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
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 PD
PD 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 about
some of the people I have seen from 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 course we 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
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.
Bibliography
 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
 http://www.benjamins.com/jbp/series/JLP/3-1/art/0006a.pdf
 http://www.ils.uw.edu.pl/PL2007/pliki/1181987165Christina
%20Schaeffner.pdf
 http://www.ils.uw.edu.pl/PL2007/pliki/1181989324Saeedeh
%20Shafiee%20Nahrkhalaji.pdf
 http://www.ils.uw.edu.pl/PL2007/pliki/1181988503Magdale
na%20Bartlomiejczyk.pdf
 http://greekelections.blogspot.com/2007/09/mega.html
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4287370.stm
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Translation of Political Discourse