Translation Politicised and Politics Translated

by Ali Almanna (Volume editor) Juliane House (Volume editor)
©2023 Edited Collection XXIV, 244 Pages


This volume presents a comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview of the different ways in which the two terms «politics» and «translation» interact. It affords an opportunity to look at translation as a highly complex activity that involves the participation of different agents with different backgrounds, orientations, ideologies, competences, goals and purposes. At the macro level, translation is seen as an activity carried out by gatekeepers – translators, trans-editors, translation quality controllers, translation project managers, and the like – to promote a certain narrative, achieve a goal or pursue an agenda. The ultimate aim of this volume is to shed light on how these various stakeholders explicitly or implicitly interpolate their cultural background, beliefs and values into the resulting text, thus overtly or covertly intervening to promote a certain theme or narrative.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Translation Politicised & Politics Translated: Setting the Scene (Ali Almanna & Juliane House)
  • 1 Translation without Axiology (Said Faiq)
  • 2 Extrinsic Managing as Translatorial Censorship (Mohammed Farghal)
  • 3 Dialogue in a Quranic Narrative Re-narrated through Translation (Alya Al-Rubai’i)
  • 4 Self-Translation as a Space for Political and Ideological Conflict: The Case of Rosario Ferré (Mª Carmen África Vidal Claramonte)
  • 5 Palestinian Resistance Literature in Translation: Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun (Mahmoud Alhirthani)
  • 6 The Politics of Translating China: Marco Polo’s and Matteo Ricci’s (Mis)Representations of the Non-Christianised Other (Yangyang Long)
  • 7 Online Collaboration for Political Resistance: A Case of Multilingual Translations by Thailand’s Free Youth Supporters (Narongdej Phanthaphoommee, Koraya Techawongstien & Phrae Chittiphalangsri)
  • 8 Corpus-based CDA in Interpreting Studies as a Pragmatist Mixed-methods Approach vis-à-vis Broader Trends of Digital Humanities (DH) and Interdisciplinarity: The State of the Art, Perceived Limitations, and Future Directions (Chonglong Gu & Fei Gao)
  • 9 Feminine Style Rhetoric and Best Practices for Interpreters as Agents for Audience Empowerment: A Study of the Voices of Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris (Elena Aguirre Fernández Bravo & Silvia Pelegrín Marugán)
  • 10 Subtitling as a Communication Practice: A Cultural Discourse Analysis of Song Lyrics Translation in SINGER 2018 (Huabin Wang & Jia Zhang)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

←viii | ix→


Table 3.1. The Translators’ strategies

Table 7.1. Translation of the term ผู้ประท้วง and the phrase ด้วยรถฉีดน้ำแรงดันสูง in eight TTs

Table 7.2. Translation of the terms เรียกร้อง, มิอาจทน, ความหลอกลวง อยุติธรรม และความโหดร้ายอย่างเป็นระบบ and รัฐบาลเผด็จการ in eight TTs

Table 7.3. Translation of the phrases อีกทั้ง, อำนาจมืด and คอยชักใย in eight TTs

Table 9.1. Discourse selection and pairing

Table 9.2. Harris (2017a) national partnership for women and families Gala

Table 9.3. Obama (2016a) remarks at the United State of women summit dinner

Table 9.4. Harris (2017b) women unshackled

Table 9.5. Obama (2011) Keynote address at young African women leaders forum

Table 9.6. Harris (2007) San Francisco State University commencement address

Table 9.7. Obama (2009) University of California, Merced commencement speech

Table 9.8. Harris (2019) presidential campaign announcement

Table 9.9. Obama (2016b) campaigning for Hillary Clinton

Table 9.10. Harris (2020a) vice presidential nomination acceptance DNC speech←ix | x→

Table 9.11. Obama (2020) 2020 DNC speech

Table 9.12. Harris (2020b) Kamala Harris victory speech

Table 9.13. Obama (2008) keynote address at 2008 DNC

Table 9.14. Interpreters’ best practices for audience empowerment in feminine style rhetoric contexts

Table 10.1. A list of songs performed by Jessie J in SINGER 2018

←x | xi→
Ali Almanna & Juliane House

Translation Politicised & Politics Translated: Setting the Scene

This volume, titled Translation Politicised & Politics Translated, presents a comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview of the different ways in which the two terms, politics and translation, interact. Politics, to make a start, refers to all those strategies and techniques employed by those involved in any activity to get what they want. However, politics in this volume refers to those strategies and techniques which are utilised by all those involved in the process of translation at its macro level to achieve their aim while they domesticate or foreignise the text in hand. If they domesticate the text, they ‘leave the reader alone’ as much as possible and bring the original text to him/her; if they foreignise it, they ‘leave the author alone’ as much as possible and bring the reader to him/her, thereby having access to the original culture. For a concise discussion, see Schulte and Biguenet (1992: 41–42) and see also the classic, more linguistically oriented terms ‘covert’ and ‘overt’ translation (House, 2015).

Recent scholarship identifies the following stages of the translation process: pre-translation, translation, and post-translation (Gouadec, 2007: 13). As a product, translation is a result of the interaction among social agents involved in the process (Human, 2016: 428): translators, editors, revisers, proofreaders, translation initiators, translation quality controllers, translation managers and others, depending on the policy and infrastructure of a company (Almanna, 2013: 95). Social agents involved in the process of translation at its macro-level have a clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities. They can make an informed decision about accepting a brief; they know when to be lenient, how to act, react and behave; they prioritise their tasks and loyalties, choose to become active, ←xi | xii→and so on. Further, it is a given that they are different. They are different in terms of their ideologies, accumulated value systems, sense of belonging, assumptions, backgrounds, commitments, personal knowledge, socio-cultural experiences, and the like. They hold different worldviews and have different orientations. Not only does this influence their ideas, opinions, attitudes, understanding, reactions, but it influences their way of thinking and interpreting what is going on around them as well.

