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Impoliteness in Children’s Fiction: Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Aspects

Pleyer, Monika

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The concept of linguistic impoliteness has gained importance in recent research (see e.g. Culpeper 2011). While research interest has focused on diverse aspects and areas of application, such as impoliteness in the media (e.g. Culpeper 2005; Dynel 2016; Lorenzo-Dus 2009), or impoliteness in dramatic texts (e.g. Culpeper 1998; Rudanko 2006), the question of how and in which ways impoliteness is expressed and conceptualised in fiction for young readers has so far remained a research desideratum. This analysis aims at closing this gap in research and addresses the importance of understanding the use of impoliteness in fiction from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing together methodologies and results from diverse disciplines, such as linguistic pragmatics, translation studies, and literary science. The data for this study consists of four contemporary English-language children’s books and book series for readers aged 9 to 12 years of age. The analysis begins on an impoliteness2-level, applying a third-wave sociological impoliteness model (Culpeper 2011) to the data that was adapted to children’s fiction. This analytical step shows how and in which ways, i.e. with the usage of which strategies, impoliteness is expressed by characters in contemporary children’s fiction. The focus of the analysis then shifts to an impoltieness1-level, and to an analysis of the metalanguage surrounding impoliteness events, on the level of the characters as well as the narrator. As young readers are yet to be socialised into their cultures and the preferred usage of impoliteness, metalanguage helps the reader conceptualise impoliteness events. Finally, what is understood as impolite differs in various speech communities and cultures. Thus, it opens the question as to how impoliteness is translated in popular children’s fiction. In a final analytical step, then, a case study of the translation of impoliteness events in the Harry Potter series is presented. This answers the question whether German pragmatic preferences such as greater directness (e.g. House 2010) are accommodated, i.e. whether the translation follows the translation strategies of domestication (Oittinen 1993) or foreignization (Klingberg 1986). In all, the analysis gives a concise overview over how impoliteness is expressed, commented on and translated in contemporary children’s fiction.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Kleinke, Prof. Dr. Sonja
Date of thesis defense: 11 February 2019
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2019 10:53
Date: 2019
Faculties / Institutes: Neuphilologische Fakultät > Anglistisches Seminar
Subjects: 400 Linguistics
420 English
Controlled Keywords: Unhöflichkeit, Höflichkeit, Pragmatik, Übersetzung, Kinderliteratur, Literatur
Uncontrolled Keywords: pragmatics, impoliteness, politeness, translation, children’s fiction, children’s literature, literature, metapragmatics
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