Ideology in Translation: The Impact of Socio-political Factors on Lexical Equivalents in Two Persian Translations of Animal Farm | April 2016 | Translation Journal

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Ideology in Translation: The Impact of Socio-political Factors on Lexical Equivalents in Two Persian Translations of Animal Farm

Today, ideology is considered highly important in a wide range of academic disciplines including cultural studies, communications, linguistics, and translation studies. Ideology and its effect on translation have long become a research focus in the field of translation studies. If we advocate the theories on the relationship between translation and ideology, then we would witness many cultural clashes revealing the distance between the source text and the ideological encounters it creates in the translated text. Therefore, surveying different translations of the same source text from an ideological point of view can yield insightful clues as to where the differences of these translations come from. The present paper reports the results of a study conducted with the aim of exploring the relationship between ideology and translation as well as the impact of translator’s own ideology and the dominant ideology on the target text. The corpus of this study consists of a political novel believed to enjoy ideological, political, and socio-cultural lexemes. The selected novel is Animal Farm by Georg Orwell and two Persian translations of this book: one by Amirshahi, who translated it before the Islamic revolution of Iran, and the other by Hosseini & Nabizadeh, who translated it after the Islamic revolution of Iran. Having had a critical outlook upon the original lexemes and their two different Persian translations, the researcher has extracted, compared, and contrasted ideologically-laden source text lexicon and its corresponding target equivalents. The results and findings of the study reveal how the translators’ ideologies and the dominant ideologies of the aforementioned periods have affected the translations and how translations, in general, are influenced by the cultural, socio- political, and ideological factors.


Key Words: Ideology; Translation; Critical Discourse Analysis Introduction

In the multilingual world, translation has become a major means of communication. It plays an important role in the transfer of information and establishing relationship among individuals and nations. According to Will, "translation is a conscious, planned activity, performed in a controlled manner and aims at establishing communication between different cultural environments"(as cited in Sidiropoulou 2004, p.1). Translation and intercultural communication studies have become more and more interested in ideological issues as they have acknowledged the importance of assessing how meaning is negotiated in the communication process. Therefore, in order to make such communication possible, translators should render the text in a way that their meaning is conveyed accurately and completely.

The ideology of translator and the dominant ideology of the society she/he lives in, can all contribute to the establishment of the final work. In this way, one can claim that ideology – whether personal or social – plays an important role in the output of the translation process. Awareness of this fact leads one to avoid the view that translation is the mere process of transferring words from one language to another. There are many factors underlying any translation process, and of the most important ones are ideological factors.

The works concerning ideology and translation show that there is a definite link between ideology of translator and the translation product. The famous translation scholar Robinson (1997, p. 49) states that “[the] translator lets their knowledge govern their behavior and that knowledge is ideological”. This idea can best point to the subject of the study presented here.

Translation studies from ideological angle have made more space for us. Translation needs to be studied in connection with society, history and culture. The factors that influence translation are not only language, but also transmission of ideology between different nations and countries. Ideology plays an important role in translation practice. The process of translation is manipulated by ideology, which involves both the translator’s individual ideology and the dominant ideology of the society. It is the complex interaction of the two ideologies that results in the difference in the translation product as well as the necessary changes made in the process of translation through the translator’s subjectivity. Many scholars have emphasized that the exercise of ideology is as old as the history of translation itself. According to Fawcett (1998), “throughout the centuries, individuals and institutions applied their particular beliefs to the production of a certain effect in translation” (p. 107). He further claims that an ideological approach to translation can be found in some of the earliest examples of translation known to us. Nevertheless, the linguistic-oriented approach to translation studies have failed to address the concept of ideology through years of prevalence, because such approaches are limited to their scientific models for research and the empirical data they collect, so that according to Venuti (1998a), “they remain reluctant to take into account the social values and ideologies that enter into translating as well as the study of it”(p.1).

Translation theory has traditionally focused mainly on the comparison of source and the target texts, taking ‘fidelity’ as the basic criterion. However, above the criterion of fidelity, ideology has functioned as an ‘invisible hand’ in translation practice. Lefevere (1992) states that translation is, of course, a rewriting of an original text. All rewritings, whatever their intention, reflect a certain ideology and as such manipulate literature to function in a given society in a given way.”

