, are those that are easily recognizable and comprehensible by the viewers. These items are most frequently proper names (geographical names, names of persons, family names, nations, famous buildings, institutions, hotels, monuments, etc.) and items that the SL and TL happen to have in common (e.g. “mathematics” and “matematika”). When such linguistic items are recognized by the viewers, the exact, translationally equivalent items are expected to appear in the subtitles as well (Karamitroglou 1998).


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While this kind of terms can be easily rendered into the TL, more often than not, the translator must cope with true dilemmas. The word in the source text (ST) may be strongly rooted in the source culture (SC) and, yet, it may be too difficult for the target audience to understand. When dealing with this kind of term, there is a general tendency to make the foreign familiar. Armellino (2008) describes the three most frequently used strategies of “domestication”: paraphrase, substitution and deletion. The original meaning of the SL term can either be clarified in other words (paraphrased), replaced by a different term with a different meaning (substitution) or simply omitted (deletion). In all these cases, the SL terms are transformed into something else. Changes lead to new, different meanings, and in most cases, the culture-bound element is lost. Indeed, one of the main goals in subtitling is to achieve clarity, and what slows down the reading because of the need to be “deciphered” is felt as annoying (Armellino 2008).

In Armellino’s research (2008), substitution appeared to be the most frequently used strategy of those three. This may be because paraphrasing is sometimes not possible because of the character limitation, and deletion may cause a gap in the story. Armellino (2008), however, does not further describe the methods for substitution. They are explained by Katan (cited in Schwarz 2003) and are known under the expression “chunking”. The term “chunking” is taken from the world of computers and refers to the change in size of something. Katan (ibid) describes three different types of “chunking”:

a) “chunking up”

The translator puts a specific term into a more general context. The change of size moves from a narrowly defined term to a broader definition. For example,

Granny Smith → an apple → fruit → food


b) “chunking down”

Here, the strategy is reversed; the generic term leads to the more specific one.

sport winter sport skiing giant slalom


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c) “chunking sideways”

Here, the size is not changed but the translator tries to find other examples which are on the same level or belong to the same class. For example,

Williams Pear → Granny Smith pear, banana, orange → apple vegetable, cereal → fruit


The strategy of “chunking sideways” is of particular interest when rendering culture-bound terms or any so called “untranslatables” (Schwarz 2003).

These strategies, however, are not always sufficient for solving cross-cultural translation problems. In situations, when there is a need to explain connotations/associations of certain words and concepts, it is necessary to produce an “explicitation”. Peter Newmark (cited in Nedergaard-Larsen 1993: 218) speaks of the subtext, being “... what is implied but not said, the meaning behind the meaning”. For example, Eton can be translated into Slovene as draga zasebna šola (Eng. expensive private school). In this connection, Helen Reid (ibid) emphasizes that the translator – apart from digging up the subtext – must often interpret which of a series of possible associations is the right one in the one specific situation. This is further described by Luyken (ibid) with the example “You mustn’t forget: I went to public school, of course”:

Even if a suitable translation could be found, no Language Transfer could ever render all the emotional associations linked with the idea of the public school in England (single-sex education, monastic life, separation from parents, social privilege, sports and, not so long ago, corporal punishment). In Language Transfer, therefore, the one aspect of public school education will have to be selected which is most significant for the story and somehow conveyed to the audience.

Newmark and Reid, however, do not agree whether the subtext should be made explicit or remain implicit in the translation. If it is left implicit, there is a great


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risk that the implications will not be understood at all in the TL culture, in a different cultural context, although most people understand them immediately in the SL culture. The translator must, therefore, estimate the distance between the two languages and cultures and decide whether s/he wants to be loyal to the author’s exact words or to his intention (Nedergaard-Larsen 1993: 222).


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4.1.2 Culture-bound Problems in the Movie Juno

Translation is communication across linguistic and cultural barriers, and the problems encountered by the translator lie within and outside the language (Hatim & Mason, cited in Nedergaard-Larsen 1993: 209). This chapter deals with both types of problems – those of the intralinguistic kind and those of the extralinguistic kind.


I. Intralinguistic Culture-bound Problems


Culture-bound problems within the language are numerous and extensive, since we meet culturally specific elements in both the language system and in actual usage (Nedergaard-Larsen 1993: 209). A number of intralingustic culture-bound problems also turn up in the movie Juno, and some of them are analyzed in this chapter. These include a grammatical category that exists only in English (the suffix –ed for the past tense), English polysemes (make and chair), the use of certain rhetorical figures (the connotation behind the phrase she’s just different), and a dialectal speech variant (ma’am). Although figurative language and slang are often culture-bound, they are discussed separately in chapters 4.2 and 4.3.

The first typical intralinguistic obstacle arises in the scene involving a Chinese girl standing with a protest board in an empty parking lot in front of abortion clinic, shouting,

All babies want to get borned!

The false conjugation of the verb born is used to enlarge the scene’s comical effect. In the subtitles, the translator has also tried to make the sentence sound awkward by using the colloquial verb form hočjo instead of the regular one želijo:

Vsi otroci se hočjo rodit!


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However, the inappropriate verb usage in the subtitles is less noticeable and less ridiculous than in the original. On the other hand, if the translator had exaggerated by making this sentence grammatically incorrect, the audience would not have known it was an intended, not a careless mistake.

A similar problem occurs in those cases where a comic effect is achieved through the multiple meanings of words – polysemy. Such an example appears in the scene where Juno’s father Mac takes Juno to meet Mark and Vanessa. As Carlson (2007) describes it, “the scene bristles with life as these two different families start to feel each other out across the divide of age and social status. […] Juno and Mac seem dwarfed by the sterile white walls and modern furniture of the house in the neighborhood they can’t afford”.

The difference between Juno’s life and that of the couple she has chosen to be the adoptive parents of her baby is also reflected in the following piece of dialogue between Mac and Vanessa:

What’s that? -It’s a pilates machine. -What do you make with it? -You don’t make anything. It’s for exercising.

For Juno’s father, as for someone of the working class, machines are used to produce something. His question What do you make with it? is inappropriately put and therefore humorous. However, the humor is somewhat lost in the translation:

Kaj je tisto?

Pilates naprava.


In kaj delaš z njo?

-Nič. Za telovadbo je.


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The verb make means produce, but delati can also mean početi (do). In kaj delaš z njo? (And what do you do with it?) can be answered with Telovadiš (Exercises), so it does not sound as inappropriate. Therefore, I suggest a slightly different solution, which emphasizes the awkwardness of the situation:

Kaj je tisto?

Pilates naprava.


Kaj pa dela?

-Nič. Za telovadbo je.

It should also be noted that the translation pilates naprava exhibits the influence of English on Slovene syntax, but the English word order is acceptable in the subtitles, because it is shorter than naprava za pilates.

Another translation problem involving polysemy refers to the starting and the finishing line of the movie:

It started with a chair. …

It ended with a chair.

The first chair is an armchair and the second chair a rocking chair. In English both can be referred to as chairs, but in Slovene armchair is fotelj. However, the translator has decided to use the word stol in both cases, because otherwise the lines would not fit:


Začelo se je s stolom. …

Končalo se je s stolom.


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An attentive spectator may notice the discrepancy between the subtitle and the picture, but it is not too disturbing. After all, the Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika (Dictionary of the Standard Slovene Language) describes fotelj as udoben stol.


Another problem arises because of the subtext, mentioned earlier by Newmark et al. (see pages 11-12). The example involves the scene where Bleeker’s mother, who dislikes his friend Juno, expresses her opinion about Juno by saying:

She’s just … different.


She’s just different is a typical American phrase for politely and indirectly expressing that you do not like somebody. The translator has rendered this phrase literally, but in Slovene culture, it does not trigger the same connotation. It remains more or less neutral:


Pač je drugačna.


However, in the original dialogue, Bleeker’s mother makes a pause before describing Juno as different. Such a pause introduces irony, and the impact made by the pause could be captured in the subtitles:


Pač je … drugačna.


Another problem, which is also complicated by subtitling limitations, was brought up by Brabrara Schwarz (2002):

Style and register are shared by both spoken dialogue and written texts. […] However, there is a range of features which are essentially part of the spoken word. […] A broad regional accent for example, gives the audience background information about a character and may not survive both a change into the written form, as well as translation.


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





In the movie Juno, the problem of subtitling regional dialects occurs in the scene where the ultrasound technician makes some contemptuous remarks about Juno’s pregnancy. In the following segment, Juno’s stepmother Brenda gives her “tit for tat”:

What is your job title, exactly? -I’m an ultrasound technician, ma’am.

So why don’t you go back to night school in Manteno and learn a real trade.

The movie is set in the city of Minneapolis (Minnesota), which makes the village of Manteno (Illinois) into a reference to a tiny, no-account place where people are lucky to work in factories and on farms. In the translation, the word ma’am, pronounced in the Southern dialect, and the reference to Manteno are omitted, because the TL audience is generally not familiar with the dialect and does not understand Brenda’s remark. Although this part is omitted, Brenda’s comment remains scornful enough:

Kakšen je vaš naziv? -Tehnica za ultrazvok.

Vrnite se lepo v večerno šolo in se izučite za poklic.


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno

18





II. Extralinguistic Culture-bound Problems


The extralinguistic culture-bound problems refer to the non-linguistic sphere, to various phenomena or events that exist in the source language culture. They are mentioned by a number of authors, and for the sake of clarification they may be summed up in the following typology (Nedergaard-Larsen 1993: 211):

Table 1: Extralinguistic culture-bound problem types

Geography etc. geography meteorology biology


mountains, rivers weather, climate flora, fauna

cultural geography regions, towns, roads, streets, etc.

History buildings

monuments, castles, etc.

events

wars, revolutions, flag days

people

well-known historical persons

Society industrial level
(economy)


trade and industry energy supply, etc.

social organization defense, judicial system police, prisons
local and central authorities

politics

state management, ministries electoral system, political parties politicians, political organizations

social conditions groups, subcultures
living conditions, problems

ways of life, customs


housing, transport, food, meals, clothing articles for everyday use, family relations



Culture religion


churches, rituals, morals ministers, bishops religious holidays, saints



education


schools, colleges, universities lines of education, exams



media


TV, radio, newspapers, magazines



culture,
leisure activities


museums, works of art, literature, authors theatres, cinemas, actors, musicians, idols restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, cafés sports, athletes

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





In the movie Juno, numerous extralingustic culture-bound elements contribute to its density. Some elements turn up in the movie visually. For instance, the inscription on Mac’s van You can’t spell H-VAC without the “AC” in MAC, or the one on Juno’s T-shirt, stretching over her pregnant belly, Slinky, it’s fun for a girl and a boy. Such inscriptions were not translated, neither were the lyrics of songs.


