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Title: Politeness : applications in translation studies
Author: Abudib, Wafa
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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The research on “politeness” as a socio-linguistic phenomenon can be utilized beyond linguistic boundaries to investigate translation solutions for “impolite” English and Arabic texts. Throughout this study, politeness is not used in its moral sense, but rather in the light of Brown and Levinson’s (1987) and Leech’s (1983) views as a series of face-saving strategies and maxims that can help the translator ensure acceptance of the target reader. I focus on the translators’ strategic use of language to modify the politeness relations of the source text (ST) to meet the standards set by the target text (TT) culture. I research the presence of “politeness equivalence” between the ST and the TT, and explore how this can be achieved and assessed. My choice of two controversial Arabic and English texts, the Arabian Nights and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, is meant to help reveal translational behaviour and show that politeness similarities and contrasts are deeply rooted in the ST and the TT cultures and languages. I monitor the transfer of politeness features and pinpoint the areas of “translation failure” that can lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings. The translators’ marked choices can have ideological embeddings, and meanings are often intentionally manipulated, either as a canonized approach to reconstruct the interplay of dominant and dominated languages, or to redress the cultural threat posed by a sexual taboo. I discuss the translators’ tactics to resolve politeness problems, my goal being to explain that the major problem in translating politeness is more cultural-ideological than linguistic, and how this can affect the quality of translations. That is why I also investigate the errors made by a group of Syrian translation studies students in applying politeness norms to letter discourse in English, and show how this could affect cross-cultural communication. I also analyze Syrian modes of politeness to show its cultural specificity, assessing translation errors that result from translating from positive politeness-oriented and collectivistic culture into negative politeness-oriented and individualistic culture. By using politeness theory as a model for my study, I stress that the TT politeness reflects the TT cultural and linguistic system of values and beliefs rather than that of the ST. The translators’ biases towards the TT and regulation of the ST language can jeopardize the accuracy and adequacy of translation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available