Gender issues

Translating and mediating languages, cultures and societies

by Eleonora Federici (Volume editor) Stefania Maci (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection 500 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 281


The starting point of this publication is that in LSP domains many studies have been devoted to the languages of law, medicine, media, tourism, advertising, arts and business, but they have not fully exploited the gender perspective which can disclose new insights into the use of specialized lexicon, the role of translation, the influence of cultural aspects, and social habits and values in the transmission of equality or in-equality notions. This volume aims at bridging the gap existing between LSP translation and gender issues, offering a broad view of research on translation and gender/sexuality, LSP and the professional world. The purpose is to broaden the discussion on gender awareness in specialized language and translation, to pinpoint gender issues in audiovisual translation, to analyse gendered language in the media and advertising, and last but not least, to consider gender differences reiterated through language in specific domains.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction (Eleonora Federici and Stefania M. Maci)
  • Gender Issues in Higher Education
  • At the Crossroads of Gender and Specialized Translation: Interdisciplinarity and a Commitment to Sexual Equality. An Example from Soft Legal Genres (José Santaemilia)
  • Gender-based Violences and Higher Education: A Case Study1 (Mª Carmen Acuyo Verdejo)
  • Gender Awareness Through and In Translation: a Learner Corpus Study (Bruna Di Sabato, Antonio Perri)
  • Pedagogical, Normative-Prescriptive, and Descriptive Grammars - The Representation of Concordance and Grammatical Gender in Italian Language Manuals (Paolo Nitti)
  • Gender Issues in Institutional Documents
  • The Search for Gender Equality in Institutional Translation: Quebec’s Bureau de la Traduction (Elena Castellano-Ortolá)
  • Gender-sensitive Language and Intra-linguistic Translation: the Canadian Employment Equity Act Case Study (Federico Pio Gentile)
  • The Council of Europe Manual to Fight Gender-based Hate Speech: Translating and (Re)Mediating Institutional, Political and Legal Discourses (Sole Alba Zollo)
  • Gender Issues in Specialised Translation
  • Translation and Gender-based Analysis in Health Research. Sexism in LSP Translation in Health Research in Serbia: The Documents Registered by ALIMS (Sonja Đurić, Radiša Pavlović)
  • Gender Advisor, a New Role to Ensure Gender Equality Within NATO. To Translate or Not to Translate? (Carmen Fiano, Agnese Daniela Grimaldi)
  • Women in the Maritime Industry through Job Ads: A Male Dominant or a Gender-Neutral Environment? (Vittoria Massaro)
  • Gender Issues in Interpreting and Audiovisual Translation
  • Conference Interpreting – A Female Professional Monopoly or a Case of Occupational Segregation? (Deborah Giustini)
  • (Re)Inventing the Genre: The Translation of the Onē Kotoba Idiolect in Japanese-Italian Subtitling (Francesco Vitucci)
  • Fighting Inferiority: Negotiating Identity and Otherness Through (Self)Translation (Vanessa Leonardi)
  • Ferrante Fever: A Worldwide Literary Phenomenon and her Translator’s Visibility (Flavia Cavaliere)
  • Gender Issues in the Press and Advertising
  • L’écriture inclusive in the Language of Online Newspapers: Gender Translation from French into Italian1 (Michele Bevilacqua, Vincenzo Simoniello)
  • Female Views on the Press: How Women Reported the Economic Crisis in the British and Italian Press (Marzia Iasenza)
  • Trans (Gender) and Fobia in the Spanish and in the Italian Press (María Lucía Carrillo Expósito)
  • Translating Gender, Transgender and Identity. The Case of NatGeo (Stefania M. Maci)
  • Pushing Boundaries with Ad Parodies: Feminist Translation of Gendered Narratives in Advertisements (Saida Afef Gardabbou)
  • Acceptance with a Twist: From Drag Queens to Transgender Persons in U.S and U.K Advertising Campaigns (Eleonora Federici)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Series index

