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High felicity: A speech act approach to quality assessment in subtitling

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Abstract

This paper contains some thoughts on how an approach based on speech act theory can be used for quality assessment in subtitling. It is assumed here that subtitling is a pragmatic form of translation and that it might be more felicitous to give a speaker’s primary illocutionary point (what is meant to get across) precedence over what is actually said, if there is a conflict. Analyses of subtitled utterances containing Extralinguistic Cultural References (ECRs) illustrate the approach, showing that there is a difference in kind between more or less felicitous translations and translation errors. By considering the sender’s primary illocutionary point first, a felicitous subtitle is faithful to the original message, despite the media-specific constraints, while giving the viewer/reader guidance to access the message. In this way, high fidelity is achieved through high felicity<i>.</i>

References

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