Pragmalinguistic aspect of social and political texts (on the Basis of the English and Russian Languages)

Abstract

The article reports on a study of pragmalinguistic aspect of social and political texts and translation features of this type of texts. The research is based on 453 social and political texts, editorials and feature articles in the English and Russian languages taken from famous media sources. In the course of the research, pragmalinguistic features of social and political texts were analysed on the basis of paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations, extralinguistic and intralinguistic features of the English and Russian languages. Summarizing the results of the research, the author elaborates an operating translation model taking into account specific features of social and political texts. This model reflects the main trends of translation process and the researcher describes the role of a translator taking into account lexical, semantic, syntactic, stylistic and pragmatic aspects of this type of texts. The results of the research show that the purpose of the newspaper style is transfer of information and simultaneous impact on the reader or listener, description of events and inducement of the addressee to special activities.

Keywords: Source textTarget textPragmaticsTranslationInterpretationSocial and political text

Introduction

The study of pragmalinguistic specific features of social and political texts is an important, but scantily analysed direction in the contemporary linguistics. The information flow, closely connected with an international cultural and political exchange, leads to the necessity to study specific pragmalinguistic features of social and political texts and the translation of this type of texts plays an important role in the diplomatic and peaceful adjustment of global problems and establishment of friendly relationships with the other countries. Presently, problems related to the themes “International Terrorism” and “Human Rights” require an adequate understanding of the information described in foreign newspaper articles that reflect the worldwide events that take place in a definite country. The study of specific features of social and political texts plays an important role in the contemporary linguistics.

It should be mentioned that the newspaper style is characterized by logicality, conciseness, expressiveness, language means, stylistic devices, newspaper clichés, social and political lexis and terminology.

The relevance of the research lies in the following areas:

i.Developing political relations between countries creates the necessity to study and analyse the linguistic features of the English and Russian languages in the aspect of pragmatics.

This phenomenon is explained by the fact that language is a means of impact on society; ii.Growing politicization reflects the fact that the language is functioning in the field of politics through the following notions: the language of politics, social and political text, social and political lexis; iii.Aggravation of conflicts between countries leads to the study of specific pragmalinguistic features of social and political texts; iv.The research is relevant due to comparative and contrastive translation analysis of social and political texts.

The object of the research is source and target political texts in the English and Russian languages.

The subject of the research is pragmalinguistic features of the texts that are scantly analysed.

The research is based on 453 social and political texts, editorials and feature articles in the English and Russian languages; the volume of each text is about 6000 characters. The analysed texts are taken from the newspapers “The New York Times”, “The Kazakhstan Monitor”, “International Herald Tribune”, “The Times”, “The Guardian”, “The Independent”, “Financial Times” and journals “The Chronicle Review”, “Kazakhstan and Contemporary World”, “Newsweek”, “Time”, “The Economist” etc. Selection of newspapers and journals is justified by the fact that they are available all over the world.

The theoretical and methodological basis of the research is work of famous linguists and translatologists such as Galperin, I.R. (1981), Komissarov, V.N. (2000), Breus, Y.V. (2004), Novikova, Y.Y. (2001), Petrova, L.D. (1982), Pivvuyeva, Y.V. (2004), Dvoinina, Y.V. (2004), Znamenskaya, T.A. (2004), Chebotareva, V.V. (2008), Lukanina, M.V. (2003), Mazhutis, M.V. (2006), Terekhova, Y.V. (2006), Minyar-Belorucheva, A.P. (2007), Vdovina, O.A. (2007) who are interested in the research of pragmatic, lexical, semantic, stylistic, and syntactic features of texts.

Problem Statement

2.1Pragmatic aspect of research

Analysing specific features of this type of texts, it should be noted that social and political texts are characterized and defined by communicative, informational and political strategies. In addition to this, social and political texts are easily recognizable and perceptible to the reader. The analysis of texts is aimed at their specific pragmatic features. Text is an integral phenomenon that includes extralinguistic and intralinguistic features of its structure and organization. Taking into account two main functions of social and political texts: information and impact, it is obvious that this type of text has a definite pragmatic adjustment (Novikova, 2001, p. 69-70).

