On the Study of Creativity in Translation: the Case study of Journalistic Text | July 2018 | Translation Journal

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On the Study of Creativity in Translation: the Case study of Journalistic Text

Professor, Department of Translation Studies, JahromUniversity, Jahrom, Iran, POX 74135-111, e.r.dorri@jahromu.ac.ir



Translation has many purposes and many different audiences – and therefore, the same text can have several different translations due to the fact that translators like any other authors use creativity while translating, but how it can be defined in translation. In order to answer this question, the present project will suggest a model of creativity in translation, based on Anne Schjoldager’s taxonomy of microstrategies .i.e. Direct transfer, Calque, Direct translation, Oblique translation, Explicitation, Paraphrase, Condensation, Adaptation, Addition, Addition, Deletion, Permutation. The definition of each of them and their level of creativity would be explored. These twelve microstrategies can be divided into more and less creative strategies.

Conducted with the comparative research model in translation studies, the present project is a descriptive-analytical corpus-based study addressing the study of creativity in the translation of journalistic text from English to Persian. The corpus built for the purpose of this study is a parallel one comprising 1000 English sentences appearing in three English texts within the journalistic type; a press release, a news article and a political article which has been compared and contrasted with their Persian translations. Then, based on twelve aforementioned microstrategies posed by Anne Schjoldager, it is concluded whether the translator of journalistic texts is creative as translating such texts. And among the aforementioned strategy which is used more and which is less.

Key Words: Creativity, Journalistic texts, Microstratesies, Translation.

  1. 1.Introduction
  2. 2. Statement of the Problem

Translation has been defined as follows: “The replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual material in another language.” (Schjoldager 2008: 17) However, most translators will argue that translation is much more than that. Translation has many purposes and many different audiences – and therefore, the same text can have several different translations. But do translators take advantage of the option of being creative when translating? This study will try to respond to this particular question.

With reference to the hypothesis and questions beneath, this project will focus on how and why creativity can be used in translation. The aim is to examine how creative translators are when translating journalistic text types.


  • The degree of creativity used in translation varies enormously when translating different text types.
  • Translators use their own creativity while translating journalistic text.


  1. 1.How can creativity in translation be defined?
  2. 2.How creative translators are when translating journalistic text type?

In order to carry out precise analyses of the translated texts, the concepts involved must be clearly defined. Therefore, this introductory part of this study will elaborate the notion of translation and important concepts which will be employed in the succeeding parts.

  1. 3.. Creativity in translation
  2. 4.Analysis of Creativity in the Translation of Journalistic Text

In order to answer the question ‘how can creativity in translation be defined’, this study will suggest a model of creativity in translation, based on Anne Schjoldager’s taxonomy of microstrategies above, Loffredo and Perteghella’s theory on creativity and my own characterization of creativity.

According to Loffredo and Perteghella (2006: 9) ‘creativity is still regarded as a spontaneous process readily associated with a special individual and a sort of freedom, which is sustained by an individualistic conception of authorship...According to this conception, the author freely expresses his thought and feelings in writing.’ This study, however, will have a somewhat narrower definition of creativity. The twelve aforementioned microstrategies posed by Anne Schjoldager can be divided into more and less creative strategies. Characteristic for some of them is that they do not alter, add or remove any linguistic or semantic meaning when applied to the TT.

This goes for direct transfer, calque, direct translation and oblique translation2 which all translate close or very close to the ST (Schjoldager 2008: 93-99). Therefore, I do not consider these creative microstrategies, and texts translated using solely these cannot be considered creative translations.

On the contrary, the remaining eight strategies do all in some way add to the level of creativity when applied in a translation. Though the semantic meaning is by some means rendered, there are linguistic changes when employing these strategies. Within these eight creative strategies, the degree of creativity varies as well. The model of creativity classifies the strategies explicitation, condensation and deletion as slightly creative since they merely involve elaborating on existing meaning, shortening text and taking out meaning. The top five strategies, however, are rewriting semantics of the ST or adding meaning which cannot be directly inferred from the ST. Therefore, I regard these as slightly more creative.

3.1. The creative microstrategies

This section will shortly outline the important features of the above mentioned creative microstrategies; that is, the topmost eight in the model of creativity.

