The Translatability of Figures of Speech in Khalid Mashaal's Political Speeches: A Critical Discourse Analysis

By Al-Harahsheh, Ahmad Mohammad | International Journal of English Linguistics, June 2013 | Go to article overview

The Translatability of Figures of Speech in Khalid Mashaal's Political Speeches: A Critical Discourse Analysis


Al-Harahsheh, Ahmad Mohammad, International Journal of English Linguistics


Abstract

This paper focuses on employing CDA method in studying Arabic political discourse in general, and the translatability of figures of speech of Khalid Mashaal's political speeches in particular. This paper also supports the notion that linguistic theory and CDA are useful in studying the translation of political discourse. Three political speeches of Mashaal were translated into English; CDA was used as a theoretical framework to analyze these speeches. The study found that these speeches are full of figures of speech, and the translatability of them into English is problematic, because the translated version lost the flavor of emotiveness that SL text had. This paper also suggests some strategies for translators to overcome these obstacles in translation.

Keywords: figures of speech, political disocurse, Critical Discourse Analysis, translation theory, conflict and ideology

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1. Introduction

The analysis of political discourse has a great importance nowadays. Political discourse is "a complex form of social activity" (Chilton and Schaffner, 1997, p. 207). Political discourse is so common in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular, because it is a conflict area, and it is witnessing the Arab Spring movement that reshapes and reforms different political regimes in the Arab world. Therefore, studying political discourse at this critical moment is crucial, because it adds better understanding to the current political situation in the Middle East.

Mass media play a pivotal role in transmitting political events to public i.e., reporting politics news; interviewing politicians and broadcasting political news, conferences or events by radio or television (Schaffner, 2011). Thus, mass media are the backbone for political discourse in general. The producer of political discourse does not only aim to direct it to a small community local, but s/he also aims to broadcast it internationally. This involves the communicating of language across borders. As a result, translation and interpreting play a significant role in political settings or events (Schaffner, 2011).

Palestine has witnessed a turbulent political situation since 1948. Israel occupied the West Bank and still attacking Gaza Strip from time to time. This makes this area unstable. The notion of conflict stems from power and vise versa. "Conflict refers to a situation in which two or more parties seek to undermine each other because they have incompatible goals, competing interests, or fundamentally different values" (Baker, 2006, p. 2).

In addition, translation and interpreting participate in shaping the way of conflict. To reiterate, translation and interpreting are involved in every stages of conflict, i.e., From the announcing of the war, to mobilizing the troops and to the ending of this war, as there will be conferences and meetings. These actions involve linguistic acts and they need to be interpreted and translated. Therefore, translators and interpreters act as mediator in rendering the message from Source Language (Henceforth SL) to Target Language (Henceforth TL) (Baker, 2006).

Baker (2007) relies on narrative theory to study the behaviours of translators and interpreters when translating texts related to conflicts. Narrative theory is advantageous because it shows our positions in connection with social and political reality; it allows us "see social actors, including translators and interpreters as real-life individuals rather than theoretical abstractions" (Ibid, p. 153) and it allows us to explicate behaviours dynamic terms. Baker (2007) finds that culture, norms and ideologies affect the translator's behaviours.

Semantic phenomena have been the aim of linguistic, rhetorical, psychological and political studies. Among the semantic phenomena are repetition, emotiveness, collocations and figures of speech i.e., simile and metaphor (Shunnaq, 2000). …

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