Languaging gender and gendering language. Euphemism and dysphemism in dubbing


Abstract - The study is concerned with euphemistic and dysphemistic locutions that discursively construct LGBT identities in specific socio-cultural contexts through the medium of cinema. It focuses on the interlingual and cross-cultural translation carried out on a selected corpus of cinematographic dialogues, investigating how specific approaches to dubbing can unveil deeply rooted socio-cognitive mind-sets. At the same time, such translation strategies can challenge previous frames by generating new mind-sets towards gendered discourse (Sunderland 2004) and towards those public discourses on homosexuality (Baker 2005) that involve a constant linguistic ambivalence between (genuine or fake) homophilia and (covert or overt) homophobia. Both socio-cultural and linguistic attitudes highlight issues related to homophily, groupthink (Baron 2005) and group cohesiveness (Eisenberg 2007), as well as to the dynamics of (socio)linguistic in-groupness and out-groupness (Duszak 2002b). Analysis of the translation of taboo words in film dubbing from English into Italian proves effective in understanding cultural gaps, social attitudes, stereotypical “typifying” features, marginalization and dominance factors, especially when dubbing alters, emphasizes or dismisses euphemistic or dysphemistic taboo words. The present analysis intends to underscore the mutual influence of language and given socio-cultural scenarios, describing how society and individuals react to and negotiate homosexuality and the language that represents it. Gender language nourishes, and is affected by, social cognition on the double axis of “languaging gender” and “gendering language.”

Riassunto –  Lo studio indaga locuzioni eufemistiche e disfemistiche che, in ambito filmico, costruiscono identità LGBT in specifici contesti socioculturali. Si incentra sulla traduzione interlinguistica e crossculturale di dialoghi cinematografici, osservando come specifiche strategie di dubbing portino alla luce atteggiamenti sociocognitivi profondamente radicati. Al contempo, tali strategie possono provocare l’esistente, schierando nuove e diverse mentalità verso le declinazioni discorsive del genere (Sunderland 2004) e verso quelle pubbliche dichiarazioni sull’omosessualità (Baker 2005) che comportano un’ambivalenza del linguaggio tra omofilia (autentica o falsa) e omofobia (scoperta o nascosta). Entrambi tali atteggiamenti socioculturali e linguistici evidenziano tematiche relative a omofilia, “pensiero di gruppo” (Baron 2005) e coesione interna ad esso (Eisenberg 2007), oltre alla dinamica sociolinguistica della demarcazione “dentro/fuori” al gruppo (Duszak 2002). L’analisi traduttiva (inglese-italiano) di parole tabù si dimostra efficace per la comprensione, nel discorso filmico, di atteggiamenti e scompensi socioculturali, elementi stereotipati e “tipizzanti”, fattori di dominanza ed emarginazione. L’analisi sottolinea il reciproco influsso di lingua e contesto in scenari specifici, mostrando come società e individui reagiscono all’omosessualità, negoziandola sul piano linguistico. Il linguaggio di/del genere nutre il sociale, e al contempo ne subisce l’impatto, sul duplice asse cognitivo di “negoziare i significati di genere” e “declinare il genere” nel linguaggio.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v17p195

Keywords: gender; euphemism/dysphemism; (film)dubbing; identity


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