Empirical studies in translation and discourse
Language Science Press, 2021
I'm a tenure-track lecturer at the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. My research interests are cross-linguistic and contrastive phenomena of language, discourse and translation.
I received my PhD for a corpus-based study of translation as a site of language contact, investigating whether translations from English influence language change in German. I have gone on to publish a range of articles on the linguistic influence of editors on the translated text, where I argue for a greater awareness of mediators in corpus studies of translated language. My more recent research deals with cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse studies of how current societal issues are constructed and framed through metaphors and hashtags in German, English, Spanish and Catalan. I'm working on a project on the framing of migration and my most recent publication is a study of the emergence and use of the “homework” metaphor in German and English newspaper discourse.
I've recently organised the Translation in Transition 4 conference at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. I also organise a yearly international conference for undergraduate linguistics students (Congreso de Estudiantes de Grado de Lenguas Modernas y Aplicadas (CELMA)) at the UPF.
To contact me, please use the buttons in the menu on the right.
This project seeks to advance research on the role of translation as a key mechanism of migration control and on the study of cross-linguistically existent discourse patterns. The main research objectives are
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. Conservative parties increasingly adopt extreme right-wing terminology, thus shifting the limits of acceptability further and further towards a xenophobic consensus. Discursive means of manipulation or presenting subjective opinion as objective truths have become frequent strategies.
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 particular frames are introduced and established, and especially how this shapes a cross-linguistic, pan-European discourse. Recent calls to fund research within EU Horizon 2020 programme have placed emphasis on the discourse around the concept of migration and its socio-economic effects on host societies, such as distribution and impact of migration, migrant integration and education, or mobility patterns and security risks, among others. However, the centrality of language, and as a result of translation as an act of mediation that allows migrants to navigate their environment and fully participate in everyday life has been ignored. These approaches to the study of migration and its relationship to language are central to understanding migration processes within the European Union from a geopolitical perspective.
The specific objectives to be addressed by this project are:
The Frames and Narratives of Translation and of Migration in Europe (FANTAME) research project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (PID2019-107971GA-I00, 2020−2024).
This project is further funded by a postdoctoral grant from Pompeu Fabra University's inter- and trans-disciplinary Planetary Wellbeing initiative.
Cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse studies is a growing field of research, especially due to the increasing importance of social media for politics and society and the availability of social media corpora. I'm interested in how political and social issues are constructed, driven and represented through linguistic devices such as hashtags and metaphors. Economic issues tend to be referred to using metaphors from the domain of education, for instance, “doing homework”, “model pupil” and “learning lessons”. In a corpus-assisted study of German and English newspapers, published in Discourse & Society, I argue that the expression is a structural metaphor and an understatement, and thus works as a figurative frame, presenting complex issues in an oversimplifying manner. I show that the metaphor, which was initially used as “we have done our homework” or “X has not done their homework” at first, is now used regularly in neutral contexts to refer to economic issues, establishing its simplifying effect as a regularly occurring frame. I currently work on a study of the #MeToo hashtag, analysing its regular collocates and the evaluative stance displayed towards it in Twitter discourse across languages.
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.
Corona, Lockdowns, and civil liberties: why participation and debate is important (20 March 2020, Discover Society)
“As a linguist, for instance, I’m interested in the language used in the current discourse. The corona crisis is interesting in this respect, not just because previously uncommon phrases have entered our daily vocabulary basically overnight (“social distancing”, “self-isolation”, “flatten the curve”), but also with respect to the metaphors used to talk about the crisis. The coronavirus has so far mainly been framed in terms of warfare metaphors.”
Les metàfores de guerra durant la Covid-19: un recurs enverinat (7 April 2020, Pensem.)
L'ús de llenguatge bel·licita per gestionar la crisi empeny les societats democràtiques envers l'autoritarisme. En comptes de parlar d'un «enemic» que ens ataca, es pot entendre el virus com un procés, semblant a un riu.
Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn? (8 April 2020, Der Freitag)
Die Verwendung von „räumlicher“ statt „sozialer“ Distanzierung unterstützt die Illusion, man könne Menschen mittels sozialer Medien nah bleiben. Eine Sprachanalyse zu social distancing.
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).
This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity through my participation in the MODEVIGTRAD project (FFI2014-57313-P, 2016−2018).
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.
Here is a complete list of my publications sorted by research topic, along with the publication details. To download any paper, just click on the title.
