Agency News Translation though Globalization: A Theoretical Approach

Agency News Translation though Globalization: A Theoretical Approach

Translation studies have finally developed interest into production, consumption and translation of news. This field has been previously covered by critical linguistics. But recently translation researchers have shown their interest not only in textual but also in ideological implications of the news genre, as a part of language history and thus subject to translation, localization and globalization phenomena. Agency news translation is a relevant issue in all developed societies as one of the means to stay informed about the events that happen in the world but their translation creates several issues, obstacles and considerations that need to be studied carefully.

Language industry

Language industry could be defined as a field of activity that is dedicated to facilitating both oral and written international communication. According to the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Translation, the language industry covers translation, interpreting, localisation and globalisation, language technology tool development, language teaching, consultancy in linguistic issues and organisation of international conferences with multilingual requirements (EU Report on the Size of Language Industry, 2009). It is one of the most profitable and constantly growing industries in the world that covers more and more phenomena of our lives, including news, as one of the subjects of translation. Therefore, it is important to overview several components of the language industry, namely, localization and globalization that lead to the concept of glocalization. In the context of agency news translation, due to the social nature of news it is also necessary to overview the concept of translation as a social activity and the history of translation in general.


Translation phenomenon is very wide and may be explained from various perspectives. However, it should not be argued that “a human being performs an act of translation […] when receiving a speech message from any other human being” (Steiner, 1975, 47). Therefore, translation phenomenon is inseparable from the essence of human beings. It is often argued that humans are the so-called “social animals” because of their ability to speak. So, it may be concluded that translation is one more perspective of speech, as an instrument of communication.

Nevertheless, in addition to speech there is a non-verbal communication that includes facial expressions, movements, our interpretations, etc. And it shall also be attributed to a complex translation dynamics. So we encounter different forms of translation in all our daily activities. Being a part of interlinguistic and intercultural processes, it shall not be considered from linguistic angle only. According to Carbonell Cortes and Harding (2018, 1), in translation “the context of communication is of foremost importance”. Currently, in our global era, translation enables dramatically different cultures to interact with each other. What is more, due to computers and other telecommunications, Internet especially, cultures can easily communicate with each other and borders are no longer an obstacle. This feature is especially important to translation as a social activity. In addition to other usages, Internet may be used as a platform for various translated contents, including news.

Translation as a distinct field of research emerged in late 1970s and had an impact to different fields and disciplines. Bielsa and Bassnett argue that translation “has become significant in a wide variety of fields, from literary studies to post-colonial studies, from socio-linguistics to discourse theory, from business studies to international relations and globalization studies” (Bielsa and Bassnett, 2009:4). It means that currently translation studies cover more than complex discussions about linguistic equivalence or problems of untranslatability from one linguistic culture to another one. In this modern era translation studies and translation phenomenon itself has more to do with global implications, global businesses and global politics.


Roudometof argues that the term “glocal” is relatively new, as it was firstly mentioned around 1990 (Roudometof, 2015:776). As early as in 1995, Robertson analysed the glocal perspective as a merger of global and local features, so to say, thinking globally but acting locally (Robertson, 1995). General definition of the term “glocalization” given in Oxford English Dictionary is “The practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations”. Therefore, glocalization, like globalization, is the practice of putting certain products to global markets but, in contrary to globalization, it aims to preserve their cultural features.

Although disputed, it is widely accepted that the phenomenon of glocalization was first observed in fields of entertainment and tourism. Therefore, Schuerkens argue that “globalization is not simply dissolving local life worlds in their traditional local structures and settings, but is interacting with them in a sort of localization of ‘glocalization’” (Schuerkens, 2004:2). This approach reveals the problem of local and global perspective. Different nations have always been living in the same globe but it does not change the fact that they come from culturally separated locations. As McCabe and Stokoe argue “The impact of globalization on contemporary societies in the production and consumption of place has profound implications for understanding identity” (McCabe and Stokoe, 2004:602). To be accurate, glocalization may serve as a bridge between global thinking and local cultures. And in this context it is worth to elaborate the meaning of culture as one of the markers of the social space.

All individuals are born in some culture; therefore, the culture plays a significant role in men’s lives. Culture an individual was born in influences all aspects of live of an individual. Behaviour, social norms and even decision-making may be explained from cultural angle. Linguistic environment is also influenced by culture; therefore, culture shapes one’s cognition. It is therefore true that a culture may be learned and/or accepted. Nevertheless, culture has a strong influence to one’s way of thinking, understanding and values. Kotler argues that there is a need to understand how the product meets the needs of its users from the target culture and how successful its marketing might be in a target country (Kotler, 2009). The same approach may be applied to the so-called global news, or the news produced by global news agencies, such as AP or Reuters.

Translation of online news

Until the beginning of the 21st century, there has been little interest in relationships between the language, journalism and translation. The situation has changed only recently, when the interest in this topic has been developed by several researchers, Van Doorslaer in his article “Journalism and Translation” (2010). Until then, as he  argues, “The journalistic aspects of media translation as well as the position of translation in day to day journalistic work are not an explicit object of study” (2010: 180). Bielsa also notices the phenomenon of neglecting the topic of news translation in the field of translation studies (2010, 39-51). The mentioned situation has emerged, as Van Doorslaer argues, due to the “complex nature of power relationships (continental, national, linguistic, political and ideological) [that] determines important decisions and choices regarding news selection, news translation and news editing” (2010: 180).

