Mediating ‘face’ in triadic political communication: A CDA analysis of press conference interpreters’ discursive (re)construction of Chinese government’s image (1998-2017)

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The pragmatist reform and opening-up in 1978 has revolutionised the way China communicates internally and engages with the outside world. Firmly embedded within this broader historical context, the interpreter-mediated and televised Premier-Meets-the-Press conferences are a high-profile institutional(ised) event in China. At this discursive event, the Chinese premier – ranked second in China’s political hierarchy – is put in the international media limelight, answering journalists’ questions on a range of topics. The section involving the interpreters’ rendering of journalists’ questions is triadic and dynamic and represents a particularly interesting site of ideological contestation, which can be conceptualised profitably using Bakhtin’s concept dialogised heteroglossia. Drawing on a corpus containing 20 years’ press conference data between 1998 and 2017 (280 questions in total), this CDA study interrogates the interpreters’ agency, particularly in (re)constructing the Chinese government’s image when rendering journalists’ questions. Despite the commonplace assumptions of interpreters being impartial with little agency, the government-affiliated interpreters are found to actively engage in facework and image (re)construction. This leads to a discursive pattern described in Van Dijk’s ideological square (1997), which involves further emphasising and foregrounding the positive elements yet de-emphasising and mitigating the negative elements about Beijing (the self).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-221
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

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