Text and Context: Essays on Translation and Interpreting in Honour of Ian Mason, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Text and Context

Essays on Translation and Interpreting in Honour of Ian Mason, 1st Edition

Edited by Mona Baker, Maeve Olohan, Maria Pérez Calzada


336 pages

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Paperback: 9781905763252
pub: 2010-03-18
Hardback: 9781138147942
pub: 2016-07-26
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Ian Mason has been a towering presence in the now flourishing discipline of translation studies since its inception, and has produced some of the most influential and detailed analyses of translated text and interpreted interaction to date. The sophistication, dynamism and inclusiveness that have characterized his approach to all forms of mediation are the hallmarks of his legacy.

Text and Context celebrates Ian Mason's scholarship by bringing together fourteen innovative and original pieces of research by both young and established scholars, who examine different forms of translation and interpreting in a variety of cultural and geographical settings. In line with his own inclusive approach to the field, these contributions combine close textual analysis with keen attention to issues of power, modes of socialization, institutional culture, individual agency and ethical accountability. While paying tribute to one of the most innovative and influential scholars in the field, the volume offers novel insights into a variety of genres and practices and charts important new directions for the discipline.

Table of Contents


Mona Baker, Maeve Olohan and María Calzada Pérez

Part I: Language Matters

1. Expanded and Minimal Answers to Yes/No Questions in Interpreter-mediated Trials

Cecilia Wadensjö, Sweden

This article offers a comparative analysis of sequences drawn from two interpreter-mediated (Swedish-Russian) court trials, documented in Sweden. In single-language trials, defendants' ability to gain conversational space to expand a minimal answer heavily depends on the immediate sanction of the legal questioners. In interpreter-mediated court proceedings, however, the analysis suggests that the ability of foreign-language speaking defendants to expand a narrative is relatively independent of the direct sanctions of the questioners. Overall, the analysis indicates that, similarly to the strategies used by defendants to produce answers, questioning strategies used by legal questioners tend to function somewhat differently in face-to-face interpreter-mediated court trials, compared to single-language trials. This, it is assumed, must be explained by a range of linguistic and pragmatic factors. Those explored in this paper include the potentially increased multifunctionality of conversational units in interpreter-mediated encounters, the various means by which foreign-language defendants attempt to project further talk, the restricted immediate access of the legal questioners to these means, and the various ways in which interpreters may deal with the ambiguity of spontaneous spoken discourse.

2. Information Structure Management and Textual Competence in Translation and Interpreting

Stuart Campbell, Ali Aldahesh, Alya' Al-Rubai'i, Raymond Chakhachiro & Berta Wakim, Australia & Iraq

Information structure management is a key aspect of textual competence in translation and interpreting; a high degree of competence is marked by the ability to sequence elements in such a way that the target text looks stylistically authentic while maintaining the integrity of the information structure of the source text. The difficulty is accentuated when working into a second language, and where the source and target languages are structurally disparate. This study focuses on one aspect of information structure management, namely how Arabic speakers tackle sentence openings in translating and interpreting into English. Three student and three professional translators/interpreters were asked to generate output in three different production modes: fast translation, consecutive interpreting, and scaffolded speech, the latter providing baseline interlanguage output. Types of sentence openings were found to be markedly different in fast translation and consecutive interpreting, and to an extent between novices and experts. The findings are consistent with the predictions of the Translation-Interpreting Continuum (Campbell and Wakim 2007), a processing model which predicts that various translation and interpreting production modes rely on different kinds of mental representation, and that competence levels are distinguished by degree of automatization. Implications for curriculum design and assessment are discussed.

II: Forms of Mediation

3. The Translator as Evaluator

Theo Hermans, UK

This essay explores approaches and concepts that enable us to capture the translator's presence in translated texts. One approach consists in contextualizing the individual form each translation assumes, as translators position themselves through the display of a particular mode of representation seen against the possibility of alternative modes . Other approaches are designed to tease out translators' attitudes as conveyed in actual translations or their paratexts. If, following relevance theory, we construe translation as echoic discourse, we can identify the translator's attitude by gauging the difference between what is said and what is implied in the translated discourse. Modality, too, is concerned with the speaker's attitude towards and appraisal of what is being said. A focus on modality allows investigation, not just of the translator's value judgements about the discourse being rendered, but also of the rapport with the audience which is established in the process.

