(Re-)voicing Beijing’s discourse through self-referentiality: A corpus-based CDA analysis of government interpreters’ discursive mediation at China’s political press conferences (1998-2017)

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Abstract

The premier's annual press conferences are an interpreter-mediated and institutionalised event, which enables the Chinese government to articulate its official discourse on a variety of topics in front of a domestic and international audience. Framing the conferences as part of an autopoietic system, following Luhmann, helps to shed light on the imperative for such systems to legitimate themselves for their autonomous and continued existence through discourse. This is achieved, in part, through self-reference. Drawing on a corpus-based study informed by Critical Discourse Analysis, we explore the government-affiliated interpreters' mediation of Beijing's discourse on different levels using self-referential terms. The interpreters are found to frequently add self-referential terms (e.g. we, our, government, China) in English overall. They are also observed employing the broader WE (e.g. we, our, us) proportionally at the expense of the premier's personal voice I and that of the GOVERNMENT and CHINA. The interpreters' institutional positioning and identity as part of the government is therefore confirmed through their explicit discursive interventions, which help convey what Searle terms ‘collective intentionality’ and contribute to the legitimacy of the government. The discursive effects of these are discussed using bilingual examples.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translatology
Early online date28 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020