In the judgment of many linguists and translatologists, the main pragmatic adjustment is the analysis of differences in the perception of one and the same text by the representatives of various cultures, participants of different communicative acts etc. Taking into consideration the above mentioned information, the researcher observes differences in knowledge, notions, interpretation and behavioral norms. The necessity to overcome the differences in the pragmatic relation to the information described in the source text and target text is a cardinal pragmatic problem (Petrova, 1982, p. 14).

Analysing the translation of social and political texts, it should be mentioned that pragmatic aspect plays an important role in this creative process. Many outstanding translatologists pay a special attention to the fact that a translator should take into consideration not only to denotative and connotative components, but also the most important pragmatic component.

The pragmatic component is defined by the correlation between the language and addressee of an information. These factors show the correspondence of extralinguistic reaction to the source text and target text recipients to the information (Pivvuyeva and Dvoinina, 2004, p. 161-162).

It is expedient to analyse a pragmatic component of social and political texts which reflect a political image of a definite state or country. Firstly, the author of the text can describe the events that are objectively characterized from the positive or negative point of view. According to this fact, a political image of the state could be characterized with a positive or negative sign. This sort of information is described in analytical articles where the author following the formal style describes the facts impartially and objectively (Novikova, 2001, p. 70).

Secondly, authors of social and political texts, having their own social status and political bias towards the events, introduce their point of view, personal appraisal and judgments while writing the articles. Therefore, the information described is interpreted through the subjective worldview of the author. In addition to this, the author uses various language manes and techniques, for instance, lexical, stylistic, and grammatical features to reflect the pragmatic function of the text. This phenomenon could be explained by the genre diversity and various purposes of the texts. The author of the text can use complex syntactic structures and compound sentences, stylistic devices: metaphors, metonymies, oxymoron etc.

The proposed diagram gives the opportunity to define the main objectives of this research. In the course of research analysis it should be noted that language means, purpose, stylistic devices of social and political texts form the text pragmatics.

This phenomenon should be reflected in the following way (see Fig. 1 ):

Figure 1: Figure 1. Reflection of pragmatic adjustment
Figure 1. Reflection of pragmatic
      adjustment
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Pragmatic aspect in this type of research is defined as the combination of linguistic and extralinguistic specific features that influence the formation of a communicative act and the choice of the language means and stylistic devices.

The analysis of the research is devoted to the pragmatic aspects of translation because the subject is translation features of social and political texts. Pragmatic aspects of translation are a crucial issue that reflects the transfer of realia, objects or phenomena which are closely connected with the history, culture, customs, traditions, mentality and national psychology of a definite nation. Some special translation techniques are used to transfer realia of a particular culture: transcription, transliteration, loan translation, explicatory translation, translation commentary etc.

Some techniques of social and political lexis translation are described in the research where the researcher analyses expressive means of the information presented. According to the research, conducted by Breus, E.V. (2004) and Komissarov, V.N. (2000), the English newspaper style requires a neutral description of information. This type of style includes expressive and corresponding stylistic devices but the frequent use of words with positive or negative connotations is lower in comparison with the Russian language. There is a peculiar feature of the translation out of the Russian into the English language. The Russian newspaper style has a lot of expressive or connotative words that are frequently used in the language and due to this phenomenon the words with positive or negative connotations lose their connotative meaning and the Russian reader do not notice this type of words. If the translator transfers connotative words to the target text automatically, the English reader will not pay attention to the words that are necessary for the communicative purpose of persuasion and definitely notice them. This phenomenon is entitled “the effect of an emotional ornateness of the language” (Pivvuyeva and Dvoinina, 2004, p. 181). There are some examples of expressive words with negative connotations in the Russian and English languages: экстремизм – extremism, клерикалы – clericals, пропагандисты экстремизма – propagandists of extremism, террористы-самоубийцы – suicide bombers, агрессивный радикализм – aggressive radicalism, бомбисты – bombers, подрывники – shotfirers etc.

There is a difference between denotative and connotative meanings defined by the researcher. According to V.V. Chebotaryova (2008), the author of the text can widely use positive or negative connotations of definite notions and this phenomenon should be described as the reaction of the author towards the events described in the text. However, some terms have a negative connotation and the problem is what term the author of the source and target texts should use to describe global news. For example, the word combination “air support” does not have a negative connotation in comparison with the word “bombing” or phrase “unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of life” does not frighten as the word “killing”, and an expression “an efficient nuclear weapon that eliminates an enemy with a minimum degree of damage” is scientific in comparison with the term “neutron bomb”. Moreover, one and the same event depending on the purpose of the social and political text could be named as “riot” – «мятеж, бунт»,“struggle against oppressors” – «борьба с угнетателями», “turmoil” – «беспорядки» or “urban unrest” – «волнения в городе». Authors of the source and target texts can name the same participants of various events as “terrorist” – «террорист», “rebel” – «мятежник», “freedom fighter” – «борец за свободу», “national patriot” –«патриот» (Znamenskaya, 2004, p. 188).