Eleonora Federici and Stefania M. Maci


In recent years, the intersection between gender and translation has been intensely explored, with research in areas such as sexual identity in translation, the writing and translating of the female body, the effects of grammatical gender travelling from one language to another, the translation of misogynist texts, the theory and practice of feminist translation, the teaching of feminist issues and activism. It is also undoubtable that recently the interest in translation, gender and feminist issues has become increasingly visible (von Flotow and Kamal 2020; Lukic et al. 2019; Maestri 2018; Camus, Gomez Castro and Williams Camus 2017; Castro and Ergun 2017; von Flotow and Farahzad 2017; Yu 2015; Federici and Leonardi 2013; Federici 2011; Larkosh 2011). However, there is still work to be done in the field if we think about specialized language. The study of gender issues in specialized languages and LSP translation is still a research area to be explored, and even more so if we want to analyse the intersections among different languages, cultures and societies.

The starting point of this publication is that in LSP domains many studies have been devoted to the languages of law, medicine, media, tourism, advertising, arts and business but they have not fully exploited the gender perspective which can disclose new insights into the use of specialized lexicon, the role of translation, the influence of cultural aspects and social habits and values in the transmission of equality or in-equality notions. If in the realm of feminist translation studies very few studies have been devoted to LSP and interpreting studies (Postigo Pinazo and Martinez Garcia 2014; Bengoachea 2013, Ergun 2010, Castro 2009), similarly in the area of specialized translation almost nothing has been said about gender issues. For example, while outlining many important aspects in this research area, the recent volume by Margaret Rogers (2015) does not take into account the gender perspective. However, some recent feminist studies demonstrate that specialized ←9 | 10→translation is becoming a productive field of study, as, for example, the study by Carmen Camus, Cristina Gomez and Julia Williams Camus which focuses on translation, gender and health sciences (2017) or Jose Santaemilia’s publication on sexual equality which takes into consideration different professional contexts (2017).

This volume aims at bridging the gap existing between LSP translation and gender issues, offering a broad view of research on translation and gender/sexuality, LSP and the professional world. The purpose is to broaden the discussion on gender awareness in specialized language and translation, and to pinpoint gender issues in audiovisual translation, to analyse gendered language in the media and advertising, and last but not least, to consider gender differences reiterated through language in specific domains.

The volume is divided into five sections, all of them dealing with specific gender issues which characterize modern-day society: Gender issues in higher education; Gender issues in institutional documents; Gender issues in specialized translation; Gender issues in interpreting and audiovisual translation; and Gender issues in the press and advertising.

The first section of the volume, Gender issues in higher education, is introduced by Jose Santaemilia’s chapter which focuses on how specialized translation classrooms can be exploited to show the implications deriving from gender and sexual inequalities and, at the same time, to teach students how to reflect on a critical and gender-fair use of translation. Based on teaching experience at the University of Valencia, the chapter describes the pedagogical approaches adopted regarding specialized translation to reveal the way in which gender awareness can be constructed in students, who can then investigate the linguistic patterns of the source language, including the androcentric perspective, as well as the feminist translation strategies and pedagogies employed. This results in the understanding that a good translation is one that necessitates the translator’s ethos of personal responsibility, going beyond requirements of faithfulness and neutrality, to achieve gender equality.

Ma Carmen Acuyo Verdejo analyzes how domestic and gender-based violence (DGBV), in particular harassment and sexual harassment, are regulated in legal cultures and in the European Union (EU) ←10 | 11→and, in particular, how this form of violence is regulated in an educational framework, by focusing on two institutions: Stockholm University and the University of Granada. The author shows that, as far as DGBV terminology is concerned, there is no unanimity at a European or international level, though it seems legal terminology is preferred. The presence of professionals in assisting, advising and supporting victims of domestic violence is relegated to social workers with no mention of the role of translators. At a University level (Sweden vs. Spain), the treatment of harassment is similar. Of relevance is the fact that in the two universities gender awareness is consolidated thanks to research centres of excellence in the field of gender studies.

An interesting viewpoint is offered by Bruna Di Sabato and Antonio Perri who explain how L2 speakers acquire gender-awareness in language use when they are faced with differences in the way in which grammatical gender is realized across languages, especially when the texts under analysis belong to the political or institutional domains. Their investigation, based on interlinguistic translations of Italian university students with a C1 English level, demonstrates how speakers’ awareness of gender-related issues and their ideological load can be elicited when translating from one language to another, a process which requires the adoption of certain decisions, for instance the choice of professional vs. institutional roles.

