Lost in translation? Culture, language and the role of the translator in international business

Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10149/95649
Title:
Lost in translation? Culture, language and the role of the translator in international business
Authors:
Blenkinsopp, J. (John); Pajouh, M. S. (Maryam) ( 0003-1467-8712 )
Affiliation:
Teesside University. Teesside University Business School.
Citation:
Blenkinsopp, J. and Pajouh, M. S. (2010) 'Lost in translation? Culture, language and the role of the translator in international business', Critical Perspectives on International Business, 6 (1), pp.38-52.
Publisher:
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Journal:
Critical Perspectives on International Business
Issue Date:
Jan-2010
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10149/95649
DOI:
10.1108/17422041011017612
Abstract:
Purpose: Issues of language in international business have been the focus of a growing body of theoretical and empirical work. This paper aims to contribute to this literature, focusing specifically on issues of translation. The role of translator will vary depending on the language strategy adopted, with strategies linked to differing perspectives on language in international business - mechanical, cultural and political. The paper examines these perspectives through the lens of a specific problem for transnational communication - "untranslatable" words and concepts. Design/methodology/approach: Interviews were conducted with professional linguists (translators and interpreters) to explore how they dealt with issues of untranslatable but cultural salient words in their day-to-day work with international businesses, using the problems of translating the Farsi word tarouf into English as a case in point. Findings: The linguists agreed that tarouf was an untranslatable word, and described their strategies to deal with this problem. The commonest strategy was avoidance, stemming from linguists' concern to maintain their professional standing with clients, a finding which reflects an emerging emphasis on the importance of context and relationships for understanding inter-cultural communication. Practical implications: The study highlights the crucial role of the translator in international business, and draws attention to the potential for cross-cultural communication problems arising from mutual lack of awareness of culturally-salient but inherently untranslatable words or phrases. Social implications: Effective inter-cultural communication is an issue of great importance to wider society, and business has historically been the commonest site of such communication. The study highlights an issue of considerable importance for improving inter-cultural communications, contributing to a growing inter-disciplinary literature in this area. Originality/value: Much of the research on language in international business has focused on the emergence of English as a lingua franca, but the present study focuses on specific issues of translation and does so in an under-researched location, Iran. It draws attention to a problem of translation not widely discussed, and shows how important this issue can be for international business.
Type:
Article
Language:
en
Keywords:
cross-cultural management; international business; interpreters; Iran; language; translators
ISSN:
1742-2043
Rights:
Author can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing). For full details see http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/ [Accessed 06/04/2010]
Citation Count:
0 [Scopus, 06/04/2010]

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorBlenkinsopp, J. (John)en
dc.contributor.authorPajouh, M. S. (Maryam)en
dc.date.accessioned2010-04-06T10:42:16Zen
dc.date.available2010-04-06T10:42:16Zen
dc.date.issued2010-01en
dc.identifier.citationCritical Perspectives on International Business; 6 (1): 38-52en
dc.identifier.issn1742-2043en
dc.identifier.doi10.1108/17422041011017612en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10149/95649en
dc.description.abstractPurpose: Issues of language in international business have been the focus of a growing body of theoretical and empirical work. This paper aims to contribute to this literature, focusing specifically on issues of translation. The role of translator will vary depending on the language strategy adopted, with strategies linked to differing perspectives on language in international business - mechanical, cultural and political. The paper examines these perspectives through the lens of a specific problem for transnational communication - "untranslatable" words and concepts. Design/methodology/approach: Interviews were conducted with professional linguists (translators and interpreters) to explore how they dealt with issues of untranslatable but cultural salient words in their day-to-day work with international businesses, using the problems of translating the Farsi word tarouf into English as a case in point. Findings: The linguists agreed that tarouf was an untranslatable word, and described their strategies to deal with this problem. The commonest strategy was avoidance, stemming from linguists' concern to maintain their professional standing with clients, a finding which reflects an emerging emphasis on the importance of context and relationships for understanding inter-cultural communication. Practical implications: The study highlights the crucial role of the translator in international business, and draws attention to the potential for cross-cultural communication problems arising from mutual lack of awareness of culturally-salient but inherently untranslatable words or phrases. Social implications: Effective inter-cultural communication is an issue of great importance to wider society, and business has historically been the commonest site of such communication. The study highlights an issue of considerable importance for improving inter-cultural communications, contributing to a growing inter-disciplinary literature in this area. Originality/value: Much of the research on language in international business has focused on the emergence of English as a lingua franca, but the present study focuses on specific issues of translation and does so in an under-researched location, Iran. It draws attention to a problem of translation not widely discussed, and shows how important this issue can be for international business.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.en
dc.rightsAuthor can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing). For full details see http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/ [Accessed 06/04/2010]en
dc.subjectcross-cultural managementen
dc.subjectinternational businessen
dc.subjectinterpretersen
dc.subjectIranen
dc.subjectlanguageen
dc.subjecttranslatorsen
dc.titleLost in translation? Culture, language and the role of the translator in international businessen
dc.typeArticleen
dc.contributor.departmentTeesside University. Teesside University Business School.en
dc.identifier.journalCritical Perspectives on International Businessen
ref.citationcount0 [Scopus, 06/04/2010]en
or.citation.harvardBlenkinsopp, J. and Pajouh, M. S. (2010) 'Lost in translation? Culture, language and the role of the translator in international business', Critical Perspectives on International Business, 6 (1), pp.38-52.en
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