It should be mentioned that evaluation data described in the social and political texts could be decoded in the wide communicative and pragmatic context that consists of linguistic and extralinguistic components playing an important role in the process of translation. The author using lexical units and stylistic devices can describe the information and reflect a national psychology and mentality that are implicitly shown in the social and political texts. Stylistic devices of social and political texts play an important role in this case. With the help of the explicit means the authors describing political conflicts are inclined to express their attitude to the existent events (Chebotaryova, 2008, p. 187).

The process of information decoding is important for translation because it lies in the understanding of data that are described in press accounts. A translator implements this function trying to transfer the information described in the social and political texts. The main task for the translator is to decode the content of the source text and give rise to a corresponding reaction of the target text addressees. These stages are important for the analysis of language specific features of social and political texts and their translation into the other languages.

In addition to this, the researcher analyses four main types of pragmatic transcreation that play an important role in the translation process. It is ascertained that pragmatic transcreation of the first type is aimed at the adequate understanding of information by the addressees of the target text and pragmatic transcreation of the second type transferring the emotional impact if the source texts is frequently used in the materials on political topics or themes (Lukanina, 2003, p. 126).

There is an example of pragmatic transcreation of the first type: ЮНЕСКО особо настаивает на том, чтобы государства и отдельные лица принимали во внимание новые права человека, такие как право на мир, право на развитие, право на образование и коммуникацию, право на здоровую окружающую среду.– UNESCO particularly stresses the obligation of states and individuals to take account of new human rights, such as the right to peace, the right to development, the right to education and communication, and the right to a healthy environment (Mazhutis, 2006, p. 19).

Example of a pragmatic transcreation of the second type: Российский дипломат обратил внимание на то, что очередная попытка разделить террористов на плохих и хороших означает, что Америка как минимум непоследовательна в своих действиях и заявлениях. – Yakovenko sees the latest attempt to draw a line between bad and good terrorists as unfitting (Lukanina, 2003, p. 127).

Pragmatic transcreation of the third type is aimed at a definite addressee and a specific communicative situation is functioning in the social and political texts. Pragmatic transcreation of the fourth type is used in the analytical materials on political themes and the main purpose of it is to accomplish the most important translation task (Lukanina, 2003, p. 128).

Pragmatic aspect plays a significant role in coding and decoding of information described in the social and political texts.

Research Questions

3.1 Linguistic aspect of research:

3.1.1 Lexical Specific Features: Taking into account the fact that social and political texts are characterized by a special terminology and stylistic devices, the researcher analyses some special translation features of

complex adjectives out of Russian into English. On the whole, complex adjectives in Russian are translated into English with the help of compounding various parts of speech, affixes and their combinations. There are some examples of complex adjectives that are analysed in the research (see Table 1 ):

Table 1 -
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The table proposed allows the researcher to analyse structural features of complex adjectives in the English and Russian languages.

In the next stage of the research translation of verbs is of a particular importance. There is a necessity to analyse compatibility of verbs with prepositions and nouns. Analysing the structures of verbal compatibility of terms that are used in the English and Russian languages, it should be noted that the most complex structures of verbs are used in the English language. Therefore, it is rather difficult for the author of the target text to translate complex verbal structures from Russian into English: иметь право – to have a right, to be entitled to; отвращать удар – to ward off; защищать, оборонять – to stand up for, to defend.

Analyzing some translation techniques of terms on political issues, it should be pointed out that traditional translation techniques such as loan translation, transcription and transliteration are used when the author of the target text translates the names of terrorist movements and organizers of terrorist attacks, for example: militants – боевики, separatists – сепаратисты, extremists – экстремисты, shaheed – шахид, jihad – джихад, wahhabit – ваххабит. The most widespread translation techniques of terms on the theme “Human Rights” are loan translation, transcription and explanatory translation, for example: disfranchise – лишение права голоса, franchise – право голоса, penal confinement – заключение в пенитенциарное учреждение, attainder – лишение гражданских и имущественных прав за государственную измену, violation of law = infringement of law – нарушение закона, legal right – законное право, equal rights – равные права, acquired right – приобретенное право, impeachment – импичмент.