According Fawcett (1997) the spread of cultural studies and deconstruction has placed the concept of ideology and power relation at the core of studies on translation and culture. As Lefevere (1992) puts it “on every level of the translation process, it can be shown that if linguistic consideration enter into conflict with considerations of an ideological nature, the latter tends to win out”(p.51).

Concept of Ideology

There are diverse definitions of ideology defining the term from different perspectives. Different scholars have defined ideology in the field of language-related, cultural and translation studies. In all of such definitions, the concept of ideology is a set of ideas shared by social groups which organize our lives and help us understand the relation to our environment. As Hatim & Mason (1997, p.218) put it: “ideology is a set of suppositions which indicate the ideas and benefits of a person, group, social institution, etc. which is finally presented in the form of language”. Calzada Perez (2003, p. 5) defines ideology as consisting of a set of ideas, values and beliefs that govern a community by virtue of being regarded as 'norms'.

The term ‘ideology’ has always been accompanied by its political connotation as it is evident in its dictionary definition as ‘a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy’ (The New Oxford Dictionary of English 1994). Translation scholars who support the political definition of ideology mainly believe that translating itself is a political act. As Tahir-Gurcaglar (2003) argues, “Translation is political because, both as activity and product, it displays process of negotiation among different agents. On micro-level, these agents are translators, authors, critics, publishers, editors, and readers”(p.113).

Also ideology is concerned with the notion of power between people and groups. Some people and groups that have power impose their view or understanding of the world on others. They use their ideological power to prevent people and groups from obtaining a true picture of the world. According to William (2003), ideology is supposed to describe systems


of thought or systems of belief or symbolic systems pertaining to social actions or political practices. Hence, ideology is seen as being present in every political program and is a feature of every organized political movement, and the task of the analyst is to delineate the major systems of thought or belief which animate social and political action. According to Calzada Perez (2003), recent definitions of ideology are linked with the concepts of power relations and domination, as she quotes Eagleton, “[Ideology is a system of] ideas and beliefs which help to legitimate the interest of a ruling group or class by distortion or dissimulation”. She argues that sometimes ideology is viewed in a more positive sense “as a vehicle to promote or legitimate interests of a particular social group (rather than a means to destroy contenders)” (ibid, 5).

Sometimes it becomes xtremely difficult for translation scholars to justify whether the ideological differences observed between the source text and the target text are result of translator’s subconscious ideological interpretation or of his/her intentional ideological intervention.

Here, critical discourse analysis can be much useful. As Fairclough (1995) believes, this interdisciplinary approach to the study of text, views “language as a form of social practice and attempts to unpack the ideological underpinnings of discourse that have become so naturalized overtime that we begin to treat them as common, acceptable and natural future of discourse” ( p. 20). In such a way, the study of textual practice and language use as a social and cultural practice get the most leading role. According to him, critical discourse analysis considers a large discourse context than the linguistic one and places meaning beyond the grammatical structure. This includes consideration of the political and even the economic context of language usage and production (ibid).

Ideology and Translation

In the introduction to her book entitled ‘Apropos of ideology: Translation Studies on Ideology- Ideologies in Translation Studies’,Maria Calzada Perez (2003) has surveyed the relationship between translation and ideology in Translation Studies. She mentions that the combination of cross-cultural encounters and ideological pressures is abundant in the history of human being. She also states that even in the current millennium, this phenomenon is present, but this time under the title of Globalization, which she recognizes as a form of cultural and economic colonialism. She reflects the ideas of CDA scholars, where she states that all language use is ideological and as translation is carried out on language use, translation itself is a site of ideological encounters. As Fawcett (1998, p.107) demonstrates, “translation, simply because of its existence, have always been ideological”

Also many scholars confirm that there are multifarious relationships between translation and ideology. In a sense, it can be said that any translation is ideological since the choice of a source text and the use of the translated text are both determined by the interest and objectives of social groups.

