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A complexity approach to translation policy: the case of courtroom interactions in a multi-ethnic and multilingual county in China

Book - Dissertation

The world we are living in is facing challenges to enable communication between linguistically diverse populations. The topic of translation policy is of unprecedented relevance, as it is intrinsically concerned with decisions on how people communicate. The translation-related decisions take forms of not only policy texts (i.e. translation management), but also everyday social practices (i.e. translation practices) and ideological factors (i.e. translation beliefs). While the interest in studies on translation policies is on the rise the world over, much of the current research has been descriptive in nature. This research project seeks to fill an important gap in current translation policy studies that have yet to uncover complex causal processes of translation policies.To this end, this research takes complexity theory as a frame of reference, drawing upon its ontological and epistemological insights and adopting research methods that are compatible with these insights. Specifically, by adopting the concepts of 'constraints', 'attractors' and 'trajectories' as analytical instruments, this research will develop qualitative explanations for the emergence of translation policies in the context of courtroom interactions at a local court in China. Empirical data are collected through observations of trials, semi-structured interviews, and documents.The application of complexity theory to the empirical studies on a local court in China adds to our understanding of the complex and paradoxical relationships between the whole and the parts, between systems and environment, between structure, agency, and reflexivity, and between cause and effect. This understanding lays the groundwork for conceptualising translation policy as a complex adaptive system.The thesis will conclude by shedding light on the research questions concerning the occasionally contradictory translation management, translation practices and translation beliefs, the mechanisms underlying a translation policy process, as well as the inherent uncertainty of translation policies. The findings from this study offer some insights that might benefit both studies about translation policies and the field of Translation Studies. Apart from theoretical and methodological implications, this research also has important practical implications for policymakers.
Publication year:2021
Embargoed until:23/04/2024