Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Translation and Ideology

Translating the Genre of the European Parliament: a Socio-Textual Semiotic Approach

María Calzada Pérez (Universitat Jaume I, Castellón)



The present paper delves into the increasingly decisive genre of European Parliament (EP) debate and into ideological and textual phenomena that may be registered within the genre. For this purpose, we study a corpus of 52 speeches uttered before the EP on March 9 th 1993 both in English and Spanish Reasons for the selection of this corpus are provided in the paper.

Firstly, a socio-textual characterization of the corpus is provided. Along the lines of Hatim and Mason (1990, 1997), this entails a discussion (in section 1) of the discoursal, generic and text-typological features of the speeches analysed. Drawing on Swales, and as far as discourse is concerned, the EP is seen to present ideological merging as well as hybridization. With regard to genre features, the EP plenary session is sketched out and further sub-genres are outlined. As far as the text-typology is concerned, the analysis of the corpus identifies three main types of texts: Through argumentation (consisting of a main thesis, followed by some sort of substantiation and a conclusion), counter-argumentation (i.e. thesis, opposition to the main thesis, substantiation and conclusion) and double-argumentation (in this case, thesis, opposition 1, opposition 2, substantiation and conclusion). It must be noted that, as with other corpora, the present set of texts is subjected to “centrifugal and centripetal forces” (Fairclough, 1995: 7) which pressure them both to conform with the prototypical text-typology (re-creation) and to diverge from it (innovation). Logically, variations from the norm are also registered and exemplified.

Secondly, the paper focuses on original and translated textural/tangible items in English and Spanish such as, amongst others, transitivity. Transitivity is here understood in a Hallidayian fashion. For Halliday (1994: 106-161), studying transitivity equals studying primarily the processes that are reflected by the text. These may be: material, mental, verbal, relational, and existential. Processes here are seen as “ostensive” (Sperber and Wilson, 1986) signs leading to pragma-semiotic/ideological effects.

In short, the whole paper rests on the assumption that:

Any form of communication is a complex web of systems where visible and non-visible constituents are tied to various levels of meaning in a non-random manner. The consequences may be ideological.

By commuting from textural/tangible units to socio-textual levels (and vice versa), we perform an exercise of “critical awareness” that helps us understand a bit better what is going on within the EU boundaries and which encourages us to go ahead, scrutinize and confront current global ideological forces.

Bibliography cited in the abstract

Fariclough, N. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis. London and New York: Longman

Hallyday, M.A.K. (1994). Functional Grammar. Second Edition. London: Edward Arnold.

Hatim, B. and Mason, I. (1990). Discourse and the Translator. London and New York: Longman

Hatim, B. and Mason, I. (1997). The Translator as Communicator. London and New York: Routledge.

Sperber, D. and Wilson. D. (1986) Relevance. Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Swales, J. (1990) Genre Analysis. English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: CUP.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-15