Translation as an ideological interface : English translations of Hitler's Mein Kampf

  • Stefan Baumgarten

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The present thesis is located within the framework of descriptive translation studies and critical discourse analysis. Modern translation studies have increasingly taken into account the complexities of power relations and ideological management involved in the production of translations. Paradoxically, persuasive political discourse has not been much touched upon, except for studies following functional (e.g. Schäffner 2002) or systemic-linguistic approaches (e.g. Calzada Pérez 2001). By taking 11 English translations of Hitler’s Mein Kampf as prime examples, the thesis aims to contribute to a better understanding of the translation of politically sensitive texts. Actors involved in political discourse are usually more concerned with the emotional appeal of their message than they are with its factual content. When such political discourse becomes the locus of translation, it may equally be crafted rhetorically, being used as a tool to persuade. It is thus the purpose of the thesis to describe subtle ‘persuasion strategies’ in institutionally translated political discourse. The subject of the analysis is an illustrative corpus of four full-text translations, two abridgements, and five extract translations of Mein Kampf. Methodologically, the thesis pursues a top-down approach. It begins by delineating sociocultural and situative-agentive conditions as causal factors impinging on the individual translations. Such interactive and interpersonal factors determined textual choices. The overall textual analysis consists of an interrelated corpus-driven and corpus-based approach. It demonstrates how corpus software can be fruitfully harnessed to discern ‘ideological significations’ in the translated texts. Altogether, the thesis investigates how translational decision-makers attempted to position the source text author and his narrative in line with overall rhetorical purposes.
    Date of Award2007
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChristina G Schaeffner (Supervisor)


    • Translation
    • ideological interface
    • English translations
    • Hitler's Mein Kampf

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