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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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Appendix 1 - Written Descriptions of Film Plots Prior to the Selected Sequences 223

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Appendix 1 Written Descriptions of Film Plots Prior to the Selected Sequences Kramer vs. Kramer Wife Joanna is extremely unhappy about her married life and leaves home without warning husband Ted beforehand. Ted’s life is suddenly thrown upside down as he has to bring up their son Billy himself and meanwhile keep up with a demanding job. Ted makes a few mistakes at work and his boss O’Connor expresses concerns. One day, O’Connor invites Ted for lunch. Please watch the sequence carefully and then answer the question on the questionnaire. Fatal Decision Li is the Mayor of a city, who has just come back from studying at the Communist Party School. He is told that Zhong Fang Mill where he used to be the leader a few years ago has gone bankrupt. The cadres of the mill are blamed by the workers as being corrupt. Yang is the Secretary of the Communist Party, presiding over the government af fairs while Li is on study leave. Yang has been responsible for investigating the cause of the bankruptcy. Please watch the sequence that presents a public meeting and an ensuing private meeting between Li and Yang carefully and then answer the question on the questionnaire. 224 Appendix 1 The Chinese translation of the film introductions are also provided to the Chinese subjects. 克莱默夫妇 妻子乔安娜对自己的婚姻生活很不开心,决定离家出走。丈夫 泰德毫无准备,不得不一边照顾儿子比利,一边努力工作,生 活陷入混乱。 泰德工作中失误几次,老板欧考若感到担心。 一天,欧考若请泰德吃午饭。 请仔细观看影片,之后回答问 卷中的问题。 生死抉择 李高成是市长,刚从党校学习回来。 听说中纺厂已破产。李几 年前是中纺厂的厂长。工人们指责厂领导搞腐败,导致破产。 杨成是市委书记,在李学习期间负责市府的工作。杨负责调查 中纺破产的原因。请仔细观看影片有关市府公开会议及会后杨 和李的对话, 之后回答问卷上的问题。

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