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Review of  Text and Context

Reviewer: Vilelmini Sosoni
Book Title: Text and Context
Book Author: Mona Baker
Publisher: St. Jerome Publishing Ltd
Linguistic Field(s): Translation
Issue Number: 22.3744

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EDITORS: Mona Baker, Maeve Olohan, and María Calzada Pérez
TITLE: Text and Context
SUBTITLE: Essays on Translation and Interpreting in Honour of Ian Mason
PUBLISHER: St Jerome Publishing
YEAR: 2010

Vilelmini Sosoni, Ionian University


''Text and Context'' is a tribute to Ian Mason's influential scholarship and key
contribution to translation and interpreting over the course of several decades.
The edited volume brings together fourteen articles on a variety of translation
issues, some by established scholars and others by young researchers, but all
inspired by Ian Mason's inclusive approach to translation.

The book is divided into four sections. The first is entitled ''Language Matters''
and includes two contributions which focus on interpreting and close linguistic
analysis of particular textual features. Cecilia Wadensjö, in the first article
entitled ''Expanded and Minimal Answers to Yes/No Questions in
Interpreter-mediated Trials'', offers a comparative analysis of sequences drawn
from two interpreted-mediated (Swedish-Russian) court trials. The findings of
her analysis suggest that both questioning and answering strategies are bound to
function somewhat differently in face-to-face interpreter-mediated court trials
compared to single-language ones. In addition, Wadensjö demonstrates that
defendants depend on the active support of interpreters when trying to gain and
secure conversational space, while at the same time they are relatively
independent of the immediate sanctions of the legal questioners.

In the second article, entitled ''Information Structure, Management and Textual
Competence in Translation and Interpreting'', Stuart Campbell, Ali Aldahesh,
Alya' Al-Rubai'i, Raymond Chakhachiro and Berta Wakim focus on information
structure management as a key aspect of textual competence in translation and
interpreting. Their study looks at the rather neglected aspect of sentence
opening in language patterning in translation and interpreting from Modern
Standard Arabic (MSA) into English as a second language (L2 English). More
specifically, it compares the output of three students and three professional
translators/interpreters in three different production modes: fast translation
(i.e. a quick translation, without the use of dictionaries or other aids and
without revision), consecutive interpreting (i.e. interpretation of a passage
with note-taking) and scaffolded speech (i.e. composition of a speech on a given
topic and on the basis of specific talking points). The findings, which reveal
that sentence openings are different in fast translation and consecutive
interpreting and between students and professionals, are in line with the
predictions of the Translation-Interpreting Continuum (Campbell and Wakim,
2007), and underscore the importance of using text-based diagnosis and
amelioration of problems with determiners when designing translation curricula.
It is noteworthy that in the case of consecutive interpreting, the findings
suggest that curricula should focus on developing the students' capacity to
build an argumentative plan, a content plan, and a sense of audience.

The second section of the book is entitled ''Forms of Mediation'' and focuses on
the role of translators as mediators, a key concept in Mason's scholarship; all
three articles explore the presence of the translator in the text. In the first
article, Theo Hermans draws on Relevance Theory and Hallidayan linguistics to
investigate ''The Translator as Evaluator''. He attempts to distinguish between
the mimetic nature of translation and the modality that informs it. He argues
that in order to understand the social functioning of translation, we need to
focus on the translated text as it reaches its audience, independently of the
original, and he investigates a number of concepts which help us identify the
nature of the mediating role of the translator.

In the second article, Jeremy Munday also draws on Hallidayan linguistics, in
particular systemic functional linguistics, as well as on Hatim and Mason's
(1997) notions of mediation and static-dynamic cline of language use, in order
to talk about ''Evaluation and Intervention in Translation''. In his article, he
analyses the translator's intervention in the text and argues that evaluative
interpretations of a text can depend on the different readings to which the
particular text may be subjected, i.e. factual, resistant or compliant, as
defined by Martin and White (2005: 206). Offering examples from a broad range of
genres -- tourist texts, a political manifesto and a short story -- he
investigates how translators feed in their ideological perspective to a text.

