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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 4 - Data Analysis 87

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Chapter 4 Data Analysis Since one of the research objectives is to examine the presence in subtitles of indicators of face management in the source film, I will now investigate the six selected film sequences from the perspective of face management and its representation via subtitling. In the analysis, I apply the Composite Model of Face Management (see Chapter 2). The data for this research displays the typical feature of prefabricated orality (Baños-Piñero and Chaume 2009) in which dialogue is carefully scripted to emulate a natural conversation with a view to helping viewers to identify with the fictional world portrayed on the screen (Delabastita 1989, Kozlof f 2000, Pavesi 2008). Therefore, the style of the dialogue is inf luenced to a larger degree more by audiences than by interlocutors on the screen, as it is not really a case of interlocutors addressing each other, but rather the scriptwriter addressing the audience via the fictitious dialogue. In view of this, the task for the audiovisual translator may be considered to be transferring the spontaneous-sounding feature of the film dialogue to the TL in a convincing way to enable the target audience to interpret and identify with the fictional interaction in a similar way that the native audience would do. To achieve this, the transfer of face management via subtitling plays an important part and it is from this particular perspective that the data will be analysed. 88 Chapter 4 4.1 Corpus transcription and coding Each of the six film...

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