Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Learning

p-ISSN: 2471-7401    e-ISSN: 2471-741X

2017;  3(4): 97-101



Reflection of Ideology on Translation: A Critical Discourse Analysis Perspective

Misagh Shahbazi, Mehrdad Rezaee

Department of Foreign Languages, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Correspondence to: Mehrdad Rezaee, Department of Foreign Languages, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.


Copyright © 2017 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).


Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a framework for translation criticism, this study attempted to examine the reflection of ideology on translation. To this end, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'and its translation were critically analyzed within the framework of the CDA based on Fairclough's (1989) Model. Thus, lexical items and grammatical choices which had ideological load were extracted, compared and contrasted with a qualitative approach at the micro level, focusing on the context in which the text was produced at the meso level and then, interpretation and explanation were applied at the macro level. In this respect, Fairclough (1989) expresses that formal features have three types of value: experiential, relational, and expressive that were applied in the present study hierarchically from high to low as follows: the relational, the experiential, and the expressive values. The findings showed that although the translator tried to maintain the author's ideology and influence the readers of the TT when reading the translated book as the author did in the source society, there were some informed and uninformed manipulations because political and social background knowledge, religious beliefs, and cultural differences influenced the choices of linguistic elements and subsequently those of paralinguistic elements. The implications of the study were presented at the end.

Keywords: Critical Discourse Analysis, Ideology, Micro, Meso, and macro levels

Cite this paper: Misagh Shahbazi, Mehrdad Rezaee, Reflection of Ideology on Translation: A Critical Discourse Analysis Perspective, Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Learning, Vol. 3 No. 4, 2017, pp. 97-101. doi: 10.5923/j.jalll.20170304.03.

1. Introduction

Translation has always had many effects on various aspects of human life and has played an important role in conveying ideologies among different nations and has subsequently led to the globalization of thoughts. As Munday (2012) reminds translation was already studied as a method for learning languages or as an item in comparative literature, translation workshops and contrastive linguistics courses. But the study of translation as an academic discipline is related to the second half of the twentieth century which was called 'translation studies' by James S. Holmes (1988b/2004). It is clear that translation criticism is one of the important areas of translation studies, taken as a crucial element in translation procedure. Yet, to minimize a translator's ideology and bias translation criticism according to a theoretical framework has always been challenging for translation studies. Thus, critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a 'Three-dimensional' framework (Fairclough, 1995) could be used for this end.
As Bloor and Bloor (2007) state, sometimes the word 'critical' may be misleading. While it is usually used as a negative evaluation, in CDA, it is used in the sense of a critique which is meant that analysis has a positive outcome. They then argue that "central to CDA is the understanding that discourse is an integral aspect of power and control" (Bloor and Bloor, 2007, p. 4). In each society, there have always been inequalities that CDA seeks to highlight with the hope of decreasing them. With regard to the communicative role of translation, on the one hand, the translator transfers ideologies behind a source text and on the other hand, his/her own ideology. In other words, translation can be used to represent both the agreement and disagreement of the translator with an ideology (Venuti, 2004). According to Lefever (1992a, xi), "translation is, of course, rewriting of an original text. All rewritings reflect a certain ideology". Hence, because of releasing a domestic remainder, an inscription of values, beliefs, and representations connected to historical and social positions in the receiving culture, translation is always ideological (Venuti, 2004).

2. Purpose of the Study

As the issue of ideology in translation and its effect on the target readers has recently been discussed enormously, the translator's stance is taken important by translation criticism. It is proven that CDA as a systematic approach can be practical in sociocultural studies. So, it seeks to reveal the ideologies behind a source text and examine to what extent the ideologies of a writer have been transferred in the target text.
In fact, the researcher wanted to show that the ideologies in various societies are different and it is here that the translator will be visible. By taking an in-depth look at CDA, it can be found out that it provides some tools for studying a language not only academically but also in everyday life, for instance, when listening to the news, seeing an advertisement and reading a newspaper.
Although criticism has a long history in general, translation criticism based on a framework is almost a new discipline that carries some objectives stated from different views. Based on Wodak (2001), the purpose of CDA is "analyzing opaque as well as transparent structural relationships of dominance, discrimination, power and control as manifested in language. In other words, CDA aims to investigate critically social inequality as it is expressed, signaled, constituted, legitimized and so on by language use (or in discourse)" (p. 2). Then, Fairclough and Wodak (1997) elsewhere pronounce the aim of CDA as making "the ideological loading of particular ways of using language and the relations of power which underlie them more visible" (p. 258). In addition to the above cases, according to Bloor and Bloor (2007) the aims of critical discourse analysis are as follows:
Analyzing discourse practices which reflect or raise social problems, investigating how ideologies can be hidden in language and finding ways to uncover them, and increasing awareness of how to relate these aims to particular cases of injustice, misuse of power and prejudice.

