I'm an Associate Professor and Serra Húnter Fellow at the Department of Translation and Language Sciences at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. My research fields are discourse and translation studies: broadly speaking, I'm interested in meaning-making in language and how those meanings produce social reality, and like to study such effects across languages, preferably from a social constructionist perspective. I'm a member of the Discourse and Translation Studies Research Group. Read here my general approach to language study.
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 mediation stages in corpus studies of translated language. Recently, I've also been working on corpus-assisted discourse studies of how current societal issues and power relations are constructed, framed and maintained through metaphors and hashtags across languages. I've edited a volume entitled Empirical Studies in Translation and Discourse. I'm principal investigator in a project on the framing of migration.
In my free time, I'm passionate for walking/hiking in forests and mountains. I play the drums at Raxar, a metal band.
Ph.D. in Translation & Intercultural Studies (2013) University of Manchester, UK
M.A. in Applied Translation Studies (2010) University of Leeds, UK
B.A. (Hons) in English & Linguistics (2009) University of York, UK
Associate Professor (since 2021) Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Tenure-Track Lecturer (2015−2021) Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Associate Lecturer (2012−2014) University of Kent
Translation and Multilingual Natural Language Processing book series (LangSci Press)
Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines (CADAAD network)
Tradumàtica (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
My approach to language and languaging
Color, in my opinion, behaves like man in two distinct ways: first in self-realisation and then in realisation of relationships with others. − Josef Albers (1963)
I take a heteroglossic view of language, that is, I consider any utterance as consisting of various social languages and voices, and as always referring to previous utterances as well as anticipating future ones. Following Bakhtinian thought, the integrational linguistics programme (R. Harris) and Critical Applied Linguistics (A. Pennycook), I see language as an abstraction of spatio-temporally unique communication events that are always inseparable from social context and ideology. I also take a social constructionist perspective, that is, I believe that language constructs phenomena rather than just reflect or reveal them; I view language as constitutive of the social world, not as a route to it and I assume that the world cannot be known separately from discourse. I'm interested in issues that arise from such a conception of language, for instance, phenomena of discourse and translation, always aiming to have a strong basis in critical theory, feminist and post-structuralist approaches to power and ideology. I thus see language, or languaging, its use, learning and teaching, as a culturally productive activity, creating and not just reflecting social reality.
Discourse studies of social issues and power relations
I'm interested in how political and social issues are constructed, driven and represented across languages through linguistic devices such as the #MeToo hashtags (see my recent chapter) and metaphors and how these practices work to establish and maintain power relations in societies. In a paper published in Critical Discourse Studies, I analysed Olaf Scholz's Zeitenwende policy statement using a method based in Bakhtinian dialogism and Appraisal theory to study how the radical armament programme in Germany is justified as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I have also published two conceptual articles, where I reflect on the role of discourse on social media and some discursive structures of exclusion (published in Humanities & Social Sciences Communications) that were apparent during the pandemic in Germany, Spain and other countries. I argue that discursive struggle was often constructed along ideological lines, while the role of class conflict was ignored, which contributed to the social polarisation that was perceived by many across countries (article in Media and Communication).
I have collaborated in articles published in Perspectives and in CADAAD Journal that apply the Discourse Dynamics Framework to the study of metaphor to show how women are represented in a translated Chinese novel and how obesity is represented in Chinese social and state media. I'm also currently working on a chapter on investigating metaphor and representation with corpora for the forthcoming Analysing representation: A corpus and discourse textbook.
In a corpus-assisted study of German and English newspapers, published in Discourse & Society, I argue that the expression having done one's homework is a structural metaphor and an understatement, presenting complex issues in an oversimplifying manner. I show that the metaphor (not) doing homework is used to refer to economic issues and has thus become a regular instrument in asserting relations of power and authority in political discourse.
From soldiers to scapegoats: Why blaming citizens in the pandemic may help extremist parties (4 November 2020, Discover Society)
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.
Les metàfores de guerra durant la Covid-19: un recurs enverinat (7 April 2020, Pensem)
Corona, Lockdowns, and civil liberties: why participation and debate is important (20 March 2020, Discover Society)
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).
Most recently, this research has been extended including multivariate methods in a paper given at the First Workshop on Modelling Translation.
This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity through my participation in the MODEVIGTRAD project (2016−2018).
Frames and narratives of translation and of migration in Europe
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. I am the joint principal investigator, along with María Aguilar Solano (UPF). The main research objectives are
- to identify frames of migration and of translation in contact zones of migration in Spain and Germany, and to investigate whether particular frames can be observed cross-linguistically, which would imply the existence of cross-nationally identifiable discourse patterns or narratives on migration
- to analyse how these frames shape narratives of migration and of translation that are observable in both individual agents working in contact zones of migration and in organisational processes of translation in those zones
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.
