Critical Discourse Analysis and Political Discourse: Assessing Political Legitimacy in English to Arabic Translation of the UNPE Reports’ Summaries (2020-2021) on Yemen

Al-Bahri, Nabil
Crezee, Ineke Hendrika Martine
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Master of Language and Culture
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Auckland University of Technology

Political legitimacy is the main factor of the Yemeni civil war since September 2014 and the UN is mediating to solve that conflict starting with the UN Security Council resolution 2216. Since then, the UN has appointed the Panel of Experts (PE) to evaluate the situation in Yemen and to provide the UN Security Council with an annual report issued in English as the original (ST) and in Arabic as the translated (TT). The Arabic translations of the UNPE final reports’ summaries are also published by the UN office and are aimed at Arab addressees, especially, people of Yemen as they are the intended target readership. The present study aims to investigate how the concept of political legitimacy was reflected in the Arabic translation of the UN Panel of Experts’ (UNPE) final reports’ summaries (2020, 2021) on Yemen in compare with the English text as the original. Then, the study explores how such translating strategies influence the Yemeni addressees’ perspective about the political legitimacy issue in Yemen. To evaluate whether or not the TT delivered the same message to the target audience as the ST, the study adopted both van Dijk’s (1997) and Schäffner’s (2004) approaches of critical discourse analysis (CDA) to assess political discourse translation. The data analysis explores the linguistic structures, including word choices, syntactic organization, textual cohesion, and textual structure. The data which the study used for the investigation are two summaries of the UNPE annual reports namely the Final Reports of the Panel of Experts on Yemen (2020, 2021). Findings from the study reveal that the translation of the UNPE reports’ summaries manipulated the TT to redistribute political legitimacy between the legitimate government and illegitimate political rivals. The TT has used several strategies such as lexical choice, foregrounding and backgrounding, deliberate ambiguity, analogic frame, nominalization, and passivation. Interestingly, the text translators used translator agency to convey less neutrality in transferring the ST message by following a strategy of literal translation. By applying CDA, this study aims to uncover the intended message of the source text and whether or not it was accurately and impartially transferred into the target text considering the Yemeni sociocultural and socio-political context. The TT addressees, as the Yemeni people in this case, view the reports of the UNPE as a testimony that evaluates the local political parties competing over political legitimacy. So, it is important to consider the TT context in translating these UNPE documents. The study recommends further research on the UNPE whole documents and their Arabic translation with consideration to the sociocultural and socio-political context in conflict zones.

Critical discourse analysis , Political discourse translation , UNPE report summary , English to Arabic translation
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