Translating phatic expressions
Jamal B.S. al-Qinai
Any conversational exchange can be informational or phatic. Occasional exchanges are of no lesser importance than the informative content of dialogue. One needs to establish the channel of communication by setting up a social environment conducive to the exchange of ideas among the participants. Such a strategy of showing politeness is intended to avoid face-threatening acts through the use of compliments and non-verbal gestures. Mistranslating the function of a given phatic communion expression might lead to problems ranging from the disruption of mundane daily small talk such as the break up of a courtship dialogue to grave consequences as the failure of crucial peace talks among belligerent nations. The paper explores the effect of misinterpreting culturally divergent phatic communion formulae in an English-Arabic context. Other sociolinguistic parameters such as topic, setting, age, sex and social status will be considered.