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Translation of Political Discourse. Faculdade de Letras, Universidade do Porto Paraskevi Kaplani, Styliani Karra.

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translation of political discourse

Translation of Political Discourse

Faculdade de Letras, Universidade do Porto

Paraskevi Kaplani, Styliani Karra

Political discourse can be simply marked as the discourse of politicians, i.e. their text and talk, and their professional activities. The topics discussed usually come from public events that require collective decision-making, policies, regulations or legislation.(Van Dijk 2001. 4)
  • Modern Translation Studies (TS) are concerned with the relationship between translation behaviour and sociocultural factors.
According to Christina Schaffner, Political Discourse Analysis (PDA) and TS can benefit from closer cooperation.
  • Political Discourse (PD) relies on translation, in the sense that linguistic behaviour influences political behaviour.
  • A wrong or inappropriate word choice in the context of politically sensitive issues can lead to great misinterpretations.
  • DA tries to define why a particular word, phrase or structure during the translation process has been chosen over another one.

International politics involve translation to a large extent. Agreements between countries are made available in several languages; interpreters participate in the most crucial political events facilitating the work of international institutions such as the European Union, the United Nations Organization, the League of Nations, etc; some governments put translations of significant documents on their websites.

mass media and pd
Mass media and PD

As noted by Christina Schaffner,

  • the mass media play an important role in spreading politics and ideologies,
  • the kinds of transformations that occur as texts move along the political and media chain are dependent on the goals and interests of the context into which the discourse is being recontextualized.
According to Saeedeh Shafiee Nahrkhalaji:
  • The competent translator should be aware that translation of PD is not a mere process of transferring words from one text into another.

(Codes of ethics issued by interpreters’ associations define standards that should apply for interpreters of PD.)

Characteristics of PDPD conveys additional material. Politicians use language as a means of persuasion, manipulation and control.
  • Hedges:words and phrases which soften or weaken the force with which something is said.

eg. “ Let me tell you what won the bid”

“ Let us state one thing…”

  • Vague language: used in case of uncertainty or unwillingness of the speaker to reveal information.

eg. “If I could share some stories with you aboutsome of the people I have seenfrom Iraq, the leaders from Iraq, there is no question in my mind that people that I have seen at least are thrilled with the activities we've taken.”

Deixis:'pointing' via language.

eg. “Εγώ, θα αποδείξω την επομένη ημέρα, όταν θα είμαι πρωθυπουργός, ότι δεν είναι απλώς ότι είμαστε καλύτεροι, γιατί καλύτεροι θα είμαστε, θα είμαστε σίγουρα καλύτεροι.”

“I, will prove the next day, when will be prime minister, that is not just that are better, because better will be, will be certainly better.”

  • Analogy:eg. “ I stand before you as the first leader in the Labour’ s party history to win.”
Boosters:reinforce the meaning of an utterance and stress its impact on the hearer.

eg.“In terms of reconstruction,of coursewe want the international community to participate, and they are.”

  • Metonymy: eg. “Η Νέα Δημοκρατία τα κατάφερε.”

“Τhe New Democracy made it.” ( NΔ indicates Karamanlis’ party and his colleagues.)

  • Idiomatic expressions
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Metaphors
  • Personification
  • Simile
  • Irony
translation studies and political discourse analysis scope for interaction
Translation Studies and Political Discourse Analysis: Scope for interaction

Christina Schaffner stresses that the collaboration of TS and PDA:

  • helps explain that different lexical choices and omissions may point to different ideological and socio- cultural values,
  • reveals the connection between linguistic choices and socio- political structures and processes.
  • Ruth, Wodak,“ Language, power and ideology- Studies in political discourse”, 1989. In Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 95-99
  • Adrian, Beard, “The language of politics”, 2000. In London: Routledge( Taylor and Francis Group)
  • Markéta, Kovaříková, “Linguistic Specification of the Genre of Political Interview, M.A. Major Thesis”, 2006