Ideological positioning in news translation: A case study of evaluative resources in reports on China

Li Pan
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

This article investigates the Chinese translations of several English news reports on China’s human rights issue carried in Reference News, a Chinese authoritative state-run newspaper devoted to translating foreign reports for the Chinese reader, and aims to establish how evaluative resources are resorted to by the translators to facilitate ideologically different positioning in presenting events and identifying participants in the translated news. The translations are compared with their English source texts using Appraisal Theory (Martin and White 2005) as the micro analytical framework and Fairclough’s (1995a, 1995b) three-dimension model of Critical Discourse Analysis as the explanatory framework.

Table of contents

Though objectivity is advocated as the golden principle of journalism, a number of studies of media discourse employing the approach of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) have demonstrated that distinct ideological positioning can be discerned in reports on the same event in different news outlets (see Trew 1979; Fowler 1991; Fairclough 1992, 1995a, 1995b; van Dijk 1995; Fang 2001). The same happens to news translation, in which being faithful to the original is advocated and expected, but not followed in actual practice. While CDA has been widely applied to the study of ideological manipulation in monolingual discourse (e.g., van Dijk 1988a, 1988b; Wodak 1989; Fairclough 1995a, 1995b; Wodak and Meyer 2001) or in bilingual comparison (e.g., Puurtinen 2000), few CDA-oriented studies have explored ideological conflict in journalistic translation, and still fewer have focused [ p. 216 ]on the ways in which evaluative resources are deployed to facilitate ideological positioning in news translation.

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English source reports

Associated Press
2009 “With Unusual Candor, China Reports Shoe Throwing.” International News. Feb 3. Accessed April 10, 2009. http://​bigstory​.ap​.org​/article​/with​-unusualcandor​-China​-reports​-shoe​-throwingGoogle Scholar
2009 “China Submits Rights Record to UN.” Feb 9. Accessed April 10, 2009. http://​news​.bbc​.co​.uk​/2​/hi​/asia​-pacific​/7878168​.stm
2009 “China Tells United Nations It Protects Human Rights.” Feb 9. Accessed April 10, 2009. http://​www​.reuters​.com​/article​/newsMaps​/idUSTRE51C3LL20090213
Washington Post
2009 “Chinese TV Airs Protester Throwing Shoe at Premier.” Washington Post Foreign Service. Feb 4. Pg. A11.Google Scholar
Washington Post
2009 “China Tells UN Panel That It Respects Rights.” Feb 9. Accessed April 10, 2009. http://​www​.washingtonpost​.com​/wp​-dyn​/content​/article​/2009​/02​/09​/AR2009020901565​.html

Chinese translated reports

Reference News
2009“Jianqiao shijian fanchen zhongguo kaifang zixin” [‘Cambridge Event’ Reflects China’s Candor and Confidence]. Feb 5. Accessed April 8, 2009. http://​ckxx​.org​.cn​/ckxx​/ckxx20090205/
2009“Zhongguo zixin miandui lianheguo renquan jiancha” [China faces UN Human Rights review with confidence]. Feb 11. Accessed April 8, 2009. http://​ckxx​.org​.cn​/other​/other2009021101/

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