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Speech Acts, Directness and Politeness in Dubbing

American Television Series in Hungary


Károly Polcz

The culture specificity of speech acts may pose daunting challenges in translating audiovisual products. This volume offers intriguing insights into the ways dubbing translators seek to establish pragmatic equivalence in speech acts such as requests, instructions, advice, invitations and offers. What is the nature of pragmatic equivalence in speech acts? What types of pragmatic shifts do translators employ in the pursuit of pragmatic equivalence? Do shifts in directness have a bearing on target language politeness? While focused on a relatively large amount of linguistic data retrieved from more than 700 episodes of twenty different television series, the study introduces a multidimensional model that can be used as a heuristic tool in the analysis of speech acts in translation studies. This venture into the realm of pragmatics and translation research is aimed at capturing dominant patterns in translating speech acts in audiovisual translation, which, as the author claims, could be tied to translation universals.
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Chapter 1 Speech acts in translation


Chapter 1

Speech acts in translation

1.1 Introduction

The study of speech acts falls within the realm of pragmatics. Although pragmatics-­oriented research in translation studies has grown exponentially over the last couple of decades, researchers have paid relatively little attention to the study of speech acts in audiovisual translation (AVT). The paucity of such prior work calls for a broad overview of the literature to justify the importance of research into speech acts and to identify lines of research that deserve to be pursued in the context of AVT. The first attempts to study speech acts in translation studies are found in the works of scholars engaged in research into literary translation. Thus, their findings serve as the basis of the present investigation of the translation of conventionally indirect speech acts.

First, I shall outline views on the translatability of speech acts and the challenges they pose to translators to shed light on the relevance of this line of research. The review is organized around pragmatic concepts such as illocutionary force, linguistic directness and politeness. This will be followed by a discussion of the ways illocutionary force, linguistic directness and politeness are brought to bear on interpersonal dynamics in AVT. The few studies addressing the translation of specific speech acts in AVT will be discussed at the end of the chapter. I shall focus on both subtitling and dubbing, as findings of research on subtitling seem to hold up in dubbing...

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