Paolo Nitti’s research focuses on non-sexist uses in the Italian language and on the adoption of non-sexist teaching practices in the language by the teaching staff of schools of every academic level. More specifically, his investigation tries to detect what relationship exists between gender and concordance as described in Italian grammar from a prescriptive, pedagogical or descriptive perspective. The results suggest that in most cases the concordance choice depends on the speaker rather than on the norm, according to the socio-historical and cultural context. This study seems to be relevant particularly in the development of new teaching practices and lesson plans in secondary schools, where, in particular, non-sexist awareness should be taught.

Society is nowadays characterized by an in-depth attention paid to Gender issues in institutional documents and political correctness.←11 | 12→

When it comes to gender inequalities, Elena Castellano Ortolà wonders whether the fight for civil rights has truly achieved changes in society through legislation. With this question in mind, the author comments on this topic from a Canadian perspective. More precisely, she investigates on gender-inclusive writing in Quebec, by considering national and regional institutions, as well as the academic world, which in Quebec plays an institutional role. The analysis, carried out with an overview dating back to the 1900s, shows how the debate on feminism and language and the related fight for civil rights (both of women and Quebeckers) has been so relevant for this Province that the Bureau de la Traduction was created in 1934 (though fully regulated by the Translation Bureau Regulations only in 1985) to guarantee linguistic gender equality. However, both the Bureau de la Traduction and the Translation Bureau Regulations, despite working together to deal with various issues, gender equality and civil rights included, seem to be looking for their own voice and identity within intralingual translation.

A similar and yet different overview on the Canadian political integration policies is offered by Federico Pio Gentile’s contribution which focuses on women’s condition and equity over the last century. Basing his investigation on the Canadian Employment Equity Act (adopted in 1995 and last amended in 2014), the study describes the main features of the Act that entail the document to be classified within the field of legal discourse. It also takes into consideration issues enhancing neutrality of communication in relation to gender-neutral formulations in legal terms. These are then evaluated from a translation angle with an intra-linguistic approach, with a focus on the codification processes occurring within the same language for the purpose of analyzing the extent to which information is transmitted at different communicative levels without any connotative implicature.

A European perspective is offered by Sole Alba Zollo. In her contribution, the author describes how the Council of Europe (COE) is paying growing attention to gender-based hate speech, particularly in social media, adopting legal actions against it in favour of initiatives that promote hate speech awareness through human rights education. Apart from the various campaign materials, Zollo focuses on the COE manual for combatting online hate speech and analyzes the English and Italian versions which deal particularly with gender-based hate speech, ←12 | 13→taking into consideration how institutional, political and legal specialized texts are translated, also for educational purposes.

The third part of this volume, Gender issues in specialized translation, opens with the contribution by Sonja Đurić and Radiša Pavlović who in their study investigate LSP translating traditions in the field of health research in Serbia. In particular, they focus on the documents accompanying medicines and drugs approved by the Medicine and Medical Devices Agency of Serbia (ALIMS) which are very often written in English. They note that if the word ‘patient’ appears in the Pharmacological properties the translation offered in Serbian tends to prefer the variant pacijent (a male patient) rather than pacijentkinja (a female patient), despite the fact that the medicine or medical device is registered for the treatment of the female population as well, confirming the trend in Serbian LSP translations of using male nouns at the expense of female nouns even though the (grammatical) context would require it.

A change in social attitude can be expected when gender awareness enters the realms that have traditionally been based on male culture for centuries. This seems the case of the armed forces as shown by Carmen Fiano and Agnese Grimaldi who explore the role of the gender advisor to ensure gender equality within NATO. More precisely, they analyze how the term gender advisor as employed in the English version of NATO documents is rendered in the official documents of the Italian armed forces. While the English term has entered the Italian language as a loanword, the authors reveal that the Italian use of the word shows some variation, as, for instance, a tendency to add an explanatory phrase or a translation in non-official documents: the different roles played by women inside the military field seem to be responsible for the addition of lexicon to an already varied linguistic vocabulary.