In the movie dialogue, some of the elements exhibit the differences between social classes. For instance, Pellegrino, Vitamin Water and Ginseng Cooler are drunk by an affluent suburban couple. The majority, however, point to the “coolness” of the teenage characters, such as those referring to music, movies, comics and alcoholic drinks. Their names, titles or brands are unfamiliar and offer no clues to the TL audience.

One such element turns up in the conversation between Juno, Bleeker and their two classmates. To break an inconvenient silence, Juno adds:

I’ve actually heard that the Snow Peak Peach flavor is the best flavor of Boone’s.


Boone is a fake wine, and its reference points to the innocence of Juno and her friends. However, Boone and its flavors are not a part of Slovene culture. Rather than stumble across a foreign word, the Slovene audience needs to understand what the characters are talking about. The translator has therefore generalized the statement by using the technique of “chunking up”:

Baje je vino z okusom po breskvah eno boljših.


Although the meaning is slightly changed in the subtitles, this does not disturb the comprehension of the movie.


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Another similar example can be taken from the conversation between Juno’s father and Juno at dinner:

So Juno, how was your little maneuver last night? -Which maneuver, sir? The one where I moved an entire living room set from one lawn to the other, or the one where I downed a sixty-four ounce blue slushie in ten minutes?

By bringing this up, Juno’s stepmother suspects that she vomited in the urn because of swallowing such a quantity of artificial drink. As stated in Wikipedia, a slush or slushie is “a blend of water, flavored syrup, and ice”. A slushie is also a childish drink, and it points to Juno’s immaturity.3





These elements are generally unknown to the Slovene audience, and they have been rendered variously in the subtitles. As the above examples indicate, the most




3 The Slovene viewers are not familiar with this childish blue beverage. Besides, they might interpret this part of the movie differently than the U.S. audience. In North America, the temperature of the drink is irrelevant, whereas in Slovenia, one might assume that Juno vomited because the drink was ice-cold.


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In the subtitles, blue slushie is replaced by sok, because this product is generally unknown to Slovene audience:

Kako je šel tvoj podvig?


Kateri točno? Ko sem prenesla pohištvo iz dnevne,

ali ko sem v desetih minutah zeksala 2 litra soka?

There are many other cultural elements mentioned in the movie Juno. These include Sunny D, Maker’s Mark, Baco, Starz, Previa, Jiffy Lube, McSweeney’s, Stillwater, St Cloud, Cabo, Gettysburg, Ridgedale Mall, Havenbrook, Women Now, Havasu reservation in Arizona, Gene Simmons, Lipton Landing, etc.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





appropriate way is to use the technique of “chunking”. In most cases, this was the technique of “chunking up” (generalization). Only proper names were literally translated, as Karamitrouglou (1998) proposed (see page 9). In some cases, the cultural elements were left out, but only if their omission did not disturb the dialogue coherence and understanding of the movie’s content.

Sometimes however, the extralinguistic cultural element is used rhetorically (as a metaphor, metonymy, word play, etc.). This is present in the following piece of dialogue, where Juno’s father uses a metonymy when speaking about exercise machines:

My wife ordered one of those Tony Little Gazelles off the TV.





Figure 1: Tony Little Gazelle


The picture illustrates Tony Little Gazelle with the exercise machine he promotes. He is well-known across the USA, but in Slovenia, he was shown only in some Top Shop commercial years ago. The film mocks a couple of American “crazies”, whereby Slovene spectators can only grasp the mocking nature from the context without understanding it. In Slovenia, there is no such icon as Tony Little Gazelle, so the metonymy had to be omitted and replaced by a similar exercise machine from our market:


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Žena je prek TV prodaje nabavila orbitrek.

A similar problem appears in the following example, where both metaphor and metonymy are culturally bound. This is taken from the scene where Leah makes fun of the baby’s ultrasound picture, and Juno replies:

Excuse me, I’m a sacred vessel. All you’ve got in your stomach is Taco Bell.


Although it is universal that pregnant women are treated like holy vessels, the metaphor cannot be literally translated into Slovene. Slovene speakers would rather refer to babies as nekaj svetega. Likewise, the metonymy Taco Bell has to be omitted because Slovene culture is not familiar with this restaurant chain, specializing in “Mexican-style quick service and food” (Wikipedia). The translator has therefore applied the technique of “chunking up” and expanded the metonymy with the common expression hitra hrana:

Jaz v sebi nosim nekaj svetega, ti pa le hitro hrano.


In the subtitles, both the metaphor and the metonymy were made explicit. As a result, the imagery and all the wit and irony are lost in the translation. This becomes even more evident in the following piece of dialogue, where Juno announces her pregnancy to Leah:

I’m pregnant. -What? Honest to blog? -Yeah, it’s Bleeker’s.


Honest to blog? is an online catchphrase that became popular, then reviled, then popular again. It is used to add to the credibility of a statement or, as in our case, to check the credibility of another person’s statement. It is a word play on the


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phrase Honest to god, which refers to the fact that blogs have been reputed as fact checkers in recent years (Urban Dictionary).

The phrase could be translated as Res? Prisežeš na blog? as a word play on Prisežeš pri bogu? ((You) Swear to God?). While this solution might work well in literary translation, where readers have time to comprehend it, it might disturb the viewing of a subtitled film, because in contrast to Americans, Slovene speakers would not use such phrase, and blogging itself is only just emerging in Slovene culture. Therefore, it was appropriate to replace this phrase with an ordinary Slovene slang phrase, although the solution is not as appealing as the original word play:


Noseča sem. -Ti to resno? -Ja, Bleekerjev je.

Subtitles should indeed act as interpretation of the foreign culture; therefore, the techniques of substituting and generalizing cultural terms often come in handy. However, despite the general tendency to “domesticate the translation”, the subtitler should sometimes stay close to the source language and culture. This can be supported by the following example, taken from the scene where Juno’s stepmother becomes irritated by the ultrasound technician’s contemptuous remarks about teenage pregnancy:

What is your job title, exactly? -I’m an ultrasound technician, ma’am. -Well I’m a nail technician, and I think we both ought to stick to what we know.

In the USA, ultrasounds are performed by ultrasound workers, whereas in Slovenia, they are performed by obstetricians and gynecologists. However, the subtitles must stay close to the SL culture to retain the humor of the original dialogue. The joke is on the word technician, which can be added to virtually any noun to construct a job title (e.g. garbage technician, hamburger technician, etc.).


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Juno’s stepmother knows her job is nothing special, whereas the ultrasound worker is taken in by the important sound of her job title:

Kakšen je vaš naziv? -Tehnica za ultrazvok.

Jaz pa za nohte. Držite se raje tega, kar znate.


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





4.2 Figures of Speech


Figurative language enables writers to convey layers of meanings. It is very picturesque. Its translation demands that not only the meaning is transferred into another language, but also the form. Translators should therefore be sensitive to both what words mean (denote) and to what words imply (connote).4


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They should recognize the nature of figures of speech in the source language and be acquainted with the techniques of translating figurative language.

This chapter looks at individual figures of speech - simile, metaphor, alliteration and allusion. By providing examples from the movie Juno, it examines the techniques of translating figurative language into Slovene, discussing the challenges and illustrating the problems and the solutions.

Special emphasis is given to translation of allusions, since a number of them from the movie Juno carry particular implications for the American teenage world, unknown to Slovene audience. Thus they present one of the most challenging tasks to be performed by the translator.

However, the translation of figurative language does not stop here. Further examples of simile, metaphor, metonymy, rhyme and word play are discussed in chapter 4.3 because of their interconnectedness with slang. As a matter of fact, figurative language in the movie Juno indicates that teenagers like to play with language and that “slang is the poetry of everyday life” (Hayakawa, cited in Bullard, Johnson, Fox, etc. 1999).






4 http://www.criticalreading.com/inference_figurative_language.htm (acquired 23. 2. 2009)

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





4.2.1 Simile


Simile is usually described as a comparison of two unlike things using “like” or “as”. In translation, one should consider whether the image of a simile needs to be made explicit in order to be understood or whether it needs to be adjusted or abandoned completely (see also examples on pages 36-38). If a simile has to be abandoned because it might not communicate effectively, it is also reasonable to think that it might be introduced where there was not one in the source text (Samuel and Frank 2000).

Similes often have a cultural origin. As the following example indicates, such similes need to be adjusted for the TL audience. The example involves a scene where Juno pokes fun at the baby boom in China:

You should have gone to China. I hear they give away babies like free iPods. They put ‘em in those T-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.

The extended simile is linked to American culture. If it were translated literally, the Slovene audience would probably understand it. However, it was better to use a simile common in Slovene culture. Although the simile in the translation may sound a little clichéd, it is quickly comprehensible, fits well into the context and works humorously:

Na Kitajsko bi šla. Baje tam dobiš otroka zraven praška.


Med folk jih mečejo kot sveže žemljice.5


5 Back translation: You should have gone to China. I hear you get a baby along with washing powder. They throw babies to people like hot cakes (in Slovene simile: fresh rolls).


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4.2.2 Metaphor


A metaphor, in contrast to simile, does not use “like” or “as” to make it explicit that a comparison has been made (Samuel and Frank 2000).

As with similes, metaphors are often tied to with culture since they refer to all socially conditioned aspects of human life. Translators should take into account that metaphor can be culture-bound and carry a set of associations.6


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They should recognize the use of metaphor and consider whether it should be adjusted, translated as a simile or abandoned completely (ibid).

Translating metaphors is best done by someone who has some degree of skill in terms of verbal expression. As the following examples indicate, the subtitler of the movie Juno faced several difficulties in transferring the imagery of the original dialogue into the subtitles. The first example involves the scene where Vanessa asks Juno to keep her and Mark updated on the baby’s development and Juno replies:

-For sure. You want to know how your kid is cooking, I get it.

The metaphor is an echo of How’s it cooking? – a standard greeting for a friend you have not see in a while. The translator has simply replaced it by a standard language expression:


Če lahko. -Ja, itak. Zanima vaju, kako se bo mali razvijal.

However, the echo and colloquial tone of the original phrase could have been transferred into the subtitles by using the small talk expression Kako gre?:






6 http://www.pu.if.ua/data/ukr/lib/e-book/skibitzka05.pdf (acquired 23. 2. 2009)

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Če lahko. -Ja, itak. Zanima vaju, kako gre malemu.

The second example arises from the part where Mark says to Juno:

Keep it in the oven.

The metaphor for the uterus – the oven – is commonly used in American culture. It is taken from the idiom to have a bun in the oven, which is a euphemism in a prudish society for being pregnant. In this case, it was better to make the metaphor explicit, so it can be understood by the Slovene audience:

Ja, na toplem ga imej.7


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7 Back translation: Yes, keep it warm.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





4.2.3 Alliteration


Alliteration is a repetition of the same letter or sound in consecutive or neighboring words. It is often associated with literary texts, but it is also frequent in everyday language (e.g. television advertising, folklore sayings, etc.), (Onič 2006).