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) and through a postdoctoral grant from Pompeu Fabra University's inter- and trans-disciplinary Planetary Wellbeing initiative.
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.
Bisiada, Mario (ed.). 2021. Empirical studies in translation and discourse. Berlin: Language Science Press.
“This volume provides a multi-perspective analysis and produces an exhaustive overview of the state-of-the-art approaches in this quickly developing filed. In reading the contributions to this volume, one is struck by the collection of contemporary studies in the domain of Translation Studies. Avoiding excessive complexity and technicality, this work of scholarship is highly accessible for researchers in related fields. In addition, the chapters of this volume are coordinated in an accessible way to sensitize the targeted reader as well as the researchers to have access to this must-have source. (...) The editor of this remarkable manuscript has succeeded in assembling an intriguing line-up of leading scholars in the domain of translation and discourse.”
−Review in Discourse Studies
Critical applied linguistics
Bisiada, Mario. 2023. The discursive construction of a new reality in Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech. Critical Discourse Studies. 10.1080/17405904.2023.2186450
This article applies Bakhtinian dialogism and the idea of centripetal and centrifugal forces in struggle to critical discourse studies to analyse how powerful and marginalised discourses are brought into competition in political language to justify paradigm changes. I analyse German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende (‘watershed’) speech, which he gave as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, announcing a radical armament programme and change in foreign policy, paradigm shifts that had previously been unthinkable in German politics. Based on a qualitative analysis using the Appraisal Theory strategies Attitude and Engagement, I identify how Scholz aligns himself with particular powerful discourses, centring some and marginalising others, to construct an existential threat for Germany and a ‘watershed’ moment, a new situation which casts his policies of armament as without alternative. I use a dialogic approach to analyse how the speech responds to and anticipates past (already-spoken) and future (not-yet-spoken) discourses, to position itself both in terms of the immediate and the historical function of a policy statement. The paper demonstrates the strength of Bakhtinian analysis of how utterances are shaped by past and envisaged future uses of particular discourses and of dialogically contractive and expansive strategies in critical discourse studies.
Bisiada, Mario. 2022. Discourse and social cohesion in and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Media and Communication 10(2). 204−213. 10.17645/mac.v10i2.5150
This conceptual article argues that class is a major factor in the social division and polarisation after the Covid-19 pandemic. Current discourse and communication analyses of phenomena such as compliance with measures and vaccine hesitancy seek explanations mainly in opposing ideological stances, ignoring existing structural inequalities and class relations and their effects on people’s decisions. I approach social cohesion in the Covid-19 pandemic through the theories of epidemic psychology, which sees language as fundamental in social conflicts during pandemics, and progressive neoliberalism, which critiques a post-industrial social class whose assumed moral superiority and talking down to working-class people is argued to be an explanation of many current social conflicts. I argue that these theories construct a valuable theoretical framework for explaining and analysing the social division and polarisation that has resulted from the pandemic. Reducing non-compliance with mitigating measures and vaccine hesitancy to an ideological issue implies that it can be countered by combatting misinformation and anti-vaccination thinking and shutting down particular discourses, which grossly simplifies the problem. The impact that class relations and inequality have on political and health issues, coupled with the characteristics of progressive neoliberalism, may partially explain the rise of populist and nativist movements. I conclude that if social cohesion is to be maintained through the ongoing climate emergency, understanding the impacts of progressive neoliberalism and the role of contempt in exclusionary discursive practices is of utmost importance.
Bisiada, Mario. 2021. Discursive structures and power relations in Covid-19 knowledge production. Humanities & Social Sciences Communications 8(248). 10.1057/s41599-021-00935-2
This article critically examines the discourse around the Covid-19 pandemic to investigate the widespread polarisation evident in social media debates. The model of epidemic psychology holds that initial adverse reactions to a new disease spread through linguistic interaction. The main argument is that the mediation of the pandemic through social media has fomented the effects of epidemic psychology in the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic by providing continued access to commentary and linguistic interaction. This social interaction in the absence of any knowledge on the new disease can be seen as a discourse of knowledge production, conducted largely on social media. This view, coupled with a critical approach to the power relations inherent in all processes of knowledge production, provides an approach to understanding the dynamics of polarisation, which is, arguably, issue-related and not along common ideological lines of left and right. The paper critiques two discursive structures of exclusion, the terms the science and conspiracy theory, which have characterised the knowledge production discourse of the Covid-19 pandemic on social media. As strategies of dialogic contraction, they are based on a hegemonic view of knowledge production and on the simplistic assumption of an emancipated position outside ideology. Such an approach, though well-intentioned, may ultimately undermine social movements of knowledge production and thus threaten the very values it aims to protect. Instead, the paper proposes a Foucauldian approach that problematises truth claims and scientificity as always ideological and that is aware of power as inherent to all knowledge production.
