Monday 20th of March 2023


The politeness/rudeness gradient in translation: examples from TV series
Silvia Bruti – Università di Pisa pdf_icon_30x30

Abstract: In this contribution I discuss phenomena that contribute to the dimension of politeness in contemporary TV series, which often aim at representing believable interactions, and their translation from English into Italian in the modality of dubbing. Politeness, as has been shown in the relevant literature (Culpeper 2005, 2011; Leech 2014; Locher 2006), is in the majority of cases the preferred aim of interaction, which is targeted at reaching a desirable social balance and solidarity. However, there are also occasions in which the reverse is the case, as interactants are hostile and aggressive. By means of examples drawn from a variety of contemporary shows (e.g., Dawson’s Creek, Skins, Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, 13 Reasons Why, Sherlock), I describe how (im)politeness is the result of a complex trade-off of many elements, e.g., speech acts, turn-taking rules, gestures, gaze, etc. Pragmatic and cultural aspects are at the core of interaction, yet, despite this recognized crucial role, they represent a challenge in translation because they are characterized by a great deal of variability in different linguistic-cultural systems, even when these systems are not particularly remote from one another, as in the case of the pair English/Italian. The risk, when mediating these aspects, is that of altering or even subverting the dynamics of interaction. In the case of dubbing, the constraints of this audio-visual translating modality also need to be taken into account, in addition to the challenges that translation always poses.The analysis shows that the translation of politeness in audiovisual texts is often reconstructed differently in target texts, with inevitable repercussions on the perception of the story world and characters.

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