National and cultural images

Luc van Doorslaer
Table of contents

Every act of information distribution potentially includes the spread of ‘images’ (in a general sense). Every concrete act of text production has been preceded by selection and decision procedures, including framing and formulation choices. Since the emergence of nation states and the related construction of national and cultural identities especially during the 19th and 20th centuries, these choices have also been influenced by national and cultural image building. When these choices, perspectives or frames are being transferred to a new target text, as in the act of translation, an additional selection and decision process about these choices is unavoidable. New considerations (on the basis of a different knowledge or perception base between source and target audience) will be taken into account when transferring information about national and cultural images. This may lead to conscious and/or unconscious changes of perspective, the use of stereotypes, omissions or additions, and manipulations, up to and including varying features of censorship. These changes make the study of national and cultural image building a highly interesting field for Translation Studies. As Cristina Marinetti puts it in her HTS entry on ‘Cultural approaches’: “translation is one of the ways in which works of literature are ‘re-written’, and these re-writings are the primary way in which cultures construct ‘images’ and ‘representations’ of authors, texts and entire periods of history.”

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Further reading

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