3.2 Grammatical specific features

A primary target of the research is the analysis of grammatical translation difficulties of social and political texts. According to A.P. Minyar-Belorucheva (2007) and O.A. Vdovina (2007), specialists on social and political issues use a wide variety of tenses and verbal forms of the Active Voice while describing and analyzing global events, facts and phenomena (Terekhova, 2006, p. 221).

The examples given below show various verbal forms of the Active and Passive Voices that are functioning in the social and political texts (see Table 2):

Figure 2: Forms of the verb
Forms of the verb
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Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the research is to analyse specific pragmalinguistic and translation features of social and political texts on the basis of the English and Russian languages. The choice of languages depends on the fact that English is the language of international relations and Russian is a language that functions in the Post-Soviet countries.

Research Methods

Research methodsare component analysis, quantitative analysis, comparative, contrastive, and translation analyses. This is the first time when comparative analysis of pragmalinguistic features of social and political texts on the themes “International Terrorism” and “Human Rights” is carried out.

Research Findings

6.1 Grammatical aspect of research

Analysing the results of the research, it should be noted that Present Simple, Past Simple, Future Simple, Present Perfect Tenses function in English social and political texts and the percentage of their use is rather high. Authors rarely use sentences with the Present Continuous and Past Continuous Tenses and the percentage of these tenses functioning in the texts is quite low. This phenomenon is significant for the translation process and a translator is aware of the use of tenses in this type of texts.

There are numerous sentences with Participle I in Active Voice (see Table 3). It is expedient to give some examples of Participle I in Active Voice and point out that social and political texts are characterized by complex syntactic structures and compound sentences.

Figure 3: Table 3. The main forms of Participle I in Active Voice
Table 3. The main forms of Participle I in Active Voice
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Analyzing the results of the research conducted, it is necessary to mention that there is a quantitative difference in the use of Participles and their forms in the social and political texts. For example, Present Participle is widely used in English texts in comparison with Perfect Participle.

The number of sentences with the structures in the Active Voice in social and political texts is around 37%. For instance: Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence (Convention, 1950, p. 113).

Sentences functioning with the Passive Voice constitute 24%. For example: No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Convention, 1950, p. 111).

Table 4 shows the percentage of Participle structures in the Passive Voice. The conclusion of the research is evidence to the fact that grammatical structures in the form of Perfect Participle Passive Voice do not function in social and political texts. Therefore, authors of the English texts usually use grammatical structures in the form of Past Participle Passive Voice in terms of existing events description (see Table 4):

Figure 4: Table 4. The main forms of Participles in the Passive Voice
 Table 4. The main forms of Participles in the Passive Voice
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Summarizing the results of the research, it should be noted that there are many sentences with the Passive Voice, gerund, modal verbs, and participial structures that function in social and political texts. For instance, the number of sentences with participial structures in the English language is approximately 14% from the total amount of analyzed sentences: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests (Convention, 1950, p. 114).

The number of sentences with gerunds functioning in the social and political texts is about 9%: He was also accused of misleading voters in the days after the attacks by blaming the Basque terrorist group ETA (Newsweek, 2002, p. 14).

Sentences with modal verbs constitute around 16%: If no immediate or irreparable and serious harm is threatened, he must endeavor to avert the consequences of this violation, or its repetition, by reporting the matter to his superiors. If no results are obtained in that way he may report to higher authority (Time, 2002, p. 120).

6.2Pragmalinguistic aspect of research The research carried out shows the interconnection between semantics (lexical meaning of words), syntax (grammatical structures) and pragmatics (reaction of addressees to information described in this type of text). In particular, the most important task for the translator is to transfer the pragmatics of the source text during the translation process. This is characterized by the fact that the author of the target text should take into account the structural specific features of the source text, pay a special attention to the cultural differences and attitudes, try to adequately express the author`s intention in the target text. According to famous and outstanding linguists and translatologists, pragmatics is a main point of the translation equivalence. When a researcher analyses the pragmatic aspect of translation, he/she implies the same reaction of addressees of the source and target texts. In this case a translator should use pragmatic transcreation during the translation process including some changes into the target text. It is known that some words can be added when the author of the target text translates realia that are unknown to the target reader or omitted words with a definite meaning could be replaced by abstract notions during the translation process, but these words should be understandable to the addressee of the target text.