Cross-linguistic studies of hashtags and metaphors in discourse
Bisiada, Mario. forthcoming. Investigating metaphor & representation with corpora. In Charlotte Taylor & Frazer Heritage (eds), Analysing representation: A corpus and discourse textbook, xx−xx. Routledge. no doi yet
No abstract yet
Li, Hongying, Mario Bisiada & Yingfeng Xu. Online first. Applying the Discourse Dynamics Approach to metaphors for women in the Spanish translation of the Chinese novel Wei Cheng. Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory & Practice xx(xx). xx−xx. 10.1080/0907676x.2022.2164735
The Discourse Dynamics Framework (DDF) assumes that the dimensions of metaphor (e.g., linguistic, cognitive, affective, physical, cultural) are interconnected, which facilitates our understanding of the use of metaphor in discourse. However, DDF is not yet widely used in translation studies of metaphors. Moreover, the translation of metaphors for women has not yet received sufficient attention despite its high social value. Therefore, this study applies the DDF to analyse the Spanish translation of the metaphors for women in the modern Chinese novel Wei Cheng, aiming to propose a multi-level model to help us interpret the metaphors and their translation issues in complex discourses. To this end, we proposed three most important systematic metaphors in the data collected and carried out a qualitative analysis of their Spanish translation. They are WOMAN IS ANIMAL, WOMAN IS PLANT and WOMAN IS FOOD. This study shows that DDF can provide insight into the cognitive, semantic, affective and socio-cultural-historical contexts of metaphor translation and how the ideas, attitudes and values they convey in source text are presented in target text.
Bisiada, Mario, Oliver Czulo & Eleonore Schmitt. 2023. #MeToo in drei Sprachen: Qualitative Analyse von Konzepten und Diskursmustern im Englischen, Deutschen und Spanischen anhand von Twitter. Deutsche Sprache 23(1). 51−77. 10.37307/j.1868-775X.2023.01.05
Since 2017, the hashtag #MeToo has been used millions of times, probably mostly with the purpose of drawing attention to sexualised violence against women. It was quickly adopted − often unchanged in spelling - from English into other languages, such as Spanish or German. Using Twitter data from 2019 and 2021, we investigate to which extent there are indications for differences in conceptualisations and discourse patterns between the use in English, German and Spanish. We observe a metadiscourse about #MeToo in all three languages, though to varying degrees, in which the concept is often framed as overstated or even hysterical. Especially in German, we observe a hijacking of the hashtag by the New Right, who apparently aim at establishing the image of specific victim-aggressor constellations (“German” woman, “foreign” man). In addition to the empirical investigation, we draft out theoretical considerations on how the translation of concepts and discourse patterns can be studied translatologically by means of discourse-linguistic and frame-semantic theories.
Huang, Xiang & Mario Bisiada. 2021. Is obesity just a health issue? Metaphorical framings of obesity in the People's Daily. CADAAD Journal 13(2). 18−40. 10.5281/zenodo.7352110
Obesity has become a major health concern in China, as it is elsewhere, and so health communication on obesity in Chinese discourse deserves more scholarly attention. In this paper, to investigate how obesity is metaphorically framed in the People’s Daily, one of China’s major official media outlets, we use the Discourse Dynamics Approach to identify evaluative positionings towards obesity in 98 obesity-related editorials. Based on our analysis, we posit three groupings of linguistic metaphors in the editorials that frame different aspects of obesity: journey, war and money. Within the groupings, our analysis finds three systematic metaphors surrounding weight-loss, i.e., losing weight is a national journey towards health; losing weight is a fight for national security; losing weight is an investment both at the individual and national levels. All represent obesity and obese individuals negatively and are embedded in specific Chinese sociocultural contexts, jointly framing obesity as a matter of national collective social character rather than just an individual health issue. While journey and war express a collectivist view of the issue, the money grouping seems to indicate a neoliberal, individualist perspective emphasising the maintenance of health as part of citizenship. By comparison, similar stories on health issues surrounding obesity in Western media show differences in their discourse models.
Bisiada, Mario. 2021. Movement or debate? How #MeToo is framed differently in English, Spanish and German Twitter discourse. In Mario Bisiada (ed), Empirical studies in translation and discourse, 113−140. Language Science Press. 10.5281/zenodo.4450085
This article examines 1,353 tweets on #MeToo in English, Spanish and German from July and August 2019, revealing how #MeToo is most commonly referred to as a “movement” in English and Spanish but as a “debate” in German, a difference that echoes German-language press habits. Based on an analysis of semantic prosody, the study demonstrates that words indicating longevity such as “era” and “times” collocate with #MeToo in English and Spanish, but not in German. This points to a framing of #MeToo as influential and long-term in English and Spanish and as exaggerated and short-term in German. Reflecting this difference, #MeToo is talked about in more negative terms in German tweets compared to English and Spanish, as shown by a qualitative analysis of evaluative author stance. The study adds to existing knowledge of the power of hashtags for feminist social media activism by highlighting the importance of (cross-)linguistic corpus-assisted discourse studies of hashtags on social media, which helps understand the ways in which anti-feminist discourse taps into the channelling of emotions through hashtags to undermine cross-national women’s movements.
