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National Identity in Translation


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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The Translator’s Responsibility in Cross-Cultural Communication


Abstract: Departing from the idea that national identity is the product of a discourse within a community, the activity of translators a mediators is described. They try to understand a given text in order to re-present it in another language. This is based in the paradigm of the language philosophy of hermeneutics that reflects on the possibility of understanding and its conditions. Fields of orientation for the translator in understanding (cultural background, discourse field, meaning dimension, predicative mode) and rhetoric reformulation (genre, coherence, stylistics function) are presented and later on applied at some examples from political and religious texts. At the end, the complex dimension of a hermeneutical translation competence is discussed.

Keywords: understanding, hermeneutics, fields of orientation, culture, rhetoric

1 Introduction: “National Identity as an Idea”

National identity is not a fact but an idea in the minds of people. “National identity is constructed and conveyed in discourse predominantly in narratives of national culture. National identity is then a product of discourse” (Wodak 1998: 22). This discourse never ends, so the identity will gradually evolve. A debate on national identity in translation concerns the translating person as an actor taking part in this discourse. As translators, we see our responsibility of presenting texts in translation that not only would function well within a context of specialist communication, but would also represent the original author’s message within his or her cultural world, so that a communication can be continued, even across cultural...

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