Alliteration is often used intentionally, to place emphasis on words. Since it is based on similarity of sound, it is more bound to spoken than to written discourse (ibid). Alliteration is therefore particularly appropriate in movie dialogue. However, it will have a far greater effect on the SL viewers than on the audience viewing a subtitled film. As Onič (2006) stated, “it is the sound of word, not its visual appearance or other characteristics, that brings alliteration to life”.

This does not mean, however, that alliteration can be disregarded in subtitling. It usually also has a strong auditory effect, especially if it is extended (if it consist of many words). Besides, alliteration helps to portray the characters in the movie. As in the case of Juno, it presents them as intelligent, witty and linguistically dexterous teenagers with a sense of humor. In the following two examples, it is used by Leah, proving that her verbal expression is vivid, playful and colorful.

Although alliteration represents a minor share among other rhetorical devices, it should, however, not be disregarded by the translator. The following two examples illustrate the loss for the subtitled version because of non-preservance of alliteration.

The first example involves a scene where Leah asks Juno about her sexual intercourse with Bleeker:

So what was it like? Humping B

leek’s b

ony b

od?


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In the subtitled version, both the alliteration and the rhythm are disregarded:

In kako je bilo naskakovati tega suhca?

However, if the translator had noticed the alliteration, he could certainly have found a way to preserve it in the subtitles. One possible solution, and certainly a more humorous one, is the following:

In k





aby B





lavonjo! Mater, ta pa je adijo.


30





ak

o je bilo nask

ak


ovati tega koskota?

In the second example, Leah makes another humorous statement by nicknaming

Juno’s baby Big-Head:

Check out B


ig-Head. Dude, that thing is freaky looking!

Again, the alliteration and the rhythm are not preserved:

Lej to ogromno glavo.

Mater, to pa je adijo.

In this case, there is also a considerable break in register in the first line: the translator has substituted Baby Big-Head with a standard language expression ogromna glava, which is a pale and uninteresting solution. Therefore, it would have been better to use the slang term glavonja instead, because it would be something Leah would say, and it would retain the humor and the alliteration of the original phrase:

Lej g

a g

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





4.2.4 Allusion


The etymology of the term allusion shows a connection with the idea of play: ad

+ ludere alludere (lat.), (Morier, cited in Leppihalme 1994: 5). While not all use of allusion is playful, humor is clearly one of its functions. Standard definitions in literary studies share the idea of “reference to something”.

Among the purposes of literary allusions, researches have noted a desire to enrich the work by bringing in new meanings and associations, “a wealth of experience and knowledge beyond the limits of plain statement” (Shaw, cited in Leppihalme 1994: 7), an attempt to characterize people, or suggest thoughts unconscious impressions and attitudes in characters (Hall, ibid). Similarly, Wilss (cited in Leppihalme 1994: 8) sees the function of an allusion generally as making a text more attractive.

However, allusion is not only literary phenomenon, since there are allusions in non-fictional writing, and also in film, music, painting, etc. Thus a line of dialogue in a film may allude to an earlier film or something else, and audience recognition of this is expected.

Leppihalme (1994: 10) divides allusions into:

(a) key-phrase (KP) allusions

(b) proper-name (PN) allusions

The distinction is made because in translation, a name can be often rendered without a change, while the same alternative is in most cases not available for other vocabulary items.


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Both of these classes can be further divided into:

(a) Regular allusions

(b) Modified allusions – allusion containing a “twist”, i.e. a modification of preformed material (Leppihalme 1994: 19)

Leppihalme (1994: 19-20) also speaks of stereotyped allusions – allusions in frequent use that have lost their freshness and do not necessarily evoke their sources (also clichés and proverbs). They could be called “dead allusions” by analogy with dead metaphors. In addition, she mentions several borderline cases of allusions.

There are no rules telling an author how to allude – creative use of allusion is individual and non-predictable. There are, of course, fashions in alluding, but a set of formulas soon destroys the individuality and creativity which is characteristic of true allusions.

The interaction between the movie and the audience can be described as hide-and-seek or as the setting and solving of a puzzle. Recognition of a creative allusion and the subsequent deeper understanding of the movie dialogue mean that the viewer is participating in the creation of the movie and may be rewarded by a sense of achievement and self-congratulation. S/he may feel that s/he has passed a test with flying colors, showing that s/he is part of in-group of viewers, on the same wave-length as the author. Redfern (cited in Leppihalme 1994: 30) says that he likes puns partly because of the “intellectual snobbery” that shows an “ability to think laterally” and partly because someone else’s pun “implies a rapport”. If true of puns, this must be even more so of allusions.

In a sense, any allusion is a puzzle for viewers who notice it without recognizing it. More generally, allusions become puzzles when they cross a cultural divide, or national subcultures, or equally in translation, where they may become “culture bumps”. The viewers may enjoy certain high-sounding parts of the dialogue, but


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reflection on and knowledge of the sources of allusions will lead to a deeper understanding and convey meaning that is not immediately apparent (Leppihalme 1994: 31).

In general, it may be said that allusions are used because of the extra effect or meaning they bring to the dialogue by their associations and connotations. According to Hatim & Mason (cited in Leppihalme 1994: 31), associations are subjective and arbitrary, but connotations require social (collective) knowledge. From the point of view of translation, Leppihalme (1994: 33) emphasizes the following:

The analysis of the SL dialogue requires recognition of connotative meaning by the translator. Of course it is not possible to put subjective associations and collective connotations into totally separate compartments. Nevertheless, it can no doubt be accepted that while the translator cannot control, and should not even attempt to control the subjective associations and interpretations of individual readers, s/he needs to be aware of and sensitive to the more collective connotations – the “socially constant meaning” [Turk, ibid] – of allusive names and phrases.

Each subculture will be familiar with different sources of allusions. Allusions in the movie Juno date to the 1980s, when the screenwriter Diablo Cody (born in 1978) spent her childhood. She alluded to popular products, cartoons, personalities and everything connected to the child’s or teenager’s world of that time. It follows that allusions in the movie are best recognizable by her generation. However, a translator is expected to recognize all of them, and cannot simply bypass the implicit information that allusions may convey to the SL audience.


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





In the movie, allusions are used parodically or ironically, to detract from the seriousness of the situation. Beside the comic effect, they also shed light on the central character. Juno is thus shown as whip-smart and quick-witted.

The comparisons in allusions are expressed by different linguistic means. In the case of Juno, these include metaphors, similes, rhymes, puns, appositive expressions, vocative allusions, etc. Allusive similes create humorous comparisons (pee like Seabiscuit, it looks probably like a Sea Monkey), while the appositive allusion suggests what attitude and feelings are linked to the first (Katrina the Douche Packer). In vocative allusions, where character A is addressed or referred to as B, the comparison is implicit. The mode of address is ironic or aggressive in tone (MacGuff, the Crime Dog).

Most allusions in the movie Juno are regular, only two are modified (MacGuff, the Crime Dog; Thundercats are go!). The lexical modification in both cases is punning.

These allusions, however, have not been rendered into the subtitles. This does not mean that they have not been recognized by the translator, but they are so specific and closely bound to the American culture that they were inevitably lost in the translation. In most cases, the translator replaced the allusions by Slovene slang terms. By doing so, he tried to retain the dialogue’s attractiveness; however the solutions are not as intriguing as the original allusions.

Such are the cases where allusions are expressed through nicknaming. The first example includes the scene where Juno jealously says to Bleeker:

Just take Soupy Sales to the prom, I can think of so many cooler things to do that night.

Juno uses the allusion to Soupy Sales to mock the girl Katrina who supposedly smells like soup. But in fact, Soupy Sales is an American comedian and actor. As


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





stated in Wikipedia, Sales is best known for his long-running daily children’s

television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales.

In Slovene language and culture, no reference like Soupy Sales can be found. Although the allusion is omitted in the translation, the solution kremža works out well, because it refers to the grimace Katrina makes when she gives Juno an odd look:

Kar pelji svojo kremžo na ples. Sto drugih stvari lahko počnem.

However, the translator could also refer to Katrina metaphorically by nicknaming her kurja župca, which would be a funnier, closer translation:

Kar pelji kurjo župco na ples. Sto drugih stvari lahko počnem.


Another example of an allusive nickname referring to Katrina involves the scene where Juno angrily repeats to Bleeker:

You just take Katrina the Douche Packer to the prom. I’m sure you two will have a real bitchin’ time.

As stated in Wikipedia, “a douche [Slov. klistir] is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself”. In slang, the term douche describes “an individual who has shown themself to be very brainless in one way or another, thus comparing them to the cleansing product for vaginas” (Urban Dictionary).

Slovene slang speakers do not use this reference for calling someone stupid. The translator has therefore decided to substitute it with a common slang term for a silly girl avša:


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Pelji to avšo Katrino na ples. Imela se bosta mega hudo.

However, some “juicy” expression would be a better replacement for the nickname the Douche Packer. For instance, the translated nickname could allude to her smell: Govejejušna. Also, mega hudo is somewhat clumsy, not a well-chosen phrase for a real bitchin’ time, because the sarcasm can hardly be recognized. Therefore, I suggest instead the following translation:

Kar pelji Katrino Govejejušno na ples. To bo žur za znoret!

In the next example, however, the allusion in the nickname is not simply replaced by a slang term; the translator has managed to render it rhetorically. The example involves the scene in the beginning of the movie as the sarcastic salesman greets Juno when she enters the store:

Well, well, if it isn’t MacGuff, the Crime Dog. Back for another test?





Figure 2: McGruff the Crime Dog


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





As stated in Wikipedia, “McGruff the Crime Dog is an anthropomorphic cartoon bloodhound created for the National Crime Prevention Council for use by American police in building crime awareness among children”.

The allusion combined with a sound play cannot be transferred into the TL. However, the translator has managed to preserve the sound play (Junco sounds like punco) and the connotation of junaški behind the Crime Dog. The additional alliteration makes the translation funny:

Ohoho, glej jo,
junaško Junco. Spet test?


There are also instances where the allusive comparison is expressed by similes. Such example involves the scene where Juno affirms to the Lorings that she would give them the baby straight away, but…

But I’m guessing it looks probably like a Sea Monkey right now, and we should let it get a little cuter, right?





Figure 3: Sea-Monkeys


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





As stated in Wikipedia, “Sea-Monkeys are a trademark given to sell a variant of brine shrimp or Artemia salina”. Sold in packages, the “tiny Sea-Monkey eggs are enclosed in little crystals which hold them in a state of suspended animation for as long as several years, until they are placed in water and the eggs hatch”.8




However, Slovene viewers do not know what Sea-Monkeys are, and they are not familiar with their advertisements, packaging, anthropomorphic illustrations and popularity. This is all a part of American culture. The translator has therefore replaced the allusion to Sea-Monkey with ameba, which may also refer to the teenage world because children are taught about this in school:

Ker pa še izgleda kot ameba, počakajmo, da bo bolj srčkan.


