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Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

2 Issues per year

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Politeness in the portrayal of workplace relationships: Second person address forms in Peninsular Spanish and the translation of humour.

Carmen Arnáiz
Published Online: 2006-05-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2006.007


This paper focuses on the role of translation in the exploration of intercultural communication and the issues that second person forms of address raise when translating humorous texts from English to Spanish, since Spanish differentiates between singular and plural second person pronouns and English does not. With examples taken from film and literature, it will be argued that in translating from English to Spanish, the translator can achieve different humorous effects, such as satire, irony or sarcasm through the conscious choice of tú or usted. It will also be argued that when the translator is translating texts into English s/he should take into account the role of tú and usted as encoders of social relationships and potential face-threats to the speakers. It is for these reasons that address terms should be considered in the translation of humour in order to achieve pragmatic equivalence in the target text. The paper suggests that politeness theory can provide a framework within which to analyze the way in which translators can exploit the potential of second person address forms in the rendering of humour. In this article I will largely be focusing on the filmic representation of workplace relationships and the way that second-person pronouns play a key role in the representations of positions of power and distance.

Keywords: ; usted; politeness; translation; humour

About the article

Carmen Arnáiz

Carmen Arnáiz is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and Spanish at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her research interests include politeness and humour, taboo and swear-words, and the films of Pedro Almodóvar, with a particular focus on Spanish-English translation in sub-titling and dubbing.

Published Online: 2006-05-09

Published in Print: 2006-02-20

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 123–141, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2006.007.

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