Bisiada, Mario. 2018. A cross-linguistic analysis of the “homework” metaphor in German and English political discourse. Discourse & Society 29(6). 609−628. 10.1177/0957926518802916
A frequently encountered expression in political discourse across languages is the assertion that someone has not “done their homework”. As the expression is a combination of structural metaphor and understatement, it is a figurative frame that simplifies public debates by presenting complex issues such as economic reforms as simple tasks and stifles critical and consensual political debates by replacing questions of fairness and adequacy with unquestionable moral obligation. In spite of this manipulative force, metaphor research has paid little attention to this metaphor. I investigate its emergence and pragmatic effects in American and German newspaper discourse through the COHA/COCA and Die ZEIT corpora. Findings for both English and German show that, while the metaphor was originally used for positive self- and negative other-representation, it is now used increasingly often without specifying whether or not someone has done their homework, which is evidence to suggest that it has become accepted in public discourse as a normal way of framing political issues.
Editing in translation
Serbina, Tatiana, Mario Bisiada & Stella Neumann. 2021. Linguistic profiles of translation manuscripts and edited translations. Proceedings for the First Workshop on Modelling Translation: Translatology in the Digital Age 34−45. Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). 2021.motra-1.4
A range of studies have pointed to the importance of considering the influence of editors in studies of translated language. Those studies have concentrated on particular features, which allowed them to study those features in detail, but also prevented them from providing an overall picture of the linguistic properties of the texts in question. This study addresses this issue by conducting a multivariate analysis of unedited and edited translations of English business articles into German. We aim to investigate whether translation manuscripts have a characteristically different distribution of lexico-grammatical features compared to edited translations, and whether editors normalize those features and thus assimilate the translations to non-translated texts. Findings related to individual features are in line with the previously observed phenomena of sentence splitting and passive voice, and a general tendency towards increasing readability. In general, however, no profound effect of editorial intervention could be observed, even though there was a slight tendency of edited translations to be more similar to comparable originals.
Bisiada, Mario. 2019. Translated language or edited language? A study of passive constructions in translation manuscripts and their published versions. Across Languages and Cultures 20(1). 35−56. 10.1556/084.2019.20.1.2doi
Can translated language really be analysed based on published texts, given the many agents that may influence the translator's work before publication? This article seeks to address this question through a parallel corpus study of English business articles, their German translation manuscripts and the published German translations. The objects of study are passive voice constructions. I analyse the frequency of instances where translators used the active voice to translate verbs that are in passive voice in the source text (and vice versa), and whether editors maintained that construction or intervened to change it again. The study finds that translators use the passive voice extensively to translate active voice constructions. Editors intervene often to change such constructions back to active voice. This suggests that translators mainly passivise while editors mainly activise constructions. The tense used in the source text is shown to have an effect on whether these interventions take place or not. The article argues that there is a difference between what translated language actually is and what we find in published texts.
Bisiada, Mario. 2018. Translation and editing: A study of editorial treatment of nominalisations in draft translations. Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice 26(1). 24−38. 10.1080/0907676X.2017.1290121
Though editing and revising are integral parts of translation, their effects on the language of the final translated text have scarcely been studied. The phenomena we observe in translated text are usually attributed to “the translator”, even though the multitude of agents involved in translation may also be responsible for them to various degrees. This paper defends the use of manuscripts in corpus-based Translation Studies by investigating differences in nominalisation between unedited and edited translations. Using a corpus of manuscript and published German translations of English business articles, I investigate what may motivate editors to replace a nominalisation in the translation manuscript by a verb to match the English source text. For this purpose, I analyse differences in the process types of the nominalised source text verbs and the structure and information density of the nominal group the nominalisation appears in. The findings show that editors exert extensive and systematic influence on the translated text. Crucially, the analysis shows that, if we only consider the published version of a translation, we might consider sentences as literal translations which in reality have undergone a considerable amount of shifts while passing through the stages of translation.