For Hatim and Mason, ideology encompasses “the tacit assumptions, beliefs and value systems which are shared collectively by asocial group”(cited in Hatim& Munday, 2004, p.102). They make a distinction between ‘the ideology of translation’ and ‘the translation of ideology’. Whereas the former refers to the basic orientation chosen by the translator operating within a social and cultural context, in the translation of ideology, they examine the extent of mediation supplied by a translator of sensitive texts. ‘Mediation’ is defined as “the extent to which translators intervene in the transfer process, feeding their own knowledge and beliefs into processing the text” (ibid, p.103).

Ideology plays an important role in the translation practice, and it can be traced in different levels and in different ways like text selection, translation strategy, topic of the text, etc. There are various ways of determining ideologies in translation. For example, one instance of determining ideologies in a text is to look at the text itself. Schaffner (2003) mentions that


ideological aspects within the text are determined at the lexical level and grammatical level. She explains:

Ideological aspect can [...] be determined within a text itself, both at the lexical level (reflected, for example, in the deliberate choice or avoidance of a particular word [...]) and the grammatical level (for example, use of passive structures to avoid an expression of agency). Ideological aspects can be more or less obvious in texts, depending on the topic of a text, its genre. and communicative purposes. (p. 23)

Moreover, she adds that translation is an aspect of international communication and intercultural relationship, including ideological relationships. According to her, the translator works in specific socio-political context, producing target texts according to the specific purposes determined by their clients. This conditioning by society is reflected in the linguistic structure of the target texts; that is the translated texts reveal the impact of social, ideological, discoursive and linguistic conventions, norms and constraints (ibid).

Andre Lefevere (1992: Preface) says, ''Translation is, of course, a rewriting of an original text. All rewritings, whatever their intention, reflect a certain ideology and poetics, and as such manipulate literature to function in a given way in a given society,''. In other words, translation is determined by two basic factors: the translator's ideology and the poetics dominant in the receiving culture. Therefore, ideology dictates translation choices and translation studies.

Material and Procedure

The corpus chosen for the purpose of this study consists of Animal Farm by Gorge Orwell, a novel assumed to be loaded with ideological and political themes ,and two translations of this novel into Persian by Amir Amirshahi (1963) and Saleh Hosseini and Ma’sumeh Nabizadeh(2004). The former translation has been published before the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and the latter after that.

The research focuses constitutes a comparative format, where two translations of a single source text and are compared and contrasted and differences and similarities are looked for. In line with this, at first, all of the source book was read completely; then certain excerpts, which were assumed to be ideologically-sensitive to the dominant ideology of the aforementioned periods, were detected, studied, extracted, and investigated. Therefore, this research is based on a wide range of textual data, containing many instances from the source text and its first and second translations.

Data Analysis

The target texts have been analyzed in term of lexical choices, and the results are being shown in descriptive tables. Following the administration of data collection procedure, data analysis was conducted by comparing the source text with target texts, the results of which have been shown tables. Therefore, the entire original text was compared with the two translations. The comparison was meant to find clues about the intervention and imposition of ideology on and in translation. Then the renderings were carefully examined and commented on in order to find out if two translations conveyed the same ideological load and sense as those of the source text, or not.

In this section, some selected corpus elements with their two translations are studied and analyzed according to CDA principles, particularly Fairclough's experiential value and Van Dijk (1998) at two levels: Lexical and Grammatical. Now let's take a look at some extracted


Analysis of examples extracted from the novel Animal Farm by Gorge Orwell translated by
A. Amir Amirshahi (1963) B. Saleh Hosseini&MaumeeNabizadeh (1383)

1. When Benjamin did it was usually cynical remarks. (p.2, L.9)
A.اگر سخنی می گفت تلخ وپر کنایھ بود.)ص. ٧، س.۴(

B.وقتی چیزی می گفت معمولا آیھ یاس می خواند.)ص. ٧، س. ١٣و١۴(

The second translation, which is rendered after the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, shows that the expression ‘آیھ یاس می خواند’ is the product of the ruling ideology which became common among people. In fact, the translator has adopted an ideological approach to its translation. Hence, the second translation in comparison with the first one is more influenced by the ideology of the time.

