Engagement in translation: Interactional metadiscourse markers in American presidential debates

Mohammed Farghal, Bushra Kalakh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With an audience in mind, politicians draw a political persona whereby their speech is engineered to involve receivers in a promised future. From their vocabulary arsenal, they choose words and structures that maintain a deliberately devised stream of thoughts to urge the electorate to vote. Based on a large corpus, this paper examines a selected number of engaging English expressions including (listener) pronouns, appeals to shared knowledge, directives, questions, and personal asides in order to firstly understand how they function metadiscursively in American presidential debates and, secondly, how they lend themselves to translation into Arabic. The analysis is based on Hyland’s (2005) model of metadiscourse markers and Wieczorek’s (2013) Clusivity in political discourse, with an eye to Nord’s (2007) concept of metacommunication in translation. The findings indicate that omissions and misinterpretations of subtle engagement markers that speak to an audience can disturb the metadiscursive channel as they may shift focus and miscommunicate the messages in terms of the phatic and persuasive functions. In particular, the fact that, unlike English, Arabic is a highly inflectional language, and still lacks research models of metadiscourse markers, places an extra burden on translators between English and Arabic in this sensitive area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-122
JournalJordan Journal of Modern Languages and Literatures
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arabic
  • Clusivity
  • English
  • Metadiscourse
  • Political debates
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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