Edited by Maria Sidiropoulou
[Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts 6:1] 2020
► pp. 45–63
Im/politeness scholars have highlighted the significance of ideology in the use of im/politeness phenomena, as the very notion of im/politeness presupposes a mental filtering of discourse through preconceptions that already exist in the mind (Terkourafi 1999, 2001, 2005; Mills 2003; Culpeper 2011; Kádár and Haugh 2013). The study aims at demonstrating how im/politeness can be manifested in two Greek versions of a dramatic dialogue that has its roots in the ancient theatre, where masks may be thought to undertake functions of face/identity formation in (im)politeness theory. The focus is on Eugene O’Neil’s dramatic trilogy Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) and on two Greek stage translations of the play that are twenty-one years apart (1986 and 2007). The study adopts both a second/ first order (Grainger 2011, or etic/emic) approach to the data, to gain further insight into how im/politeness plays out in the target versions and also considers in/appropriateness of social behaviour (Locher and Watts 2008) to further understanding of aspects of the relational work enacted by the protagonist. The analysis accentuates the significance of the narrative or the point of view of the target versions of the play. Findings highlight the use of different im/politeness strategies in the translated interaction between the siblings, Orin and Lavinia, which affect respondents’ appropriateness judgements. Respondents appreciated a higher tension between intimacy and aggression as manifested in one of the two translations. The study underscores the value of translation data in im/politeness research by drawing attention to intra-cultural variation with regards to the use of im/politeness manifesting a different narrative/point of view (e.g. non/religious, non/allusive to the ancient theatre). Conversely, im/politeness research contributes to translation practice by showing that im/politeness options may exert influence on audience response.