Interpreters caught up in an ideological tug-of-war? A CDA and Bakhtinian analysis of interpreters’ ideological positioning and alignment at government press conferences

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The interpreter-mediated Premier-Meets-the-Press Conferences are an institutional(ized) discursive event in China, permitting the Chinese premier to answer a range of potentially challenging and face-threatening questions from journalists. Arguably, this dynamic and interactive setting can be profitably conceptualized using Bakhtin’s notion of dialogized heteroglossia. As additional subjective actors in the triadic communication process, the government-affiliated interpreters are caught up in an ideological tug-of-war between the government and (foreign) journalists. That is, there is often a centripetal force pulling toward Beijing’s official positions and stances (the central, unitary and authoritative) and simultaneously a centrifugal force exerted by (foreign) journalists who pose sensitive and adversarial questions (toward the heteroglossic and peripheral away from the center). Manual CDA on 20 years’ corpus data illustrates the interpreters’ tendency to align with the government’s official positions, soften the journalists’ questions and (re)construct a more desirable image for Beijing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalTranslation and Interpreting Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

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