Vittoria Massaro, too, deals with language use in a male-dominant environment. Her study is focused on the role of women in the maritime industry: the author verifies the extent to which maritime jobs are male-oriented by investigating lexis in maritime job ads. The lexical analysis allows her to detect whether the texts may prevent women from applying, or whether they are gender neutral. The overall ←13 | 14→results of the two corpora collected seem to indicate gender-neutrality, though the English and the Italian corpora indicate different behaviours due to the fact that English is a grammatically gender-neutral language, while Italian is dominated by masculine gender which, according to the author, is (semantically) perceived as neutral.

Deborah Giustini’s contribution opens the fourth section of the volume with contributions concerning Gender issues in interpreting and audiovisual translation. This sociological investigation offers a comparison between conference interpreting in the UK and in Japan from the gender viewpoint. If conference interpreting is in general seen as a female profession because of women’s supposed higher mastery and neuro-cognitive abilities involved in interpreting tasks, in Japan, in particular, conference interpreting is a profession perceived for women, both in terms of expertise and of a (servile) attitude towards customers. Indeed, the educational, social, and cultural constraints embracing internalized gender stereotypes seem responsible for pushing women into the profession. If so, conference interpreting seems to accomplish the discriminatory dynamics against women in the labour market as well as reinforce societal gender norms.

Francesco Vitucci’s study, too, is centred around Japanese society. In this case, however, attention is paid to onē kotoba, a transgender/transex/crossdresser idiolect and how this register is translated in audiovisual realizations from Japanese into Italian. Given that onē kotoba is marked by diageneric variation in Japanese, the subtitler faces grammatical and lexical clashes in the Italian version to such an extent that the target language must be significantly implemented with compensation strategies or omissions. As a consequence, any male-female dichotomy must be substituted with a gender identity culturally constructed, in which onē kotoba may emerge as a lexical, morpho-syntactical and prosodic granularity.

The fascinating topic of how women’s voice is rendered – this time in translation rather than audiovisual translation – is still a central debate in translation studies. Vanessa Leonardi’s investigation, in particular, offers a case of intralingual translation, emphasizing the voice of Eva Hoffman. Eva Hoffman is not only a woman but also a Polish immigrant who writes in English. Therefore, she not only switches from her native language to another language but also from her native ←14 | 15→cultural background to a completely new one. Furthermore, being an immigrant, she tries to fight against the inferior status of immigrant she perceives to be immersed in, to construct a new identity which may be considered more suitable for the English cultural environment in which she lives. In these multifaceted connections between language, culture and identity, Leonardi’s analysis of Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation underlines the connections between translation and migration through the practice of self-translation and reveals the extent to which language and culture can shape identity.

The debate over the translator’s (in)visibility is the focus of Flavia Cavaliere’s contribution, which is centred around the role Anne Goldstein has in translating Elena Ferrante’s novels. Not only have Ann Goldstein’s translations of Elena Ferrante’s novels granted Ferrante huge success on the English market, but they have also allowed Goldstein herself to acquire a celebrity status as a translator, facilitated by Ferrante’s decision to remain anonymous and by Goldstein’s presence at the numerous press conferences organized for Ferrante, which Ferrante herself has not attended. Goldstein is indeed regarded as one of the preeminent Italian translators to such an extent that some critics consider her translations as better than the original text in Italian. This seems to be confirmed by the ability with which Goldstein overcomes some translation challenges, testified to in this investigation.

The last section of the volume, Gender issues in the press and advertising takes into consideration how, in recent times, advertising and the media have been trying to pay increasing attention to gender awareness. An example is offered by the analysis carried out by Michele Bevilacqua and Vincenzo Simoniello. The authors describe how such languages as French and Italian, characterized by the masculine plural form as “neutral inclusive” for groups that include people identified with both genders and by feminine forms used in an “exclusive way” when the group consists entirely of the female gender, tend nowadays to use what in French is called écriture inclusive, a type of writing that aims to ensure equal representation of women and men. More precisely, their aim is to analyze how some articles found in Yagg.com, a francophone LGBTQ-themed online magazine ←15 | 16→about politics, news and society, which use écriture inclusive, are translated from the French language into Italian following the recommendations given by Alma Sabatini and Cecilia Robustelli on translation practice.

