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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
The Translator

For a Special Issue on
Political Discourse Translation in Contemporary Chinese and Western Contexts

Abstract deadline
31 December 2021

Manuscript deadline
24 December 2022

Cover image - The Translator

Special Issue Editor(s)

Saihong Li, University of Stirling, Scotland
[email protected]

Roberto A. Valdeón, University of Oviedo, Spain
[email protected]

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Political Discourse Translation in Contemporary Chinese and Western Contexts

Call for Papers
Special Issue of The Translator (2024)
Political Discourse Translation in Contemporary Chinese and Western Contexts

The aim of this special issue is to explore the complexities of conveying and mediating contemporary political discourse from Chinese to Western contexts and vice versa. Recent research indicates that translation is almost invisible in the field of politics, and therefore the roles of translators in the process of representing and re-contextualising political discourse has been under-studied. (Schäffner & Bassnett, 2010; Gu 2019; Liu 2021). In their summary of twenty years of research on political discourse, Randour, Perrez and Reuchamps (2020) state that most of the research into translated political discourse conducted so far has been limited to the institutional discourse of political elites. It has primarily been conducted monolingually, with little attention to the role of translation, and although research has been conducted in Translation Studies, it tends to be general rather than focusing on specific contexts. This is particularly the case in Chinese contexts. CNKI, the largest Chinese digital academic publication database, contains around 900 publications of political discourse translation in the Greater Chinese regions; among these publications, 46 were supported by funding bodies. It is significant that there were either none or fewer than 3 publications per year before 2003, but there has been a steady increase in publications from 2005 to over 100 publications since 2019. There has been a surge in the number of academic publications, and an increase in the provision of research funding for political discourse translation in Chinese contexts. By contrast, the online Translation Studies Bibliography (TSB) records fewer than 100 publications worldwide in English related to political discourse translation within Chinese contexts. Among these publications, studies of the roles of political actors or agents constitute more than 77 percent. The total publications of Chinese political discourse accounts for less than 0.5 percent of the overall number of translation and interpreting publications worldwide. The results also indicate that the primary audience for Chinese political discourse and its translation has evolved from a limited number of Chinese Studies scholars to a wide range of specialists and non-specialists who can deepen their knowledge of Chinese culture, economics, history, and politics through translated documents (Li & Li 2015; Li & Pan 2020; Wang & Munday 2020).

Susan Bassnett and Michael Cronin have emphasized that the economic, political, and social contexts in which translation takes place are inseparable from the methods and techniques of translation itself, including the minutiae of specific word choices. The socio-economic backdrop to the development of Translation Studies in Chinese-speaking regions has been an exponential increase in China’s global influence, instantiated from 2013 onwards by the Belt and Road Initiative with its emphasis on creating new markets and trade opportunities. Consequently, there are important synergies to explore between the desire to promote Chinese culture, ideology, and commerce abroad, and the forms of language and translation used to facilitate this process. From a historical perspective, Ning Wang (2015, 2018) notes that Chinese translators delineated terms for specialized concepts that had evolved in the West: “China had to identify itself with those economically developed and politically powerful countries. In this aspect, translation did play an important role. Due to its overall westernizing practice, Chinese culture and ideologies, particularly its political discourse, almost became a marginalized ‘colonial’ culture” (2015). Conversely, certain concepts elaborated within Chinese political discourse were sometimes misinterpreted by media outlets in the West. Within China and its neighbouring territories, although much research within the humanities and sciences has been developed according to Western theories, perspectives, and discoveries, there is an opportunity – and responsibility – for scholars from China and its neighbours to ensure that knowledge exchange is a two-way process by creating appropriately nuanced political terminology, texts, and translations, that can function as socio-political and cultural envoys in the public, academic, and diplomatic spheres. Xu Mingqiang (2014) makes an important distinction between translation and mediation, arguing that Chinese political discourse which communicates effectively with domestic audiences can lead to confusion or even misunderstanding among foreign audiences if it is translated without mediation. Xu’s arguments indicate that the translators of political discourse face a considerable challenge to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps but also the cultural and ideological differences across languages and cultures, especially at a time when communication between China and the rest of the world has been affected by momentous events such as Donald Trump’s presidency and the Covid-19 pandemic.
This special issue invites contributors from across the world to explore interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary political discourse translation from Chinese to Western contexts and vice versa. Possible areas for analysis, incorporating theoretical and/or practical perspectives, include (but are not limited to):

- The role of digital humanities in translating and interpreting Chinese political discourse;
- The complexities of translation, mediation, and linguistic appropriation of political discourse;
- Translating political discourse within the mass media;
- The role of translators and interpreters in political discourse translation;
- Politico-cultural translation in Chinese contexts;
- Micro- and macro-level analysis of translated political discourse;
- Identity issues in translated political discourse;
- The power and ideology shift in political discourse translation;
- Processes of mediation and manipulation in Chinese political discourse;
- Rhetorical devices and pragmatic functions in Chinese political discourse translation;
- The role of agents in political discourse translation;
- Socio-cultural and ideological interpretation of the discourse of Chinese political leaders;
- The challenges facing translators and interpreters in the context of Chinese political discourse;
- Translating the diverse ethnic, historical, and cultural realities of contemporary China within political contexts;
- Conveying the multifaceted essence of Chinese political discourse and identities in translation;
- Translation and power in Chinese political contexts.

Editors:

Dr Saihong Li supervises PhD students in Translation and Interpreting Studies at the University of Stirling. She is a council member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. She has been the director of degree programmes at universities in Britain, Denmark, and China. Dr Li was awarded a PhD at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her publications include monographs, edited books, book chapters, and refereed journal articles on themes ranging from menu translation and political discourse translation to bilingualism. She is an associate editor-in-chief of the Academic Journal of Literature and Languages and a reviewer for several journals and publishers such as De Gruyter and Routledge.

Professor Roberto Valdeón is a Professor of English Studies and Translation at the University of Oviedo, Spain. He is an Honorary Professor at South China Business College (Guangzhou) and has been recently appointed Guanghua Distinguished Professor at Southwest University of Finance and Economics, China. He has been a Research Associate at the University of the Free State, South Africa, since 2013. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Leuven (Belgium), Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts (USA), and an Honorary Professor at Stirling (UK). He is a Fellow of Academia Europaea. He has published around 200 refereed journal articles, book chapters, edited collections, and monographs. He is Editor-in-Chief of Perspectives. Studies in Translation Theory and Practice and General Editor for the Benjamins Translation Library.

Submission Instructions

To propose a paper, please send your abstract of 500 words (excluding references) by email to the guest editors at [email protected] and [email protected] by 31 December 2021.

Production schedule:

  • 31 December 2021: deadline for submitting 500-word abstracts to the guest editors
  • 1 February 2022: notification of acceptance or rejection of abstracts
  • 1 December 2022: submission of completed articles - please make sure you select 'Special Issue - Political Discourse Translation in Contemporary Chinese and Western Contexts'
  • 1 May 2023: notification of decisions by referees
  • 31 July 2023: submission of revised versions
  • 1 October 2023: confirmation of acceptance
  • Early 2024: publication of special issue

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article