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Politeness and Audience Response in Chinese-English Subtitling


Yuan Xiaohui

The aim of this book is to study how politeness, and particularly face negotiation, is dealt with when subtitling between Chinese and English. Face negotiation refers to the process of managing relationships across different cultures through verbal and nonverbal interactions. This research specifically investigates how British and Chinese audiences respond to face management through a study focused on film subtitling and viewers’ reception and response.
The book offers a survey of the developments in research on face management in Far East cultures and in the West. The author then presents a composite model of face management for analysing face interactions in selected Chinese and English film sequences as well as its representation in the corresponding subtitles. Support for the research is provided by audience response experiments conducted with six Chinese and six British subjects, using one-on-one interviews. The audience responses show that viewers who rely on subtitles gain a significantly different impression of the interlocutors’ personality, attitude and intentions than those of native audiences. The results also demonstrate that the nature of the power relations between interlocutors changes from the original to the subtitled version.


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List of Tables and Figures ix Acknowledgements xi List of Abbreviations xiii Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 Theories of Facework and Subtitling 7 2.1 Theory to form: Lakof f and Leech 7 2.2 Theory in development: Brown and Levinson’s politeness model and critique of the theory 10 2.3 The extension of Politeness Theory: Culpeper and Culpeper et al.’s impoliteness framework 18 2.4 Theory in a new phase: Spencer-Oatey’s rapport management theory 21 2.5 Facework in verbal sarcasm 35 2.6 Gu’s conceptualisation of the politeness maxims in China 37 2.7 Mao’s theoretical basis for conceptualising Chinese face 41 2.8 Facework in Chinese particles 48 2.9 Research on politeness in Chinese-language materials 52 2.10 Politeness Theory in Japan: Matsumoto and Ide versus Fukada and Asato 53 2.11 Review of research on subtitling from the perspective of face 59 vi Chapter 3 Methodology and Data Collection 69 3.1 Introduction 69 3.2 Composite Model 69 3.3 Research corpus 78 3.4 Audience response experiments in support of the analysis 80 Chapter 4 Data Analysis 87 4.1 Corpus transcription and coding 88 4.2 Sequence 1: Ted and O’Connor from Kramer vs. Kramer 89 4.3 Sequence 2: Erin, Ed, Kurt and Theresa from Erin Brockovich 103 4.4 Sequence 3: Eli and Daniel from There Will Be Blood 120 4.5 Sequence 4: Yang Cheng and Li Gaocheng from Fatal Decision 140 4.6 Sequence 5: Niu and Zhang from A Symphony of Cooking Utensils 158 4.7 Sequence 6: Wu, Cao, Guo and Chen from Fatal Decision 172 4.8...

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