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National Identity in Translation

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Edited By Lucyna Harmon and Dorota Osuchowska

Language as an essential and constitutive part of national identity is what obviously gets lost in translation, being substituted by the language of another nation. For this reason, one could perceive national identity and translation as contradictory and proclaim a total untranslatability of the former. However, such a simplified conclusion would clearly deny the actual translation practice, where countless successful attempts to preserve the element of national identity can be testified. The authors of the book focus on the possibilities of various approaches to national identity as a research subject within Translation Studies. The authors hope that the variety of topics presented in this book will inspire further research.

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Options for Research on National Identity in Translation

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Abstract: The paper departs from opinion polls that reveal people’s spontaneous attitudes to national identity and confronts them with selected traditional and more recent academic concepts of nation and national identity. As a result, the essential components of national identity are established from which some options for thematic research within Translation Studies are derived. The conception of a discursive nature of national identity is emphasised as the most convincing one, showing the dynamic, historical character of national identity, which manifests itself in a flow of texts and their translations, worthy of scholarly attention.

Keywords: Translation Studies, intercultural communication, discourse, nation, cultural identity

1 Introduction

The question of national identity is becoming more important, more complex and more controversial with increasing migration within and towards Europe. People who leave their country of origin and settle down abroad take very different stands to the new reality. At one extreme, some make a very hard effort, even though not always successful, to integrate with the local people, whilst at the other extreme some put up walls against them in an act of defence of their own identity, as if it is in danger. A vast majority, though, take a position in between the both radical ends. Similarly, from the other perspective, the attitudes of representatives of receiving nations to immigrants vary, or rather varied,1 from friendly welcome to open hostility, with most individuals taking distance to both, and placing themselves in between.

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