3.1.1. Explicitation

Explicitation makes implicit information explicit, to put it briefly. In literary translation, the strategy is often used to make texts more cohesive, but it is also seen in other kinds of translation. It is used when there is a need to expand on something, e.g. cultural bound references or presuppositions not shared by the TT audience

3.1.2. Condensation

Condensation translates a ST unit in a shorter way which may involve making explicit information implicit; implicitation. Condensation renders the already existing contextual meaning in a shorter way and is therefore only considered slightly creative. (Schjoldager 2008: 102).

3.1.3. Deletion

Deletion is leaving out a ST unit of meaning from the TT. The unit is completely taken out and is not implicitly present, as is the case in condensation (Schjoldager 2008: 108).

3.1.4. Addition

When a unit of meaning is added to the TT, Schjoldager (2008: 104-105) refers to it as addition. The added unit cannot be directly deduced from the ST, thus, addition is different from explicitation and is also slightly more creative.

3.1.5. Paraphrase

By paraphrasing, ST meaning is rendered, though quite freely. The TT elements can seem somewhat different to those of the ST but the contextual meaning of the elements corresponds.

3.1.6. Adaptation

Adaptation is one of the most creative strategies as it does not necessarily render any contextual meaning, but rather recreates the effect of a ST item in the TT. It is applied, for example, where cultural references in the ST cannot be translated or explicated.

3.1.7. Permutation

Permutation is mostly used in literary translations. It translates ST effects in a different place in the TT. It is applied when a given ST effect cannot be rendered in the TT for linguistic or stylistic reasons.

3.1.8. Substitution

Again we are dealing with a rather creative strategy as substitution involves changing the meaning of a ST unit. The TT unit is clearly a translation of the ST, but the semantic meaning has changed (Schjoldager 2008: 106).

Journalistic texts belong partly to Reiss’ ’informative text type’. Journalistic texts, such as news paper articles and press releases perform the function of communicating ‘information, knowledge opinions etc.’ (Munday 2008: 72) as facts must be reported correctly. Of course, the journalistic text type is a vague term and certain texts within the category will also be characterized by the expressive and operative function according to the field and skopos of the text. This section will comprise analysis of three texts within the journalistic type; a press release, a news article and a political article. Three texts which have been taken from different journalistic website and their translations into Persian have been analyzed here.

4.1. Analysis of ‘The roots of Breivik's ideology…’

The text was published on Open Democracy’s website and was translated into Persian in Mehrname (v14, p: 36). The translator of this text has mostly made use of the microstrategies direct translation and oblique. These render the content of the TT very close to the ST and are therefore not considered creative strategies according to my definition of creativity. However, there are a few examples of deletion and explicitation. Apart from the few instances of deletion and explicitation, the press release has been translated in a fairly ST-oriented way.


4.2. Analysis of ‘the Americanization of Islamism’

The text is an online news paper article published at American Interest on July, 2011 and it has been translated in Mehrname (V14, p: 39). The translation of this text is characterized by the use of quite a few creative strategies The TT is as such not very close to the ST, but still, it must be categorized a translation since more or less all information communicated by the ST is included in the TT as well. Some of the strategies which make this translation rather creative are addition, deletion and especially paraphrase. In this analysis, though, I will only include a few examples of paraphrase, as an assessment of them all would be too extensive.

4.6. Analysis of ‘Brezhnev in the Hejaz’

The text was published on the National Interest’s online magazine and was translated into Persian in Mehrname (v16, p: 48). The English TT is marked by several creative strategies of the kinds addition, deletion andexplicitation. It is somewhat similar to the ST in both form and content, but manydetails have been altered or conformed to the target audience. The above examples, together with the additional cases of creative translation, do not make the TTappear as creative as one would think.

5. Conclusion

My intent with this empirical study was to test the hypothesis: The degree of creativity used in translation varies enormously when translating journalistic text type. It has been done this through comparative analysis of translated texts and their source texts of the type journalistic. In order to comment on the degree of creativity, I have suggested a model that defines creativity in translation in relation to this project, grouping Anne Schjoldager’s twelve microstrategies in creative and non-creative strategies. Within these groupings, I found that the level of creativity varies from slightly creative to very creative, which is also illustrated in the model. The analysis of the eleven texts has shown that the degree of creativity in translation is a complex matter. It varies not only in different text types but also within the types. That is, the degree of creativity cannot be predicted solely on the basis of text type


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Schjoldager, Anne (2008). Understanding Translation. Aarhus: Academica.

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The translation studies reader. Routledge.

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