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Die vielsprachige Seele Kakaniens. Übersetzen und Dolmetschen in der Habsburgermonarchie 1848 bis 1918

Michaela Wolf Wien, Köln, Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2012, 439 pp. ISBN 978-3-205-78829-4

Across Languages and Cultures
Author: Luc Doorslaer
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This article starts by examining existing research on the role of translation in media news production. An examination of this role leads inevitably to a critical view of the use of “translation” and the difficulties that Translation Studies encounters as a discipline in asserting and distributing broader definitions of the term in the context of media news production. In the specific context of news translation, an extension of definitions not only involves target-related issues, but also the disintegration of the status of source texts in such multi-source situations. Selection and de-selection principles guide journalistic text production processes including translation. The influence of national images and their imagesetting effects are analyzed from this point of view. To that end, imagology is used as an added value for this kind of research in the way it combines selection principles and national image construction.

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Although journalistic translation research has been quite successful over the past 15 years, from a methodological point of view many scholars struggle with the total or partial absence of a traceable source text. As a consequence, parallel corpora are rare and the researcher often has to rely on multilingual sets of texts that are comparable. This contribution deals in detail with that essential methodological problem. It relates the multisource and multi-author situation of translation in journalism to this non- (or only partially) identifiable character of the source text–target text relationship. We argue that the triangulation of comparative text analysis with fieldwork adds value to this type of research. This argument is illustrated with a study triangulating textual analysis in three languages with interviews and non-participant observation. Such a triangulation also responds to earlier calls for a more elaborated contextualization of the production process and the sociohistorical circumstances in journalistic translation research.

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This background paper recalls the main findings gained so far in news translation research. It also presents issues and questions which still deserve scholarly attention. The contributions to this special issue are contextualized in relation to research into news translation, or journalistic translation more widely. One of the major issues concerns the choice of methodological approaches to tackle the phenomenon of news translation. The contributions illustrate scope and limitations of various methodologies, which are mainly product-oriented and advocate for triangulation with participant-centred methods.

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