The next point is that the Russian language is explicit but the English language is implicit. Explicitness is expressed by using many words while describing political events, and implicitness is characterized by using one or two words for transfer of information. Therefore, the translator can transfer not only events described, but also the implicit information (reaction of authors to political events and processes, author`s style etc.). The author of the target text can choose some special words during the translation process for the purpose of avoiding political conflicts and adjusting relationships between states.

Abbreviations of toponyms and anthroponyms, such as names of governmental, state and antiterrorist organizations are the most important specific features constituting social and political texts. The following techniques are used for the translation of abbreviations: transcription, transliteration, equivalent and explicatory translation. It should be mentioned that abbreviations have the function of reader`s orientation in the information field and at the same time some abbreviations are commonly used notions.

Analyzing the translation process from the Russian into the English language or vice versa, the researcher defines some requirements that should be observed by the translator:

i.To be aware of structures of both languages. The Russian language has a flexible word order in the sentence: SPO, OPS, SOP, OSP, POS, and PSO. The English language has a fixed word order, but there is an exception when translator uses ellipsis. The author of the target text should analyse the sentence structure of the source text, find the subject, predicate, object for the purpose of following the structures of the English language; ii.To be aware of collocations, idioms, phraseological units, clichés and phrasal verbs; iii.To be aware of translation transformations which are used during the translation process for the purpose of an adequate information transference; iv.To have extensive vocabulary and use synonyms to avoid tautology; v.To be aware of linguistic and stylistic peculiar features of texts; vi.To transfer pragmatic features of the source text during the translation process; vii.To be aware of the differences in punctuation of the Russian and English languages; viii.To be aware of commonly used terms, abbreviations, toponyms, anthroponyms and realia that are necessary to translate information for the readers of the source text; ix.To be aware of the norm and usage of the source and target languages.

x.

Examining specific features of social and political texts, the researcher defines some translation challenges of this type of texts:

a.Translator can have difficulty in finding an equivalent because social and political texts

include special terms;

b.It can be rather difficult for a translator to choose a correct preposition. In the case when translator uses a wrong preposition, he/she can distort the information described in the source text.

The translation process is described by the researcher in the form of a diagram (see Fig. 2 ). The model elaborated shows the interconnection between the elements described below. Special attention is paid to the pragmatic challenges of translation because they are closely connected with the genre and peculiar features of the source text and the type of addressees of the target text. In this respect, it should be expedient that pragmatically appropriate translation is the reflection of pragmatic, semantic and stylistic aspects.

Figure 5: Figure 2. Operating model
Figure 2. Operating model
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Conclusions

Analyzing the translation of social and political texts out of the source into the target languages, it should be concluded that a translator plays an important role in the translation process and his/her primary target is to interpret the source text adequately and deeply analyse pragmatic aspects of it.

Summarizing the results of the research devoted to the analysis of pragmatic features of social and political texts, the researcher concludes that the purpose of the newspaper style is transfer of information and simultaneous impact on the reader or listener, description of events and inducement of the reader to special activities.

It is ascertained that expressiveness is the main feature of social and political lexis. Accessibility is a characteristic feature of publicism because it is aimed at the general public. In addition, newspaper style includes the features of a scientific style and social and political text has the structure of a scientific argumentation: a topical issue, the analysis of various ways of its solution and inducement of arguments on this issue.

The research has shown that toponyms, anthroponyms, neologisms, abbreviations, numerals are constituents of a social and political text. From the etymological point of view, international words broadly function in this type of texts: братоубийственная война – fratricidal war, международный терроризм – international terrorism, террористический акт – act of terrorism, права человека – human rights, правительственные организации – governmental organizations.

In the course of the research, pragmalinguistic features of social and political texts were analysed in the aspect of paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations of the English and Russian languages. In conclusion of the research conducted, there are a lot of grammatical structures of passive forms, verbal structures and modal verbs. It is analysed that during the translation process of social and political texts a great variety of passive forms of the source language is changed into the active forms of the target language. This phenomenon can be explained by the norm and usage of the target language.

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2015.01.7

Online ISSN

2357-1330