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Politeness and Audience Response in Chinese-English Subtitling

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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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Chapter 3 - Methodology and Data Collection 69

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Chapter 3 Methodology and Data Collection 3.1 Introduction The aims and objectives show that the core theory pertinent to this research constitutes a theoretical framework for identifying and explaining face man- agement features across cultures, against the background of AVT studies that are also underpinned by an intercultural perspective. To develop an appropriate theoretical framework for this research, Chapter 2 has presented a review of the evolution of face management theory through time and across cultures, in which I argued that it is necessary, drawing upon Brown and Levinson’s (1987) face model and Spencer-Oatey’s (2000) rapport management theory, to establish a Composite Model of Face Management tailored for analysing the data in this research. To ensure the typicality of the data, films deemed representative of major feature films in the Chinese and American cinema are explored and sequences unfolding changes in characters’ joint construction of their interpersonal relationships through face management are selected as the data corpus. To test the reliability of my analysis, audience response tests are devised and conducted as a cor- rective to the subjectivity of the analyst. 3.2 Composite Model A Composite Model of Face Management (CMFM) will be formulated for analysing the data from this research. It will draw upon the strengths of Brown and Levinson’s face theory and Spencer-Oatey’s rapport management 70 Chapter 3 framework. The CMFM will also incorporate Hill et al.’s (1986) findings of the cultural dif ference between volition and discernment in American and Japanese societies with quantitative evidence. Moreover, the...

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