4. Evaluation and Intervention in Translation

Jeremy Munday, UK

This paper focuses on the translator's mediation, or intervention, from the perspective of Halliday's (1984, 1995) interpersonal function and drawing on Hatim and Mason's (1997) notions of 'mediation' and the 'static-dynamic' cline of language use. Recent work from systemic functional linguistics on authorial evaluation and appraisal is examined, notably Martin and White's (2005) study of appraisal in English. In doing so, the aim is to investigate the relevance for translation studies of such a model drawn from monolingual English work. It is argued that, for a translator, evaluation - and mediation or intervention - is to be found at 'critical points' that may not coincide with prominent evaluation in appraisal theory. Examples analyzed from tourist texts and the translation of a Borges short story and Barack Obama's political manifestos suggest that such critical points may be those that require a high degree of interpretation from the translator because of the use of 'invoked' (less explicit) attitudinal markers, because of ST ambiguity or fuzziness, or because of a lack of an obvious target language equivalent. The paper concludes by advancing a possible explanation through Martin and White's notion of 'reaction', evaluative interpretations being dependent on the different readings to which a text may be subjected.

5. Translating What Might Have Been Written

Brian Mossop, Canada

Starting from Mason's idea of a dialogue interpreter making various 'moves', such as 'repairing miscommunication', the article looks at the production of written translations in terms of switching among various ways of producing language. Translators may report all and only what they see as the meaning of the source text, or they may report what they think the source writer should have written (they correct errors) or might have written (they add or subtract material). In the latter case, they become the 'motivator' behind the ideas expressed in the translation, but they may be either 'loyal' motivators (adding or subtracting in the spirit of the source as they see it) or 'disloyal' motivators (engaging in their own writing project). A reworking of the traditional distinction between translating and adapting is proposed, and a passage from the historian Thucydides is analyzed to shed light on the distinction between what someone wrote and what they might have written.

III: Institutional Context & Individual Agency

6. Negotiating Identities in the European Parliament: The Role of Simultaneous Interpreting

Morven Beaton-Thome, UK

This article investigates the role of simultaneous interpreting (SI) in the European Parliament, focusing on the effect SI has on identity construction and negotiation via detailed comparative analysis of the use of the first person plural 'we'. Data from a case study on the potential resettlement of Guantánamo Bay detainees in EU member states is explored using the concepts of in-group and out-group identities to establish interpreter positioning and stance. Descriptive analysis is conducted in three categories: stable 'we' group reference in both ST and TT; ST/TT shifts in 'we' reference; and the introduction of 'we' reference in the TT where no identifiable trigger exists in the ST. Findings suggest that a trend could be established in the simultaneous interpretations towards intensified use of the inclusive we to refer to we, the parliamentary community and we, the EU, at the expense of more peripheral identities such as the national, regional and political group. This points towards a tendency of SI to strengthen the dominant institutional presence, ideology and identity and weaken or fail to represent the full complexity of the 'traffic in voices' (Bakhtin 1981) and heteroglot identities present in such an institution.

7. On EU Communication 2.0: Using Social Media to Attain Affective Citizenship

Kaisa Koskinen, Finland

In recent years the European Union institutions have put considerable emphasis on communicating their message to their European constituencies. To achieve the aim of creating affective European citizenship they have introduced new methods and tools for improved interaction. This article offers an overview of these new communication methods, focusing on the use of social media tools (blogs, EUtube) and other web-based communication. These methods are analyzed within a framework provided by audience design, and their impact on institutional translation practices in the European Commission is discussed.

8. Positioning and Fact Construction in Translation: Intertextual and Translational Chains in Newsweek Korea

Ji-Hae Kang, South Korea

This paper investigates the interplay between fact construction and positioning of a translated news magazine article by tracing an intertextual chain in the reporting of a political interview. By investigating how a political interview (speech event) of a South Korean president is recontextualized, first into a Newsweek article and then into a Newsweek Hankukpan - Korean edition - article, the present study argues that the Newsweek Hankukpan (NWH) article's portrayal of itself as a factual information provider is achieved via explicitly distancing itself from its corresponding article in Newsweek (NW). At one level, the level of the magazine as a whole, an overt and formal intertextual relationship based on resemblance and alikeness is evident in terms of a comparable design, layout and colour scheme. However, at the level of the individual text, the NWH article claims that it is an authentic and factual report of the interview and alludes to the possibility that its corresponding NW article may be flawed and misleading in certain parts. By raising questions about the possible lack of journalistic integrity on the part of NW, NWH asserts its commitment to the truth and constructs itself as a reliable and independent source of information. The findings of this study suggest that the relationship between texts in a translational chain is far from stable or consistent and that the positioning of a text, and by extension the positioning of a news institution, is highly flexible, adapting to the distinctive identities and interests of the target readership.

