Korean Translation of Comments – Introduction
Regarding Korean translation, I will investigate to what extent linguistic simplification affects the domain of politeness phenomena in subtitles, focusing on the Korean translation of compliments, which are culturally-constrained speech acts. The process of simplification at work in subtitles supposedly concerns the elements that can be recovered through non-linguistic communicative channels or those that are less directly connected with the performance of the referential function and are instead linked to the area of expressivity, for example, terms of address, discourse markers, politeness formulae, reformulations and the like.
Compliments are speech acts that are primarily aimed at maintaining, enhancing or supporting the addressee’s face, which is very difficult to translate from English to Korean. More specifically, compliments are used for a variety of reasons: to express admiration or approval of someone’s work/appearance/taste; to establish/ confirm/maintain solidarity; to replace greetings/gratitude/apologies/ congratulations; to soften face-threatening acts such as apologies, requests and criticism; to open and sustain conversation; to reinforce desired behaviour.
Compliment-giving and responding behaviour are used to negotiate social identities and relations. Consequently, inappropriate choice of responses can lead to a loss of face. On the basis of several socio-pragmatic studies of Korean translation, it is evident that speech acts are subject to cultural and sociolinguistic variations. So, apart from macroscopic cultural and linguistic differences in the giving and accepting of compliments, some interesting changes can also be observed across age and gender.
After briefly describing compliments, this chapter investigates how they are translated in the subtitled Korean translated DVD versions of various British/US films - Bend it like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, 2002); Sliding Doors (Peter Howitt, 1998); Mickey Blue Eyes (Kelly Makin, 1999); Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993); Shallow Hal (Farrelly Brothers, 2002); There’s Something about Mary (Farrelly Brothers, 1998); Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982) and if/ how what is expunged can be recovered from the non-linguistic communicative channels.
Korean Translation of Compliments in Discourse
Even though compliments in English can serve a plurality of functions in different contexts, there is widespread agreement on their nature as ‘social lubricants’, that is, strategies that aim to establish or reaffirm common ground, mutuality or social solidarity. Often compliments – or the compliment event if we also mean to include the response to the compliment – are quite independent from the linguistic environment in which they occur, i.e. Korean translation of English films, although they are frequently related to the topic of the exchange.
They can also be an unrelated insertion in a conversation, a sort of aside comment which has no evident link with Korean translation. This independence makes them suitable tools to use in opening sequences such as greetings or in thanks.