Dancing with Ideology : Grammatical Metaphor and Identity Presentation in Translation

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-405
Journal / PublicationMeta
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


This paper begins with an account of a high-profile political speech event centring on Chinese slangy expression '[we] bu zheteng' when it was used by the then Chines President Hu Jintao in a 2008 speech, of which the Chinese government preferred a zerotranslatio despite the existing translations and various choices already available i Chinese-English dictionaries. The paper then discusses from the perspective of grammatica metaphor how and why an innocent-looking pragmatic usage has given rise to series of ideologically charged debates over its translation. To that end, the paper conduct a critical review of grammatical metaphor, a key Systemic Functional Linguisti concept in describing congruence-To-metaphor evolution of language. Our cross lingua observation of this translation-related speech event enables us to argue that differen textual means of presentation/concealment of human participation in transitivity are ke to accounting for the discursive function of grammatical metaphors and to discerning th "chain" between congruent and metaphorical expressions. In the light of concealment o human participation in the transitivity process, the paper also observes that it is th association between the vague self-referencing 'we' and the adverse actions/situations that is, (causing) commotions, alluded to by the term zheteng that has made a semanticall explicit translation ideologically less desirable. As such, this operation of zero translatio appears to be an instance of discursive manoeuvre rather than a sign of semanti impasse. To substantiate its theoretical claim, the paper relates the case to some simila political speech events in the world's political arena and demonstrates how, prompte by this functional awareness of grammatical metaphors, one may devise a translation wit better informed sensitivity to identity presentation/concealment in discourse.

Research Area(s)

  • transitivity, grammatical metaphor, political translation, textual accountability

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