3. Review of the Literature

Recently, many researchers have been interested in studying translation criticism according to CDA.
Lopez and Caro (2014) conducted an experiment designed to measure the influence that a translator’s political stance may exert on the time needed to find a translation solution when working with ideologically loaded concepts. Their hypothesis predicted that the reaction time of translators would be bigger when the English word was presented with a negative “prompt”, that is, with a word they would feel contrary to their political views. The results will contribute to increasing translators’ awareness of the impact that issues such as ideology and power may have on their work.
Hashemi (2008) adopted CDA framework to analyze underlying ideologies expressed in the translations released by Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). For the purpose of analysis, as many as 22 sample-translated texts were analyzed at micro-level and macro-level. The study found that translations in the presence of underlying ideologies serve as transformations, and the different strategies adopted in the process of translation are often not arbitrary but rather ideologically motivated. Also, MEMRI used selective topics, selective translation, additions and deletions, borrowing and categorization as the most common strategies in its translations to inculcate its ideologies.
Keshavarz and Alimadadi Zonooz (2010) directed a study to probe into the manipulation of ideologies in translations of political texts. To do this, a CDA approach, based on Fairclough (1989), Van Dijk (2006) and Farahzad (2007), was adopted. Three English political books alongside their corresponding translations in Persian were critically analyzed both at micro and macro levels. At micro-level, lexical features based on Van Dijk's (2006) model and grammatical features based on Fairclough's (1989) framework were analyzed. This was followed by the analysis of macro-features (based on Farahzad, 2007) such as notes, prefaces, and footnotes in the translated books for the purpose of revealing the translation network's diverse world-views and ideologies. The results showed that translators make use of certain grammatical and lexical strategies for the sake of ideological ploy, i.e. the basic strategy of positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation. That is, all the lexical and grammatical deviations used by the Persian translators were in the employment of self (i.e., Iranian) interests. Also, the analysis of macro-features revealed the translators’ ideological trends and judgments toward the source texts. More specifically, in the footnotes, the translators manifested negative attitudes towards the authors of the original texts by pinpointing their mistakes and false information about Iranian affairs as well as their hostility towards Iran. The findings are interpreted to have implications for syllabus designers as well as translation students and teachers.
Another study in this area was conducted by Yazdanimogaddam and Fakher (2011). Their aim was to explore the effect of ideology and idiosyncrasy on the lexical choices in translation studies. The corpus used for the analysis in this research consisted of three political novels that enjoy ideological, political, and socio-cultural lexemes. The results of the analysis revealed that ideology and idiosyncrasy affect the translator’s lexical choices.
The last mentioned research here is done by Baradaran, Seid Motahari, and Manafzadegan (2015). Adopting CDA with particular emphasis on the framework of Fairclough (1989), the present investigation was an attempt to shed light on the relationship between language and ideology involved in translation in general, and more specifically, to uncover the underlying ideological assumptions invisible in texts, both source text (ST) and (TT), and consequently ascertain whether or not translators’ ideologies are imposed in their translations. A detailed contrastive-comparative study was done at the micro-level included explanation of lexical items and grammatical choices conducted to examine, describe and subsequently interpret the patterns at the macro level in English source text and its two Persian translated versions. The findings showed that behind every one of his selections there is a voluntary act that reveals his history and socio-Introduction to Sociology: Feminist Perspectives by Abbott and Pamela. In this investigation, a political milieu surrounds him, in other words, his own culture.

4. Method

To reach the objectives of this study, the researchers chose one of Stowe's books named 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' and its translation into Persian by Jazani (2013) and analyzed them according to Fairclough's (1989) framework during a qualitative approach. "The framework includes analysis of texts, interactions, and social practices at the local, institutional, and societal levels" (Rogers, Malancharuvil-Berkes, Mosley, Hui and Joseph, 2005, p.371). Through a comprehensive comparative/contrastive study of 'ideologically loaded concepts' (Lopez and Caro, 2014) extracted and considered within Fairclough's (1989) framework at the micro level including a description of lexical items and grammatical choices, focusing on the context in which the text is produced at the meso level and interpretation and explanation at the macro level.

