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«THE TRANSLATOR’S IDEOLOGY AND THE REPRODUCTION OF SUPERSTRUCTURE Mátyás Bánhegyi Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church ...»

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WoPaLP Vol. 3, 2009 Bánhegyi



Mátyás Bánhegyi

Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church


Abstract: This pilot study investigates whether the translator's ideology affects the reproduction of

superstructure in translated argumentative newspaper articles. The superstructure of a Hungarian argumentative newspaper article and its two English translations created by two translators with opposing ideologies are compared with the help of Hoey’s (2001) Superstructure Model. Based on the case study presented, it seems that the translator’s ideology does not affect the reproduction of superstructure in target texts.

Keywords: translation, text linguistics, superstructure analysis, ideology, argumentative political newspaper articles 1 Introduction Today political discourse takes place not only in national settings but in international and supranational settings. Political discourse in the latter two contexts inevitably involves translation. With the internationalisation of politics, research on the translation of political discourse focused on the ways translation can be and in practice is a means of manipulating political discourse.

In this context, Baker (2006) elaborates on the translation of narratives. Narratives for Baker, on the basis of Fisher’s (1987) claim of all human communication essentially being a narrative, practically includes every type of discourse including argumentative newspaper articles. In her discussion of the translation of political narratives, Baker (2006) claims that translation can involve possible alterations in the target text with the intention of renegotiating the features of a given narrative in order “to produce a politically charged narrative in the target context” (p.105) through framing. In Baker’s (2006) definition, framing denotes “strategic moves that are consciously initiated in order to present a [social, political or other] movement or a particular position within a certain perspective” (p.106).

In fact, framing is usually carried out on ideological grounds: in support of or in opposition to the movement. Within the scope of this paper, ideology is interpreted as beliefs that are “developed by dominant groups in order to reproduce and legitimate their domination” (van Dijk, 1997, p.5) in their respective society and in order to influence people's thinking.

In her classification of framing, Baker (2006) argues that an especially common way of framing is selective appropriation of textual material. In this case, omissions from or additions to the original text are effected in order to “suppress, accentuate or elaborate particular aspects of a narrative encoded in the source text […]” (Baker, 2006, p.114).

With reference to the translation of argumentative political newspaper articles, which aim to convince their receptors, selective appropriation of textual material can potentially WoPaLP Vol. 3, 2009 Bánhegyi present itself in target textual omissions or additions potentially affecting text type related properties of the resulting target texts. This implies that on condition ideology surfaces in a text, which the situation inevitably is in the case of political discourse, the superstructure of the source and target texts may not be equivalent. That is, the superstructure of the target text may be different from that of the source text as a result of the translation process involving the translator. In fact, Translation Studies has not yet explored if and to what extent ideology affects the reproduction of superstructure in target texts.

This paper explores whether the translator’s ideology influences the reproduction of superstructure in target texts in the case of the translation of argumentative political newspaper articles. The paper describes a case study in which a political argumentative newspaper article is translated by two translators who have different political orientations and thus share different ideologies. The paper examines whether professional translators reproduce the problem-solution structure and will investigate whether translators ideologically manipulate through the partial (re)construction of superstructure in target texts.

The study is structured as follows: after providing the theoretical background of the analysis, the research design will be described. This is followed by the description of the actual analysis, the research results and the conclusions.

2 Theoretical background This section justifies the use of Hoey’s (2001) Problem-Solution Model and describes the Model in detail. This will be followed by van Dijk’s (2003) description of ideology, which gives a brief justification of why differences in political orientation are interpreted as ideological difference and provides an explanation as to why ideology surfaces in discourse.

2.1 Hoey’s (2001) Problem-Solution Model

Argumentative newspaper articles, from the point of view of their communicative function, are primarily classified as so-called problem-solution type texts (Hoey, 2001).

As far as the function of such problem-solution texts is concerned, these texts raise (a) problem(s) worthy of attention and suggest possible solutions through argumentation. That is exactly what a political newspaper article generally does: it raises a problematic political issue to be discussed in the article and the article in turn presents arguments to convince the reader to support or reject the solution offered.

In connection with the problem-solution type nature of political texts, Schäffner (2001, p.135) claims that “some political texts belong to the argumentative text type and, in such cases, text typological conventions apply (e.g., problem-solution structure, contrastive evaluations)” (highlights by the author). Consequently, political texts may be regarded as typical problem-solution type texts that are built on argumentation.

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used so that the reader of the argumentative text is convinced by the piece of text (Károly, 2007). This in practice means that a problem is raised and a solution to the problem is offered through argumentation, which supports the position of the writer and challenges the position of his/her imaginary opponents (Károly, 2007).

With reference to the aim of political texts, Oakeshott claims that “[a]ll political discourses [...] aim at persuasion” (Oakeshott, 2001, p.193, translation by the author). In a similar manner, van Dijk (1997) also attests that the receivers of political texts are envisaged by the authors of such texts as persons to be convinced through arguments.

Bánhegyi (2006) has also shown that functionally political texts are construed with the future receivers of these texts in mind and aim at persuasion. Thus, from a functional perspective, political texts, and consequently, political newspaper articles, will be classified as argumentative texts.

In terms of the method of argumentation in problem-solution texts, Kopperschmidt (1985) distinguishes two types of arguments: (1) theoretical and (2) practical arguments.

