Translating politeness from Japanese to English
Linguistic and pragmatic aspects of the translation of politeness in contemporary novels were examined under the theoretical framework of Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS) (Toury 1995) and Newmark’s functional theory (1988). The analysis revealed that linguistic expressions tied to socio-cultural meaning and values were often neutralised due to the avoidance of creating non-normal target text expressions. Normalising culture-specific expressions was a strategy adopted by translators, enabling target language readers to relate to the stories according to their own cultural understanding. Notable differences in strategies to render texts were found across translators. From an educational perspective, this research provides realistic examples for intercultural language teaching and learning. An important implication is that the findings highlight the fact that, unlike European languages that share roots with English, a universal theory and approach to translation is not viable due to socio-cultural meaning and values that are specific to Japanese culture. The study also contributes to social psychology and consideration of the role of culture in understanding universal and culturally specific values and the attribution of meaning in collectivist and individualist societies.
Keywords: Japanese translation, Japanese polite language, translator strategies, pragmatic loss, literature translation
Keywords: traduction japonaise, langue polie japonaise, stratégies du traducteur, perte pragmatique, traduction littéraire
Published online: 08 June 2020
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