Strategies of framing and manipulating discourse on immigration
The starting hypothesis of this project is that there is a set of cross-linguistically shared linguistic devices that frame migration in a particular way and that are applied similarly in different European countries. The general objective of this project is to advance framing and discourse research in two key but unexplored areas: First, it seeks to investigate whether particular frames can be observed cross-linguistically, which would imply the existence of cross-nationally similar discourse patterns or narratives on immigration. Second, it seeks to investigate whether and how framing on social media differs from that on traditional media, which would advance our knowledge on the importance and challenges of social media for public discourse.
While extensive scholarly work exists on how immigration is framed in the media, it is with the recent rise of populism in Europe that the language employed by politicians and echoed in the media is increasingly becoming a pan-European topic of both interest and concern. While the media play a key role in shaping the discourse on immigration and determining which frames are used and perpetuated, much work remains to be done to investigate how journalists contribute to introducing and establishing particular frames, and especially how this shapes a cross-linguistic, pan-European discourse. As current public discourse and debates are informed by news media actors, but take place largely on social media, where similarly powerful actors influence frame selection, analysis of social media discourse is invaluable for the investigation of framing. Nevertheless, only few studies have analysed such data.
The specific objectives to be addressed by this project are thus:
- to identify and analyse quantitatively the most recurrent frames in corpora of Spanish, English and German newspaper articles and social media posts
- to investigate whether different frames are chosen and propagated on social media when compared to traditional media and, if so, what differences there are
- to conduct a qualitative analysis of the evaluative potential of the frames encountered, with particular reference to author stance and positioning
- to discover cross-linguistically related patterns of frames: are similar frames used across several European languages?
This project is funded by a postdoctoral grant from Pompeu Fabra University's inter- and trans-disciplinary Planetary Wellbeing initiative.
The education source domain of metaphors
A recurrent accusation in political discourse across languages is that someone “hasn't done their homework”. Along with other metaphors such as “model pupil” and “learning lessons”, the expression represents a metaphor drawn from the domain of education. In a 2018 article published in Discourse & Society, I argue that the expression is a structural metaphor and an understatement, and thus works as a figurative frame, presenting often complex tasks as simple schoolwork, thus manipulating public debates. Based on an analysis of the Corpus of Historical & Contemporary American English, HANSARD corpus of British parliament speeches and the ZEIT corpus, I show that the metaphor became widespread in English in the 1960s and spread into German around 20 years later. While it was first used to say “we have done our homework” or “X has not done their homework”, thus praising oneself or accusing others, it is now used regularly in neutral contexts. Instead, it has become widespread to refer to issues in public debates as “homework”. I argue that this is problematic due to the manipulative force of the metaphor, as it frames issues in a school context, shapes the way we perceive discourse actors and pre-empts potential criticism by presenting a particular solution as a non-negotiable duty, as “homework”. I hope to continue this line of research into other languages such as Spanish (“hacer los deberes”) and Catalan (“fer els deures”).
This research is part of the MODEVIGTRAD project (Evidentiality and epistemicity in texts of evaluative discourse genres. Contrastive analysis and translation), led by Montserrat González Condom. The project is funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (FFI2014-57313-P).
Eine Metapher, sie zu knechten (23 October 2018, Der Freitag)
Die Benutzung der Metapher “Hausaufgaben machen” suggeriert ungleiche Machtverhältnisse und ersetzt Debatte durch moralische Verpflichtung. So fördert sie den Populismus.
Editorial Intervention in Translation
When we talk about phenomena of translated language, we usually equate translated language with the language we find in translated books, magazines, newspapers or other such published translations. What we often forget is that in the production of translated documents, there are many intermediate stages such as revision, editing or proofreading where the language in the text is changed, sometimes significantly. While some phenomena like sentence splitting are caused by both translators and editors alike (see my article in Applied Linguistics), I also show in this book chapter that translators and editors are linguistic actors that are guided by noticeably different purposes. On the one hand, they both make extensive changes to nominalisations (see my article in The Translator), which I have shown in this article published in Perspectives to happen especially when the nominalisation is postmodified, for instance by genitive attributes. On the other hand, editors also eliminate passive constructions from translations, especially when the verb is in the past tense (article published in Across Languages and Cultures). With respect to a proposed “mediation effect”, it seems that translating and editing are rather different activities. Thus, I argue for a greater inclusion of unedited texts in translation corpora (see my article published in Target).
Language contact in translation and language change
Translation as a site of language contact can play a role in language change. I'm interested in the effects that the contact of two languages both in the mind of the translator and in that of the reader can have on each other. In my PhD project, I have concentrated on the analysis of parataxis and hypotaxis in English−German translation, which has found some evidence for a diachronic decrease of hypotactic constructions in causal (article published in Languages in Contrast) and concessive clauses (article published in Text & Talk) in translated language, although this trend is not corroborated in non-translated language. As I report in those articles, there does seem to be a trend towards a greater use of sentence-initial concessive conjunctions in German business articles, which may well have been affected by language contact in translation.