journalismJournalistic Translation

Translation for newspapers, weekly and monthly periodicals has some peculiarity that distinguish it from generic non-fiction translation. At first sight, one could think that a newspaper text, since it expresses facts, communicates information, therefore is relatively easy to translate as far as construction and style are concerned, with a few difficulties of lexical order at the most.
Actually, there in a lot of difficulties involved in translating news related text.


Political commentaries

These can create serious problems to translators. Politicians very readily create new words and terms, for example, road map, New Deal, Manifest Destiny, trickle-down economics, detente, affirmative action. They are an obstacle for the translator to decode and then, to recode into the target culture. Of course, one must distinguish the translation of a political news story to be published in a newspaper of another country from the translation of a political news story to be published in a different context in the target culture.

Contextual references

The very fact that papers by their nature and use have few clarifications, and take a lot for granted, creates a major translation problem. Newspaper text contains a huge ratio of culture-specific implicit. This because they are published every day. The high frequency of their publications implies that one of the chronotope dimensions is taken for granted: time. This dawns on you when you stay abroad for a month and then, on your return, you have trouble in understanding your habitual newspaper. To understand today’s newspaper, you must know yesterday’s, and so on. The whole historical series of papers constitutes a huge hypertext to which today’s newspaper makes free reference.
Another chronotope coordinate element that newspapers always take for granted is place. When news don’t report any information on place, the town where the paper is made is implied (and in this case a street named or the place where an event took place, without specifying the town). If news is about national policy and no place is stated, the government seat is implied. When talking about local policy and no place is stated, the local government seat is implied. And so on.
Often even cultural coordinates are implied, because a newspaper’s reader, implicitly, belongs to an identifiable culture, extending over a necessary time and place (of course an exception is represented by readers of newspapers in an archive, perusing stories written in an earlier time frame). That’s why, for example, the name of a soccer player or a TV broadcast can be inserted as intertextual translation as metaphors of something else and the reader – even the one who doesn’t watch TV or follow soccer – must be able to understand at least the connotative value in order to read efficiently.

Local lexicon

Another feature of newspapers is the use of local lexicon. In some cities newspapers, stories in dialect can be published. Often, but in explicitly international papers like for example International Herald Tribune, the local variant of the language in question prevails, even if proper dialect is not used.