The Power of Naming : Definite Descriptions Lost and Found in Translation



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description It is no news that words have power to shape, distort and maneuver reality and foist one’s preferred worldview upon unsuspecting readers. In the digital age, information verification and critical reading have become indispensable tools in any well-informed reader’s equipment, but locating the source information might be, at the end of the day, an impossible task; especially if said piece of information underwent a series of translations and re-translations. Such fluid shifts between source and target languages inherently create some leeway for various discoursal practices and larger thinking schemes, granting news media the ability to carefully craft the perlocutionary effect without necessarily changing the content itself. This paper does not, by any means, attempts to encompass the entire scope of shifts, transformations and jiggery-pokery occurring in translation-based news reporting, but focuses on the subtle art of naming. By choosing a convenient definite description, the same piece of utterance can be attributed to a seemingly very different speaker, and aid in shaping one’s mind towards the preferred reading. This paper looks into a series of news reports, centered around Greta Thunberg, that were, either fully, partially, or inconspicuously, translated from English to Czech and performs lexical analysis of the employed references, demonstrating that Czech and English readers are oftentimes presented with a very different Greta.
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