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2 – Translating and Interpreting as Audience Design. a nd socio-textual practice Ian Mason Sichuan University, October 2013. Functionalist theories. Human activity generally goal-directed. Translating is a human, social activity.

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2 translating and interpreting as audience design

2 – Translating and Interpreting as Audience Design

and socio-textual practice

Ian Mason

Sichuan University, October 2013

Functionalist theories
Functionalist theories

  • Human activity generally goal-directed.

  • Translating is a human, social activity.

  • Overriding consideration is the purpose (skopos) of the task.

  • ST as an “offer of information”.

  • Appropriateness of TT comes before ST/TTequivalence. (Vermeer, Nord, etc.)

St tt relationship
ST/TT relationship

  • Nord: ‘loyalty’

  • Toury: moral principle inappropriate in a descriptive model.

  • Participants assume each other’s cooperation (Session 3)


  • action in relation to end-user

  • action in relation to end-use

  • action in relation to allother participants

  • (assumed cooperation: action in relation to intended meanings of ST).

Participants in translation events
Participants in translation events

  • The ST producer

  • The commissioner

  • The translator as receiver and producer

  • The editor/reviser

  • The publisher

  • Intended receivers of the translation

  • Unintended readers (the public)

The translation process
The translation process

SL textual record



assumptions Editor/Reviser/


TL textual record

assumptions TL Receivers

The court interpreting process
The court interpreting process


Defence lawyers JUDGE


Prosecution lawyers WITNESS

Court officials

Public area

Participation framework
Participation Framework

  • Not just speaker + hearer (or writer + reader).

  • Footing

    • ‘the alignment of an individual to a particular utterance, whether involving a production format, as in the case of the speaker, or solely a participation status, as in the case of the hearer’

    • (Goffman 1981: 227)

Production format
Production format

  • Animator “the sounding box from which utterances come”

  • Author “the agent who puts together, composes or scripts the lines that are uttered”

  • Principal “someone who is committed to what the words say”

Participation status
Participation status

  • Addressees

    • Known, recognised participant, addressed

  • Auditors

    • Known, recognised participant, not addressed

  • Overhearers

    • Known, not recognised participant, not addressed

  • Eavesdroppers

    • Not known

  • Audience design bell 1984
    Audience design (Bell 1984)

    • Accommodation theory

      • Travel agency experiment

      • mirror neurons

  • Speaker style influenced by addressee

  • Auditors less than addressees

  • Overhearers less than auditors

  • Audience design
    Audience design

    • Applies to spoken AND written translating

    • But:

    • Responsiveand Initiative Design

    • Referee groups (in-group/out-group)

    An example translating an airline magazine
    An example: translating an airline magazine

    • The Spanish airline Iberia has a magazine with articles in Spanish and English about Spain and its culture.

    • An article about a traditional fiesta in a small village describes la vaquilla(‘the wild cow’)and los judios o motilones(‘the Jews or shorn-heads’).

      • Sutton (1997) reported in Baker (2006)


    Association between Jews and head-shaving = Nazis/anti-semitism.

    The translator is conscious of his audiences.

    Participation framework1
    Participation framework

    • ST addressees = Spanish tourists + business travellers.

    • TT addressees = international tourists + business travellers.

    • Auditors = editors, publishers

    Translator s production footing
    Translator’s production footing

    Translator (as animator): ‘Jews or shorn-heads’

    Translator (as author): ‘Jews’ or ‘friars’

    (friar = monk)

    Translator (as principal): omit the reference

    Participation framework2
    Participation framework

    • Overhearers: Simon Wiesenthal Center (New York).

    • Demands an apology from Iberia and a commitment by Spain to eliminate racist stereotypes from fiestas.

    • Court case

    • Apology by American ambassador to mayor of the village.

    Footing and audience design
    Footing and audience design

    Footing (production format + participation status).

    Now frequently applied to the analysis of interpreting.

    Equally relevant to the analysis of other kinds of translation event:

    The translator’s audience design.

    Two more examples
    Two more examples

    • Published translation of the works of a famous French historian:

    • FernandBraudel

    • ST: addresses readers directly.

