Face negotiation in subtitling (Chinese-English) : politeness moves and audience response
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The broad aim of this research is to study the representation of face negotiation in subtitling between the Chinese and English languages and how British and Chinese viewers respond to face management, as reflected in films via subtitles. More specifically, it seeks to investigate the availability of indicators of source-film face management in subtitling and viewers’ reception and response to face management. The study reviews development in research on face management in Far East cultures and in the West, and establishes a Composite Model of Face Management for the purpose of analysing face interactions in selected Chinese and English film sequences and the representation of face in their corresponding subtitles in English and Chinese. The analyst’s independent analysis shows that absence of face markers and change of face strategies emerge as two major features in the representation of face management in subtitling and that they may make a noticeable impact on viewers’ interpretations of interlocutors’ personality, attitude and intention. This finding is further tested and corrected by audience response tests conducted by the analyst with six Chinese and six British subjects, using one-to-one interviews as the major method for eliciting and collecting responses. The independent audience responses show that, although absence of face markers and change of face strategies may not fundamentally affect viewers’ understanding of the thematic content of film sequences via subtitles, viewers who rely on subtitles have produced significantly different impressions of interlocutors’ personality, attitude and intentions, as well as the nature of the relationship and power relations between interlocutors, from those by native audiences.