Another example of an allusive simile occurs in the scene where Juno asks the Lorings:

Could I use the facilities first? Being pregnant makes me pee like Seabiscuit.


In Wikipedia, one can find an explanation about the champion horse, named Seabiscuit:




Seabiscuit was a champion thoroughbred race horse in the United States. From an inauspicious start, Seabiscuit became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many US citizens during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit became the subject of a 1949 film, The Story of Seabiscuit, a 2001 book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, and a 2003 film,





8 http://www.answers.com/topic/sea-monkeys (acquired 23. 2. 2009), http://www.sea-monkey.com/html/aboutsm/whatarethey.html (acquired 23. 2. 2009)


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Seabiscuit, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





The simile pee like Seabiscuit is an analogy of the simile pee like a racehorse, commonly used in English. To understand the original simile pee like a racehorse, it is useful for the translator to know the following:

The popular notion of incontinent racehorses seems to have roots in the late 1970s, when trainers began the widespread use of diuretics like Lasix (furosemide). Lasix inhibits the absorption of sodium and draws water into the bladder. This causes the horse to excrete more fluids, which could, in theory, make a horse lighter on its feet and faster on the track. […] Horses typically produce several quarts of urine every four hours, for a total of about 1.5 to 2 gallons (5.6 to 7.6 liters) per day (Sessions 2007).

As Samuel and Frank (2000) suggested, one should consider in translation what sorts of similes are used in the receptor language. How would the concept to pee a lot be expressed as a simile in Slovene? In Slovene language and culture, several sayings and proverbs are connected to horses: prdi kot star konj, gara kot konj, je močna kot konj; si pa res konj, beseda ni konj, podarjenemu konju se ne gleda pod zobe, delati iz muhe konja, biti na konju.9






39





However, neither the simile pee like a racehorse nor the legendary horse Seabiscuit are familiar in Slovene culture. The concept of peeing a lot can only be associated with dogs or babies. However, it was better to replace the simile by a slang phrase kot nora (Eng. like crazy):

Grem lahko še na stranišče?


Zaradi nosečnosti lulam kot nora.





9 http://k.abecednik.com/konj.html (acquired 23. 2. 2009)

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





There is also an example of an allusive metaphor involving the scene where Juno and Leah comment on Juno’s food choices during her pregnancy:

Oh, a little trip down Mexico way. -And Greece and China apparently.


Down Mexico way is an allusion to an old Sinatra song “South of the border, down Mexico way…” The association with “South of the border” is also sexual – a reference to lower parts of the body. The TL audience is generally not familiar with this song, especially youngsters. Therefore, the allusion was replaced by papica, an example of cute-speak commonly used with babies:


Malo mehiške papice. -Pa še grške in kitajske.

There are also examples of double allusions. The first example involves the scene where the sarcastic salesman says to Juno, as she buys the pregnancy test:

Third test today, Momma Bear. Your eggo’s preggo, no doubt about it.

The phrase may refer to the egg-shaped container for a brand of tights. This is unknown to the TL audience, so the translator has replaced your eggo’s preggo by a Slovene figurative phrase, which has a slightly different meaning:

Že tretji test danes, mamica. Tvoja paprika je nafilana.


Although the rhyme is lost, the substituted phrase is appropriate, because it is something the sarcastic salesman would say to Juno.


40

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





The second double allusion, however, is modified by punning. It involves the scene where Juno’s water breaks, and she shouts:

Thundercats are go!





Figure 4: ThunderCats and Thunderbirds




The phrase Thundercats are go! is a mix of two separate phrases – ThunderCats HO! which is the actual battle cry from the ThunderCats, and Thunderbirds Are GO which is from a British Supermarionation movie/series.10






10 http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080102151117AAewPA2 (acquired 23. 2.

2009)


41





ThunderCats is an American animated television series from 1985. Thunderbirds is a British mid-1960s television show, whose popularity also led to the production of two full length feature films (Wikipedia).

These two television series are unknown to the TL audience, so the combined allusion cannot be rendered into the subtitles. Therefore, the translator has replaced it by the exclamation:

Akcijaaa!

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





This solution is less humorous, but it partly preserves the meaning behind the phrase Thundercats are go! – the phrase means that ThunderCats are attacking, metaphorically the baby is attacking. However, the Slovene culture may be familiar with other cartoons from the ‘80s, such as He-Man or Ninja Turtles. Therefore, I suggest the following solution, which alludes to the Ninja Turtles and retains the intended message and humor:

Ninja napada!


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The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





4.3 Slang


4.3.1 Slovene Slang


As English-Slovene translators we are often faced with the limitations of the Slovene language (and nation) compared to English as the global language. While the English market offers a wide range of slang dictionaries, such as the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2006) in two volumes, together on 3265 pages; no comprehensive dictionary of Slovene slang exists, apart from the booklet, Razvezani jezik (The Unleashed Tongue, 2007) on 77 small illustrated pages.

This, of course, affects the work of translators, as well as the fact that in Slovene linguistics little attention has been devoted to slang. However, some theoretical and research basis has been provided, and building upon it, this chapter presents a more detailed overview of Slovene slang. Since much has been left unwritten, the chapter further investigates those features that are typical of American and Slovene slang, and are relevant to the translation analysis of the movie Juno. Additionally, it provides a small corpus of up-to-date slang expressions taken from the sphere of teenage lives. Some examples indicate the influence of Serbo-Croatian and German on Slovene slang, but in recent years, Slovene slang is particularly influenced by the English lexicon. The influence of English on Slovene vocabulary has been investigated by Nada Šabec (2004). More recently, however, Slovene teenagers have begun adopting the Internet language of their American peers. It features a series of abbreviations, symbols and the use of creative grammar. It is a language of mobile phone text messaging and web communication. Its development starts and ends with the media, so the chapter concludes with examples of slang exploitation for advertising purposes.


Toporišič wrote about slang in the framework of social variants of Slovene language. Following his categorization (Toporišič 2000: 13), the social variants may be divided into four types, as illustrated in Table 2:


43

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Table 2: Social variants of Slovene language

Standard (literary language)



Formal (zborni jezik)





Colloquial (splošno- ali knjižnopogovorni jezik) Special (interesne zvrsti)

→ slang → jargon → argot




Toporišič’s latest edition of Slovenska slovnica (The Slovene Grammar, Toporišič 2000: 25-26), as well as Enciklopedija slovenskega jezika (The Encyclopedia of Slovene Language, Toporišič 1992: 278), defines slang as “one of the special variants of language from the sub-group sheaf of social variants. Typical of slang is uncommon (unconventional) expression, particularly in renaming materiality, for which a teenager seeks to find for the slang community popular expression”.11

Toporišič further describes the characteristics of slang, which will be elaborated later in this chapter.

In the seventies, more accurate research attention was aimed at recognising special variants. This was presented in the article Interesne govorice sleng, žargon in argo (Special Types of Language Slang, Jargon and Argot) by Velimir Gjurin (1974). The article classifies slang into: family slang, child slang, youth slang (teenage/school slang, student slang, street gang slang), general slang, publicity slang and journalist slang (see Gjurin 1974: 71-74). Nowadays, we can also talk about internet slang, which is being developed through communication via e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, as well as mobile phone text messaging.




As most of the material written down a quarter century ago may have become old-fashioned or no longer valid, it makes sense to focus on a more recent study on


11 The definition is translated from Slovene: Sleng je “ena izmed interesnih govoric iz podzvrstnega snopa socialnih zvrsti. Za sleng je značilna nenavadnost (nekonvencialnost)


izražanja, zlasti v p oimenovanju pred metnosti, k i jo mlad ostn ik ves čas sk u š


slengovsko skupnost aktualne strani” (Toporišič, 1992: 278; 2000: 25-26).


44





Non-standard



Spatial (prostorske zvrsti)

→ regional colloquial (pokrajinski pogovorni jeziki)
→ local dialects (zemljepisna narečja)





a zajeti z za

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





sociolects, slang, and colloquial language by Andrej E. Skubic. His findings have been published in a non-fiction book Obrazi jezika (The Faces of Language), and are based on his PhD thesis on sociolects. According to Skubic (2005), social stratification is reflected in various sociolects, which may be divided into cultured, marginal and extreme. The last group includes slang as a communicative strategy, which is usually limited to a particular age group united by common interest (see Skubic 2005: 213-232). Slang can be considered as a distinguishing factor of in-group identity.

Slang is marked by a high degree of egocentrism, highly emotive expression, subjective valuation and rejection of traditional values and traditional manners of expression. Thus it is not surprising that it is marked by crude, negative and direct communication without pretense to civility. This gives rise to dysphemisms, which means that relatively neutral words are replaced by harsher, more offensive ones (Skubic 2005: 204). Many of these are considered taboo, vulgar and derogatory. Slang does not necessarily include swearing, but as a matter of practice it often and perhaps usually does (Allan & Burridge 2007: 74). Thus, pička, pizda and kurac are the classics of Slovene slang. Both pička and pizda can refer to the female sexual organ. In this reference, pička usually has a positive and pizda a negative connotation. Both are used as swear words (also in extended structures, e.g. pička ti materna, pejt u tri pizde materne). Pička often refers to females as a hot chick, babe, slut, kešpička/plehpička, etc. When it refers to males, it usually means a coward (pussy). Kurac (properly kurec) refers to the male sexual organ and it is used in swearing (also in extended structures, e.g. proklet kurac, pejt u kurac, etc.).


Another feature, contributing to the raw and unrefined way of expression, is the use of “inverted language”, which can be noticed in American as well as in Slovene slang. For instance, someone who is particularly attractive might be in English described as scum or in Slovene as prasička (for females). English words like vicious, sick, rancid and putrid, and Slovene ones like hud, nor and odbit describe things which are exceptionally good. “Parents and teachers who try using


45

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





this sort of slang to show empathy with the youngsters usually sound phoney” (Allan & Burridge 2007: 70). However, the expression wicked, which turns up in the movie Juno, “seems to have escaped into the wider community and is often heard in adverts. Perhaps wicked plays on the fact that excessive enjoyment is, like passionate sexual congress or oodles of Belgian chocolates, somehow unholy” (Allan & Burridge 2007: 70-71).

