Translators' literacy: the (personal) 'backstage' of news translation

Márcia Dias Sousa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review



This paper focuses on the literacy of translators, specifically of news translators working for the Portuguese national broadcasting company, RTP. These professionals tend to be particularly «invisible» – as Lawrence Venuti puts it (Venuti 2000) – since receivers are not usually aware that, in audiovisual in general, contents have been subjected to a translation process. However, if (common) news translators “can, and often do, expand a text with explicatory details, or delete those parts which are deemed too unfamiliar and inaccessible to a target audience” (Bielsa and Bassnett 2009, 7), in television there is no time to do it. Indeed, an ethnographic study, developed last year in RTP, revealed that, in this company, such professionals seek to be as close as possible to the source texts –the audios and/or videos received from journalists. Yet, not only these primary contents are often sent without any further contextualization, but also there can be unexpected, on-the-moment events that need to be immediately broadcast. Therefore, these translators have to be linguistically proficient in several languages, as well as constantly aware of what is happening in the world, in different fields of society – even more than other translators, working with less “immediate” contents.
In this way, this paper will discuss the translator’s intervention in the conception of news contents in RTP about international affairs. It will describe the very specific background and abilities of news translators – i e, their specific translatory literacy – and, ultimately, it will try to understand why, in television, news translation is such a demanding field for translators that “novice” do not usually start their professional experience in this domain.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2018
EventInternational symposium "Translation & Literacy" - Universidade Católica Portuguesa , Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 11 Oct 201812 Oct 2018


ConferenceInternational symposium "Translation & Literacy"


  • Translation in the journalistic field
  • Translators' background
  • Daily tasks
  • Personal and professional profile
  • RTP


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