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David Katan

Languaging and the question of culture in ELF

David Crystal is interviewed by Xiaoping Jiang

Language and Questions of Culture

Crystal_2013 [643 Kb]

Behzad Ghonsooly, Masoud Sharififar, Shahram Raeisi Sistani, Shima Ghahari

Cultural Intelligence in Foreign Language Learning Contexts


The language we hear or use carries with it not only background or world knowledge but also cultural information. Listening comprehension, as one of the primary language skills, is no exception. Researchers (e.g., Ervin, 1992; Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Kito, 2000; Markham & Latham, 1987; Mueller, 1980; Othman & Vanathas, 2004) have found that the listening comprehension of ESL students is highly affected by their culture-related (e.g., religion-biased, ethnicity-biased) background knowledge and that cultural information arouses learners’ interest and motivation towards learning and comprehending a second language. Likewise, research has substantiated the pivotal role cultural intelligence or quotient (CQ) serves in individual’s success in cross-cultural interactions. CQ is a momentous multi-component individual capability with important personal, interpersonal, and work-related implications (Van Dyne, Ang & Nielsen 2007). The current study was run to examine if listening comprehension of EFL learners is correlated with their CQ and, if yes, which of the CQ components (including metacognitive, cognitive, motivational, and behavioral CQ) better predict learners’ performance on listening comprehension. The four-factor model of CQ together with an IELTS listening exam was administered to a number of Iranian EFL learners. The results are discussed and implications are provided.


Federica Scarpa

Similar Yet Different. ELF Variation in International Website Terms and Conditions of Use


The common-law-based standardized legal model of the terms and conditions of use of commercial websites instantiate, on the one hand, the increasingly influential role that English plays as the international language of trade and legislation, and, on the other, the disparities in legal practice among different national legal systems using English as a lingua franca (ELF). The paper investigates a small monolingual corpus of terms of use translated into English from the international websites of three international car manufacturers from three different countries of origin and legislations based in civil law: Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen. The aim is to find the similarities and differences in layout/content and terminology/phraseology of the three ELF documents: 1) against the respective source documents in the Italian, French and German national sites of, respectively, Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen; 2) among the three translated ELF documents themselves; and 3) against three terms of use taken as a reference, two of which are non-translated ENL (English as a Native Language) disclaimer templates whilst the third is a translated ELF EU Commission Legal notice. The significant intralingual variation found in the three ELF translated documents even in a highly standardized legal format such as that of the terms of use of a website is finally taken as evidence of the difference in awareness – and ultimately professionalism - by the legal drafters of the respective source texts and by the translators of the international readership of the final documents to be translated into English.

Scarpa_2013 [1.190 Kb]

Gemma Martínez-Garrido

Minority Languages and Film Subtitling: An Empirical Study Based on the Translation of Culture-bound Elements from Catalan into English


As the process of globalisation and the dominance of English as a world language expand, some regional and minority languages are becoming more marginalised due to the increasing perceived social and economic value of English and other major languages in the media. In the face of the challenges created by the globalisation process, this paper explores the translation of minority language films in the cinema industry, with special reference to the subtitling of Catalan-language films into English. The study focuses primarily on subtitling as the most common type of audiovisual translation (AVT) for this source material and enabling its distribution in the international market.

The corpus for this study comprises 14 Catalan films by the director Ventura Pons, together with their English-subtitled versions. Ventura Pons is considered one of the most internationally recognised directors of Catalan cinema today. In his films he strives to be a reference of the autochthonous culture and a signifier of cultural identity. Based on the data collected from the corpus, this study analyses the way in which the culture-bound elements (CBEs) encountered in Catalan films have been rendered from the source texts (STs) into the target texts (TTs) through the process of subtitling. For the purpose of analysis, the translation of CBEs was selected as the focal point of this study to examine the translation behaviour of subtitlers in response to the translation problem arising from the presence of numerous CBEs in the STs.

The paper investigates the translation techniques and overall strategies used in the rendering of CBEs by empirically exploring the connections among the following parameters: audiovisual constraints, interculturality, film genre, domain and translation techniques. More particularly, through a quantitative analysis of the results, the study aims to identify the most frequently recurring techniques and strategies used in such cases and to reveal symptomatic patterns of translation behaviour that may have been adopted when rendering the CBEs under study.


Giuseppe Palumbo

Divided Loyalties? Some Notes on Translating University Websites into English


The translation of university texts into English, especially web-based texts, can be seen as a very particular case of ‘localization’. In established models of “web localization”, mostly based on translation from English, localization is defined as the adaptation of the linguistic aspects of a product or service to a specific market characterized by a distinct social and cultural profile. However, when addressing an international audience through a lingua franca, as is often the case with institutional websites, there may be no proper target “locale” to speak of and identifying a “target” audience may turn out to be difficult. The paper gives a brief overview of what and how universities translate into English, with special reference to what happens in Italy, and then discusses the implications of translation into lingua-franca English for some fundamental notions employed by scholars and practitioners of translation and cross-cultural communication.

Palumbo_2013 [382 Kb]

Chung-ling Shih

Controlled Cultural Writing for Effective Machine-translation-enabled Intercultural Communication on the Web


This paper proposes re-writing web cultural texts using controlled language and adopting a dual-phase transformation. In the phase of syntactic/grammatical transformation, surface-structure sentences are converted into deep-structure ones composed of base linguistic components with the SVO structure. In the second phase of cultural transformation, all the cultural references are paraphrased into non-idiomatic expressions, and local references eliminated. The dual-phase transformation is supported by Chomsky’s linguistic theory and Gutt’s relevance theory.

To ensure the communicative effectiveness of machine translated (MT) controlled cultural writing (CCW), a statistical survey was conducted using communicative and non-communicative MT errors as the criteria. The findings showed that the MT outputs of four Indo-European target languages had significantly improved communicative effectiveness, though the results varied according to language. The implications of this research suggest two things: 1) CCW could be used to promote the communicative effectiveness of multilingual MT outputs, and different target languages lead to different communicative effectiveness, and 2) CCW could bring us economic benefits. In light of the cost-effective, communicative benefits, the use of CCW is recommended to achieve the goal of economic and effective MT-enabled intercultural communication on the web in the push for globalization.


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