Language Science Press, 2021
Empirical studies in translation and discourse, edited by M. Bisiada. Language Science Press, 149−177
no doi yet
Discourse & Society 29(6), 609−628
Across Languages and Cultures 20(1), 35−56
Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice 26(1), 24−38
Target 30(2), 288−309
The Translator 24(1), 35−49
Empirical modelling of translation and interpreting, edited by S. Hansen-Schirra, O. Czulo & S. Hofmann. Language Science Press, 241−275
Applied Linguistics 37(3), 354−376
Text & Talk 36(2), 133−154
Languages in Contrast 13(1), 1–27
University of Manchester PhD thesis
Language and Intercultural Communication 15(4), 616−621
Vernaculum 1, 83–99
I'm interested in supervising research projects that fall within my research interests outlined above, or that pertain to the fields of contrastive linguistics, corpus linguistics, cross-linguistic discourse or translation studies, especially involving German, English, Spanish and Catalan, or interdisciplinary projects that touch on any of these areas:
My approach to supervision is based on an open and friendly relationship on an equal footing. My philosophy is that my students work with me, not for me, and that it is my duty to help them establish themselves as independent researchers in the academic world. I don't impose topics on my students, but welcome and encourage self-determined exploration of their research interests. They are expected to send written work to me regularly during term time, to be discussed in personal meetings every two or three weeks. I don't generally do remote supervision or feedback by email. My students are encouraged to write and submit one or two articles during thesis writing, and I do take the value of authorship seriously: I will not expect to be co-author on my students' publications. Potential applicants are invited to contact any of my students to get their opinion.
Here are some research projects I have supervised:
Amy Dara Hochberg, PhD in Translation Studies (in progress)
The purpose of this PhD thesis is to determine, via a corpus study of technicality of vocabulary and writer-reader role relationship whether multilingual health communication websites in English, Spanish, French, Catalan, and Hebrew are appropriately written with regard to health literacy, and whether each cultural population would receive the health information equally as intended. This study questions whether, first, the two pragmatic determinants in multilingual health communication websites are at an adequate level for the lay reader, and second, whether the determinants reflect the cultural values of the writer or have been adapted to those of the target audience.
Hochberg, Amy Dara. 2019. Analyzing pragmatic elements in health information websites. 29th European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference − Polytechnic of Leiria, Portugal
Xiang Huang, PhD in Translation Studies (in progress)
This project aims to conduct a corpus-assisted multimodal critical discourse analysis of the representation of obesity in Chinese media over the past decade (2010-2019). Comparing representations of obesity in China’s authority-controlled official media and in its market-oriented social media, I will explicate the intricate relations among language and visual cues, body-related ideologies and socio-political contexts on the discussion of obesity in post-reform China. Through an integration of the theories and methods from multimodal critical discourse analysis, corpus-assisted discourse studies and conceptual metaphor analysis, I will examine how obesity has been discursively extended from a biomedical issue to a social-therapeutic and further a cultural-political one in China. To the best of my knowledge, this project is the first of its kind to examine the multimodal (linguistic and visual) discourses surrounding obesity in Chinese media. It thus offers a timely response to the need for more research which explores obesity in the non-Western context to elucidate contextual nuances of obesity in China. The originality of the project can also be found at theoretical and methodological levels as I set out to demonstrate how an integrative orientation combining multimodality, critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and metaphor analysis can enhance health discourse analysis in Chinese, an under-researched language in this area.
Huang, Xiang. 2020. Army deserters or fat kids? A corpus-assisted critical metaphor analysis of obesity news in Chinese official media. Corpora & Discourse International Conference 2020 (CADS2020) − University of Sussex, UK
Huang, Xiang 2020. Metaphor and stance-attributing: representations of obesity in the People’s Daily. International Conference on Stance, (Inter)subjectivity & Identity in discourse − Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Hongying Li, PhD in Translation Studies (in progress)
Este proyecto tiene el objetivo de investigar los métodos y estrategias para traducir metáforas del chino al español mediante un análisis exhaustivo de las expresiones metafóricas presentes en la novela china Wei Cheng. Este estudio se realizará basándose en un corpus paralelo unidireccional bilingüe de la novela Wei Cheng y su versión española La fortaleza asediada. Recientemente, los estudios sobre las metáforas y sus traducciones están recibiendo cada vez más atención, sin embargo, muchos de ellos se han realizado desde un punto de vista cognitiva, aparte de esto, en el área de traducción del chino al español aún se conoce relativamente poco. Por lo tanto, en mi tesis, intento investigar la traducción de metáforas del chino al español partiendo de una perspectiva integral de la cognitiva, contextual y cultural. De esta forma, espero enriquecer un poco los estudios al respecto ofreciendo una visión diferente tanto en la teoría como en la diversidad lingüística.
