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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 4 Research design


Chapter 4

Research design

4.1 Data and databases in the investigation

As pointed out in the Introduction, this study focuses on the analysis of two pragmalinguistic forms, namely, the query preparatory and the suggestory form realized by five surface forms in the SL as they occur in SL and dubbed television series. The surface forms under investigation include the following: Can you do X?; Could you do X?; Will you do X?; Would you do X?; Why don’t you do X? In the language sample, they correspond to the following speech acts: instruction, request, advice, invitation and offer. The reason for selecting these surface forms lies in their relatively high frequency of occurrence, providing ample data to yield statistically significant results.

I have retrieved linguistic data from US television series and their dubbed versions, as the intense verbality of series was assumed to provide more data than feature, action or art films. The present research includes 711 episodes of twenty different series. The 711 episodes amount to 497 hours of play time. The dubbed versions of the series were translated by different translators; thus, the investigation relies on the work of twenty translators, which eliminates the danger of categorizing unique solutions of an individual translator as a general trend. To ensure the representativity of the data, a wide range of genres is investigated, including situational comedies, crime stories, hospital series, drama and mystic series among others (see Filmography).

According to...

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