One striking feature of slang is its playfulness. “David Crystal demonstrates the ubiquity and creativity of language play among ordinary language users, and points out that ‘when children arrive in school, their linguistic life has been one willingly given over to language play’. It stays with people as they grow up” (cited in Allan & Burridge 2007: 72). The playfulness of slang is a feature shared with many euphemisms12





One mark of slang, and probably the main reason why Slovene slang has received little empirical attention, is that it dates much faster than any other variety of language. The brief existence of slang terms has been proved by the study of student slang at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. The study has showed that “over a fifteen-year period fewer than 10 per cent of the expressions had survived” (Allan & Burridge 2007: 71). What is slang for one generation is either outdated for the next or becomes mainstream. “When slang does survive, it has ceased to be slang” (ibid). If you look in the 1981 book Socialnozvrstna




12 Euphemisms (the opposite of dysphemisms) are inoffensive words or phrases substituted for those considered offensive or upsetting (The Free Dictionary).


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and dysphemisms. “Whether speakers are creating names for new concepts, or simply adding to the names of old concepts, metaphor, irony and sound symbolism are important forces behind the new expressions” (ibid). For instance, take the sex-related expressions from the movie Juno: to knock up sb, to hump sb, a lay and a nookie and their Slovene translations, napumpati, naskakovati, podirati and namočiti ga. The imagery here is buttressed by metaphorical association – sex is compared and related to other concepts. In fact, slang in the movie Juno offers a whole repertoire of figurative expressions, which are analyzed in the empirical part.

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besedila (1981) and if you were born around that year, the slang dialogue in the book will sound like your parent’s conversation.


Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia (cited in Bullard, Johnson, Fox, etc. 1999) states that “slang expressions often embody attitudes and values of group members”. Slovene slang touches upon those spheres of life, such as sexuality, drinking, taking drugs and evaluating people, which are being pushed in the back by the dominant culture (Stramljič-Breznik 2007: 187-188).

Sexuality is often handled in a crude way, especially from the women’s point of view (načrt nategni in zavrži, spraviti v horizontalo, razširiti kateri noge, položiti/podreti jo, napumpati jo).


In conversations about drinking, it is important how drunk you are (biti fajn utrgan/nasekan, biti koma pijan, nabutati se ga do mrtvega) and whether you are capable of drinking a lot (veliko ga nesti, biti vileda). There are also a couple of phrases for smoking (vreči enega na pljuča, nahraniti raka, enega puhniti).

As far as taking drugs, there are series of expressions for different types of drugs (biti na bakli, rolati/frkati jolo, biti na horsu), for taking drugs (harati jo, narolati jo, zapržiti si ga, pohati ga, malcat, pojest, čapat), and for being drugged (biti na flešu/spidu, pasti v filing, biti zabakan, biti poknjen). In this case, the tendency to close the circle of communication is stronger, so members of the group are always tracking new expressions and learning their specific meanings; like for marihuana: đoint, đola, petarda, raketa, špinel, kalambaster, bakla, ganđa, ekolog, wooly, heft, šit, skuna, domačica; or for ecstasy: bonbončki, tabletke, iksi, eksi, iji, metki. Frequent questions on rave parties are Kaj je bilo za večerjo? and Kaj ste jedli? In general, the use of camouflage words and phrases greatly enhances the drug dealer’s ability to avoid detection and arrest. For example, the meaning of speed (a stimulant looking like white powder) is hidden behind the phrase Ali pri vas kaj sneži?


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What also matters to Slovene slang speakers, is the ranking of positive (faca, frajer, legenda, car) or negative personality (bolan zahojenec, brezvezna riba, mutibarič/fukič/pametnjakovič/smotkovič, mentalno indiferentni pojebek), and evaluating the behavior of group members (kurčiti se na koga, iti komu kaj na pizdo, pičiti asa, bluziti v tri dni, film poči/se strga komu). It is extremely common to express indifference or apathy as a general attitude towards traditional values (ne jebati žive sile, jebe se komu, fučka se komu, komu dol visi, dati kaj/koga na ignore, biti kaj pičkin dim, a frequent swear phrase is boli me kurac). On the other hand, there are numerous ways to express enthusiasm over totally banal things

(biti kaj svetovno/mega/zakon/kul/ful kul).

The examples evidence a commonly known phenomenon of extreme sociolects – they tend to expand the meaning of lexemes with regard to the meaning of their standard forms. These inter- and intralingual connections can be explained by relexicalisation, i.e. intended exchange and mixture of lexemes on the levels of native – foreign, standard – nonstandard, old – new (Skubic 2005: 213-232). Besides the extensive vulgarization, this is the most notable element of slang.

The examples also indicate that Slovene slang rests upon colloquial language mixed with dialects and loanwords. Slovene dialects in a way characterize the inhabitants of different regions. The inhabitants of the capital city are known by kwa and tko, those from Maribor by čuj and toti and those from Velenje by lejga. Slang differs from region to region; for instance, some slang words in Primorska may be unknown to people in Dolenjska.

Because Slovenia was a constituent republic of the former Yugoslavia, there are traces of Serbo-Croatian in Slovene language. Some elements, if not entire phrases still turn up in slang phraseology today, although to a lesser extent compared to earlier periods (dati čez že svašta – to go through a lot, pušiti/pržiti travo – to smoke grass, ne guši – give me a rest, ne šljivi – give a damn about someone, od šuba – right off, ni frke – no problem, zapaliti se za nekoga – to fall


48

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for someone, imeti mutne posle – to do monkey business), (Stramljič-Breznik 2007: 189).

The impact of German is noticeably smaller and limited to the incorporation of adapted lexemes from colloquial language or dialect (ziher – sure, imeti koga na ketni – to keep on a short/tight leash, ne me fojtrat – don’t feed me a line, šponat se – to show off, imeti zegn – to be lucky), (ibid).


However, there is no doubt that English exerts an extremely powerful influence on Slovene. English is the most widely used language in international communication, and it has become a virtual lingua franca of the world. Slovenes borrow English words for diverse reasons. Some loanwords are adopted to name new objects and concepts, thus filling lexical gaps, but quite a few enter the Slovene lexicon even though Slovene already has an equivalent native word for that item. These latter, fashionable borrowings could be termed prestigious borrowings, and label their users as up-to-date, chic, knowledgeable, cosmopolitan or, alternatively, simply pretentious. Therefore, those who are concerned about the purity of the Slovene language frequently attempt to promote the use of native rather that the foreign lexical items (Šabec 2004: 520-521).

The influence of English on Slovene is evident in all areas of life and in different genres, but particularly so in the media and in the spoken discourse of the young. Šabec (2004: 518) lists several examples of Slovene slang borrowed from English. Nouns: net, mail, mesidž/mesič/message, šoping, keš, drink, lajf, party, bejba, frend/frendica, luzer, freak/frik, joke, filing, spot, basket; verbs: skenslati, surfati, mailati, čekirati, forwardirati, dovnloadati, sprintati, resetirat, densat, biti v badu, biti in, biti out, skulirati se, muvati, rulati, skijati; adjectives: kul, ful mega, the/d best, fancy, izi, happy, bad; adverbs: tu mač, no way, bajdvej/baj d vej; and longer structures: Oh, maj gat (Oh, my God!), ful je lep! Tu ‘maš shortcut na desktopu.13


The young inhabitants of the capital city have gone even further; they drop as many English words as possible into their slang; for example: “Sama ne furam



13 The examples are listed unchanged with all the possible spelling and other mistakes, taken from the article Vpliv angleščine na slovensko besedje (Šabec, 2004).


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safra, nism ga niti u iber zadensala prejšnji vikend. Tudi doga ne wokam na stritu sred sitija, niti ket mi ni na ruf sklajmbala, nogice še v lajfu nisem mela brovkane.”14





Sometimes the influence of Serbo-Croatian, German and English is joined in phrases like full gužva or furati safr. Particularly interesting are the cases where English is used in order to create a play-on-words effect: e.g. peace-rija (pisarija), sfreezirana Škoda instead of sfrizirana (Šabec 2004: 534), Rock Partyzani.




Some of the examples evidence considerable degree of instability, illustrated by different spelling variants for the same items. Borrowings naturally progress through several stages until some gradually disappear and some eventually become so completely integrated into the Slovene lexicon that they are no longer perceived as foreign, e.g. intervju, jahta, servirati, etc. This is also the stage of their complete morphological assimilation, as they begin to comply completely with the rules of Slovene word-formation, declination and conjugation (Šabec 2004: 522).

While lexical aspects of Slovene-English language contact are the most salient, the English influence does not stop there. According to Šabec, it also affects Slovene syntax, pragmatics and culture (see Šabec 2004: 524-526).




English has managed to penetrate almost every aspect of our lives. We see it on the billboards, electric displays, radio, TV, on the Internet, in commercials, even in spelling conventions such as Batagel






14 The example is taken from the blog: http://zvitafelgna.blog.siol.net/2008/09/06/grem-ga-furatja-safr/ (acquired 23. 2. 2009).

15 Rock Partyzani is a name of Slovene band.


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In English, it means “I don’t feel sorry for myself, nor have I been dancing madly last weekend. I don’t walk a dog on the street in the middle of the city, neither did a cat climb on the roof, my leg has not been broken yet.”





15





– so much so that it has become a part of our everyday existence. It is obviously employed as a language of prestige, something that is “in” and the American atmosphere associated with global values worth striving for. There can be no doubt that the intercultural impact of English


& Co.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





is slowly, but surely changing the Slovene cultural landscape molding it into a distinctly less Slovene and more and more globalized entity (Šabec 2004: 526).

So the teenagers around the world no longer laugh – they “lol” (laugh out loud). “Thanks to the Internet, teens in front of computer screens have created their own language” (Dimopoulos 2008). “The rate at which teenagers are embracing new technologies means that literacy is no longer just about reading and writing. Generations Y and Z are children of the Information Age. The age of video games, laptops, digital cameras, iPods, mobile phones and the Internet” (ibid). A generation in which google is a verb, Wikipedia is the new Leksikon Sova, and the blog is a modern personal diary. An online questionnaire reveals that 69% of Slovenes spend 1 – 3 hours per day surfing the Net.16





In Internet slang, it is unwritten protocol “to make excessive use of exclamation and question marks, and expressive symbols called ‘emoticons’, and to ignore all other punctuation marks, capital letters and vowels. If ‘text speak’ – the abbreviated language of mobile phone text messaging – was not hard enough to decipher, ‘lolspeak’ is even more cryptic” (ibid). For example, itak has become itq, piflar has turned to g33k (geek) and Lov3 ya 43wa3nd3wa






16 The data are taken from the web site: http://www.anketnik.net/?ukaz=prikaz&id=249 (acquired

23. 2. 2009). Taking into account that the questionnaire is online, those who do not have the internet connection are automatically excluded.

17 The example is taken from the blog: http://100jko.blogspot.com/2008/09/tt-sleng-je-postal-cyber-sleng.html (acquired 23. 2. 2009). It means love you for ever and ever.


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Many teenagers use social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Hi5 to create a “profile”. “The instant messaging program MSN is also high on the teen techno-radar, as young people chat to numerous “friends” at once” (ibid).