Translation, as a complex activity, has been studied from different perspectives and by adopting different approaches. Some scholars (Jakobson, 1958; Vinay & Darbelent, 1959/1995; Catford, 1965) believe that translation involves first and foremost two languages; others hold the view that it exists mainly between two cultures (Snell-Hornby, 1988; Bassnett & Lefevere, 1998); while yet others have emphasised the fact that language and culture are always closely intertwined (House, 2016, 2020). More recently, translation has been examined as a socially-regulated activity (Inghilleri, 2005; Hanna, 2006; Wolf & Alexandra, 2007; Almanna 2013, 2015), and as an act of re-narrating (Baker, 2006, 2010; Alhirthany, 2009; Al-Sharif, 2009; Harding 2012; Hijjo & Almanna, 2021).

It is worth emphasising that the raw material of any translation – whether it is an intralingual (within the same language), interlingual (between two languages), or inter-semiotic translation (converting what is non-verbal to verbal or the other way round) – is language. Language expresses cultures and societies, as well as revealing the users’ ideologies, feelings and opinions about something (appreciation) or somebody (judgement).

In an ideal world of peace, love, solidarity, equity and equality, language would be defined as a system of communication based on the use of words in a structured way (words are selected and used according to the grammar of the language, specifically syntax and morphology) and a conventional way (people agree on using these words according to their culture, at the symbolic level). However, this ideal world does not exist. Our world as we know it, unfortunately, is ridden with doubts, bad faith, conflict, and war, not to mention disinformation and fake news.

With this in mind, language cannot be defined as a system of communication only. Language is used by people who live in a particular society; follow certain norms; share, to a certain degree, the same set of beliefs; ←xii | xiii→belong to a certain group, and identify with the notions of the ‘self’ and ‘other’ accordingly. From this perspective, they interpret and narrate the good deeds conducted by the self and ignore or undermine good deeds conducted by the other, and similarly in the case with the bad deeds. As observed above, people as social agents and language users (be they, for instance, speakers, writers, translators, or trans-editors) have developed certain accumulated value systems, assumptions, beliefs, backgrounds, commitments, sense of belonging, personal knowledge, and socio-cultural experiences; therefore, realities can no longer be (re)presented without being manipulated: they are (re)framed, (re)narrated and (re)produced.

These developments have an inevitable impact on translation practitioners. Álvarez and Vidal (1996: 6) comment that “translators are constrained in many ways” by their own accumulated value systems, sense of belonging, “their feelings of superiority or inferiority towards the language in which they are writing the text being translated”, their original language as well as “what the dominant institutions and ideology expect of them”. This, however, only provides us with one of the two sides of this complex multidimensional dynamic process; another layer exists for the translator – the macro level, where multiple external environmental factors come into play.

In Translation Politicised & Politics Translated, following Spivak (2000), translation is seen as an approach utilised by the gatekeepers in the process of translation at its macro-level, such as translators, trans-editors, translation quality controllers, translation project managers, and the like, depending on the structure of the company, in order to promote a certain narrative, achieve a goal or pursue an agenda. Through language and the stories produced by virtue of language, people can understand who they are (the self), who other people are (the other); interpret and narrate what is going on around them; construct their identities and produce, reproduce, or shape their personal knowledge and experiences in life. Spivak (2000: 397) holds: “In my view, language may be one of many elements that allow us to make sense of things, of ourselves. Making sense of ourselves is what produces identity”.


XXIV, 244
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2023 (March)
Interaction between politics and translation Impact of translation on promotion of theme or narrative Impact of translator's cultural background, beliefs and values on text Translation Ideology Feminism Self-translation Translatorial Censorship Managing Axiology communication Cultural Discourse Analysis Narrative Appraisal Theory Quranic Translation Subtitling Interpreting Cultural Capital Translation Politicised and Politics Translated Ali Almanna Juliane House
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2023. XXIV, 244 pp., 2 b/w ill., 19 b/w tables.

Biographical notes

Ali Almanna (Volume editor) Juliane House (Volume editor)

Ali Almanna obtained his PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Durham in the UK and is currently Associate Professor of Translation Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar, where he teaches and supervises MA and PhD students. In addition to numerous articles published in peer reviewed journals, he is the author, (co-)editor and translator of several publications, including The Routledge Course in Translation Annotation (2016), Semantics for Translation Students (2016), The Nuts and Bolts of Arabic-English Translation (2018), The Arabic-English Translator as Photographer (2019), Reframing Realities through Translation (2020), and Translation as a Set of Frames (2021). He is also the series editor of Routledge Studies in Arabic Translation. Juliane House is Professor Emerita at Hamburg University, Distinguished University Professor at the Hellenic American University and the Hungarian Research Centre of Linguistics, as well as Visiting Professor at Dalian University of Foreign Languages and Beijing University of Science and Technology. Her research interests include translation, contrastive pragmatics, discourse analysis, politeness, applied linguistics and English as a lingua franca. She has published widely in all these areas and her latest books include Translation as Communication across Languages and Cultures (2016), Translation: The Basics (2018), Cross-Cultural Pragmatics (2021, with D. Kadar), and Expressions, Speech Acts and Discourse: A Pedagogic Interactional Grammar of English (2022, with W. Edmondson and D. Kadar).


Title: Translation Politicised and Politics Translated
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