For translation work the knowledge of both source and target languages are of central importance. Nevertheless, news translation is done mainly by non-translators, i. e. by the journalists themselves. Van Doorslaer implies that it may affect not only the quality of news translation into target languages but also the decisions not to translate some news (2010: 180). Moreover, for journalists, unlike the translators, translation is not the main activity but a supplementary part of journalistic work: “a complex, integrated combination of information gathering, translating, selecting, reinterpreting, contextualizing and editing” (Van Doorslaer, 2010: 180). It may at least partially explain marginalization of linguistics and especially translation in the field of news media.

On the other hand, news translation is a complex issue that cannot be compared with traditional relationship between the source text and the target text. Kang defines the news translation with the concept of “entextualization”, i. e. describing news translation as the process where the source text is subordinate to the journalistic purpose of recontextualization (Kang, 2007: 221). This phenomenon is closely related to localization of news, as Van Doorslaer argues, “Translated news texts can be seen as a complex mixture of summarizing, paraphrasing, transforming, supplementing, reorganizing and recontextualizing procedures” (2010: 181).

In the context of news translation, both entextualization and localization of news can be reached by two techniques described by Van Doorslaer (2014: 1048 – 1049).

According to the first technique, the sole source text, for example, a news content taken from a single global news agency is dispersed and therefore several target texts are made. Each target text may be presented as an individual entry in an online newspaper with entirely different headlines. This situation can be seen as an extension of a classical situation when there is only one source text translated into single target text.

The second technique presents the opposite situation. Aiming to create a new or partially new news item, journalists may base it on several news items instead just on one. These items may be information from several sources, feedback from experts, etc. In the context of news translation this approach may be considered as another extension of the mentioned classical situation with only target text and the only source text.

Therefore, news translation is a rather new field of research with distinctive characteristics, such as extension of the traditional one source text – one target text concept. And since the translatable news entries are related to international and foreign news from various sources, they need to be adapted according to linguistic, cultural, political and other circumstances of the target audiences. Thus, the global news undergoes the process of adaptation, i. e. glocalization.

Impact of glocalization on news

Bielsa (2010: 45) notices that “News translation can entail the thoroughgoing transformation of the source text and the production of a new one designed to suit new readers who are geographically distant from where the narrated events took place”. Common practice of such adaptation is to add background information, change priority or order of paragraphs, rewrite titles, eliminate certain information, etc.

Bielsa (2010: 46 – 47) extinguishes three tasks of this intervention:

•          Task of collection with the aim to establish information that is relevant in the target language;

•          Task of prioritisation of information. At this stage the source text is adapted according to the needs of the new audience;

•          Task of changing angles and nuances of the source text with the aim to better fulfil the needs of the target audiences.

Therefore, it is obvious that the local versions of the global news translation can be very different and also function differently according to local circumstances. Bassnett (2005: 125) also notices that news translation “reshapes, alters, emphasizes, adds and substracts where necessary”. Conway (2010, 87) justifies the use of these techniques stating that it “results from the irreducibility of culture as a way of life to the form of a text”, thus emphasizing the importance of intercultural communication in news. Cohen, Levy, Roeh and Gurevitch (1996: 174 – 175) suggest that “journalists sometimes construct foreign news stories in ways which attempt to create links of meaning between the stories and the history, culture, politics, society, etc. of the viewers”.

To achieve this, various translation strategies are employed. According to Bani (2006: 42) “textual translation strategies are different but all tend to simplify the reader’s task”. However, different scholars emphasize the use of different translation strategies for news translation. In 2006, the University of Warwick organized Translation in Global News conference where Gambier (2006) mentioned that journalists for the news translation use re-organization, deletion, addition and substitution techniques.

Gambier explains these strategies in the following manner:

•          Re-organization is re-structuring of the source text. Information may be re-focused in a given paragraph; some of the details may be moved to some other part of the text. For example, by using this strategy individual lexical items or extensive information may be permutated. The strategy is used both because of linguistic reasons (rhetoric traditions, for example) and cultural reasons.

•          Deletion may be applied to simple lexical items or even sentences. Parts of the source material to be deleted may depend on redundancy of the source text, level of accuracy, number of facts, etc.

•          Addition is used to clarify, make some background more explicit, etc. It may be resemble to language transfer.

•          Substitution may involve other translation strategies. For example, the details can be made less specific (for instance, accurate numbers presented in the source text may be rounded up in a target text), depersonalization can be made (for instance, instead of giving the names of certain political actors only their positions or countries can be given).

Other scholars present different classification of strategies (see, for example, Bani (2006) or Baker (2006)). However, in the context of news translation the use of translation strategies is important not because of their number or classification. Instead, it should be emphasized that a news communication does not function as an isolated text with only one possible target translation. For the translation of news cultural circumstances and context in general is not less important.

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