2.Never mind the milk, comrades.(p.15, L.21)

A.رفقابھ شیرتوجھی نکنید. ) ص.٣٠،س.١( B.برادرا بی خیال شیر باشید! )ص.٢٩،س.٧-٨(

In the first translation under the ideology of the time, ‘رفیق’ was a communist term which was used by the opposition. Also in second translation, the word ‘برادر’ is related to ideology of the time. However, according to the context, the first translation is acceptable and the second translation is more influenced by ideology of the time. Therefore, the equivalents of the underlined English word verify the fact that translators' lexical choices emanate from the dominant ideology of a particular period of time.

3. Soon or late the day is coming. (p.7, L.3)

A. ھان بھ امید آنچنان روزی. )ص.١۴، س.۶( B.ز طاغوت انسانھا رھا می شوید.)ص.١۵، س.١(

As seen in the second translation, this phrase does not appear in the source text. Since the word‘طاغوت’is coined in the course of the Islamic Revolution and was mostly used in that time according to the insight of the ruling ideology toward former government, the translator has adopted an ideological approach to its translation. Hence, the second translation in comparison with the first one is more influential with regard to the ideology of time.

________________________________________________________________ 4. They did not know when the Rebellion predicted. (p.8, L. 23)

A.آنھا نمی دانستند انقلابی کھ میجر پیش بینی کرده بود.)ص. ١٧، س.٧( B.نمی دانستند شورشی کھ میجر پیش بینی کرده بود.)ص.١٨، س.۶(

The word “Rebellion” in the first translation is translated as ‘انقلابی’. The use of‘انقلابی’may be the idea of revolutionists of the time; and in second translation; it is translated as since the translator has compared it with Iran’s revolution and decided that this is’شورشی‘ .’شورشی‘ different from that one since this one is regional and should be regarded as Therefore, in both of them, the translators express an opinion the same as the opinion of author.

5. We don't all have the privilege of fighting in the front line. (p.36, L.19)
A.البتھ ھمھ ما این امتیاز را نداریم كھ در جبھھ جنگ كنیم. )ص.۴١، س. ٢۴( B.ھیچ كدام از ما فوتیق گنجیدن در خط مقدم را نداریم. )ص.۴٩، س.٢٣(

Since the second translation was rendered after the Islamic Revolution the word “privilege” and “in front line” is translated as ‘فوتیق’ and ‘طخ مقدم’. They create the image that


the translators' ideological viewpoints have affected lexical choices. Hence, it can be said that the occurrence of Iranian Islamic Revolution and occurrence of Iran-Iraq war influenced the process and product of translation and all of them are displayed in the overt and covert layers of this period's translations. Furthermore, the word ‘امتیاز’ depicts the idea that this privilege is given to a particular group of people and disposes the others.

6. They, too, were slaughtered. (p.50, L.24)

A.آنھا نیز كشتھ شدند. )ص.٧٩، س. ٨( B.مرغھا را ھم كشتند. )ص. ٨٨، س. ٨(

In the second translation, contrasted with the first one, a passive sentence is translated to an active one, to prove causality and agent of the action. According to Schaffner (2003), the ideological aspects within the text are determined at lexical and grammatical level (for example, through using passive structures to avoid an expression of agency). Therefore, the first translation is influenced by ideology.

7. The rumor often impending treacherous attack grew stronger and stronger. (p.57, L.11) A . اشیعھ حملھ خائنانھمردم بیشتر قوت می تفرگ. )ص.٨٨، س.١٣( B.اشیعات بشیخون قریب الوقوع بھ مزرعھ بیشتر و بیدش تش. )ص. ٩٨، س.٩و١٠(

The phrase ‘شبیخونقریبالوقوع’, which is found in the translation rendered after the Revolution, gives the idea that it is the results of ideological viewpoints. The image of to a Persian speaker is absolutely different from the real meaning of ’شبیخونقریبالوقوع‘ ‘treacherous attack’. Hence, this rendering can be regarded as being under the influence of ideology of the time. Also, in the first translation, the word ‘مردم’has been added to the translation, because the translator needs support to justify his stated ideology and to make it plausible.

