Chapter 1 – The Cultural Mediator An interpreter without the technical language will clearly be not effective. A successful interpreter and translator, will not only need to have a near-native command of both languages, but will also need to know where to find technical information efficiently. General translators and interpreters are always going to be at a disadvantage in a specialized field because they can never be sure at a technical level. Technical concepts, such as satellite communications technology, have to be discussed, negotiated and implemented by people working within their contexts of culture. Differences in technical consumer information provide just one example of the way each culture has its own appropriate ways of behaving. Translators and interpreters in particular, whether or not they are involved in IT (information technology), labeling or advertising, need to be well versed in the customs, habits and traditions of the two cultures they are mediating for. They will also need solid background information about the cultures they are working with, particularly the geography and contemporary social and political history. These form the backbone (spina dorsale) of a culture’s cognitive environment. -The cultural interpreter\mediator A cultural interpreter is someone from a particular culture who assist a service provider and their client to understand each other. The focus is on effective communication and understanding between the service provider and client while respecting the client’s cultural language needs. A cultural mediator is a person who facilitates communication, understanding, and action between persons or groups who differ with respect of language and culture. The role of the mediator is performed by interpreting the expressions, intentions, perceptions and expectations of each cultural group to the other, by establishing and balancing the communication between them. In order to serve as a link, the mediator must be able to participate to some extent in both cultures. Thus a mediator must be a certain extent bicultural. A mediator must possess the following competencies in both cultures: • Knowledge about society(history, traditions, customs, values) • Communication skills(written, spoken, non-verbal) • Technical skills(appropriate dress) • Social skills(knowledge of rules that govern social relations in society and emotional competence) -The translator and interpreter The interpreter’s role has long been thought of as a walking generalist translator of words. As a cultural mediator, he or she will need to be a specialist in negotiating understanding between cultures. The translator is first a mediator between two parties for whom mutual communication might otherwise be problematic.
There are two specific ways in which a translator is a mediator: • Bi-cultural vision(the translator in uniquely placed to identify and resolve the disparity between sign and value across cultures) • Critical reader(the translator will have the opportunity to read the text carefully before translating, and therefore is in a position to help the target reader by producing as clear a text as the context would warrant)
Chapter 2 – Defining, modeling and teaching Culture The culture under discussion here is not visible as a product, but is internal, collective and is required rather then learned. Acquisition is the natural, unconscious learning of language, behaviour, values and beliefs through informal watching and hearing. Learning, on the other hand, is formal and is consciously taught. The culture we are interested in is required before the formal learning of culture at school. -Approaches to the study of culture Behaviourist: selected facts about what people do and don’t do Functionalist: looks at reasons behind a behaviour, but tends to stay locked within a judgmental frame based on a culture’s dominant values (creed, gender, sexual orientation) Cognitive: analysis on way the human brain works in terms of cause-effect Dynamic: culture is dynamic there is always a process between internal modes and external reality. Change can occur not just individually, but in society as a whole. -McDonaldization or local Globalization? McDonaldization, according to Ritzer, is the process by which the principles (efficiency, quantity, predictability and control) of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world. There are two points to mention. First, the blurring of differences is at a visible level. What does not blur are the more important yet invisible elements of what actually make up a culture. Second, the principles of McDonaldization are not applicable world-wide. There will always be local globalization (or glocalization), and successful individuals and multi-nationals will always dynamically adapt to local cultures. This dynamic process of interaction between the global and the local culture has been taken up in recent business development models. The importance of local cultures is being taken extremely seriously by big business, and the models underline the fact that the more a company develops, the more important the cultural factor becomes. There are three steps: domestic market, exports (cultural factor is important from research to after-sale services) and multinational(locally recruited personnel: the global company experiences cultural diversity and must meet local needs)
