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A Translation Analysis Of Sexual Terms In The Film “American Pie 3 (The Wedding)” Dvd Version (Unrated)


A. Research Background

Nowadays, films containing sexuality or adult contents have been very widespread all over the world including in the eastern countries which are believed to hold strong social norm, belief, and value going against sexuality as public consumption for being considered as taboo and vulgar. Time changes, so does the trend. Modernization launched by western countries, especially the US, has penetrated into the vein of eastern cultures and is slowly influencing them in many aspects of life. Film, as reflection of culture, has been extensively used to transfer and spread western culture. Harvie Conn (in http://www.framepoythress. org/frame_books/TATM/chapter2.htm) described film as a “cultural mirror,” a valuable reflection of contemporary attitudes, philosophies, values, lifestyles. This means that film is able to portray life and culture in multidimensional ways.

Film production has been dominated by the United States since its early days and Hollywood has almost become identical to the film industry and constantly disseminates its films across the world including Asian countries. Consequently, several countries (including Indonesia) are now becoming more open to produce and receive films including those containing sexuality. For instance, there have been six sequels of the film of American Pie gradually striking Indonesian film market almost every year not to mention many other movies with the same genre. Even though most of the time the consumption of such kind of films is only limited as home entertainment (not published in theatre), their massive and constant existence has gained a great attention from Indonesian public.

However, the films above use the American mother tongue, English, as the spoken dialogue despite the fact that Indonesian people mostly do not speak and understand English. Thus the films must be translated to overcome the language barrier so that the Indonesian viewers can enjoy the films. One effective way is by using subtitle (a translation of the dialogue of a foreign film) which is inserted at the bottom of the screen.

Somehow, the contrasting value system concerning sexuality between America and Indonesia becomes a huge barrier in producing an accurate and acceptable translation. American people, with their non-restrictive sexual norms, can be very open in conversing about sexuality (outside the formal situation) resulting in a great number of vocabularies concerning sexuality including slang, sexual slurs, swearing words, etc. On the contrary, people here can not express sexual terms blatantly and openly like the American people do because our value system restricts any talk referring to sexuality (sex, sexual organs, processes, activities and natural bodily functions) which inhibits the expansion of sexual lexical items. Thus we only have a small number of words relating to sexuality resulting in the difficulty of producing an accurate and acceptable translation product. Therefore, the appropriate methods and strategies need to be applied by the translators. The followings are some examples of the trouble with translating sexual terms:

Example 1:
Context of situation:
Stifler is mad at Officer Krystal since he hasn’t got his turn of sex service.
I don’t care if Kevin starts crying because Finch bit his cock off.
Aku tak peduli Kevin menangis karena jagonya digigit Finch

The word cock above is translated into jago. Lexically, they are equivalent since they both deliver the same meaning “male adult chicken.” But, this is not the case of the example above. The word cock above is a slang that has sexual meaning ‘penis’ while its translation jago is not commonly understood as ‘penis’ in TL. However, the word jago connotatively often refers to someone’s expertise in doing something, for example, Dia jago Matematika (He is good at Math).  o, translating cock into jago is acceptable in the way that the translation will not offend the audience’s sense of morality since it has no negative connotative meaning in Indonesian language. However, the translation above is not accurate since cock and jago don’t convey the equivalent meaning. It is also not readable since the audiences will not address that the translation jago matter fact refers to penis.

Example 2:
Stifler drops by Jim’s house and finds a celebration in the house.
Steve Stifler:
Polish my nuts and serve me a milkshake

The sexual term nuts is deleted and the whole sentence is freely translated (differently expressed) into astaga-tak-terduga. The translation above is a free translation in the way that the original grammatical structure are reconstructed and translated in a whole new way. This is done to avoid the vulgarity of the words nuts which means penis. The translation is once again acceptable since it doesn’t touch the sexual context within the SL at all and results in a very polite and decent translation. This translation is readable since astaga-tak-terduga is a very common language expressing surprise (in English, it is equivalent with oh, my God!). But again, this translation is not accurate since Polish my nuts and serves me a milkshake is totally not equivalent with astaga-tak-terduga and the contextual meanings of both expressions are far apart.

Example 3:
Jim is in bar with talking about the plan of going to Chicago to get Michelle her wedding dress. Stifler suddenly comes and makes fun of Finch.
Steve Stifler:
What’s the capital of Thailand?
Apa ibukota Thailand?
Steve Stifler:
(Hitting Paul Finch’s penis) Bang Cock
Bang Cock 042/AP3TW/20:57

The word Bang Cock above not simply means the capital of Thailand. It contains sexual meaning and sense of humor. Bang Cock here means hit penis. The word Bang Cock is bound to sound similar with the real word Bangkok but this not necessarily means that the translator can just let t that way since the audience will be confused what is so funny about Bang Cock. The audiences who do not speak English will not consider it funny since they do not address that Bang Cock contains sexual connotation. To clarify the funny effect, the translator should have given some additional information explaining the sexual meaning of Bang Cock so that the audience will get the message and catch the sense of humor in it. The strategy of preserving the foreign word Bang cock is accurate in meaning and acceptable for our culture since it does not result in a vulgar translation. However the translation is not readable since it is preserved without any additional information.

From the examples above we can see how problematic translating sexual terms is since meaning and naturalness collide most of the time in the translation of sexual terms. The above phenomena lead the researcher to conduct the research of sexual terms found in American Pie 3 (The Wedding) DVD version (unrated). But then,” Why American Pie 3?” The answers are because American Pie 3 (The Wedding) DVD version (unrated) contains tons of data that the researcher needs and it is also very popular and well-liked, proven by winning MTV Movie Awards and MTV Teens Choice Award in 2004).

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