Tracing back the process of (re)translation: when, in successive rewritings, change of meaning occurs

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper aimed to analyze how a text can be submitted to several processes of translation before reaching its ultimate receivers. International affairs, in particular - such as the papal visits to the United Nations General Assembly -, are usually transmitted in the media based on news agencies’ reports, particularly when target-contexts are geographically distant from the place where the event occurred. Alternatively, when the institutions concerned produce their own translations (as it happens in the UN), such translated versions are also made available for further consultation, namely by the press. The journalists' task is, then, to turn the “neutral”, precise discourse typical of both those versions into a more “proper”, culturally and/or editorially-based tone.
However, none of the previously translated versions would correspond entirely to the source contents, for they are rewritings. Taking the Catholic pontiff’s speeches delivered in the UN as an example, a thorough analysis points out differences between the excerpts or transcripts published by the media (in the final target context) and the official Vatican versions (in an initial moment at the source context). Tracing back the whole translation process, i.e., consulting the papal speeches, the mediating versions and the newspaper articles, it is noticeable how the official Vatican text has been modified throughout the way – a situation which we could associate to the general, common idea of “who tells a tale adds a tale”. In Translation Studies, this corresponds to the Manipulation School's claim that every translation is a rewriting of a given text that is ideologically pursued in a target-oriented perspective.
This broader understanding of translation was fundamental in this project, having the focus been placed on Pope Francis’ speech to the UN and the translated version published by Diário de Notícias. The endeavor was, on the one hand, to clarify the biography of that translational process, trying to understand when changes in meaning occurred; and, on the other, to identify possible reasons for the specific rewriting of that speech, as well as probable effects among the respective receivers.
Period29 Jun 2018
Event titleIX Simposi Internacional de Joves Investigadors en Traducció, Interpretació, Estudis Interculturals i Estudis de l'Àsia Oriental
Event typeConference
LocationBarcelona, SpainShow on map


  • Diário de Notícias
  • Pope Francis
  • Lusa
  • Reuters
  • Agence-France Presse
  • Translation biography
  • Rewriting