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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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Chapter 5 - Audience Response Tests Analysis 189


Chapter 5 Audience Response Tests Analysis 5.1 Introduction and pretextual inf luence in audience response In this chapter, audience response tests are introduced and test results are presented with the analysis investigating factors contributing to the British and the Chinese viewers’ impressions of interlocutors’ personality, attitude and intentions, with a focus on face representation in subtitling. In Chapter 4, we have analysed the six selected sequences from perspectives of face negotiation in interactions and face representation in subtitles, and have found that omission of face markers and change of face strategies often take place in subtitling. We argue that such omissions and changes could significantly impact on viewers, who rely on subtitles to retrieve important face negotiation cues that are of fered in the films, and therefore, accumu- latively, af fect their interpretation of interlocutors’ personality, attitude and intentions. However, these claims may be prone to subjectivity, and need to be tested and corrected by viewers’ reports of their reception and response to face negotiation conveyed in subtitles. As proposed by Mason (2009), reader-response tests could provide evidence of translation impact on text users. Hence, in this study, audience response tests are devised to investigate the impact of subtitles on viewers’ interpretation of interlocu- tors’ face negotiation represented in the six selected sequences. The aim is achieved through developing open questions in writing and subsequent probing questions in face-to-face interviews to solicit viewers’ response including their impressions and explanations. The test data include sequence 1 and sequence 4. They are...

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