In theoretical argumentation, the solution lies in the validity of the implicit theory applied, which is structured on knowledge (or truth, as perceived in our everyday reality) and thus “is based on the reliability of the information offered” (Kopperschmidt, 1985, p.161). In practical argumentation, the solution to the problems raised is found in the correctness of the issues raised. This correctness is based on the social acceptance of obligations (why something should be done) and evaluations (why something is good). This type of argumentation centres around everyday practical problems, such as, for instance, the question of building atomic plants, social and financial issues, etc. (Kopperschmidt, 1985, p.161). As political newspaper articles also deal with such practical questions and the solutions offered in the articles are evaluated on the grounds of correctness, they may definitely be regarded as texts containing the latter kind of argument. What is important here is that it is through these socially constructed obligations and evaluations that the translation of political texts can potentially be manipulative.

In order to be able to compare argumentation in source and target texts, a languageindependent model is necessary. With reference to diverse structures of problem-solution texts, Hoey (2001) states that the structure of problem-solution texts is culturally different but functionally similar. Therefore, our aim when including a functional text model in our analysis was to find a model that is general enough to be used for the description of both Hungarian and English argumentative texts. Hoey’s (1994 and 2001) models are capable of describing both Hungarian and English argumentative texts as the models are functional and as such are independent of language and culture since actual linguistic realisations or culturally popular patterns of text arrangement do not influence the purpose of constructing the given text. Bearing this in mind, the model to be used in the present undertaking is Hoey’s (2001) Problem-Solution Model, which, after presenting a brief history of the model, shall be discussed below.

Hoey’s (2001) Problem-Solution Model is a further development of an earlier version of the same model, Hoey’s (1994) Problem-Solution Model. Based on the research of similar models by linguists such as Labov (1972), Longacre (1974), Grimes (1975) and van Dijk (1977), Hoey in 1979 developed his first model of the problem-solution structure,

which was published in 1994. This model is based on the following global assumptions:

• each sentence of a text has a function in the structure of the whole text in question;

WoPaLP Vol. 3, 2009 Bánhegyi

• such structural functions are definable only in relation to each other and the entire text;

• the structural functions are textually signalled;

• the structural functions can be identified by extending the discourse into a questionanswer dialogue (projection technique), developed by Winter (1977).

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Here situation describes the circumstances under which the events recollected in the text have taken place. Problem relates to “an aspect of the situation requiring a response” (Hoey, 1994, p.30) that is a problematic issue that prompts some kind of action pointing towards an envisaged solution of the issue. The action prompted this way is the response, while evaluation is the assessment of the response in light of the situation and the problem described.

Hoey (1994) adds to the above model another possible function, referred to as result, and claims that sentence (d) in the sample text has in fact two functions: result as a primary function (What was the result?: I beat off the enemy attack. = The enemy no longer posed a threat.) and evaluation as a secondary function (How successful was it?: I beat off the enemy attack. and I was successful.). This is apparent from the two questions relating to sentence (d) in the projected dialogue in Example 2 above.

Hoey (1994) thus concludes that the minimum structure of a Problem-Solution type

of text is made up of the following functions:

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Discussing the actual textual realisations of these functions, Hoey (1994, p.34) claims that “discourses signal their structure” to facilitate their comprehension. Such signalling can be effected through grammatical signals, lexical signals and the position of sentences.

In this respect, Hoey’s (1994) Problem-Solution Model is language dependent. To be more precise, it is only the signalling devices that are language restricted but not the functional parts of a problem-solution type discourse. This is so as functional parts reflect logical relations, which are independent of the linguistic realisations expressing such logical relations. This is supported by Lucy’s claim, who, with reference to cognition, notes that cognitive procedures “come into play regardless of whether an individual is engaged in verbal behaviour” (Lucy, 1996, p.48), thus underlying the previous claim of the language independent nature of logical relations. This fact then validates the application of the model in cross-linguistic research such as Translation Studies.

Below, for illustration and clarification, a brief summary of actual signalling devices is provided in an English language text. Hoey (1994) in Example 3 establishes the different functions of the individual sentences in a connected discourse.

The text Hoey (1994, p.36) uses for illustration is as follows:

(3) Balloons and Air Cushion the Fall (1)(a) Helicopters are very convenient for dropping freight by parachute (b) but this system has its problems. (2) Somehow the landing impact has to be cushioned to give a soft landing. (3) The movement to be absorbed depends on the weight and the speed at which the charge falls. (4) Unfortunately most normal spring systems bounce the load as it lands, sometimes turning it over.

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Magyarország hosszú távon veszített. [14] S nyilván saját tapasztalataiból – a Szalay utcai ingatlan és az ıszödi üdülı megszerzésébıl – levezetve, hogy nem vezet az erıs és modern Magyarországhoz, ha a polgárokat lebeszéljük arról, hogy saját önrésszel vegyenek részt a szolgáltatások igénybevételében. [15] Körülbelül ennyi volt a gyurcsányi önvizsgálat veleje. [16] Az İszödi Böszme régi-új énjét megcsillantva a Fidesz elnökét ostorozó harmadik felszólalásában újfent kísérletet tett arra, hogy hírhedt hazugságbeszédét átcsomagolja igazságbeszéddé.

[17] A kampányfinisben a kecskeméti szocialista törzsközönség elıtt szenvedélyesen, ám nem latinovitsi fokon Cipollát alakító Gyurcsány most a „Nincs a teremtésben vesztes, csak én” Bánk báni szólamot igyekezett kiénekelni - meglehetısen enerváltan.

[18] Sokszori megszólalásai tartalma kapcsán pedig inkább egy shakespeare-i parafrázis fogalmazódhatott meg a hallgatóságban: ırült beszéd, de nincs benne rendszer.

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