It is not surprising that, despite the enormous translation activity generated by the written press, this has not been accompanied by a parallel research movement in the field of translatology. In this sense, very few theoretical approaches have been made to journalistic translation, and equally scarce is the interest that journalism has been paying to the enormous amount of translated documentation that circulates in the written press. Thus, compared to other types of translation that generate abundant studies and publications, such as literary, legal or scientific-technical translation, there is a notable lack of research on journalistic translation. However, in this short post we would like to vindicate in some way the autonomous nature of journalistic translation as a branch of translation with its own characteristics. Journalistic translation embodies a specific professional practice such as the written press, which, in turn, is linked to well-defined textual genres.
Having made this brief introduction to the subject we are going to deal with, the first element to highlight is that the main function of the journalistic genre is to inform. Therefore, all journalistic texts and translations must be easily readable and understandable for the reader, hence the requirements of clarity, conciseness, precision, fluency and simplicity in the construction of a journalistic text. However, information can be transmitted in different styles or with different intentions, so we can speak of three main journalistic genres depending on the register and the communicative intentionality used in the message: informative, interpretative and argumentative or of opinion. Each of these genres has established textual conventions, a way of communicating with specific structures that vary between languages and different cultures.
The first group, the informative genre, includes those texts in which the journalist offers concrete data and evidence, without assessing the situation and avoiding, as far as possible, issuing value judgments on the subject. Within this group, the most important and representative textual variety is the news item, which is an article that reports on a recent, topical and interesting event. On the other hand, there are interpretative journalistic genres, also known as «mixed», since they include objective information and the opinion of the journalist or specialist in the subject matter to be covered. This group includes some textual typologies such as the chronicle, the report or the interview. Finally, within the group of opinion journalistic genres, in which the journalist offers a clear and manifest point of view, the most significant textual typologies are the column or the essay.
Likewise, if we take as a reference the news as a paradigmatic textual variety of the journalistic genre, it is worth highlighting how the translator, in the development of their professional activity, must adapt to different contexts. Thus, for example, Spanish presents a conventionalized structure in which a type of long headline stands out, providing the reader with the necessary information without the need to go to the rest of the information; then the body of the news item expands on and supports what has already been said in the introduction. However, in French journalistic texts, the way of constructing headlines is different from the Spanish one because, while the headlines of the Spanish press are much more direct and explicit, the French headlines do not offer so much information to the reader, leaving the most important information to be developed in the body of the news item. The same happens with other elements, such as footnotes: while in the French press they are very common, in Spanish journalistic texts it is very rare to find this resource.
The socio-cultural change that occurs between one language and another requires the intervention of the translator, who is responsible for ensuring that communication flows naturally and that the informative function of the text is fulfilled. To this end, professional translators resort to a series of techniques such as linguistic amplification, which consists of introducing details that do not appear in the original text, linguistic comprehension (to compress, not to understand), which is fundamentally based on synthesizing the elements of a text when the text in the target language demands it (either because of a new format or because of the new needs of the receiving channel), or elision, which occurs when the translator, having less space available than in the original, decides to omit certain elements instead of synthesizing.
We can see then how the translator must know not only the textual patterns that prevail in their sociocultural system, but also the rest of the conventions of the genres they are translating. Therefore, translating journalistic genres requires special knowledge and skills, which in this particular case have to do above all with journalistic writing techniques and the mastery of conventions according to the context.
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Carlos Sánchez Luis