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Genre in translation

Text type and text purpose

 What is the purpose of the source text?
Different STs  What is the purpose of the translation?
 These questions lead to…
 What kind of text is the source text?
priorities  What kind of text should the translation be?
 Translating a text in context
 ‘Text’ as language, ‘context’ as social
 Identify macro-structures and define their
Textuality is precise role in the process of translation
multifaceted  Developments in multiple disciplines influence
text typologies:
 Linguistics (theories about discourse)
 Communication & rhetoric
 Ethnography of speaking
 Pragmatics
Newspaper Political
Legal Medical

Some text Prose

types Texts Advertisements

Scientific Instruction Novels
papers manuals
 Text categories are readily distinguishable
For most  Guidebook
mature  Nursery rhyme
speakers of a  Poem
language  Business letter
 Newspaper article
 Advertisement
 But this is not specific enough (Bhatia 1993) – we need
to combine knowledge of registers with genre
 Insights from anthropology and linguistics
What is  Malinowsky (1923, 1935): cultural contexts,
comprising variety of factors – ritualistic and
register? practical aspects of everyday life – crucial in
‘varieties’ of interpreting messages
language use,  Firth (1935, 1951): culture determines our world of
depending of language and cognition
function of  Cultural factors influence and determine
linguistic choices
language in a
 Emphasis on situation (context) and culture on
context language choice and use
 User-related varieties – geographical, temporal,
social (non) standardised dialects, sociolects &
Register and  Use-related varieties – open-ended set of varieties
functional typical of occupational fields:
 Language of religion
varieties of  Language of legal documents (legalese)
language  Languages of newspaper reporting
 Medical language
 Technical language
 Studies of register investigate the relationship
It’s important between grammatical choices and
to combine rhetorical/communicative functions
genre and  These shed light on conscious stylistic
register to choices that language users make
understand  These choices often depend on the
appropriateness of the language for the
text types type of situation
 Within fields of knowledge there are variations
Register and of genre: e.g. interpretative vs expository legal
texts; argumentative vs informative newspaper
knowledge of texts
the text is not  Genre can help us understand how texts
enough present information and how they can be
organized stylistically and rhetorically
 Science research article and extract from
chemistry lab report = scientific register
 Lectures, classroom discussions, hallway
Concept of conversations, emails = academic register
genre is useful  Legal documents, courtroom exchanges, judge
to understand declarations, lawyer communication with lay
macro- people = legal register
structures of
texts  We can understand texts from the macro-level
of communicative acts within a discursive
 Argumentative type
 ‘has as a contextual focus the evaluation of
relations between concepts’ (Hatim and Mason p.
 These texts are used to promote the acceptance or
One way of evaluation of certain beliefs or ideas as true vs
viewing text false, positive vs negative. Concepts such as
reason, significance, volition, value and opposition
types are frequent. The surface will often show cohesive
devices for emphasis and insistence, e.g.
recurrence, parallelism and paraphrase.
(Beaugrande and Dressler 1981: 184)
 E.g. texts on CO2 emissions and palm oil
Expository type
Analysis into constituent elements, or
Text type synthesis from constituent elements.
E.g. historical text on Rwanda, analyses
events into significant component parts
 Instructional type
 The focus here is on the formation of future
behaviour. There is an attempt to regulate
through instruction the way people act or
think. (H & M p. 156)
 Two sub-types:
Text type
 (a) instruction with option (e.g. advertising,
consumer advice, etc)
 (b) instruction without option (e.g. contracts,
treaties, etc)
 E.g. ad for Drakkar aftershave, short article on
the Auberge Grand’Maison
 Some of the texts we have translated do not
seem to fit into any of these three types, for
example the ‘self-writing’ in de Beauvoir’s
However, it’s memoir, and the fictional ‘self-writing’ in the
not always Gide text.
helpful to  Are these expository? Instructional?
pigeonhole Argumentative?
into rhetorical  Where does the song lyric by Gilles Servat fit
in? What about playful or poetic elements of
categories some of the texts?
 For example the articles on Machu Picchu and
the Auberge Grand’Maison
Many texts are  Good examples of hybrid texts in H & M, taken
hybrid and from Rousseau’s Emile
have a mixture  E.g. article on the Quaker from Voltaire’s
of these three Lettres sur les Anglais
sorts of  This text has mixtures of argument, exposition
rhetorical (presentation of another culture) and
instruction (optional type)
Two other Descriptive versus interpretative texts
useful ways of These relate to the ways that text
thinking about producers use language and reflect the
genre in ‘two ways our minds entertain thoughts’
translation (Hatim and Munday 2004: 61)
 An utterance is said to be descriptive if it is
2 other ways of intended to be true of a state of affairs in some
thinking about possible world.
 E.g. tourist brochure, a text that is ultra-functional in guiding
genre tourists around a city.
 E.g. Texts laying out government policy in the next five years,
strategic plans with goals and strands
 E.g. some legal texts, newspaper reports
texts (or  The new translated text that you produce achieves
utterances) relevance in its own right. It is a free-standing new
 An utterance is said to be interpretative if it is
intended by the speaker not to represent his or
her thoughts but those of someone else.
(Hatim and Munday 2004: 61-62)
As opposed to  Descriptive and interpretative ways of
interpretative producing texts ‘reflect the two ways our minds
entertain thoughts’ (H and M 2004: 61)
utterances  E.g. production of an advert, with the translation intended for use
by planners of the marketing strategy. The translation here is
crucially dependent on the ST.
 Other examples: song lyrics, poems, very highly patterned texts.
The translation can only succeed by virtue of its resemblance to
some SL original
Conclusion:  What is the purpose of the source text?
remember 4  What is the purpose of the translation?
questions to  These questions lead to…
decide  What kind of text is the source text?
strategic  What kind of text should the translation be?