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Translating Politeness Across Englishes

The Princess and the Pea

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Rehana Mubarak-Aberer

Due to the increasing lingua-cultural heterogeneity of today’s users of English, it has become necessary to examine politeness, translation and transcultural communication from a different perspective. This book proposes a concept for a transdisciplinary methodology to shed some light onto the opaque relationship between the lingua-cultural biographies of users of English and their patterns of perceiving and realizing politeness in speech acts. The methodology incorporates aspects of CAT tools and business intelligence systems, and is designed for long-term research that can serve as a foundation for theoretical studies or practical contexts, such as customer relationship management and marketing.

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3. What do we do when we translate politeness?

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3. What do we do when we translate politeness?

The proposition that politeness is part of culturally conditioned REALITIES and, thus, can be translated, leads to the question what it means when an element of a REALITY can be translated.

The term “translation” can refer to the process of translation, the product or the field of study. The etymological background of the word “translation” which comes from the Latin verb “transferre” and means “to carry over”53 might indeed imply that something is carried over from somewhere to somewhere else and that this something remains constant. But in other languages, the process of “carrying over” is not necessarily the focus in corresponding translations of “translation”54. Considering this, it is necessary to ask, if there is something at all that remains after translation, and if yes what it is?

Up to the 1970s, “translation” was considered a linguistic procedure of “recoding” and “substituting” the source text with equivalents of the target language, neglecting the cultural background of human beings55.

Most of the concepts of translation assumed (explicitly or implicitly) that there were a definition of culture and language, that there were a universal criterion for clearly distinguishing different cultures and languages from each other, and that cultures and languages were homogeneous entities, related to “national cul←33 | 34→tures” and “standard languages”. Based on these assumptions, scholars56 expressed their opinions on the requirements that a translated text ought to fulfill, on how...

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