Bisiada, Mario. 2018. The editor's invisibility: Analysing editorial intervention in translation. Target 30(2). 288−309. 10.1075/target.16116.bis
Most corpus-based studies of translation use published texts as the basis for their corpus. This overlooks interventions by other agents involved in translation such as editors, who may have significant influence on the translated text. In order to study editors’ influence on the translation product, this paper presents a comparative analysis of manuscript and published translations, which allows a differentiation of actual translated language and edited translated language. Based on a tripartite parallel corpus of English business articles and their translations into German, I analyse translators’ and editors’ influence on grammatical metaphoricity of the text, specifically on the use of nominalisations. One finding is that a significant amount of nominalisation is re-verbalised by editors. The results show that translated language may often be the result of significant editorial intervention. Thus, by just considering source text and published translation, our picture of what translators actually do may be significantly distorted.
Bisiada, Mario. 2018. Editing nominalisations in English−German translation: When do editors intervene? The Translator 24(1). 35−49. 10.1080/13556509.2017.1301847
The work of editors and their influence on translated texts is an under-researched phenomenon in translation studies. We usually attribute the language we encounter in translated texts to the translator, ignoring any intervention that another agent might have made in the production process of the translation. This paper deals with editors’ influence on nominalisation in English to German translation. There is a conflict between language users’ preference in German for a nominal style and the demand by house styles to avoid nominal formulations, based on journalistic presumptions of readers’ aversion to that style. Studying expressions that translators nominalised, I investigate when editors intervene to change those expressions into verbal structures and when they decide to retain the nominalisation. I use a corpus of manuscript and published translations of business articles to differentiate translators’ and editors’ actions. Findings show that editors systematically intervene in the text based on readability considerations. At times, the only change they make is turning noun into verb, especially when function verb complexes or preposition–noun constructions are involved, but often they reformulate the entire sentence. While translators are shown to nominalise a lot more than editors, there are some instances where editors nominalise constructions, again along with significant changes to the sentence.
Bisiada, Mario. 2017. Universals of editing and translation. In Silvia Hansen-Schirra, Oliver Czulo and Sascha Hofmann (eds), Empirical modelling of translation and interpreting, 241−275. Language Science Press. 10.5281/zenodo.1090972
It has been claimed that translation universals are really “mediation universals”, pertaining to the more general cognitive activity of mediating a text rather than specifically translating it. Among those linguistic activities that share the alleged mediation effect with translating are editing and revising. In this chapter, I critically examine the theory of “mediation universals” by comparing unedited translations with edited translations into German and with edited non-translations. The focus is on explicitation, normalisation/conservatism and simplification. The results do not support the notion of mediation universals for the present corpus but rather show that translated texts are recognisable as such even after the editing process. Editorial influence on translated language in this genre is shown to be strongest in terms of sentence length and lexical diversity, where unedited and edited translations differ significantly from each other. Here, editors approximate the language to that of the non-translations, though the unedited translations have a greater average sentence length than the non-translations. That finding does not support the usual observation that translated texts have shorter sentences than non-translations, but highlights the importance of studying editorial influence in translation.
Bisiada, Mario. 2014. “Lösen Sie Schachtelsätze möglichst auf”: The impact of editorial guidelines on sentence splitting in German business article translations. Applied Linguistics 37(3). 354−376. 10.1093/applin/amu035
Sentence splitting is assumed to occur mainly in translations from languages that prefer a hierarchical discourse structure, such as German, to languages that prefer an incremental structure. This article challenges that assumption by presenting findings from a diachronic corpus study of English–German business article translations, which shows that sentence splitting has long been common in German business translation, and perhaps because of editorial guidelines, has increased strongly over the course of the 25 years under analysis. A corpus of unedited draft versions and published versions of the same translations is used to show that sentence splitting is also affected by editors where translators did not split the sentence. The evidence suggests that sentence splitting may be a strategy of explicitation in translation rather than a phenomenon triggered mainly in translation into languages with incremental discourse structures. The observed increase in sentence splitting in German may indicate a shift by which meaning relations are increasingly made between sentences using cohesive resources of reference rather than within sentences using grammatical devices such as hypotaxis or parataxis.
Language change through translation
Bisiada, Mario. 2016. Structural effects of English-German language contact in translation on concessive constructions in business articles. Text & Talk 36(2). 133−154. 10.1515/text-2016-0007
Studies on a variety of languages have observed a shift away from hypotactic, hierarchical structures towards paratactic, incremental structures, and have attributed this to language contact with English in translation. This paper investigates such a shift towards parataxis as the preferred structure of concessive constructions in German business articles. To this effect, a diachronic corpus method that has been applied to popular science articles in existing studies is adopted and applied to business articles, in an attempt to reproduce existing findings for this genre. This method is complemented by a corpus of manuscripts which allow to control for the effect of editing on the translated texts. Based on the analysis of hypotactic and paratactic translations of English concessive conjunctions between 1982/83 and 2008, I argue that hypotactic structures are indeed used less frequently in translated texts, but that this development is restricted to translated language. In non-translated texts, the use of hypotactic conjunctions has increased. The use of sentence-initial conjunctions, however, does seem to spread in this genre (as was reported for popular science), which may be further evidence for it to be a case of language change through contact in translation.
