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Developing and testing a methodology for identifying ideologically motivated phenomena in non-fiction English-to-Japanese translation

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Translators can, and do, manipulate translation processes for ideologically motivated reasons (Fawcett & Munday, 2011, pp. 137-141). Ideologically motivated “rewriting” (Bassnett & Lefevere, 1992, p. xi) in translation into Japanese of non-fiction texts about Japan can, at least when it takes the form of omission of ST passages, have a misleading impact on the way Japanese people believe people in other countries see them (Cherry, 1987, p 14). This article proposes and tests a methodology for swift, simple identification and analysis of such rewriting—even in lengthy texts, e.g., books. The methodology draws on Barnard’s intensity-analysis technique (Barnard, 2000) and his concept of an “ideological filter” (Barnard, 2002, p. 149). The test source text (ST) is the opening chapter of the English-language book Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne (Hills, 2006). The test target text (TT) is the corresponding chapter of an unpublished Japanese translation (in the form of printer’s proofs) of the book by a Japanese publisher (Hills, 2007). The methodology proved effective for highlighting patterns of possibly ideologically motivated ST-TT semantic divergence. For instance, the results reveal systematic omission of ST content that undermines the image of the imperial family. Applying Barnard’s concept of an “ideological filter” (Barnard, 2002, p. 149) appears to be straightforward. The methodology offers great promise in enabling instances of apparently ideologically motivated rewriting in translation into Japanese of non-fiction English-language to be identified, tabulated, and further analyzed. One of its chief merits is that it semi-automates the process of identification and tabulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-128
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of English Language and Translation Studies
Issue number01
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2019


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