-Models of Culture (taught to explain how a culture function) • Trompenaars’ Layers Outer layer (artefacts, products, institutions, legal system) Middle layer (norms and values) Core (heart of culture, inaccessible, handed down unconsciously from generation to generation) • Hofstede’s Onion Levels of culture as skins of an onion Practices: -Symbols (words, gestures, pictures) -Heros (real or imaginary, for example James Bond, Mickey Mouse and Pinocchio) -Rituals (permeate all communication, for example England=weather, Italy=health and family)--> ice-breaking rituals Values • The Iceberg Theory(Edward Hall) The most important part of culture is completely hidden, and what can be seen is just the tip of the iceberg. Hall’s triad of Culture -Technical culture (language, music, art, food, dress, behaviour, institutions) -Formal culture (rituals, customs, ways, styles) -Informal culture (action, communication, environment, time, individualism, thinking) Chapter 3 – Frames and Levels Frame: internal psychological state, our map of the world Context: external representation of reality Each frame is subject to a wider one. There are always at least two possible interpretations from inside and from outside the frame. -Logical Levels: Study of the way people build their map of the world. These levels are hierarchically ordered and interrelated: • Environment (where?when?): it is who or what can be seen, heard or felt through the senses in time and space. • Behaviour (what?): how individuals act and react, verbally or not, but usually in a visible way. • Capabilities (how?): level of appropriate skills and knowledge. • Beliefs (why?): mental concepts held to be true or valid, and are formed in response to perceived needs. • Values (why?): basic unconscious organizing principle making up who we are. • Identity(who?): in linguistic terms, the role played(person holding authority, information giver\seeker) - Culture and Behaviour • Culture is a filter: culture is only one of the filters responsible for affecting behaviour.
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Individuals are members of many cultures: we are all members of a number of different cultures. While we are in the environment of one culture we may well be responding as members of a second culture. The distribution of culture: every culture allows a certain deviation, from stereotype to unrecognizable) Congruence: incongruence occurs when there is a conflict of values and beliefs. Ecological fallacy: every person is likely to identify with part of its culture, not all of it.
Chapter 4 – Logical levels and culture Isolates of environment responsible for influencing culture-bound behaviour: • Physical environment: today there are few physical barriers, but we tend to label us\them(ex. Where are you from?) • Ideological environment: 50 years ago east-west, today Christian-muslim-zionist. • Climate: influential on culture(hospitality inside or outside) • Space(public and private): differences between Europe(oppressive) and USA(space to do everything) • The built environment: influential on our first perception, but cultural related. We change behaviour according to building(mosques, churches, temples and clubs) • Dress: first sign of our identity, sometimes the same, but with different connotations. • Olfaction and food(ex. Mediterrean has a garlic smell) • Temporal Setting: ex. The Thatcher Years. -Behaviour: What a culture does, its perceived actions and reactions. It is the level of do’s and don’ts that a culture tells itself through proverbs. It is at this level that stereotypes on other cultures are more prominent. Each culture has its own rules, but they can change in time. -Capabilities, strategies and skills. The focus here is not on what is read, seen, heard or felt, but on how a message is transmitted and perceived. • Language channel and Style: there are three main channels: spoken, written and non-verbal. The choice of the medium depends on: audience and formality, physical and social distance, time, need for accuracy and legal considerations. Some factors are culture-related(ex. Americans speak loudly as a sign of openness) • Rituals: they change with culture. • Strategies: variety of behaviour in cross-cultural meetings(ex. The removal of business jacket and rolling sleeves up in Italy and U.K., in sign of a more cooperative\competitive atmosphere) -Values: our map of the world contains many values. These will be in hierarchy of feeling and importance. We have already noted one difference between a British and an American hierarchy. The British tend to value privacy over openness, while the