5. Results and Discussion

5.1. Micro Level Analysis

5.1.1. Data Analysis: Description
Fairclough (1989) states ten questions and some sub-questions which could be utilized when analyzing a text (see Fairclough, 1989, pp. 92-93). Along the same line, Fairclough (1989) expresses that formal features have three types of value: experiential, relational, and expressive presented diagrammatically in Figure 1 from Fairclough (1989, p. 112).
Figure 1. Formal features: experiential, relational and expressive values
According to Fairclough's (1989) Model, there are four items in the experiential value of vocabulary analysis: overwording, hyponymy, antonymy, and synonymy. As it has been indicated in Table 1.
Table 1. Experiential Value of Vocabulary Analysis
As stated by Fairclough (1989), the experiential aspects of grammar deal with the ways in which grammatical forms of a language are important. At the micro level, it includes negative and positive sentences. Among the 44 sentences analyzed in, 30 positive and negative sentences of the ST were transferred without any changes in the structure of sentences, 4 positive sentences were changed into negative ones, and 10 negative to positive. As it has been shown in Table 2, Jazani (2013) generally applied 7 negative items (15.9 %) and 37 positive items (84.09 %) in her translation.
Table 2. Experiential Values of Grammar Analysis
On the basis of Fairclough's (1989) Model, the relational value of vocabulary at micro level includes formality, informality, and euphemism and the relational value of grammar also consists of three modes of sentences: declarative, imperative, and grammatical question. They are presented in the table below.
Table 3. Relational Values of Vocabulary and Grammar Analysis
And finally, an expressive value is a trace of the producer's evaluation of the bit of the reality it relates to. The expressive value of vocabulary analysis refers to Ideologically Contrastive Classification Schemes (ICCS) and that of grammar analysis consists of logical connectors.
Table 4. Expressive Values of Vocabulary and Grammar Analysis

5.2. Meso Level

In general, meso level acts as a bridge between micro and macro levels and focuses mainly on the context of the text perceived and how it is initially produced. As mentioned earlier, CDA seeks to reveal the hidden power relations at the macro level. Accordingly, a text is produced in a wider context which itself contains complicated relations of power, and readers/ listeners interpret it on the basis of the norms of their society.

5.3. Macro Level

5.3.1. Interpretation
“The interpretation stage reveals the hidden power relations and the purpose of this stage is to establish whether the verbal cues in the text contain certain assumptions or other hidden elements that are not obvious at a first glance” (Fairclough, 1989, p.129). As a whole, this stage was applied for interpreting the findings of the first stage- description and assigning the discourse of the text as well.
Table 5. Translator's Strategy
This example was transferred by the strategy of euphemism to prevent negative values in words and more precisely hearing unpleasant and harsh words. To put it in a nutshell, values applied in the present study were presented in Table 6.
Table 6. Translator's Strategy
5.3.2. Explanation
As stated by Fairclough (1989), explanation has two dimensions, depending on whether the emphasis is on processes of social struggle or relations of power. By the way, discourses are regarded as the social struggles which are contextualized in broader struggles or in other words, non-discoursal struggles. On the other hand, explanation presents what power relations determine discourses. The stage of explanation clarifies what has been obtained and interpreted in the stage of interpretation by examining interaction and social context.
The word "brandy" in the ST was translated as the word (araq) in TT. This application has showed that the word (araq) was common before the Islamic revolution of Iran, and was not against the holiness.
As a result, Table 7 displays that the translator evaluated social relations as the author did. In vocabulary analysis, the experiential value is considerably used. In other words, she used her own knowledge, beliefs, and experience in her natural or social world and in grammar analysis, it is completely used. Finally, in large number of cases the expressive value is used as the author.
Table 7. Survey of the Criteria for Translating

6. Conclusions

It is evident that language was not used neutrally in the translation as a reproduction of the text in the target language. As a conclusion, although the translator tried to maintain the author's ideology and influence the readers of the TT when reading the translated book as the author did in the source society, there were some informed and uninformed manipulations because political and social background knowledge, religious beliefs, and cultural differences influenced the choices of linguistic elements and subsequently those of paralinguistic elements.
Nevertheless, further studies need to be carried out to discover the power relations which are hidden in a text through CDA with the hope of decreasing them and on the other hand, as Akef (2014) states translation criticism training leads to improve translation quality and increases translators' awareness, and on the way combining theories, practices, and doing research in this area can play a considerable role in training the professional translators.
Moreover, CDA highlights power relations in a society. In other words, translators discover the power relations which are hidden in a text through CDA with the hope of decreasing them.


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