Transferring politeness in opinion utterances in medical context: A case study of the Thai subtitles of Grey’s Anatomy

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Saranya Chuacharoensiri
Krittaya Akanisdha


The purpose of this article is to study the transfer of politeness in opinion utterances in Thai subtitles translated from English. The theoretical framework employed in this study includes Grand Strategy of Politeness (Leech, 2007) and translation strategies (Newmark, 1988). The data were collected from the conversations in eight episodes of the medical drama television series, Grey’s Anatomy. The findings revealed that, as for the use of polite utterances expressing a high value towards the hearer’s opinion and a low value towards the speaker’s opinion, there were a total of 773 utterances. Of these, paraphrasing of the hearer’s utterances, classified as one of the techniques for polite opinion was not mentioned by Leech (2007). With regard to transferring the meaning of politeness, free translation technique was used more frequently than literal translation to convey the meaning of pragmatic politeness in opinion utterances. Major strategies of free translation applied by the translator were descriptive equivalence, cultural equivalence, and shifts. Omission of pragmatic politeness in Thai subtitles was also found, but the audience could still understand the polite meaning of source text through nonverbal language of politeness appearing on the screen.


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