Americans value openness over privacy. An important distinction can be drawn between a hierarchy of values and a cluster (gruppo) of values. A hierarchy will mean that one value will prevail over another. A cluster is a group of values that act together and determine a particular orientation. -Beliefs: the fact that people who are part of different cultures do things differently in similar environments is determined by a system of values articulated in terms of beliefs. They provide the motivations and the reasons for doing or not doing things. They provide the reasons for following certain strategic rules of conduct. These beliefs will determine which particular guide to follow (the Bible or the Koran) -Identity: culture is what we identify with. For example: being Englishvalue (democracy), behaviour(queuing, fare la fila), environment(an Englishman’s home is his castle). Being Italianvalue (family), behaviour(eating well), environment(the house shines like a mirror). An interpreter must be aware of these values, connected to identity. -Imprinting: beliefs about identity are such an important aspect of culture that it is useful to look at how they are formed. Imprints generally become core beliefs. They are the highest frame of reference, and all day-to-day living is carried out within these frames. There are different levels: • Biological level(food: child recognizes his mother immediately) • Emotional level(develops at home; root of ethnic conflicts; child aware of his private and possesions(ex. My toy) • Intellectual level(logical levels of capabilities, strategies and skills) • Aesthetic level: awareness of things for what they are. • Meta-level: research for a purpose in life. -The model as a system Role changes: we can use the logical level model to identify the differences between the traditional view of a translator (just a biological level, no aesthetic function) and a cultural mediator(full information about the two culturescapabilities: high tolerance for differences and relativity of values). Level changes: any change in higher level will affect all lower levels. Attribution theory: perception of behaviour depends on our own personal position. When interacting with others, we will tend to attribute their behaviour in terms of volition (volontà) or other personal factors regarding their personality. On the other hand, we will tend to attribute our own behaviour in terms of the situational (ex. “tell me”impolite in English, from polite Italian “Mi dica”). -Habitus and logical level clashes (scontri): people’s ordinary relations to the world. When change takes place, tension is created.
Chapter 5 – Language and culture Language is not in itself a barrier to thought but that there is a dynamic relationship between language, culture and thought. -The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: no two languages, even though similar, can represent the same reality. They represent two worlds, not just one world with different labels. There are two versions of this hypothesis: • Strong: language determines the way the user thinks. • Weak: language is just one factor in understanding reality. The two approaches are known as the lexical and the grammatical version. -Lexis: the key to cultural reality is lexicon, which is not just a label.(behind it different reality) • Political correctness(offensive word substituted by standard term, to remove offence) • Categorization: fundamental aspect of Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, but it does not necessarily imply values and beliefs. Distinction between categorization of: referential meanings (spaghettiItalian ≠ English) and labeling where culture is involved. • Lexical and conceptual gaps: a language can lack a concept. There are three possibilities: borrow the language label (adoption, importation, transfer, transference), do without the concept or invent its own label. -The language System: Whorf was interested not in language, but in the underlying pattern (grammar). He spoke of two types of language: temporal (Indo-EU system) and timeless(Hopi American Indian). Chapter 6 – Perception and Meta-Model Bateson, Grinder and Bandler created the meta-model to explain how therapists used language to enlarge their client’s perception of reality (ex. Metaphor with tourist mapsprecise purpose: in a tourist map monuments will be larger than towns). There are three basic changes: generalization, distortion and deletion. Hofstede also created three levels: human nature, culture and personality. -Filters(affecct perception of reality) • Filter 1 – Physiological: universal and given by senses. Our limits can result in language and metaphors(“dark” for unknown or dangerous) • Filter 2 – Social engineering\culture: perception has to be limited to make sense of the world. We unconsciously decide what to listen to. Aggregated groups tend to be interested in the same data; this process is called “social engineering”. • Filter 3 – Individual: we react according to individual identity. • Filter 4 – Language: language influences our communication