Bisiada, Mario. 2013. Changing conventions in German causal clause complexes: A diachronic corpus study of translated and non-translated business articles. Languages in Contrast 13(1). 1−27. 10.1075/lic.13.1.01bis
This paper contributes to the field of diachronic corpus studies of linguistic change through language contact in translation by replicating Becher’s (2011) study which found a trend from hypotaxis to parataxis in concessive clause complexes of German popular scientific articles, and examining whether a comparable trend can be found in causal clause complexes in another genre. The study draws on a one-million-word translation corpus of English business articles and their German translations, as well as on a comparable corpus of German non-translations. The corpora consist of texts published in two time periods, 1982–3 and 2008. German translations of English causal conjunctions are compared for both time periods to determine diachronic changes in causal clause complexes. The comparable corpus is then analysed to find out whether those changes also happened in non-translated language. While a trend from hypotaxis to parataxis in both corpora can be observed, hypotaxis remains more frequent than parataxis. The study also detects a shift in preference for the causal conjunctions weil, denn and da, which partly causes the decrease in hypotaxis.
Reviews & unindexed publications
Bisiada, Mario. 2021. Review of Degrees of European belonging, by Élisabeth Le. Discourse Studies 23(6). 794−796. 10.1177/14614456211063006
Bisiada, Mario. 2017. Review of Readability: Text and context, by Alan Bailin and Ann Grafstein. Style 51(2). 257−263. 10.1353/sty.2017.0019
Bisiada, Mario. 2015. Review of Translation: A multidisciplinary approach, by Juliane House (ed). Meta 60(3). 640−644. 10.7202/1036148ar
Bisiada, Mario. 2015. Review of Metaphor and intercultural communication, by Andreas Musolff, Fiona MacArthur and Giulio Pagani (eds). Language and Intercultural Communication 15(4). 616−621. 10.1080/14708477.2015.1053176
My approach to supervision
As methods become formalized, they run the risk of being reified into a sort of research machine where researchers are reduced to technicians who simply turn a methodological handle and produce “truth”. − Phillips & Hardy (2002)
I'm interested in supervising research projects that fall within my research interests outlined above, or that pertain to the fields of cross-linguistic and/or corpus-assisted discourse or translation studies, or contrastive linguistics, especially involving German, English, Spanish and Catalan, or interdisciplinary projects that touch on any of those 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. With respect to the above quote, I'm not interested in people who just look for a methodological handle to turn, but in people who want to design and question the machine.
Students are expected to send written work to me regularly during term time, to be discussed in personal meetings every two or three weeks. I run a biweekly working group with my PhD students which serves to practice presentations for conferences, exchange ideas, present new writing and as a reading group to discuss particular texts. I don't generally do remote supervision or feedback exclusively by email. My students are encouraged to write and submit one or two articles during thesis writing. I take the concept of authorship seriously and won't expect to be co-author if I don't contribute substantially to the article. Potential applicants are invited to contact any of my students to get their opinion.
Completed PhD theses
Metaphorical representations of obesity in Chinese media (2010-2022) (Xiang Huang, 2023)
La traducción chino-español de las metáforas sobre Relaciones de Género en la novela Wei Cheng (围城): Un estudio desde la perspectiva del análisis del discurso (Hongying Li, 2023) − co-directed with Yingfeng Xu (UPF)
Writer-reader relationship and technicality of vocabulary in multilingual health information websites in English, Spanish, and Catalan (Amy Dara Hochberg, 2023) − co-directed with Anna Espunya (UPF)
PhD theses in progress
Seda Karanfil (since 2020)
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.
Wade Raaflaub (since 2021)
Cancel culture is the practice, particularly on social media, of criticising and withdrawing support for a public figure after they have said or done something perceived to be inappropriate or offensive, by attempting to reduce the power and efficacy of their fame, popularity or platform. The objective of this research is to study how the discourse surrounding cancel culture informs the underlying power struggles between privileged and marginalised segments of society, and the shaping of Western liberal and conservative ideologies as they relate to matters such as equality, diversity and free speech. In the context of three case studies involving English language media commentary about three public figures criticised for their views on sensitive and controversial topics, the overarching research questions aim to answer how cancel culture has excluded topics, and the expression of particular views and opinions about those topics, from discussion within public discourse, and how cancel culture has influenced the interpretation of what is true versus false, or right versus wrong, and therefore the construction of knowledge about particular topics. Within the framework of critical discourse studies, the methodologies of dispositive analysis and the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse, both in the tradition of Foucault, will be applied. Among the linguistic features to be examined within the discourse surrounding cancel culture are lexical choices, rhetorical devices, and argumentation strategies.