17


is not just some “spakedranščina”, but cyber lingo of the new generation. Acronyms, keyboard symbols, numbers and shortened words are often methods of abbreviation. Their use, especially the use of English acronyms, is settling well among Slovene teenagers; for instance, BTW (by the way), LOL (laughing out loud), L8R (later), BRB (be right back), GR8 (great), OMG (Oh, my God!), WTF (What the fuck!), TNX (thanks), U2 (you too). However, the number of Slovene ones is slowly

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





rising as well, e.g. LP (lep pozdrav), LN (lahko noč), FSM (fajn se ‘mej), RTM (rad/a te ‘mam), LT (ljubim te), BV (brez veze), BMK (boli me kurac).18


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Figure 5: Mobitel’s pocket dictionary for text messaging





Although it would seem that slang is in principle limited to individual closed social groups, because of the interconnectedness of web-based communication nowadays, it is accessible to anyone who has any interest in it. Therefore, the knowledge of slang lexical and phraseological elements has generally expanded. Consequently, contemporary advertising exploits this language, as this sector recognizes its economic advantage in its quest for a commercially effective communicative style with elements of slang combined with a strategy of using already familiar textual prototypes (Stramljič Breznik 2007: 193).


18 The examples are taken from the web site: http://www.ksk.si/zapik/zapik1007.asp?clanek=/1007/19.asp (acquired 23. 2. 2009).

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





The following examples evidence the competitiveness of three mobile service providers in Slovenia (Mobitel, Si.mobil and IziMobil), whose advertisements aim at young people as their best consumers:





Figure 6: Mobitel advertisement for Itak Džabest





Figure 7: Si.mobil advertisement for BlackBerry Smartphones





Figure 8: IziMobil advertisement for SPAR izipaket19





19 The slang expression izi (borrowed from easy) has developed an entire word family within the trade mark Izimobil of the company IZI mobil d.d.: izirračun, izistanje, iziodzivnik, izinakup, izitelefon, izicene, izisotritve, etc. However, the brand name has been originally coined by the airline company easyJet.


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4.3.2 Slang in the Movie Juno


According to numerous reviews of critics, Diablo Cody, a former stripper from Minnesota, proved as an excellent writer. In her screenplay, she introduced many slang terms that caught attention of the young audience. A few phrases such as doodle that can’t be undid and honest to blog ended up on T-shirts, and are still popular among Juno’s fans. Diablo Cody coined her own Joycean slang, as she admits: “I made most of it up … I didn’t research ‘Teen Speak’ or anything. It’s all totally manufactured … I’m pretty immature. I didn’t have to dig real deep” (Stewart 2008). She did, however, mine a few cultural influences unlikely to be part of the average teen’s vocabulary. For instance, the expression wizard is British slang, featured heavily in William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies (Gospodar muh) (ibid). Such cultural implications are examined in chapter 4.2.4 (Allusion).

Born in the imaginative mind of Diablo Cody, Juno is a unique character unlike any of her screen peers from the past. “She’s frank yet funny, charming yet self-confident.”20






20 http://www.sadibey.com/dosyalar/Basin_Bultenleri/Juno_06.doc (acquired 23. 2. 2009)


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She is not afraid to say what no one else will. The dialogue sparkles with “rapid-fire glibness, rich and witty enough to bear up under repeated viewings” (Walden 2008). “Whether sharing with Leah intimate details of losing her virginity or breaking the news of her pregnancy to her parents, Juno commands attention with her brutal honesty and sharp tongue.”20

However, her verbal gymnastics “is slowly stripped away as the film unfolds, and it becomes clear that Juno’s cavalier manner of coasting through life and reinterpreting it in her own dialect is actually a defense mechanism she’s constructed to survive the perils of youth. As she gets closer to her due date and her relationships with Paulie, Mark, Vanessa, and her family grow more complicated and strained, her dialogue becomes less frequently peppered with her own lingo” (Carlson 2008).

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Mason Novick, one of the movie producers, said that the film is ripe with feelings and situations that are very current and relevant in today’s world. “Diablo really taps into how kids talk, and how grownups talk around kids, and she nails specific characters in their own worlds without it ever feeling phony. I think it’s her voice that makes Juno a teen movie that doesn’t talk down to teenagers.”21




The movie tells a real-life story about the new teenage sexuality, where all the old rules are out of the window and sex is just likely to happen between best friends (Keffer 2008). It contains frank discussions about sexual intercourse and teenage pregnancy. There are dozens and dozens of slang expressions related to sex, genitalia and pregnancy. However, they are not too vulgar. No one says fuck, instead sex pops up a dozen times, and another dozen euphemisms for sex and sex organs fly freely. Some examples are listed in Table 3:




Table 3: Euphemisms for sex, genitalia and pregnancy



penises

But then you’re gonna get huge and your chest is gonna milktate. lactate

And I’m going to punch that Bleeker kid in the wiener the next time

I see him.



sex organs




anus



women’s breasts



sleazy, dirty, nasty





21 http://www.sadibey.com/dosyalar/Basin_Bultenleri/Juno_06.doc (acquired 23. 2. 2009)

22 Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary


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When I see them all running like that, with their things bouncing

around in their shorts, I always picture them naked, even if I don’t

want to, all I see is pork swords.





penis, short form of

wienerwurst22 I drink tons of booze so you might end up with one of those scary

neuter-babies that’s born without junk.



Fake brains coming out the ying-yang.



I wish my funbags would get bigger.



I mean, that’s pretty skanky. Isn’t that what you girls call it?

Skanky? Skeevy? – Please stop. – Tore up from the floor up?





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These examples evidence the main feature of slang – the presence of new words, and of new uses for old words. However, “the most interesting thing about modern slang is that, in addition to new words and meanings, it has produced new grammatical relationships among words. Some new words today – and some old words with new meanings – do not behave much like any of the ‘parts of speech’ (noun, verb, etc.) that ordinary grammar deals with” (Juachoerin).

For instance, “LIKE is the word with the most slang uses. Probably its most common use today is as a ‘filler’, i.e. a word simply added to a sentence without really affecting its meaning” (ibid). However, “a slang word – even one without meaning – can and usually does function as some specific part of speech in relation to the rest of the sentence” (ibid). Look what happens when we examine a few cases of like from the movie Juno, where it is used as a filler:

1. I don’t know, I drank like ten tons of SunnyD.

Did you put like a hundred things of tic tacs in my mailbox?

2. Oh, but I do need your help with something, it’s like critically important. Wow, your shorts are like especially gold today.

3. I’m just, like, losing my faith with humanity.

4. Dude, she’s, like, really pretty.

5. Mind you, that’s just like a guestimation.


In (1) like means approximately; in (2) it is an intensifier; in (3) it may be inserted to soften the tone, and in (4) to expresses astonishment. In all these cases like functions as an adverb, whereas in (5), it indicates pretence and it functions as an adjective.


However, in standard (even informal) English like cannot function as an adverb or adjective. “Literally it is a preposition (as in the phrase …a car like mine…)” (Juachoerin). And in informal English it is used as “a conjunction, for as (She left early, like I did) or for as if (They talked like it was my fault)” (ibid). But in examples above the use of like involves a new, slang grammar.


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There is also the introductory like, placed before a sentence (Juachoerin): Like, it would be friggin’ sweet if no one hit me; and the introductory it’s like: It’s like, never-ending for you.


“The introductory like is usually a filler, not affecting the meaning; the introductory it’s like is usually an intensifier, giving emphasis to the sentence” (Juachoerin). Juachoerin classifies these as intros – another new part of speech. In the movie Juno, there are also other intros, such as I mean and you know. Similarly there are tags – placed after something – such as for sure and right?

The construction I’m like … is used to introduce quotations (Juachoerin):


o And I’m like, Thanks a heap, Coyote Ugly.

o She took too many behavioral meds at once and she ripped off her clothes and dove into the fountain at Ridgedale Mall like, Blaaaaah! I’m a kraken from the sea!

o And Su-Chin was there, and she was like, “Oh hi! Babies have fingernails.”

o The Blair Witch Project was coming on Starz, and you were like, “I haven’t seen this since it came out, but we should make out instead. La la la.”

In all these examples, like is used as narrative device.

However, like is not the only word that is reaching out and finding new horizons. The word SO can also be used as narration device (Juachoerin):


o So guess what. – What? I don’t know. – I’m pregnant.

o So, I’ve been listening to that really weird CD that you made me.


That use has been around for a long time but still is not recognized as standard. Another narrative device of long standing but still considered as slang is the use of


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PRESENT FOR PAST (Juachoerin). As the following example form Juno indicates, present-tense verbs are being used with past-tense meaning: I couldn’t do it, Leah! It smelled like a dentist office in there, and there were these horrible magazines with water stains. And then the friggin’ receptionist is trying to give me these condoms that looked like grape suckers, and just babbling away about her friggin’ boyfriend’s pie balls.


In informal English, so is also used to mean very, as in Look, I’ll have the baby, and Vanessa is going to be so happy. But nowadays it is also used in expressions like:


o Please. Dario Argento is so the ultimate master of horror.

o I could so go for a huge cookie right now with like, a lamb kebab, simultaneously.

Here, “its meaning is more like unquestionably than very. This modern use appears to have evolved out of the very use, since it has similar intonation” (Juachoerin).

TOTALLY in its slang sense is similar to the above-mentioned slang use of so. Some people do not seem to have even realized that the word’s meaning has changed. Literally it means completely or entirely (ibid), as in This one is actually kinda slow. But it's Mott the Hoople so it’s still totally rad and hardcore. In this sense, it is also used by Slovene teenagers, as in the translation, Komad je počasen, ampak ker so Mott The Hoople, je še vedno totalno kul.


However, in American slang totally can also mean definitely (Juachoerin). That usage has not been adopted by Slovene teenagers, so it cannot be rendered into Slovene. Therefore, it has been either omitted in the subtitles or replaced by other intensifiers:


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Table 4: The translation of the American slang term “totally” into Slovene

Oh yeah, jocks totally eat that shit up. Športnikom to dogaja v nulo

I was thinking that I could have this baby and

give it to someone who totally needs it.


Lahko bi rodila otroka in ga dala nekomu, ki

ga res rabi.

You're totally not even listening to me. Ne poslušaš.

Seriously, if I could just have the thing and

give it to you now, I totally would …


Ej, če bi lahko, bi ga vama kar takoj dala.




You could totally go out with Katrina De

Voort.


Z njo bi lahko hodil.




She's totally gonna steal that kid for her

collection.


Tamalo bo ugrabila za svojo zbirko.




He told me that Katrina’s house smells like

soup! – Oh my God, it totally does.


Rekel je, da njena bajta smrdi po juhi. – Ja,

ful.



