Reporting Goebbels in translation: a study of text and context
Möckli, Elisabeth Anita
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In its function as a mediating body between the political decision-makers and the population, the media have the potential to influence the public opinion and subsequently, policy making. Representations of political discourses are opinion-shaping instruments and often not mere reflections of a given reality; they incorporate implicit and explicit, conscious and unconscious evaluations. In cross-cultural contexts where information travels across languages the media are highly dependent on translation. Despite its central role, media translation as part of the political process has only recently gained visibility in Translation Studies (TS) and remains widely neglected outside the discipline. Current research in TS often prioritises either the textual analysis or, more recently, the identification of the shaping factors in the news production process, and often fails to address diachronic aspects. This thesis investigates the translations of Goebbels’ speeches as published in the French and British press during the interwar period. It combines a synchronic and diachronic textual analysis, inspired by CDA with an in-depth study of context which draws on socio-historical research and the analysis of archival material. Thereby, the thesis is able to link the textual makeup to a wide variety of socio-political and historical variables via the concepts of ‘framing’ and ‘agenda-setting’. In doing so the thesis demonstrates on the one hand, how translation can function as a means of discourse mediation and, on the other hand, it provides evidence that ideology and political expediency alone cannot explain all textual changes introduced by the translator-journalists. Moreover, describing the development of the media images not only allows to add a translational perspective to the reception of the Third Reich but also contributes to a better understanding of the varying influence of contextual factors. The results of the diachronic analysis show that throughout the interwar period the British media published very little about Goebbels and, up until late in 1938, reports focused on the peaceful intentions he expressed. In contrast, Goebbels was frequently reported on in France and the regime was early on represented as an aggressor. Whilst trends in the quantity mirror the differing economic conditions of the newspaper markets, the quality, i.e. the actual realisation, of the media images seems to be a reflection of the differing socio-political positions of France and the United Kingdom after WW1. The development of the images clearly illustrates that the political ideology of appeasement was finally overridden in the UK in 1938 when political expediency forced the government to take a different course of action. However, the study of the editorial correspondence of the Manchester Guardian brings to light that the mosaic of factors influencing the news production process is more complex. The intervention of the involved governments, personal convictions of the foreign correspondents and the editors, spatial and temporal restrictions, issues of credibility, etc. all impacted on the particular make-up of the media texts. The synchronic textual analysis, on the other hand, reveals that the range of framing devices through which the media images were established was largely determined by text type conventions. The strategies applied range from selective-appropriation of text, repositioning of actors and labelling, to audience representation. The analysis clearly demonstrates that intersemiotic translation, i.e. the representation of the speech context, is equally important as inter- and intra-lingual instances of translation.
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