‘Cultural translation’ in news agencies? A plea to broaden the definition of translation

Titre‘Cultural translation’ in news agencies? A plea to broaden the definition of translation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDavier, L
JournalPerspectives. Studies in Translation Theory and Practice
Start Page536

Culture has only been the subject of a few studies about news translation and has been approached through the angles of acculturation and cultural translation. This article investigates the adequacy of these concepts to answer the following question: how do different professional and cultural communities make sense of the cultural Other in transnational news reporting? This question will be addressed by applying a qualitative analysis of news dispatches from the global agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) (and the national Agence télégraphique Suisse [ATS], in specific cases) about the minaret ban in Switzerland (2007–2010). Three textual manifestations of culture are considered in particular: culture-specific items referring to the Swiss political system, the categorization of sources and background information about Switzerland. Semi-structured interviews conducted at the AFP and ATS bureaus in Switzerland help to contextualize the corpus analysis (methodological triangulation). This paper argues that the concepts of acculturation and cultural translation should be reconsidered because they are not fine-grained enough to discriminate between different degrees of cultural mediation in transnational news reporting. Instead, it calls for the combination of qualitative corpus analysis with a workplace study and for a wider definition of translation.