-Expectations and mental images: sometimes we depend more on our own internal categorization rather than on what we actually hear or see. Halladay said: “Reality is what our language says it is”. -The Meta-Model: a map making must be done distorting reality”meta-model” (Bandler and Grindler). Chomsky’s formalist model, on which the meta-model was originally based, suggests that for every surface structure, there is a deeper structure. Native speakers intuitively recognize grammar gaps, lacks of something. Information can be missing in the surface structure, so we tend to omit what we take for granted, but this attitude can cause misunderstandings in cross-cultural communication. Meta-model should focus on explicitness raising awareness of the ambiguity. -Generalization: it occurs when one example is taken as representative of a number of different possibilities. Positive aspect: without Generalization we should spend a lot of time specifying. Negative aspect: it limits the model of the world. Some example of Generalization are the universal quantifiers because they allow no exceptions (all, always, each, every, any, never, nowhere, nothing, nobody). -Clarification: there are a number of key question that can be used to contextualize the speaker's point of view and to clarify the speaker's world and its borders. -Deletion: it takes place on two levels: syntactic and semantic. The meaning of a sentence can be ambiguous (ex. Investigating FBI agents can be dangerous gerund or adjective?). In literature, metaphors are examples of semantic incompleteness. Poetic effect can also be based on unspecified language (ex. To be or not to be that is the questiontotally unspecified). Deletion is essential because it’s impossible to specify everything, except in certain texts that become unreadable (legal texts). -Modality: expressions of an attitude of the speaker towards reality. It can be expressed trough: auxiliary verbs (can, may, should), full lexical verbs(wish, need), adverbs and adverbial clauses(possibly, probably, certainly) and adjectives(it is necessary)
Chapter 7 – Translation\Mediation -Decoding-Encoding or cognitive creation: the model proposed by Nida has been particularly influential. This model depends on the conduit metaphor; the source text language is broken down into smaller parts, analyzed, and then reformulated in other words. Neubert and Shreve are more explicit suggesting that in the translator’s mind there is a virtual translation, which is a composite of the possible relations between a source text and a range of potential target texts. The virtual translation accounts for author and translator knowledge, thoughts and feeling. In includes their aims, intentions, needs and expectations. -The translation process and culture: Snell-Hornbytranslate not anymore between languages, but between cultures. Bassnett The translator must accept the difference as the norm. Evan-Zomar systems maintain hierarchical relations, some have a more central position than others. -The meta-model and translation: to translate effectively, one need to understand the underlying intentions of a writer. Chomsky criticized Nida: even if there’s a universal grammar, there could be no correspondence between languages(Nida objects that communication does not occur in a vacuum(vuoto), with ideal speaker and receiver, but there are connotations, focus, emphasis and so on). -Generalization: languages categorize reality(but not always in the same way), when in reality there is no categorization. -Deletion: the three areas translators should look at in their search for evidence of deleted material are: the immediate context(same paragraph or adjacent ones), remote context(elsewhere in the document or other related texts), cultural contexts(implicit information outside the document). -Distortion: zoom on certain aspects. There are three main areas: grammatical\lexical signs indicating the main theme, grammatical\lexical signs indicating background or supporting material, and how focus and emphasis are signalled. -Manipulation: it can occur also in faithful translations, which could result in diplomatic failures. It needs to be consciously used. Chapter 8 – Chunking -Chunking: term taken from computingto change the size of a unit Bell distinguishes: • Chunking up: from the specific to the general(armchair-->furniture) • Chunking down: from general to specific(furniture-->armchair) • Lateral chunking: it is at the same level as..(ex. Armchairtablesofa) -Global Translation and mediation Text function: translator should wonder: what is the text an example of?(text type or genre), what are its constituent elements? Different text types imply a choice in terms of register and other features.
-The cline from communicative(TC) to semantic(SC) Translation: the cultural interpreter, faced with choices, will test the alternatives against the feelings s\he has related to the virtual text. Through chunking, the translator can decide whether to produce a more TC-oriented or SC-oriented translation. At the two ends of the cline we have the communicative(reader-centered, pragmatic and functionally oriented) and the semantic(focuses on the original words of the author, remains faithful to them, and ignores the real world of the target culture) translation -Chunking and cultural values: TC readers will always evaluate according to their values (ex. Americans mention pricesďƒ French find it vulgar)