In the section's final article, Brian Mossop revisits Mason's notion of moves
and uses it in translation -- rather than in interpreting as Mason does -- to
refer to 'conscious mental acts', i.e. 'events' in the translator's mind. He
claims that any move on the part of the translator may be accompanied by a
change of footing between the roles of Motivator and non-Motivator (i.e. there
is a chance that a translator stops being a non-motivating Composer/Transmitter
and becomes a Motivator), and he posits that the role of Motivator can be
described in terms of four types of reporting: Plain, Reconstructive, Summary
and Active. Mossop also offers a reworking of the traditional distinction
between translation and adaptation on the basis of an analysis of a passage from
Thucydides in English translation.

The third section of the book, entitled ''Institutional Context & Individual
Agency'', includes contributions inspired by Mason's position that institutional
approaches to translation constitute ''a neglected factor within the field of
translation studies'' (2004: 470). The focus of the first paper entitled
''Negotiating Identities in the European Parliament: The Role of Simultaneous
Interpreting'', by Morven Beaton-Thome, is on simultaneous interpreting between
German and English in the European Parliament. In particular, it sets out to
explore the effect that simultaneous interpreting has on identity construction
and negotiation on the basis of a detailed comparative analysis of the use of
'we'. It also examines the role that 'we' plays in the construction and
negotiation of 'in-and out-group identities'. The main findings of the study
underscore the trend towards an intensified use of the inclusive 'we' to refer
to the parliamentary community and the European Union, at the expense of more
peripheral identities, such as national, regional and political. Simultaneous
interpreting is thus revealed to strengthen the dominant institutional presence,
ideology, and identity.

Like Beaton-Thome, Kaisa Koskinen explores institutional translation in the
context of the European Union. Her contribution, entitled ''On EU Communication
2.0: Using Social Media to Attain Affective Citizenship'', investigates the
communication methods and the social media used by European Union institutions,
in particular the European Commission, and sheds some light on the impact that
their use has on institutional translation. She claims that e-participation and
the use of various web-based communication strategies are closely tied with the
audiovisualization of EU communication and localization, which necessarily alter
the translation landscape in the EU. According to Koskinen, this trend towards
multimodal web-based communication -- which aims at creating affinity and
affection -- will become stronger in the future in the field of institutional
translation, and together with the surge of English as the lingua franca in the
EU, will demand new translator competences, such as expertise in multimedia
translation. The development of such competencies, she concludes, will be a
challenging task for training institutions and the EU itself.

In the next article, entitled ''Positioning and Fact Construction in Translation:
Intertextual and Translational Chains in Newsweek Korea'', Ji-Haen Kang explores
institutional translation, but moves away from the EU and focuses instead on the
translation of political texts in news media settings, where discourse is
mediated and recontextualized. She investigates the way in which an interview of
the South Korean president, Roh Moo Hyun, is recontextualized first into a
Newsweek article and then into an article for Newsweek Hankukpan, the South
Korean edition of Newsweek. Her findings suggest that while the Newsweek article
presents Roh Moo Hyun as uncooperative and anti-American, Newsweek Hankukpan
places emphasis on his views rather than on his personality and attempts to
construct facts rather than create an image of the interviewee. It thus emerges
that within the narrative framework of a translating institution, intertextual
connections may well deviate from the typical source-text relationship.

The following two articles by Rebecca Tipton and Matthew Maltby look at the role
of the interpreter in institutional settings and the consequences of the
interpreter's interaction with other participants. Tipton, in particular, in her
paper ''On Trust: Relationships of Trust in Interpreter-mediated Social Work
Encounters'', explores trust as a potential norm of interaction and the impact it
has on the relationship between the interpreter, the service provider and the
service user in social work encounters. On the basis of focus-group work she
carried out, she argues that although there is a general degree of basic trust
between professionals, this is often eroded due to changes in social work and
practice. This erosion, in turn, leads to compensation strategies which aim at
establishing a certain degree of 'normalcy' in order for social workers to be
able to carry out their technical work.