8. Squealer counseled them to avoid rash actions. (p.57, L.22)
A . ئوكسیلر آنھا را نصیم حی كرد كھ از اقدام بھ ھر گونھ عمل جنسنیده و عجولانھ خودداریدننك.

)ص. ٨٩، س.٩( B.اسكویلر آنھا را بھ حذر كردن از اعمال جنسنیده صوتیھ می كرد. )ص.٩٩، س.۵(

The ST talks about leader’s recommendation. The word ‘rash’, which means ‘doing something that may not be sensible without first thinking about the possible result’, is translated to ‘عجولان ھ و نس نجیده’. It seems that the translator intended to intensify the severity of the situation and to justify his stated ideology and make it plausible; but in the second translation, the translator gives a natural image.

9. The drinking of the alcohol was to be punished by dealt. (p.64, L.26)
A .مجازاتمشروباتالكلیاعدام است. )ص.٩٩، س.١(

B.كیفرخمرنوشی مرگ است. )ص. ١٩، س.١٨(

Fir the word ‘alcohol’, whose signified and signifier are fixed, the word ‘خمر’has been used, which verifies the fact that after the Revolution it is unmentionable; and the reason for the avoidance of the word might be the fact that ‘alcohol’ is forbidden in Islam and, therefore, is considered undesirable for Muslims. Also, the word ‘كیفر’ for the word ‘be punished [punishment]’ seems neutral. The word ‘مرگ’ when contrasted to ‘اعدام’ brings about the idea that the translator has adopted a neutral approach to his translation.

10. Afterwards there were recitations of poems composed in Napoleon's honor. (p.69, L.4- )5


A . دعب اشعاری كھ در مدح ناپلئون سروده شد بود قرائت می دش. )ص.١٠۵، س.١٢( B.سپس دمیحھ سراییدر كار می آمد و سرایندگان درمدح ناپلئون شعر می خواندند. )ص. ١١٧، س.١(

The word ‘اش عاری’ is completely different from ‘دمیح ھ س رایی’, because the impression the first one gives is typical but the second one speaks of higher dignity. In fact, ‘recitations’ does not have such positive connotation as ‘مدیح ھ س رایی’. Therefore, its use in the translation expresses an opinion about the author’s opinion. This appears to have influenced the decision made in the translation process by the target text producer.

11. No animal shall drink alcohol. (p.65, L.26)

A .ھیح چیوانیشراب منی دشون. )ص. ١٠٠، س.۴( B.ھیح چیوانی ابید رمخ دشونن. )ص.١١١، س.۴(

As seen in the second translation, the word ‘alcohol’ is translated to ‘رمخ’. The second translation shows that after the Islamic Revolution, the word ‘رمخ’ is safer than other choices such as ‘شراب’or ‘الکل’, because in the Islamist culture and law, it is regarded as sin and it can be said that the translator has regarded it ‘unmentionable’. On the other hand, a euphemistic expression is used since it is more morally acceptable and avoids negative values connected with drinking.

12. But pigs with their cleverness and Boxer with his tremendous muscles pulled them through. (p.17, L.6)

A .اما خوكھا با درایت و باكسر با زور بازو ھمیشھ كار را پیم شی بردند. )ص.٢٩و٣٠، س.٢۶( B.منتھا ھوش و ذكاوت خوكھا و قدرت فوق العاده باكسر ھمیشھ بھ داد آنھا می رسید. )ص. ٣٢، س.۶(

The underlined phrase as an example of overtranslation depicts the idea that the pigs as the symbol of the leader of this farm were omnipotent. In fact, the translator wants to magnify the role of them in the translation. Here, there is aninstance of intervention by translator’s ideologyin text. Again according to Van Dijk (1998), the translator expresses an opinion about the opinion of author.