As boyfriends go, Paulie Bleeker is totally

boss.


Kar se fantov tiče, je Bleeker največji car.





The repeated use of totally is lost in the translation. That could be rather disturbing for the young Slovene audience, who also tends to use totalno in their slang. However, the translator has made up for loss by inserting the expression totalno elsewhere, where possible. The word totally turns up in the movie dialogue 14 times and totalno 10 times.

WAY is used as an intensifier to many kinds of phrases (Juachoerin):

1. Dealing with things way beyond my maturity level.

2. You know, I always loved Gibson way more than Fender.

This actually makes me feel way less of a fat dork.

But you know, boys have endured way worse things for nookie.

In (1) way beyond is an alternative to far beyond. That use has been around for a long time and is often considered informal, but not slang. However, way is being

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used with modifiers (more, less, worse, etc.) only recently, and is consequently considered slang when it is used like that (2).


Way (or Yes way) may also be “used as a reply to No way expressing disagreement with it” (Juachoerin). NO WAY has always been used as “a term of refusal, i.e. I won’t do it. Now it often means simply it won’t happen or it’s impossible. It may also express incredulity or just surprise” (ibid).


o No way, he doesn’t like Katrina.

o There is no way that they’re having sex, they wouldn’t even be holding hands.

Other words from the movie Juno that involve this new grammar are:

1. STUFF:

a. And I know that you weren’t bored that day because there was a lot of stuff on TV.

b. I have to actually wear a friggin’ bra now and rub all this nasty

cocoa butter stuff on myself so my skin won't explode.

2. THING:

a. I think pregnancy is beautiful. – Well, you’re lucky it’s not you. – So, let’s talk how we’re gonna do this... thing. – Well, don’t I just have the thing? Squeeze it on out and hand it over?

b. Bren, when do I get that friggin’ Spinal Tap thing?

3. SUCK:

a. I hear these are quite the time-suck.

b. I bought another Sonic Youth album and it sucks! It’s just noise!

4. ROCK:

a. Once Tino gets a new drumhead we’re just, like, ready to rock.

b. I was thinking a graphic designer, mid-thirties, with a cool Asian girlfriend who dresses awesome and rocks out on the bass guitar.


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5. SUPER:

a. super classy, super healthy, super lame, super hard

b. superhero

Some of these words and their slang uses had to be omitted in the subtitles (1.b and 2). In other cases, they were either replaced by Slovene slang equivalents (1.a, 3, 5.a) or literally translated (4, 5.b). However, they are most likely familiar to Slovene teenagers, even if they have not already adopted them. The following examples indicate they are being slowly incorporated into Slovene slang:

1. STUFF: garje v študentskih domovih and stuff,23 varnost stuff,24 odvečen stuff mojih možganov25

2. THING: “sovražimsvojestraše” thing in heart attack26

3. SUCK: slovensko zdravstvo sux27 ja kaj nej če suckaš,28 še vedno suckaš siso in jo boš do smrti,29 lahko sam sebi suckaš jajca,30 ja valda, mi totalno sakamo,31 tule neki sakaš da ničemer ni podobna32

4. ROCK: beba ga rocka,33 BiŁŁ ti mi rockaš moy mlady srček34

5. SUPER: super strokovnjaki,35 super močni srebrni magnetki,36 super lepe in super bogate, supermanekenke, superbogastvo37




The examples are taken from the following web sites (acquired 23. 2. 2009):

23 http://www.svetovalnica.com/klepetalnica/viewtopic.php?t=5595

24 http://nukeit.org/sl/2009/01/06/security-stuff-0106/

25 http://www.siblogs.com/BlogInfo.aspx?blogID=2277

26 http://www.ednevnik.si/entry.php?w=Keya&e_id=23335

27 http://anze.info/slovensko-zdravstvo-sux.html

28 http://www.irts.si/forum/index.php?showtopic=50697&pid=455175&mode=threaded&show=& st=&

29 http://www.poljub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=491784&sid=d440c62a0df0baa9c09844becc9fa 74f

30 http://discharged.org/debate/lofiversion/index.php?t44632-50.html

31 http://forum.miklavz.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=692

32 http://24ur.com/ekskluziv/film/angelina-se-tretjic-v-grob.html

33 http://blog.cotic.si/2009/01/beba-ga-rocka-d.html

34 http://forum.simpatije.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4045&start=20

35 http://www.siol.net/sportal/rokomet/sp2009/novice/hrvaski_strokovnjaki_v_tunizijskem_taboru. aspx

36 http://www.ing-plus.si/board/index/id/26Dalvey%20Edinstveni%20SUPER%20MO%C4%8CN I%20srebrni%20magnetki%20.html

37 http://www.zurnal24.si/super-bogate-upermanekenke/zstil/modalepota/90609


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These words are only making their way into Slovene slang, which is manifest both in unstable pronunciation and orthography. However, numerous English words have become completely integrated, and these are given Slovene affixes. For instance, to rule (slang: to be excellent or superior) has strongly rooted itself in Slovene slang: ta nova pesem ga rula,38 model ga rula,39 pizza burek ga rula,40 siddharta rula41 and ženske rulamo.42

listed in chapter 4.3.1.




The movie Juno also indicates that in American slang many words become shortened. The instances of clipping from the movie Juno are ad advertisement, hon honey, vag vagina, pic picture, fave favorite, meet meeting, lab laboratory, bod body, sec second, meds medicines and polio poliomyelitis. Although such reduction is not as typical in Slovene slang and colloquial language, some instances can be found: osnouka osnovna šola, slovka pouk slovenskega jezika v šoli, faks fakulteta, študent študentski dom, pasuš potni list and dnevna dnevna soba. Slovenes rather tend to swallow the vowels and consonants, as in tršica tovarišica.

Further reduction is evident in the spelling of many words, suggesting a colloquial tone. This is the case of the verbs gotta, gonna and shoulda, the gerunds friggin’ and kickin’ (by apocope, the words loses the final g), and the pronoun youya. In the Slovene subtitles, the colloquial tone is achieved by writing down the words in their phonetic shape; for example, lej instead of glej and taka instead of takšna.




Another feature of slang is that some popular expressions are constantly dropped in the language, and they usually work as fillers. Those, that frequently turn up in the movie Juno are FRIGGIN’, GUYS and DUDE. In the subtitles, friggin’ has been omitted, only once it has been translated as preklet. Guys, in the sense of




The examples are taken from the following web sites (acquired 23. 2. 2009):

38 http://www.smrklja.si/node/26398

39 http://discharged.org/debate/index.php?showtopic=27923&pid=664337&mode=threaded&start=

40 http://www.simpatije.com/user/77070/

41 http://www.email.si/blog/girl_angel/objava/12213

42 http://geekchick-s.net/tamala/?p=1217


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More examples of English borrowings are

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addressing people (e.g. Have you guys thought of any names for the baby yet?) has been omitted every time, because there is no Slovene equivalent to it. And dude, also in the sense of addressing people, has been either omitted or replaced by ej.

It has become apparent that in translating American slang into Slovene, many slang words and their uses have to be omitted. Moreover, the restrictions of time and space further dictate the omission of discourse markers, because they do not carry semantic meaning. Some of those that turn up in the movie Juno are described above, but for the sake of clarification, they may be classified into the following three types:

- Interjections: oh, uh

- Fillers: like, so, well, kind of, sort of, actually, friggin’, guys and dude

- Empty verbal forms: I mean, you know, for sure, right?

Slang, as primarily spoken language, is otherwise replete with discourse markers. Their omission in the subtitles weakens the colloquial nature of dialogue. It is therefore even more important to retain the colorful, playful and provocative nature of slang terms in the translation.

Slang expressions must be rendered using appropriate TL slang terms. Newmark (cited in Schwarz 2003) points out that slang and idioms are closely linked to culture and a particular period. An older term which is rendered into today’s slang may sound completely out of place. Newmark (ibid) states that the most correct term, the exact equivalent in the SL, may be so obscure to the present audience that it interrupts the flow of reading subtitles. The overriding decision in finding the appropriate slang expression must be the intelligibility of the subtitles. The audience must be able to understand the text quickly taking into account the short time the subtitle is displayed.


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Another difficult translation area is the use of bad language or swear words. The translator must first recognize the term and understand how “bad” it is. Native speakers intuitively know which term is more vulgar than another (Schwarz 2003). For instance, shit is generally considered to be more vulgar than damn. So in the subtitles, damn is translated with a less vulgar expression (preklet) than shit

(sranje):

Oh, shit. Excuse me! Can we get my kid the

damn spinal tap already?




As with slang, it must be taken into account that taboo areas change with time and social mores. It is also important to know who would use which expression and in what circumstances. The translator may therefore resort to the help of native speakers, to fully understand the nuances between the different expressions. Once the translator has established the type of expression and the degree of obscenity, s/he can then try to find an equivalent. As the swear words are connected to taboo areas, they can differ substantially from culture to culture (Schwarz 2003). However, Slovenes, especially the younger generations, are generally well acquainted with the English language and American culture, and they both share taboo words referring to sex, sex organs and bodily functions.

When finding equivalents, the technique of “chunking sideways” may be of help. This means that translator looks for a swear word with the same degree of vulgarity (Schwarz 2003).


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Sranje. Alo! Dajte že otroku ta preklet

spinalni tok!

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





4.3.3 Examples from the Movie Juno


In most cases, the translator of the movie Juno has managed to transfer the playfulness of the original dialogue into the subtitles by using up-to-date slang terms. However, as I compared the ST and the TT, I have noticed that several improvements could be made. In subtitling, as in every translation practice, the ideal would be for someone to carefully read the ST and the TT through, because s/he can notice small mistakes or make improvements in the translation. However, this is usually not possible because of the limited time and the available resources.

As noted, there are points where slang has not been rendered into the Slovene subtitles, although it is possible. The following examples indicate the differing breaks in register and provide more accurate solutions.

The first example refers to the conversation between Juno and Vanessa:

You don’t think I’m going to flake out on you? –No, I don’t, Juno.

In the subtitles, the slang phrase is replaced by a standard Slovene version:

Saj ne mislita, da me bo minilo? -Ne, Juno.


However, the following slang phrase would be more appropriate:

Saj ne mislita, da bom zahinavila? -Ne, Juno.


The next example refers to the scene where Bleeker and Juno are reconciled, and Bleeker asks her:

Can we make out now?


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Again, the slang phrase is substituted by a standard version:

Bi se poljubila?

However, in this case, the register has probably been changed intentionally, because it suits the character of Bleeker, who is polite and a bit shy. In my opinion, however, the translator should have stayed close to the SL dialogue, and have translated this question as it is, because it would retain the scene’s comical effect:

Te lahko zaližem?

In another example, Juno says to his father:

Dad, I think I’m just gonna, shove out for a sec, but I won’t be home late.

