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Translation of

Journalistic Texts
What is journalistic translation?

Translation of journalistic texts is a field that requires expertise using

various techniques based on the context of the subject matter and in-
depth knowledge of both the source and target languages. The
journalistic translator must know and deftly control the different
documentary sources of information in order to avoid
misunderstandings in the translation.
 At the same time journalistic texts have their own
conventions. The journalistic translator should be
aware of these conventions and possess the
necessary competence so that these texts work in a
new linguistic and cultural context. On occasions the
translator needs to work like a journalist, and in some
cases these specialized translators are journalists
 These translators for instance must take into account
that many plays on words cannot be directly
translated into the foreign language as the meaning
will be lost. They must therefore be able to reproduce
the nuances of the source text (original document) in
the target language (language that the text is
translated into) in such a way that the translation
remains true to the original.
Historical Background

 The first news texts circulated in handwritten form and so few of these
early texts still exist today. The first ‘newspapers’ were called avvisi, a
word of Italian origin. Translation was, and still is, an integral part of
journalism, in order for the public to be made aware of influential events
happening in the world. For example, during the First and Second World
Wars, journalistic translation was the way in which people were
informed about the battles taking place in Europe and the Middle East.
 When the first newspapers
appeared in England, they
were translations from Latin,
German and French. The
Corante, which was also a
translation of texts published
in other parts of Europe, was
imitating the Dutch model
as they were mostly
published in Amsterdam,
Alkmaar and The Hague. It
is said to be the first
newspaper printed in
Distinctive features of publicistic style:

 The main distinctive features of the publicistic style are standardization

and expressiveness. These features fulfill the two basic functions: to
inform the readership as quickly as possible, which demands from a
journalist the use of ready-made phrases, or clichés, sometimes called
journalese. Expressiveness results from the necessity to influence public

 English mass media are abundant in connotative colloquial words

and phrases, even slang: eyesore, blackleg, new words: drunk-
driving, think-tank, abbreviations: champ for ‘champion’, E.
Germans for ‘East Germans’.
 Metaphorical and metonymical associations are not infrequent:
Russia’s perestroika has turned missiles into sausages (from The
Daily Telegraph), especially those connected with sports: An
industrial port … received a serious blow… (from Vladivostok
News); Mortgage lenders call for curbs on ‘low start’
advertisements (from The Daily Telegraph).
 Epithets sometimes accompany nouns:
strenuous political activity, aggressive
grain exporters, the crystal-clear waters.
 English and American journalists take
liberties with well-known public figures,
calling them by nicknames: Old Fox, the
nickname of Adenauer,Gorby,
Gorbachev, Rocky, Rockfeller, Ike,
Eisenhauer, shortened names: Bill
Clinton, Jimmy Carter; FDR – Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, JFK – Jack Kennedy –
John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Most of these
short forms and all the nicknames are
translated into Romanian in full form,
since our readership feel disrespect with
these types of names.
 “Catch words” are used in the English text as if
they were small titles of paragraphs. But in fact
their usage is purely psychological. They do not
summarize the paragraph; out of the context,
they are meaningless. They are simply
expressive words taken out of context in order
to attract the reader’s attention and to make
the reader believe that the paragraph is not too
large to be read. Because of this, these
‘catchy’ titles are not translated.
 The lead is the first paragraph of the article. It
both summerizes and begins to tell the story. The
lead answers: Who? When? Where? Why? What?
How? Some years ago the demand was that
the lead consist of one sentence only, which
required its partitioning in translation. Now the
lead may include two or three sentences.
 Most often verbs in headlines are in the so-
called present historical tense:
Example: Salvador Rebels Take Battle Beneath
If the event described in the headline was
completed in the past, the verb is translated in
the past form: Rebelii din El Salvador au
început războiul subteran.
In case the event is not yet finished, the verb is
translated with the present form:
Example: Mutual Distrust Threatens Yugoslav
Peace Accord. – Neîncrederea recirprocă
amenință semnarea acordului de pace în
 To express a future event, the infinitive can be used in
Example: Iraqi Minister to Visit Moscow. – Ministrul Irakului se
pregătește să meargă într-o vizită de lucru în Moscova.–
Ministrului Irakului va vizita în curând Moscova.
 There is a standard for featuring numerals in newspaper
articles and headlines. In the English text, whole numbers
below 10 are spelled out, figures are used for 10 and
 In Romanian text we may find a figure in any case:
Example: la 5 km de la mal – five kilometers off-shore.
In headlines, however, numerals are not spelled-out:
Example: 3 Die in Ambulance Crash. – 3 morți într-un
accident cu o ambulanță