13. Mr. Pilkington had stood up, his mug in his hand. (p.82, L.7)
A.آقای پیك لینگتون جام شراب بھ دست از جا برخاستھ بود. )ص. ١٣۶، س.١٧(

B.آقای پیك لینگتون گیلاس بھ دست برخاست. )ص. ١٢٣، س.١٣(

The word ‘mug’ in English means‘a heavy cylindrical drinking cup usually having a handle used for drinking hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate’(Thesaurus Dictionary). The word ‘mug’ in the first translation is translated to ‘جام شراب’, and according to the context of ST, it is used for drinking alcohol; however, in the second translation, the word ‘mug’ is deleted and it is replaced by ‘گیلاس’ which has a totally different meaning. Since it is translated after The Revolution, it seems that translator has considered it ‘unmentionable’. The underlying reason for choosing‘گیلاس’ seems to be the wish to avoid negative values connected with drinking.

Here, the extracted lexemes are presented in following table in order to give a better glimpse.


Table 4.3: Ideological Analysis of both Translations of Animal Farm

Item No

Original text

First Translation (Before Revolution)

Second Translation (After Revolution)

More Influenced by



... cynical remarks...

...تلخ و پر كنایھ...

آیھ یاس می خواند.

Second Translation







Soon or late the day is


ھان بھ امید آنچنان روزی.

ز طاغوت انسان ھا رھا می شوید.

Second Translation


...the Rebellion...

... انقلابی كھ ...

... شورشی کھ ...



...the privilege of

fighting in the front line.

...این امتیاز را نداریم در جبھھ جنگ کنیم.

...توفیق جنگیدن در طخ مقدم را نداریم.

Second Translation


They were slaughtered.

آنھا نیز كشتھ شدند.

مرغ ھا را ھم کشتند.

Second Translation


... impending treacherous


... حملھ خائنانھ مردم ...

شبیخون قریب الوقوع...

Second Translation


... rash actions...

لمع جنسنیده و عجولانھ...

...اعمال نسنجیده...

First Translation


The drinking of alcohol was to be punished

by death.

مجازات مشروبات الكلیاعدام است.

کیفر یشونرمخ مرگ است.



...recitations of poem...


...مدیحھ سرایی...

Second Translation


... alcohol...



Second Translation


They were executed.

آنھا اعدام شدند.

آنھا را از دم تیغ گذراندند.

Second Translation


... mug ...

...جام شراب...



Making a comparison of the two translations of Animal Farm- done before and after the Islamic Revolution - leads to an apparent recognition of the ideological influence of the time on the translations. In this table, translations were analyzed first in comparison with each other and then in contrast with the original text to see the effect of translator’s ideology and ideology of the dominant power-groups and social ideologies in lexical as well as grammatical choices. The table reveals that the translators rendered the lexemes in two ways, and it seems that they have tried to choose the equivalents according to the socio-cultural, political as well as ideological conditions they are involved in.

In many cases, one can see the omission, restrictions and the changes of the meanings in the second translation rendered after the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, which puts clear red lines on the way of Animal Farm translation. Many taboo words found in this novel are transmitted fully in the first translation, but the second one lacks the exact meanings of them and adds some meanings which existed under the ruling ideology of the time. A comparison


of the two translations points to this fact that the second translation is more influenced by the ideology of the time, which includes many cases of omission and ideological hints.


It became evident that translation is not simply a process of transferring message from one language to another one; the high frequencies of ideologically loaded choices clearly prove the influence of the translator’s ideology and the ruling ideology.

Making a comparison of the two translations of Animal Frame--done before and after the Islamic Revolution-- led to an apparent recognition of the ideological influence of the time on the translation.

The first version published before the Islamic Revolution has so many political and ideological points while in the second version, rendered after Islamic Revolution, a considerable number of changes have been made to the text so that it would accord the ruling ideology of the said period. In many cases, one can see omissions, restrictions and the changes of the meanings in the second translation, which are indicative of clear red lines on the way of Animal Farm translation. Many taboo words found in Animal Farm are transmitted fully in the first translation, but the second one lacks the exact meanings of them and adds some meanings which existed under the ruling ideology of the time. The major reason to change specific equivalents after the Iranian Revolution is the dominance of Islamic thoughts over the socio-cultural atmosphere of Iran. Such a process is because of language of the people of a specific period of time and also concerns the ruling ideology and socio-cultural, socio-political conditions under which the work is translated and published.


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