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"I’m so sorry to disturb you but I wonder if I could have your autograph" versus "¿Me firma un autógrafo por favor?" Contrastive (In)Directeness in Subtitling

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Abstract

Contrastive pragmatic research in English and Spanish has shown that certain speech acts are performed demonstrating high levels of indirectness in English, and conversely, a high level of directness in Spanish. Being indirect in English can lead to confusion, a lack of clarity in the message or even misunderstanding by Spanish native speakers. On the other hand, using direct speech acts in English can be regarded as an invasion of an individual’s privacy, face-threatening and even offensive for native speakers from the politeness theory perspective (Brown and Levinson, 1987).
The main aim of the study, upon which this chapter is based, is to explore and analyse the directive speech acts, following Searle’s taxonomy (1979), found in the film scripts and subtitles of twenty four contemporary comedy films, twelve in English (1975-2013) and twelve in Spanish (1988-2009). In order to ascertain contrastively how (in)directness is conveyed in both languages, a linguistic analysis was carried out based on an adaptation of Blum Kulka et al.’s taxonomy (1989) on the level of (in)directness of speech acts. The findings shed light on two different areas: 1) from a linguistic perspective, the findings contribute to our understanding of the extent to which directness and indirectness are more widely represented in English or in Spanish; and 2) from a translation perspective, the methodology shows how translating patterns in the creation of subtitles may be identified.

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Translation and Pragmatics
EditorsRebecca Tipton, Louisa Desilla
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter11
ISBN (Print)9781138637290
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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