The cognitive pragmatics of subtitling
This paper features a critical review of the book Politeness and Audience Response in Chinese-English Subtitling. A brief introduction of the book’s content is given first, followed by a critical appraisal on merits and loopholes in the book. Furthermore, some interdisciplinary amendments — based on House’s (1998) comprehensive politeness theory and Lakoff’s (1987) embodiment concept — are put forward to remedy the loopholes in question. It is argued that covert translation works better in subtitling for it is compatible with different social norms at the micro level and universally explanative politeness maxims at the macro level. Another issue discussed in this paper is the pretextual influence on audience interpretation. Pretextual influence — or embodiment system which we render more pertinent in cognitive interpretation practice — can barely be mitigated in the audience’s interpretation. Given the audience’s potential misunderstanding derived from access to various pretextual experiences, the translator may as well transfer the right implications underneath paralinguistic behaviors to the subtitling in domesticalized terms.