    • TT: different readers

      • Intercultural dimension

    1 populations
    1. populations

    ST: We are more than 50 million

    people today .

    TT: There are about 50 million people

    living in France today.

    2 the economic cycle
    2. the economic cycle

    ST: I believe that the reader will accept the extension I give to the word ‘cycle’, for this particular usage.

    TT: I am confident that the general reader will be sufficiently familiar with the language of economics (if only from his or her daily paper) to accept the extension of meaning I have given to the word cycle.

    Intercultural adjustment
    Intercultural adjustment

    There is much evidence that translators and interpreters do make cultural adjustments for target-language readers.

    Especially where semiotics (cultural signs) are concerned.

    Intercultural semiotics two examples
    Intercultural Semiotics: Two examples

    • President George W. Bush in a speech after 9/11:

      • a ‘crusade’ against terror

    Intercultural semiotics two examples1
    Intercultural Semiotics: Two examples

    • President George W. Bush after 9/11:

      • a ‘crusade’ against terror

    • UK Prime Minister David Cameron in Beijing, November 2010:

      • symbolism of the poppy (罂粟 yingsu)

    Beyond words intertextuality
    Beyond words: Intertextuality

    • We recognise entities (words, texts) because we have met them before;

    • A text is made up of elements of previous texts;

    • Text users have their own intertextual history;

    • Communities of practice develop their own socio-textual practices.

    Socio textual practices
    Socio-textual practices

    • Genres (language used in relation to particular social occasions)

    • Discourses (language used to express the values and attitudes of social institutions or groups)

    • Text types (formats used for particular rhetorical purposes)

      • All these are cultural signs used within communities of practice


    • Genres: the birth certificate, the legal contract, the business letter

    • Discourses: military discourse (‘collateral damage’, ‘friendly fire’…), environmentalism (‘sustainable’, ‘carbon footprint’, ‘eco-friendly’…)

    • Text types: the counter-argument (‘Of course… However…’)

    Case study 1 genre and discourse
    Case study 1: genre and discourse

    • Iraq War: case for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    • US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, presented to the UN Security Council on 05.02.03 recordings of three intercepted conversations between Iraqi military officers, with an English translation.

    Signs and sign values
    Signs and sign values

    • What is the accepted value of these signs within the specialised genres of the Iraqi military?

    • What was the set of indicators and assumptions available to the translator?

    • What is the (discoursal) value of the distinction between ‘ammunition’ and ‘ammo’ in English? What does (not) constitute ‘ammo’?

    • What ST sign triggered the TT distinction?

    Case study 2 structure and text focus
    Case study 2: structure and text focus

    • Context <-> Structure <-> Texture

    • Each culture develops structures for particular purposes:

      • Ways of describing, narrating, arguing, etc.

    • English:

      • [given] – [new] information structure

      • use of cohesion (links) to direct the reader.

    Case study 2 structure and text focus1
    Case study 2: structure and text focus

    • Text sample 1

      • [panda] [Sanxingdui] [Jiuzhai] brought together at end of paragraph (as a conclusion).

      • sentence 2: [new] – [given] structure

      • Jiuzhai: ‘fairyland’ first.

  • Text sample 2

    • [panda] [Sanxingdui] [Jiuzhai]: organizing sentence first.

    • [given] – [new] structure throughout.

    • ‘fairyland’ last.

  • Conclusions assumptions about translation
    Conclusions: Assumptions about translation

    • In international diplomacy, business, public service and among general public:

      • Automatic; input = output

    • Among Translation Studies scholars:

      • Choice: range of possible versions.

      • Even the word “equivalence” is unsafe because it implies that such a thing is possible across cultural boundaries.

    The source text
    The Source Text

    • A textual record.

    • Produced in a particular participation framework in a particular culture.

    The translator
    The Translator

    • Participation framework: commissioners, editors, etc.

    • Footing – as receiver and producer

    • The translation ‘brief’: instructions

    • Intertextual history

    • Audience design and text design (cf. Skopos theory and documentary versus instrumental translation)