In the final article in the section ''Institutional Context & Individual Agency'',
which is entitled ''Institutional Identities of Interpreters in the Asylum
Application Context: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Interpreting Policies in
the Voluntary Sector'', Matthew Maltby investigates the ways in which two
voluntary sector organizations in the UK asylum context (Asylum Aid and Refugee
Action) articulate notions of interpreter impartiality and neutrality in their
policies in order to illustrate how institutional requirements might inform
interpreting at a more immediate level. Both policies are found to view
interpreters as impartial and neutral agents to a greater or lesser degree; yet
crucial distinctions are also identified in the ways impartiality and neutrality
are conceptualized, since they are partly ideologically shaped by institutional
operational objectives. Maltby suggests that, in the interest of interpreter
ethics, interpreters could be encouraged to view themselves more actively, as
intrinsic elements of an ideologically motivated institutional power structure.

The book's final section, entitled ''The Impact of Translation and Interpreting
in a Changing World'', includes four articles which center on the globalized
world we live in. The first article, by Martha Cheung, is entitled ''Rethinking
Activism: The Power of Dynamics of Translation in China during the Late Qing
Period (1840-1911)''. As the title suggests, the focus of this historical study
is the use and usefulness of translation in serving activist needs and effecting
concrete change in the late Qing era in China. Using a model for classifying
social movements, developed by the anthropologist David Aberle (1966), Cheung
analyzes the aims and aspirations of political activists of different
orientations and studies the complex relationship between translation and
activism during this particular period. She finds that the larger the readership
of a translation, the greater the scope for disseminating activist values and
the less predictable the outcome of such a dissemination. She also underlines
the importance of carrying out historical research, stressing that it helps us
better understand the past and gain lessons for the present and future.

Luis Pérez-González also talks about activism in his paper '''Ad-hocracies' of
Translation Activism in the Blogosphere: A Genealogical Case Study''. He focuses
on subtitling and sets out to explore the ways in which translation tends to
become more increasingly appropriated by politically-engaged individuals who
have no formal training in translations. He also looks at the role that the
networks of such individuals play in the wider process of cultural resistance
against global capitalist structures and institutions. More specifically, he
analyzes the subtitles of a televised interview with Spain's former Prime
Minister José María Aznar López, which were prepared and circulated on the
Internet by an activist community, and he argues that such communities emerge
through dynamic processes of contextualization, involving complex negotiations
of narrative affinity among their members. He also claims that the right term
for such networks is 'ad-hocracies', precisely because they are fluid and
unstructured and tend to capitalize on the potential of networked communication
to exploit collective intelligence.

In his article ''Accessing Contextual Assumptions in Dialogue Interpreting: The
Case of Illegal Immigrants in the United States'', Robert Barsky evaluates the
implications of Mason's work in accessing contextual assumptions in dialogue
interpreting. On the basis of a large-scale research project completed in 2009
involving face-to-face interpreting in the cases of illegal immigrants in the
United States, he shows that illegal immigrants are often ill-served by the
legal system, as they are treated as ''guilty by virtue of being there'' (p. 292).
He thus calls for a higher level of engagement on the part of interpreters, for
active participation instead of 'objective' mediation, and activism instead of
machine-like fidelity. Drawing on Mason's work in ''actual responses'' (2006a:
372), Barsky provides concrete ways of improving approaches to communication,
interpretation and translation in such settings.

In the section's final contribution, which also concludes the edited volume,
Michael Cronin talks about ''The Expanding World: Translation, Mobility and
Global Futures''. In particular, he examines the implications for translation of
changing experiences of space and time in the contemporary world. He urges us to
take as a starting point the incomprehensibility of the other and posits that in
translation, we find the creation of some form of shared sense and some degree
of commonality as well as a basis for thinking about contemporary multilingual
and multicultural societies.


The edited volume pays genuine tribute to Ian Mason's scholarship. The influence
of his insights is apparent throughout the book, since all contributors --
whether discussing translation or interpreting -- are clearly inspired by his
belief that it is impossible to treat any type of mediation as culture-free.

