Interaction in the genre of popular science: writer, translator and reader

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    Abstract

    Scientific texts are often treated as neutral and objective, and their translators are assumed to be invisible. This paper takes an opposing view and argues that the translator's role in the process of communicating popular science is worthy of investigation. It first explores the notion of interaction in popular science texts, before operationalizing the concept of translation shift for the analysis of interactive features in source texts and their translations. The analysis uses a parallel corpus compiled from the Chinese and English editions of the popular science magazine Scientific American. Interactive features in the Chinese translations were found to occur much more frequently than in a Chinese reference corpus, and in some cases even more frequently than in the English source texts. The dominant trends identified in the corpus are discussed in terms of readers 'participation, writer-reader solidarity, and writer's and translator's presence in the text. The textual findings are further discussed against the background of popular science writings in the target culture and the views of editors and translators. The paper concludes by suggesting that the social responsibility assumed by translators and expected of them by society may explain their active participation in the process of interaction with target readers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)349-368
    Number of pages20
    JournalThe Translator
    Volume17
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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