Lingua-Cultural Identity in Translation: 'We' vs 'I' Cultures

Keywords: lingua-cultural identity, worldview, discursive practice, translation, multidisciplinarity


Introduction: The influence of culture on translation has been a prominent feature of translation studies in recent decades. The place of cultural knowledge in the formation and development of a translator’s cultural competence, however, remains debatable. This paper argues that, in addition to general knowledge of a target culture (history, geography, literature, traditions, artefacts, etc.), it is crucial to be aware of the most important components of its deep culture, i.e., its social organization and worldview, which in turn have a major impact on identity. The study further develops the notion of I-culture vs We-culture and their respective identities. We suggest that an awareness of such cultural factors should form part of translators’ essential knowledge about language and their professional training.

Purpose: The study aims to reveal linguistic and discursive manifestations of lingua-cultural identity in translating a Russian text into English. We explore nuances in the use of the pronouns we, our vs. I, my as well as some other markers of we-identity vs I-identity in the original Russian text of Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Valday discussion club meeting (2021), and how these were translated into English in the translation text.

Method:  Selection of a text containing sufficient examples; close reading to identify lexico-grammatical features; comparison of source text and translation; analysis of examples; drawing conclusions. The texts were subjected to contrastive lexico-grammatical, pragmatic, and discourse analysis. Sociolinguistic and cultural studies were used to interpret the results.

Results: The findings suggest that a Russian text could express a more collective mindset than its English translation, which shows traces of what may appear a more personal/subjective focus. The study highlights the role of deep culture in discursive practices and demonstrates the relevance and effectiveness of an interdisciplinary approach to translation studies.

Conclusion: The study confirms the fact that manifestation of lingua-cultural identity can be observed at all levels of language, as well as in communicative strategies, and discursive practices. The task of how to accurately render these nuances in translation is a taxing one that requires a comprehensive understanding of the role of deep culture in discursive practices.


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How to Cite
PontonD., OzyumenkoV., & LarinaT. (2023). Lingua-Cultural Identity in Translation: ’We’ vs ’I’ Cultures. Journal of Language and Education, 9(4), 73-84.