Peter Till (since 2022)
The need for translation quality assessment (TQA) has soared along with the need for translation. Teachers assess translation students’ work to determine mastery of the source language and target language. Clients want assurance of quality when they commission a translation to ensure that the translation is worth the cost. But how should translation quality be assessed? In order to avoid subjective opinions, objective evaluations should be used. However, currently there is no empirical method to measure the accuracy of a translation, or even an objective metric that can be used to provide insight into any specific accuracy issues. Consequently, the purpose of this thesis is to establish a method that can be used to empirically measure the accuracy of a translation based on the evaluation of any loss or (undue) addition of meaning features when an expression is translated. Through the use of an enhanced componential analysis, the proposed method provides a numerical value that greatly reduces the subjectivity of TQA regarding the translation of metaphors. The proposed method will be itself evaluated through a comparison of the results of two groups of linguists that assess the accuracy of a series of translations where one group will be left to their own devices, and the other will be instructed to use the method proposed herein. The implications of the results of this research are far-reaching. Often translation quality assessment is highly subjective, even when based on a solid theoretical framework. Thus, a method that provides empirical results that remove a large portion of subjectivity from the assessment process would allow for more clarity and agreement on translation quality.
Shahrad Alejandro Ghalili (since 2022)
This thesis investigates the significant challenges and approaches in the process of message interpretation in text-based environments. Platforms such as Twitter enable paralinguistic tools available for people to reduce ambiguity in online text such as hashtags and emojis. Tone tags introduce a new paralinguistic cue in reducing digital miscommunication. Tone tags are symbols that are frequently attached to phrases found online to clarify the intent or intonation. What is not yet clear is the impact of tone tags on social media. To further investigate the efficacy of tone tags, this study aims to unravel some of the tool’s mysteries. Analysis will go in depth on how the online community, specifically in Canada and the U.S., responds to and uses tone tags through the lens of computer-mediated-communication theories. Surveys and qualitative methods are currently the most popular way of investigating tone tags. This study will adopt and enhance these approaches by incorporating corpus and thematic analysis to the data set. Data mining will be done through Tweepy over the span of 6 months to analyse the corpora of notable patterns and the rate of usage in tone tags. Thematic analysis will help the study identify the themes often associated with tweets incorporating tone tags. Comparing the data set results from variant analysis will help build in-depth conclusions on the rise of tone tags. Overall, this study strengthens the idea that miscommunication is an issue on social media. The investigation of tone tags will expand our understanding of methods increasing the processing fluency on social media.
Qianqian Wu (since 2022)
Gender equality is a critical issue in contemporary society, and language plays a crucial role in reflecting and constructing reality. Therefore, critical discourse studies from a gender perspective are crucial to understanding how discourse constructs the female identity and how language can either contribute to or hinder progress toward gender equality. This study aims to contribute to the existing literature by integrating the Discursive News Values Analysis (DNVA) framework and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) approaches and conducting a comparative analysis of the representation of Chinese females in the Chinese official and commercial media discourse dataset. Specifically, the study utilizes computer-assisted techniques and discourse analysis approaches to explore the linguistic resources from a dataset of news blogs on the topic of professional and domestic women. It aims to conduct statistical analyses to explore the dominant news values and ideological implications, and offer insights into the social context and media system in China.
Yu-Shen Cheng (since 2022)
This research project aims at discovering how linguistic representations are constructed in the inaugural addresses by the sixth to fifteenth presidents of Taiwan, Chiang Ching-kuo, Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen, according to their executive orders, based on Systemic Functional Linguistics. The inaugurations of the presidents listed above individually present different modern political historical periods, as well as marking milestones in the Taiwanese democratisation process, from dictatorship to democracy. In order to compare linguistic representations according to the democratic timeline, the research project will utilise a diachronic approach to analyse how linguistic representations are constructed differently across time with the intention to understand how linguistic mechanisms such as transitivity and social actor analysis influence the citizens' interpretation of the notion of sovereignty and regime governing the island, as well as the relation between the State and citizenship.
