Author: Wong, Cecilia Lok Yee
Title: Corpus-driven study of interpreter’s politeness markers in utterances of Cantonese and English
Advisors: Cheung, Andrew (CBS)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2023
Subject: Politeness (Linguistics)
Court interpreting and translating -- China -- Hong Kong
English language -- Honorific
Cantonese dialects
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: ix, 165 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Over the last three decades, ‘politeness’ has been a significant component of pragmatic studies. Different theoretical approaches and models have been developed towards politeness theory (Leech, 1983; Brown and Levinson, 1987; Watts, 2003). A commonality shared among these models is that politeness is static, pre-assigned, or presupposed and permanent (Chan et al., 2018; Xiang et al., 2020). However, these studies have frequently been done in a monolingual setting. The conceptualization of politeness as a relational and interactional phenomenon constructed through discursivity and negotiations between interlocutors is radically realized (Locher, 2004; Arundale, 2006; Chan et al., 2018; Xiang et al., 2020).
A series of empirical studies have delved into the gap between politeness and interpreter-mediated exchanges, such as conference interpreting and court interpreting, such as Mason and Stewart (2001), Jacobsen (2008), and Magnifico and Defrancq (2016). These case studies have opted for a qualitative and product-oriented approach which may not sufficiently expose how interpreters perceive their pragmatic roles through the intricate balance of translational and non-translational mediations when it comes to politeness, or how interpreters take part in the “complex co-construction of interaction” (Wadensjö, 1998:124; Angelelli, 2003; Mason, 2008). In this study, the use of politeness markers or lack thereof is investigated. Forms of politeness utterances produced by the interpreter to achieve communicative effectiveness, further depicting the interpreter's neutrality or biased attitude toward specific participants of the court. The evasive and dynamic interpreter roles played in the Hong Kong institutionalized courtrooms are analyzed by the use of politeness markers through Goffman's participation framework, as “animators”, “authors”, and “principals” (1981:144). Each of these roles is emblematic of different behaviors. In turn, interpreters’ “interference” (Berk-Seligson, 1990:20) of politeness markers in mediated interactions provides evidential support for interpreters' violation of FTAs (Brown and Levinson, 1987:61). This study consists of 100-hour verbatim courtroom transcriptions; interpreters' omissions, additions, and alterations of politeness markers are evident in source-target language interpreting, causing biased ramifications on ratified and unratified participants' perceptions; ultimately, potential deleterious outcomes emerge.
This study found interpreters’ numerous “interference” (Berk-Seligson, 1990:20) on source-target language interpreting corresponds to discrepancies with speakers and addressees; resulting in an obscured faithfulness principle in interpreting. Possible FTAs are alleviated as litigations and courtroom adversarial settings motivate the use of politeness markers as a means of communication strategies as face-preserving acts. However, the interpreters’ “interference” (Berk-Seligson, 1990:20) with source and target languages impacts the perceptions of individuals; ultimately FTAs are violated as a byproduct, and perceptions are formed.
This study discusses the roles interpreters play in mediated exchanges in Hong Kong Courtrooms through the use and means of politeness markers. Particularly, interpreters’ additions, omissions, and alterations of source to target language of politeness markers through Goffman's Participation Framework (1981) in hand with Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory (1987).
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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