Scientific controversies and popular science in translation. Rewriting, transediting or transcreation?


Over the centuries, the circulation of scientific ideas has been granted in one or a limited number of languages. Despite the advantages of avoiding a scientific Babel, popular science is largely communicated to the public using their first language(s), and is often the result of translation from other languages – most notably English. While science may partly be communicated to the public for information, at the leading edge of research it is often popularised for its newsworthiness and/or to involve the public in debates concerning social issues or political decisions. The question addressed in this paper is how the ‘news’ elements in popular science are mediated in the target language and culture and to what extent processes such as rewriting, transediting and transcreation are at work. Methods and strategies for science communication are compared and contrasted using an Italian and English parallel/comparable corpus of newspaper, magazine and news agency articles reporting on the recent scientific controversy over vaccines. Corpus articles are collected using the LexisNexis database. Data are checked against a small monitor corpus of key articles collected as the controversies developed. Within corpus texts, mediating strategies are tested and issues concerning the achievement of intended effects in scientific controversy popularizations are considered. The discourse of controversies will be investigated in translation as a test case for rewriting, transediting or transcreation with an eye to different audiences, while bearing in mind that the ease of communication and circulation of ideas may have blurred cultural specificities and impacted the presentation of scientific topics to some extent.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v29p481

Keywords: translation; popular science; transediting; rewriting; transcreation; corpus linguistics


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