Recent MA theses
- 2023 − MA in Discourse Studies
- Análisis críticas sobre las metáforas en los comentarios de un vídeo en Bilibili sobre la difícil situación de los jóvenes (Meng Yao)
- 2022 − MA in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
- Influencia de las lenguas extranjeras en el léxico eslovaco (Adela Hornanská)
- 2020 − MA in Translation Studies
- How do you meme? La transcreación y la adaptación cultural en memes de internet (Mar Floristán)
- Discurso y biopoder en la (re)presentación de las migraciones en prensa (Javier Rodríguez)
- 2019 − MA in Translation Studies
- Tendencias en la traducción literal de memes del inglés al español (Amalia del Río)
- 2018 − MA in Translation Studies
- Language and style in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's − the German translations from 1959 and 2006 (Rebecca Knoll)
Recent BA theses
- 2023 − BA in Applied Languages
- Fashion through words: The discourse in Vogue Runway's coverages (Manuela Hermann Torras)
- 2022 − BA in Applied Languages
- La relació de les dones no heterosexuals amb la paraula lesbiana (Marta Ruiz Llamas)
- 2021 − BA in Translation & Interpreting
- L'alemany i la interpretació a la història (Víctor Bosque)
- 2020 − BA in Applied Languages
- Análisis pragmático-discursivo del humor desde una perspectiva feminista (Georgina Garcia)
- Categorical speech perception in bilinguals: A review on previous research and an experimental proposal (Michelle Throssell)
- 2019 − BA in Applied Languages
- Comparative analysis of stress-shifting pronominal encliticisation in two Menorcan towns (Júlia Florit)
- Una anàlisi prosòdica del dialecte tortosí i lleidatà (Mariona Reverté)
- ¡Que caes el puchero! Verbos inacusativos y su transividad en Castilla y León (Clàudia Martínez)
Meaning, mind and mediation: Why the study of editing is a critical step towards a holistic model of translation. Model building in empirical translation studies workshop. TRICKLET project, RWTH Aachen, Germany (25 February 2021)
A social constructionist approach to studying frames and metaphors in translation. PhD masterclass. Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies, University of Manchester, UK (10 December 2020)
“Do your homework on Brexit!” Transnational education metaphors in newspaper discourse. Periodicals and globalization workshop. Transnational Periodical Cultures project, Universität Mainz, Germany (8 May 2019)
Cross-linguistic and corpus-based translation studies − Challenges and implications. 4th IATIS International Translator Training Workshop. 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. Corpora in translation and interpreting studies. ARTIS training event, TH Köln, Germany (26 October 2017)
Syntactic change through translation: A corpus-based approach to language change. Corpus research seminar. University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL), University of Lancaster, GB (10 November 2011)
Selected conference talks
Linguistic variation across different groups of translated and non-translated texts: Combined effect and individual contributions of lexico-grammatical features (with Tatiana Serbina & Stella Neumann) Translation in Transition 6 − Charles University, Czech Republic, September 2022
Linguistic profiles of translation manuscripts and edited translations Workshop on Modelling Translation: Translatology in the Digital Age − University of Reykjavik, Iceland, May 2021
“Tsipras’s homework has been thrown back in his face”: A cross-linguistic study of the “homework” metaphor as positive self- and negative other presentation International Contrastive Linguistics Conference 8 (ICLC8) − National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, May 2017
An investigation of diachronic change in hypotaxis and parataxis in German through language contact with English in translation Diachronic Corpora, Genre and Language Change − University of Nottingham, UK, April 2016
Tracing nominalisation through the phases of English-German translation: A case study of grammatical metaphor The 42nd International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC42) − RWTH Aachen, Germany, July 2015
Investigating English-German translation of ideational grammatical metaphor in business articles Metaphors in/and/of Translation: Specialised RaAM seminar − Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands, June 2015
Estudio de caso de la metáfora gramatical a través de un análisis corpus de la traducción del inglés al alemán VII International Corpus Linguistics Conference (CILC 2015) − Universidad de Valladolid, Spain, March 2015
Differentiating the translation process: A corpus analysis of editorial influence on translated business articles Translation in Transition 2 − Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany, January 2015
Courses I've taught
Discourse and social cognition
MA in Discourse Studies
In this module, students analyse the effects of discourse as a sociocognitive practice. Specific attention is paid to how discourses construct the social order and how that construction acts as a regulatory fiction to establish and maintain different types of daily interactions. To guide analysis and reflection, different perspectives and theoretic models of discourse will be presented and methodologies that aid in gathering and treatment of data will be introduced, always in relation to real texts and case studies.
Llengua, communitat, ideologia
BA in Applied Languages
The aim of this module is to study and reflect on the role of languages and discourses in the articulation of contemporary societies. Special attention is paid to the ideologies that materialise in hegemonic discourses. Students analyse how these discourses are expressed through semiotic practice in concrete interactions. The module thus introduces students to notions of language, discourse, cognition and social practice and thus fosters their analytical and critical capacity.
Descripció i anàlisi de l'alemany
BA in Translation Studies
This module focusses on the description and analysis of the German language with special focus on aspects of meaning on the levels of phonetics/phonology, morphology and syntax. It also provides a brief introduction to the history of the German language, which fosters a contrastive vision of German compared to other Germanic and Indo-European languages.
Introduction to research in translation studies
MA in Translation Studies
This module introduces students to conducting research in the area of translation studies. Perspectives taken will include some of the most productive research areas, corpus-based translation studies and the use of systemic functional linguistics for translation studies, but also touch on the interface of discourse and translation studies. Students will be equipped with the skills to successfully write academic articles and present their research orally.