Yet, it is worth noting that in some articles, the towering presence of Mason is
more prominent. In fact, the articles which focus on dialogue interpreting, an
area which has been literally transformed by his pioneering publications, are
clearly shaped by his ideas. More specifically, Campbell, Aldahesh, Al-Rubai'i,
Chakhachiro and Wakim acknowledge that the roots of their research into textual
competence in translation and interpreting go back to Hatim and Mason's (1990)
position that translation is linked to aspects of discourse analysis, while in
his paper, Barsky looks into the implications of Mason's work in accessing
contextual assumptions in dialogue interpreting. Moreover, Maltby takes as a
starting point for his research on the institutional identities of interpreters
in the context of asylum application Mason's position that ''the interpreter is
not a neutral and uninvolved machine but rather an active participant in the
talk exchanges, fulfilling a crucial role in coordinating others' talk'' (1999:
50). The entire third section of the book, which is devoted to ''Institutional
Context & Individual Agency'', is also strongly influenced by Mason's work, and
in particular, his claim that institutional approaches to translation are rather
neglected in translation studies. Finally, Mason's ideas also permeate Mossop's
contribution, which takes his notion of 'moves' of 'repairing miscommunication'
(Mason, 2006b: 116) in interpreting, redefines it as 'conscious mental acts' and
applies it to translation.

Apart from paying tribute to Ian Mason, the edited volume constitutes a very
interesting book which includes a fascinating range of translation and
interpreting topics -- as varied as the relation of translation and activism in
the late Qing era in China to the ideological significance of the first person
plural 'we' in simultaneous interpreting in the European Union. All the articles
are built on solid theoretical foundations, while most are based on extensive
empirical work. Besides the intrinsic value of each of the chapters, another
strong point is that each of them contributes to the advancement of the field of
translation studies. In fact, a couple of articles (Koskinen's ''On EU
Communication 2.0: Using Social Media to Attain Affective Citizenship'',
Pérez-González's '''Ad-hocracies' of Translation Activism in the Blogosphere: A
Genealogical Case Study'' and Cronin's ''The Expanding World: Translation,
Mobility and Global Futures'') bring to the forefront issues which are really
novel and inextricably tied to the globalized and highly-automated world we are
living in and provide food-for-thought for the future.

All in all, the book is thought-provoking and highly stimulating, and as such,
it reaches out to a wide target audience from the fields of translation studies,
cultural studies, and discourse analysis. The editors are thus to be
congratulated for bringing together such a diverse group of scholars and such a
wide range of material where Mason's work is recalled and celebrated.

Aberle, David. 1966. The Peyote Religion among the Navaho. Chicago: Aldine

Campbell, Stuart and Berta Wakim. 2007. Methodological Questions about
Translation Research: A Model to Underpin Research into the mental Processes of
Translation. Target 19(1). 1-19.

Hatim, Basil and Ian Mason. 1990, Discourse and the Translator. London: Longman.

Hatim, Basil and Ian Mason. 1997, The Translator as Communicator. London and New
York: Routledge.

Martin, James R. and Peter R. R. White. 2005. The Language of Evaluation:
Appraisal in English. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Mason, Ian. (ed.). 1999. Dialogue Interpreting. Special Issue of the Translator
5(2). 147-160.

Mason, Ian. 2004. Text Parameters in Translation: Transitivity and Institutional
Cultures. In Lawrence

Mason, Ian. 2006a. On Mutual Accessibility of Contextual Assumptions in Dialogue
Interpreting. Journal of Pragmatics 38(3). 359-373.

Mason, Ian. 2006b. Ostension, Inference and Response: Analysing Participant
Moves in Community Interpreting Dialogues. Linguistica Antverpiensia NS: 5. 103-120.

Vilelmini Sosoni, PhD, is Lecturer in Translation at the Ionian University in Greece. She also works as a freelance translator and subtitler. Her research interests lie in the areas of the translation of EU texts, text hybridity, text linguistics and translation, norms in translation, translation quality, language diversity and multilingualism, language ideologies, translation and political discourse. She has published papers in international journals and in edited volumes.

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