9. On Trust: Relationships of Trust in Interpreter-mediated Social Work Encounters

Rebecca Tipton, UK

The provision of high quality and culturally sensitive services in interpreter-mediated social work encounters involves complex interaction and negotiation between the service provider and interpreter, the success of which is considered to depend to a large extent on the level of mutual trust invested in the communicative approaches adopted by both agents. This paper explores the socio-cultural norms that underpin the relationships of trust between service providers and interpreters in the social work field which often remain implicit during interaction and which, it is argued, could usefully be negotiated at the 'edges' of the role boundaries of both agents in order to improve the quality of communication. The discussion involves a re-interpretation of the 'server-served' relationship in interpreter-mediated social work encounters and is informed by findings of focus-group work designed to allow social work practitioners to articulate and evaluate their experiences of practice in light of what might be termed a new reality of social work practice. The aim of this research is to promote cross-fertilization between the interpreting and social work professions and research disciplines, and develop theoretical insights that may have applications at the level of both interpreting and social work practice.

10. Institutional Identities of Interpreters in the Asylum Application Context: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Interpreting Policies in the Voluntary Sector

Matthew Maltby, UK

Interpreter impartiality and notions of interpreter neutrality have long been enshrined in interpreter codes of conduct, but there are nonetheless clear distinctions evident between models of interpreting prescribed in codes of conduct and the way that these notions are articulated in institutional interpreting policies. Drawing on Critical Discourse Analysis, this article considers the interpreting policies of two voluntary sector advocacy organizations in the UK asylum application context (Asylum Aid and Refugee Action) to argue that institutional interpreting policy might act as an interface between codes of conduct and institutionally specific conceptualizations of interpreters and their roles. The author reconstructs two interpreter identities on the basis of interpreting policy articulations which diverge from professional codes of conduct and argues that these conceptualizations are, in part, ideologically shaped by institutional operational objectives.

IV: The Impact of Translation & Interpreting in a Changing World

11. Rethinking Activism: The Power and Dynamics of Translation in China during the Late Qing Period (1840-1911)

Martha Cheung, Hong Kong

One significant development in translation studies in the last two decades has been the emergence of both empirical research and theoretical discourse on the relationship between translation and power. This paper explores one facet of the power and dynamics of translation by examining the use and usefulness of translation in serving activist ends and effecting concrete change - total or partial change, change in the individual or in some supra-individual system, or both. Drawing on a model for classifying social movements borrowed from the anthropologist David Aberle, and focusing on a particular period in the past - the late Qing era (1840-1911) in China - this paper analyzes the aims and aspirations of political activists of different orientations, and the complex relationship between translation and activism during that period. The analysis is followed by a more reflective section on the relevance of research on this topic to the present generation of translator-activists.

12. 'Ad-hocracies' of Translation Activism in the Blogosphere: A Genealogical Case Study

Luis Pérez González, UK

This paper sets out to explore how translation is increasingly being appropriated by politically engaged individuals without formal training to respond effectively to the socio-economic structures that sustain global capitalism. Drawing on a generative conceptualization of translation activism and insights from globalization studies and media sociology, the paper traces the genealogy of an activist community subtitling a televised interview with Spain's former Prime Minister, José María Aznar López, originally broadcast by BBC News 24 against the background of the ongoing military conflict between Lebanon and Israel. The analysis suggests that these communities of 'non-translators' emerge through dynamic processes of contextualization, involving complex negotiations of narrative affinity among their members. It is argued that, in contrast to more traditional groupings of activist translators, these fluid networks of engaged mediators constitute 'ad-hocracies' that capitalize on the potential of networked communication to exploit their collective intelligence. The paper concludes by exploring the implications of the growing importance of such ad-hocracies for the future of activist translation and its theorization.

13. Accessing Contextual Assumptions in Dialogue Interpreting: The Case of Illegal Immigrants in the United States

Robert Barsky, USA

This article considers the importance of Ian Mason's work, on accessing contextual assumptions in dialogue interpreting, by evaluating its implications as regards the kinds of translation and interpretation issues that arise when authority figures encounter 'illegal' immigrants in the Southern US. Based on findings from a large-scale research project completed in 2009, the author argues for a higher level of engagement on the part of the interpreter, such that he or she truly will assume the role of 'interpreter' as opposed to 'translator', active participant instead of a (disingenuously) 'objective' intermediary. On the basis of this work, the author suggests methods of alleviating some of the horrific consequences of the xenophobic lust for 'security' through border enforcement, and the misguided efforts to create immigration law out of a series of haphazardly assembled proposals and guidelines that hapless police officers are forced to enforce.

14. The Expanding World: Translation, Mobility and Global Futures

Michael Cronin, Ireland

This essay examines the implications for translation of changing experiences of space and time in the contemporary world. It argues for a decisive shift from macro-modernity to micro-modernity in the late modern period and investigates how the perspective of micro-modernity illuminates actual and future practices of translation in the areas of new technology, migration and urbanization. The essay challenges particular 'culturalist' readings of translation and makes a case instead for a more agonistic conceptualization of what translators do in their work. The notion of the city as 'translation zone' is explored in the context of debates around multiculturalism and social cohesion and it is suggested that reflecting on translation is a way of thinking about what might constitute a notion of sustainability for cultures and societies.

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