In this case, the break in register is not so noticeable:


Na hitro bom skočila ven. Ne bom pozna. –Prav.

However, instead of the colloquial version, the translator could have used a more fashionable slang term:


Očka, pičim malo ven. Ne bom pozna. -Prav.

It becomes apparent that the biggest problem in translating slang is to find the appropriate slang term. While the examples above indicate the change in register, the following example demonstrates that an outdated slang term is even more unsuitable. The example involves the scene where Mark tells Juno that Vanessa wants to name the baby Madison, and Juno replies:


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Madison? Isn’t that, like, a little, gay?

The translator has used an old slang term:

Madison?

Ni to malo češko?


Češko is not commonly used by today’s generation of slang speakers. It may not even be understood by the young audience, and it might sound misleading because one could think about the connection between the name Madison and Czech.

According to The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2006), gay is also used to mean “bad, stupid, out of style”. Slovene slang speakers refer to something stupid in the same way as American teenagers, so the solution pedersko would fit excellent:

Ni to malo pedersko?

What is also very problematic in subtitling slang, is that translators sometimes invent their own slang expressions. However, this is not advisable because their own coinages might only confuse the TL audience, who does not have the time to comprehend the words they hear for the first time. This is indicated by the following example where Juno describes the parents she wishes for her baby:

I was thinking a graphic designer, mid-thirties, with a cool Asian girlfriend who dresses awesome and rocks out on the bass guitar.

In the subtitles, the translator has used the word baska for the bass guitar:


Grafični oblikovalec, kakšnih 35 let,


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ki ima super Azijko s smislom za modo in nažiga na basko.


Most likely, the translator has made up the expression baska by himself. However, this word does not have a clear meaning, and should therefore not be put in the subtitles. Also, the common colloquial expression super and the standard language phrase s smislom za modo could have been replaced by slang equivalents. Therefore, I suggest a slightly different translation:


Grafični oblikovalec, kakšnih 35 let,

s skulirano Azijko, ki se noro oblači in zažiga na bas kitari.

These are only minor instances of the numerous problems that the translator of this movie had to solve. One of the biggest challenges, however, was the translation of those slang terms and phrases that are figuratively used, and these are also numerous.

The audience is showered by them from the beginning. One example, which is also one of the famous quotes from the movie, pops up when Juno shakes the pregnancy test hoping the plus sign will disappear, and the salesman sneers in reply:

That ain’t no Etch-a-Sketch, this is one doodle that can’t be undid, homeskillet.

Juno shakes the test as if she had been shaking the Etch A Sketch drawing to disappear. As stated in Wikipedia, Etch A Sketch is an old drawing toy:


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Etch A Sketch is a registered trademark for a mechanical drawing toy manufactured by the Ohio Art Company. An Etch A Sketch is a thick, flat gray screen in a plastic frame. There are two knobs on the front of the frame in the lower corners. Twisting the knobs moves a stylus that displaces aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line. The knobs create lineographic images. The left control moves the stylus horizontally, and the right one moves it vertically. The Etch A Sketch was introduced near the peak of the Baby Boom [1946 to 1964], and is one of the best known toys of that generation.





Figure 9: The classic red-and-white Etch A Sketch model


The word doodle has been recognized by the Urban Dictionary, and it supposedly has two meanings: it can mean either a penis or random, thoughtless drawings on whatever topics happen to be flowing through the artists’ head, often done to relieve boredom. In our case, doodle could be translated into Slovene as čačke. Urban Dicitonary also explains the slang term homeskillet, which is a really close friend, such as “homie, homeslice, homeboy, homes”.

However, the translator has replaced the comparison to the Etch A Sketch with termometer, since the TL audience is generally not familiar with the Etch A Sketch toy:


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To ni termometer.

Iz tega plusa ne bo minusa, stara moja.


Termometer is a good solution, because it also seems as if Juno were nailing down her temperature. However, the translation sounds less humorous, because the accent (ain’t), the felicitous expressions (Etch-a-Sketch, doodle, homeskillet), their rhyme and the rhythm are lost.

Another difficult area is the translation of taboo words. In this case, however, the translator was not always successful in finding the best solution. This is indicated by two examples. The first one involves the scene where Juno announces her pregnancy to her parents, and explains why she will give up the baby for adoption:

It’s just that I’m not ready to be a mom. -Damn skippy, you’re not.


Damn skippy is her father’s reaction. The expression is a derivative of damn straight believed to have it’s origins in the south eastern regions of Australia. It means “not just yes, but HELL yes” (Urban Dictionary).

The translator has replaced this phrase with a mild standard language version:

Nism še pripravljena, da bi bila mama. -Bi rekel, da ne.

However, I suggest using the swear word hudiča instead because it suits the character, and it retains the lowered register and the strong connotation of the SL phrase:

Nism še pripravljena, da bi bila mama. -Ja hudiča, da ne.


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Another example of taboo language refers to Leah’s response to Juno’s pregnancy:

Oh, my god! Oh shit! Phuket Thailand!

The expression Phuket Thailand! has been tracked by the Urban Dictionary with the reference to the movie Juno. It is “used to express absolute astonishment”. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island often associated to its nightlife activities. It is pronounced [pho:ket]. In the movie, Phuket Thailand! is pronounced [fuː kæ thaɪlənd] forming the sound play Fuck it, Thailand!



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The translator has simply omitted this phrase and substituted it by a commonly used swear phrase Ne me jebat! bringing about the same astonishment and some sexual connotation:

Fak, ej! Mater, no! Ne me jebat!


However, this is neither as funny nor as intriguing as Phuket Thailand! Therefore, I suggest applying the technique of “chunking sideways”. In the TL culture, the first association to prostitution may be Ukrainian women. The wordplay fukrajinka retains the reference to prostitution, connects it to Juno’s spontaneous sex and comes out as puckish as Phuket Thailand! The translation also preserves the figure of repetition, anaphora:

O, hudo! O, bed! Ti fukrajinka!

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





5. CONCLUSION


The humor of the drama-comedy Juno sparkles with unusual slang and innovative figurative expressions, deserving the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Therefore, it is important to provide just as excellent subtitles, demanding special devotion and creativity from the translator.

The translator, Damjan Zorc, provided a colorful, vivid translation and breathed into Juno a sharp Slovenian tongue. The playful and witty slang in the translation testifies of his rich vocabulary and constant track on Slovene slang. The points where American slang was not possible to translate into Slovene slang were replaced by other occasions where slang was not used in the SL, but it was possible to use it in the translation. The translator did not stick to the original dialogue through thick and thin, but he rather changed it a little to create natural speech for the TL audience. However, the translator’s creativity was often distorted by the time and space restrictions imposed by the medium. Not only did he have to reduce the dialogue because of the character-count limitation, but he also had to use simple, more quickly comprehensible vocabulary and statements. Thus, the colorful palette of the SL was sometimes inevitably blurred in the translation.

In figurative language, this is reflected in the loss of several “corny images that startle the ear”.43






43 http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film/reviews/article_display.jsp?&rid=9773 (acquired 23.

2. 2009)


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The creative similes and metaphors of the original version were replaced by commonly used Slovene ones, if not made explicit. The translator could not afford such verbal gymnastics as the screenwriter did, because it would disturb the fast reading flow of the TL audience. Thus the brightest bulb in the tanning bed turned into brihtna buča, or coming in on that snooze button into popek je skočil ven.

The American Teenage World: Case Study of Subtitling in the Movie Juno





Such changes are inevitable, but the non-perseverance of alliteration only indicates carelessness. Alliteration is used in the original dialogue, because it pleases the ear and makes the viewers more receptive. Like a strong spice, it has been used sparingly, and it appears to be overlooked by the translator, because he did not preserve it in the subtitles. Although the dialogue is turned into a written form, it should be preserved, because it gives certain emphasis to statements and it serves as an excellent means of characterization.

Despite these minor blemishes, slang and figurative expressions were generally successfully translated and adapted to the TL. It was impossible, though, to render some of the cultural elements that contribute to the density of the movie. The elements that turn up in the movie visually were not translated, neither were song lyrics. In the dialogue itself, some elements exhibit the differences between social classes, but the majority points to the “coolness” of teenage characters, such as those referring to music, movies, comics and alcoholic drinks. Their names, titles or brands are unfamiliar and offer no clues to the TL audience. Nevertheless, the audience can recognize them as something cool and popular in the SL culture.

What the Slovene audience cannot recognize are particular cultural elements hidden behind the allusions. Such elements are so specific and closely bound to the American culture that they were inevitably lost in the translation.

The world of teens has common ground across cultures. Yet, the various culture-bound elements used in the movie draw it near to the SL young audience, and distance it from the TL audience. It appears that the movie does so intentionally. If it wants to address the SL teenagers successfully, it has to do it in their confined way. It does so not only by using up-to-the-minute lingo, but also with other hints and allusions from the 1980s teenage world. Both slang and allusions appear to be limited to a particular age group and express an in-group identity.

However, globalization has drawn water to its mill even in slang. Nowadays, slang is stripped naked through the media and exploited in advertising. Popular


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American slang terms and their usages find their way beyond the North American continent. Slovene teenagers, who are particularly keen on adopting them, can thus relate to several expressions from the movie. Some of these have also appeared in the subtitles (e.g. the intensifiers totalno and super), but the majority has been replaced by Slovene slang equivalents. However, the strongest deviation from the original dialogue can be noticed in the omission of discourse markers. Slang, as primarily spoken language, contains many discourse markers, and in the subtitles, these were omitted, because there are no Slovene equivalents (e.g. for guys and dude) or equivalent usages (e.g. the usages of like), and in general, because they represent a waste of characters. Yet, their omission weakens the colloquial nature of the dialogue.

The Slovene audience is thus left with a paler version of the movie’s content and linguistic attractiveness. Some cultural gaps and subtitling restrictions are simply unbridgeable.


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6. BIBLIOGRAPHY AND OTHER RESOURCES


BOOKS AND OTHER PRINT RESOURCES


Allan, K. and Burridge, K. (2007). Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of

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Cody, D. (2008). Juno: The Shooting Script. New York: Newmarket Press, cop.

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Kovačič, I. (1996). Subtitling Strategies: A Flexible Hierarchy of Priorities. In C.

Heiss, and R. M. Bollettieri Bosinelli, (ed.), Traduzione multimediale per il cinema, la televisione e la scena (297-305). Bologna: CLUEB.

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Partridge, E. (2006). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional

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OTHER RESOURCES


ASP32. Version 1.40. DZZ d.d., Amebis d.o.o.

Zorc, D. (2008). [Slovene Subtitles of the Movie Juno].


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(2008). Juno. [DVD]. Fox Searchlight Pictures.

(2008). Radodarna jesen prinaša novosti v pisani ponudbi telefonov. [Si.mobil advertising leaflet].


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