The manipulation of ideology in the simultaneous interpreting of political discourse

  • Jasim Al-Maryani

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The live simultaneous interpreting of political discourse that news outlets offer has become an increasingly important means through which Arab audiences both shape their understanding of, and determine their reaction to, the West. Interpreters have, of course, played a very positive role in this process of understanding the ‘other’, but some have also used their powerful position to manipulate, consciously or unconsciously, utterances towards certain ethnic, political or social agendas. This thesis addresses such manipulation, motivated by the challenge of rectifying Arab audiences’ possible misconceptions about interpreting processes, and in particular as to the impossibility of unmediated access to the source text. The thesis does by applying a modified version of Hatim and Mason’s (1997) discourse analysis-based model of ideology in translation to Barack Obama’s keynote speech ‘A New Beginning’, and to three of its renderings into Arabic, provided by Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera and Russia Today. Initial conclusions suggest that the interpreters intervene in order to represent certain ideological positions, among them stances that are anti-lslamophobic, sectarian, and anti-Israeli. These initial conclusions are further tested by applying the same model to another key speech by Barack Obama, ‘A Moment of Opportunity’, again with three renderings, taken this time from Al-Hurrah, Al-Jazeera, and Al-Arabiya. In addition to finding that most of the ideological positions that are evidenced in the interpretations of the first speech are present in the work of the interpreters of the second one, new positions (such as anti-sexism) are also detected. The broad conclusion is that manipulative intervention (resulting from the different constraints under which interpreters live and work) is a defining characteristic of everyday live simultaneous interpreting into Arabic. So as to potentially lessen the impact of such interventions, the thesis concludes by offering a number of possible solutions, such as the design of specific training programmes.
Date of AwardDec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorDavid Johnston (Supervisor) & Piotr Bumczynski (Supervisor)

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