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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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Acknowledgements xi


Acknowledgements I am heartily thankful to my parents, friends and colleagues for the support they have given me throughout this project. I am deeply grateful to Ian Mason and Yvonne McLaren-Hankin, whose encouragement and advice have provided an excellent basis for the present book. A special word of thanks goes to Craig Muir and George Li for their technical assistance and to twelve subjects who cannot be named for reasons of anonymity. Their generous help saved me from various dif ficulties. My sincere thanks are also due to the series editor Jorge Díaz-Cintas for his feedback and help, without which this book would never have been possible.

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