Madiha Munawar, PhD in Translation Studies (in progress)
The aim of this study is to explore the linguistic and discursive strategies used by media groups of different political affiliations in their use of political cartoons, which serve to malign one political party while saving face of the other. The media plays an important role in controlling the minds of people to manipulate a situation. This study focuses on the linguistic and visual analysis of political cartoons published from the 2018 elections in Pakistan to today. The project will use Van Dijk's (1997) framework in order to analyse hidden ideologies in those cartoons and investigate the ways they are used as communicative tools in online and print media to produce significant meaning on dominant political themes. The study builds on a previous semiotic analysis (Shaikh et al., 2016) of political cartoons published during the campaign of the general election in 2013 in Pakistan. Studying cartoons has been shown to be important to explore hidden ideologies. Political cartoons are utilised as rhetorical, social, cultural and political devices and are in need of being studied on micro as well as meso and macro levels. They are also generally produced and published due to some conflict of interest by different groups, reflecting their different ideologies and identities. In this study I will explore and analyse the conflict between the various groups through discourse analysis.
Seda Karanfil, PhD in Translation Studies (in progress)
The research focuses on one of the most vulnerable groups in Turkey, trans individuals, and how their identities are addressed by reiterative semantic patterns employed by a selection of mainstream and independent Turkish newspapers. The initial part will scrutinise the system of norms and values prevalent in the Turkish society with a cultural, religious, political and historical approach. Subsequently, the seminal features and functions of the Turkish newspapers, constituent components of the upcoming corpus, will be investigated. Particularly, the discrepancies between the mainstream and independent press will be focussed on, and it is expected that this descriptive analysis will facilitate the comprehension of the Turkish context, which is relatively disparate in comparison to the western one. This qualitative analysis will be followed by a quantitative one. In a narrower sense, a terminological analysis of trans words such as trans individual (which stands for transgender in Turkish), transsexual, trans and transvestite will be carried out by reference to frequency lists, concordances and collocations. The aim of this semantic prosody analysis is to spot the terminological choices frequently utilised by the Turkish press and to discern whether they are represented favourably or unfavourably while negotiating trans identities. In a broader sense, the news articles/reports comprising the future corpus will be analysed by using the social actors approach of Van Leeuwen. The timespan for the selection of news articles/reports is expected to be between 2016 and 2020 regarding the fact that the press and freedom of speech passed to a different phase with the 2016 military coup attempt in Turkey.
Here is a list of events where I've given talks as invited speaker.
A social constructionist approach to studying frames and metaphors in translation
University of Manchester, UK (10 December 2020)
“Do your homework on Brexit!” Transnational education metaphors in newspaper discourse
Universität Mainz (Campus Germersheim), Germany (8 May 2019)
Cross-linguistic and corpus-based translation studies − Challenges and implications
Uzbek State World Languages University, Uzbekistan (3 April 2019)
The editor's invisibility: What corpus analysis of draft translations can reveal about the translation product
TH Köln, Germany (26 October 2017)
Language change through language contact in English−German translation
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain (11 October 2017)
Features of mediated discourse: A corpus investigation of translated and edited language
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain (11 December 2015)
Syntactic change through translation: A corpus-based approach to language change
University of Lancaster, GB (10 November 2011)
Click on the icon to download the slides.
Discourse and Politics Seminar Series 2021 − University of Nottingham, UK, 2021
Genealogies of Knowledge II: Evolving transnational, transdisciplinary and translational epistemologies − Hong Kong Baptist University, China, 2020
Translation in Transition 4 − Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain, 2019
23rd DiscourseNet Conference (DN23) − Università degli Studi di Bergamo, Italy, 2019
Translation in Transition 3 − Universiteit Gent, Belgium, 2017
International Contrastive Linguistics Conference 8 (ICLC8) − National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, 2017
Meaning in Translation: Illusion of Precision − Riga Technical University, Latvia, 2016
Congreso Internacional de Traducción: EnTRetextos − Universitat de Valencia, Spain, 2016
The 42nd International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC42) − RWTH Aachen, Germany, 2015
Metaphors in/and/of Translation: Specialised Researching and Applying Metaphor seminar − Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands, 2015
Translation in Transition 2 − Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany, 2015
4th Using Corpora in Contrastive and Translation Studies Conference (UCCTS4) − University of Lancaster, UK, 2014
8th International Postgraduate Conference in Translation & Interpreting (IPCITI8) − Dublin City University, Ireland, 2012
20th International Postgraduate Linguistics Conference (PLC20) − University of Manchester, UK, 2011
7th International Postgraduate Conference in Translation & Interpreting (IPCITI7) − University of Edinburgh, UK, 2011
Modules I teach this year:
At the University of Kent, I taught German linguistics, German phonetics & phonology, German as a second language and Translation between English and German. I also supervised extended year abroad essays on linguistic issues of present-day German.