TRANSLATING JOURNALISTIC (PUBLICISTIC) STYLE
The term ‘publicistic style’ is a coinage of Russian linguists.255 Foreign researchers speak of different variations, like ‘journalistic language’, ‘news media language’, ‘newspaper language’, ‘broadcasting language’, etc.256
In Russian linguistics, the publicistic style is understood as a variety of language that carries out simultaneously two functions – informative and expressive – and is used in public and political spheres of activity.
This style incorporates such substyles (sometimes called styles) as newspaper, journalistic, oratorical, and propagandist substyles. Each substyle has particular genres. The newspaper substyle includes editorials, news stories, chronicles, reports, summaries (e.g., weather broadcasts, sports results, etc.). The journalistic substyle is made up of commentaries, comic strips, analytical articles, pamphlets, reviews, essays and the like. The oratorical substyle comprises speeches, sermons, and orations. And the propagandist substyle implies slogans, proclamations, appeals, promotions, commercials - the last genre, though, is now referred to as a new style of advertising.
The main distinctive features of the publicistic style are standardization and expressiveness.257 These features fulfill the two basic functions: to inform the readership as quickly as possible, which demands from a journalist the use of ready-made phrases, or clichés, sometimes called journalese. Expressiveness results from the necessity to influence public opinion. The two tendencies are in perpetual conflict258 - this is the distinctive feature of newspaper and journalistic substyles, first and foremost, which will be discussed here.
Expressiveness can be detected in lexical characteristics of newspapers, magazines and broadcasting, and also in headlines.
English mass media are abundant in connotative colloquial words and phrases, even slang: eyesore, blackleg, new words (drunk-driving, think-tank), abbreviations (champ for ‘champion’, E. Germans for ‘East Germans’). Metaphorical and metonymical associations are not infrequent [Russia’s perestroika has turned missiles into sausages. (The Daily Telegraph)], especially those connected with sports: An industrial port … received a serious blow… (Vladivostok News); Mortgage lenders call for curbs on ‘low start’ advertisements (The Daily Telegraph). Epithets sometimes accompany nouns (strenuous political activity, aggressive grain exporters, the crystal-clear waters).
Though expressive, most metaphors in newspapers are trite and commonplace259: We have also suffered the virtual death of such vital industries as machine tools, motor cycles, and shipbuilding. (The Guardian). It concerns both languages, English and Russian. For example, Russian дары тайги, труженики моря – metaphors turned into hackneyed phrases.
English and American journalists take liberties with well-known public figures, calling them by nicknames (Old Fox, the nickname of Adenauer, Gorby, Gorbachev, Rocky, Rockfeller, Ike, Eisenhauer), shortened names (Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter; FDR – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, JFK – Jack Kennedy – John Fitzgerald Kennedy). Most of these short forms and all the nicknames are translated into Russian in full form, since Russian readership feel disrespect with these types of names.260
Expressiveness of English and Russian headlines is based on different criteria. The English headline includes more colloquial words than a Russian headline.261 Even if an article may be very serious and informative, the headline, to catch the reader’s attention, may contain slang: Scramble to Unseat the Confident Mrs. Bain (The Guardian).
Many headlines are expressive due to alliteration:262 Buck Bush, Man Behind. Malta’s Seasick Summit. When the War of Stones Becomes the War of Guns. Alliteration is not inherent in Russian headlines, so there is no need to perform it in translation.
On the other hand, the expressiveness of Russian headlines is often achieved by puns and allusions: Слонята учатся летать. Весна – время рубить деревья? Кому продается наш гордый «Варяг»? (Владивосток). This stylistic device is lost in translation because of the readers’ background.
A formulaiccharacter of newspaper language is also seen in the vocabulary, syntactic structures, and headlines.
It is typical of an English newspaper to have more verbs, and of Russian newspaper, more nouns to express actions: Одна из крупнейших южнокорейских корпораций – Halla Business Group – приняла решение отказаться от участия в строительстве Владивостокского индустриального порта. (Владивосток) The article with this sentence was shortened in translation for Vladivostok News, with the corresponding sentence reading: An industrial port …received a serious blow recently when a major investor decided to pull out.*
Nominal sentences are also typical of Russian headlines, whereas English journalists prefer verbal headlines:263 U.S. Sales of Vehicles Built in North America Slide 24%. (The Wall Street Journal) – Падение на 24% объема продаж американских автомобилей.
A distinctive feature of Russian newspaper is the abundance of informatively ‘empty’ words, like в частности, дело, со стороны, etc. In translation, these words are reduced. The translated sentence should be made as simple and compressive syntactically as possible. The following example, cited by A. Shveitser, illustrates the idea. Source language sentence: Согласно таблице, составленной Организацией экономического сотрудничества и развития, Финляндия занимает 8-е место в мире по уровню жизни. The translator’s version was According to a table drawn up by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Finland ranks eighth in the world in its living standards. The editor, whose native language was English, compressed the sentence to A table drawn up by the OECD shows Finland as the world’s eighth best-off nation.264
There is a standard for featuring numerals in newspaper articles and headlines. In the English text, whole numbers below 10 are spelled out, figures are used for 10 and above.265 In the Russian text we may find a figure in any case: в 5 км от берега – five kilometers off-shore. In headlines, however, numerals are not spelled-out: 3 Die in Ambulance Crash.
One special problem is translating English headlines. Some features of the headlines have already been mentioned. Another characteristics is that some articles may have several headlines of different levels: headline, lead and ‘catch words’ in the text.
A headline summarizes and draws attention to the story. It is often elliptical: auxiliary verbs, articles and even the sentence subject may be reduced. This presents a particular difficulty in translation. Headlines are normally translated only after reading the whole article, so that the translator is able to restore the subject: Fury at City Bus Cowboys. The article tells us about Manchester’s bus passengers coming out on the streets in protest against bus chaos. It is this thematic component that is missing in the headline. Hence the translation: Жители Манчестера возмущены работой городских автобусов, or Возмущение жителей Манчестера работой городских автобусов.
Most often verbs in headlines are in the so-called present historical tense: Salvador Rebels Take Battle Beneath Streets. If the event described in the headline was completed in the past, the verb is translated in the past form: Повстанцы Сальвадора начали войну под землей. In case the event is not yet finished, the verb is translated with the present form: Mutual Distrust Threatens Yugoslav Peace Accord. – Взаимное недоверие угрожает подписанию мирного соглашения в Югославии. (Угроза мирному соглашению в Югославии). Researchers mark that Russian newspaper headlines are not as informative as English ones, probably because of their nominal thematic character.266
To express a future event, the infinitive can be used in English: Iraqi Minister to Visit Moscow. – Министр Ирака собирается отправиться с визитом в Москву. – Предстоящий визит в Москву иракского министра.
The lead is the first paragraph of the article. It both summerizes and begins to tell the story. The lead answers Who? When? Where? Why? What? How? Some years ago the demand was that the lead consist of one sentence only, which required its partitioning in translation. Now the lead may include two or three sentences.
“Catch words” are used in the English text as if they were small titles of paragraphs. But in facttheir usage is purely psychological. They do not summarize the paragraph; out of the context, they are meaningless. They are simply expressive words taken out of context in order to attract the reader’s attention and to make the reader believe that the paragraph is not too large to be read. Because of this, these ‘catchy’ titles are not translated.
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