A different viewpoint is proposed by Maria Iasenza who investigates Business English as a Lingua Franca (BELF) with particular regard to Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and the subsequent global economic crisis. The perspective offered is gender-based: the narrative of this financial crisis is analyzed from a socio-linguistic angle on the basis of male and female journalists’ reports of the global crises collected from an Italian corpus of newspapers and British ones: a contrastive examination of lexical, morpho-syntactical and semantical differences is carried out in both lay and specialized news, showing interesting results in terms of generic idiolects.

The contribution by Maria Mucia Carrillo Exposito, too, hinges on newspaper corpora. Basing her study on an Italian and a Spanish corpus of newspaper articles, the author analyzes the term transfobia and its variants repeatedly appearing in the media and in political discourse. The study reveals that -fobia can be defined as an internationalized word for its semantic conciseness and for its reader-friendly comprehensibility. Similarly, the neologisms formed with the suffix -fobia found in the investigated texts testify to a global society and at the same time display lexical tendencies and attitudes in the two languages. This calls for carefulness in usage preferences when these terms are employed in news texts.

Stefania M. Maci deals with the question of how the notions of gender, transgender and identity are translated from English into Italian in a case study. This requires a translation of the notions of otherness and identity, which is extremely relevant if the society of the target language and culture is not yet prepared to speak about such issues, particularly when this is mediated through media discourse that plays an outstanding role in shaping public opinion and strengthening society. Maci’s analysis draws from Translation Studies with a Critical Discourse Analysis approach and a sociosemiotic analytical model investigation, with the aim of investigating the way in which the issues of gender, transgender and identity among young and adult people are dealt with in the 2017 January issue of NatGeo in its English and Italian ←16 | 17→versions. The results suggest that while in the translated text, attention has been paid to the different cultural contexts targeted, at times such attention has been overwhelmingly prudent, to such an extent that different texts have been created.

An interesting perspective is offered by Saida Afef Gardabbou’s study, a preliminary survey of gendered narratives in a selection of advertisements from a feminist and activist perspective on cross cultural ad transformations as a form of translation, presenting how women are represented in such countries as Qatar, Tunisia, Sweden, and the U.S. It reveals some findings about the differences between the portrayals of women in different countries and how these were reshaped to fit within a new cultural milieu. It also refers to the various constraints encountered by feminist translators and discusses the extent to which involvement in a feminist translation activity through parody ads can overcome these constraints.

Last, but not least, Eleonora Federici offers an interesting perspective about the presence of transgender people in advertising campaigns worldwide. While advertising is one of most interesting domains where gender roles assume a meaning resulting from the networked relations of images and words legitimizing gendered social relations and identities, the question is how transgender people are represented, made visible and thus considered in commercial ads. The analysis, carried out from diachronic and Anglo-Saxon perspectives and with a multimodal approach, shows how the representation of transgender people has changed according to social and political contexts.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (August)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 500 pp., 34 fig. b/w, 37 tables.

Biographical notes

Eleonora Federici (Volume editor) Stefania Maci (Volume editor)

Eleonora Federici (M.A., PhD University of Hull, UK) is an associate professor of English Language and Translation Studies at the University of Ferrara, Italy. Her main areas of research are LSP translation (especially the languages of tourism and advertising), Gender/Feminist Studies and English varieties. She has published widely on specialized translation, translation and gender, postcolonial translation, cultural representations in media, CDA in tourism and advertising texts. With José Santaemilia she is organizing each year since 2016 the Valencia/Naples Colloquium on Gender and Translation that gathers together scholars on this field. Stefania M. Maci (PhD, Lancaster University, UK) is a full professor of English Language and pro vice-chancellor (Education) at the University of Bergamo. She is the director of CERLIS (Research Centre on Specialized Languages) and serves on the Board of AIA (Associazione Italiana di Anglistica). She is also a member of CLAVIER (The Corpus and Language Variation in English Research Group), BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguistics), AILA (International Association of Applied Linguistics), AELINCO (Spanish Association of Applied Linguistics) and ESSE (European Society for the Study of English)


Title: Gender issues