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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 2 Pragmatic equivalence in the translation of speech acts


Chapter 2

Pragmatic equivalence in the translation of speech acts

2.1 Introduction

My previous investigations into the translation of speech acts in AVT as well as the data retrieved for the present study clearly show that in some instances there are semantic differences between SL and TL utterances. Often, these differences can be explained by the constraints of dubbing. To maintain lip-­synch, translators may omit certain semantic components, or they may replace them with non-­equivalent items. In other instances, it is only intuition suggesting that speech acts are not fully equivalent, but it is difficult to explain the reasons for such non-­equivalence. Therefore, in order to study pragmatic shifts in the translation of speech acts, specific guidelines are needed to provide an objective description of the nature of equivalence between SL and TL speech acts. To this end, this chapter attempts to set up such guidelines in a bid to address two closely related questions: (1) What is it that needs to be conveyed from the SL to the TL in translating directive and commissive speech acts? In other words, what is the invariant of translation? (2) In what instances is it necessary to exclude linguistic data from the investigation due to non-­equivalence between SL and TL speech acts?

2.2 The concept of pragmatic equivalence

Equivalence is not only one of the central concepts in translation studies, but it is one of the most contested issues...

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