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As Exupery claimed language is the source of misunderstandings and we must agree with

this statement when it comes to the particular problems, such as cultural and linguistic
differences in the translation process.
As scientists claim, translating is decoding a written piece of discourse from the source
language according to our private language but considering the private language of the original
writer and the original context as much as possible, and then coding that piece again according to
our corrected-to-an extreme vision of the target language and context.
According to Krings and Seguinot, there are at least three global strategies employed by
the translators: translating without interruption for as long as possible; correcting surface errors
immediately; leaving the monitoring for qualitative or stylistic errors in the text to the revision
Moreover, Loescher defines translation strategy as a potentially conscious procedure for
solving a problem faced in translating a text, or any segment of it. As it is stated in this
definition, the notion of consciousness is significant in distinguishing strategies which are used
by the learners or translators. In this regard, Cohen asserts that the element of consciousness is
what distinguishes strategies from these processes that are not strategic. Furthermore, Bell
differentiates between global and local strategies and confirms that this distinction results from
various kinds of translation problems.
The categories used to analyze translations allow to study the way translation works.
These categories are related to text, context and process. Textual categories describe mechanisms
of coherence, cohesion and thematic progression. Contextual categories introduce all the extra-
textual elements related to the context of source text and translation production.
In their Stylistique compare du franais et de langlais, Vinay and Darbelnet suggested
a classification of translation techniques that had a clear methodological purpose. The term they
used was procds techniques de la traduction. Therefore, they defined seven basic procedures
operating on three levels of style: lexis, distribution (morphology and syntax) and message. The
procedures were classified as direct (or literal) or oblique, to coincide with their distinction
between direct (or literal) and oblique translation.
It follows that, more translators acknowledge and recognize cultural differences, the
better their translation will be. As inaugural speeches deal with poltical language, understanding
the other culture might be easier since diplomats and translators have the opportunity to discover
its own customs, norms and language. In this context, Keppler emphasizes that before being
posted in a country with a different culture, translators have been encouraged to acquaint
themselves with that culture in order to be able to converse and interact with their local
counterparts and the population in general in such a manner as not to threaten sensitivities .
Therefore, translation in political speeches tends to respect some cultural differences, but
unfortunately, it is often neglected and given less importance in comparison with multilateral
Inaugural speeches are essentially of critical importance for our study, as long as here we
may apply every translation technique possible. To be more exact, language and politics are
intertwined at a fundamental level. Politic activity could not exist without the use of language.
Therefore, in order to analyze the techniques used in an inaugural speech, t should be carefully
analyzed from every point of view possible, including cultural point of view, historical and
political pieces of information that make the original target audiences political culture.
The inaugural address of a newly elected American president is a ritualistic situation of
communication, characteristic to American politics and it is the speech trough which the
president expresses his view on his upcoming Administration. Barack Obamas election as the
worlds most powerful president is considered to be historical turning point not only nation-wide,
but also internationally; therefore, his inaugural address to the nation has been translated into
numerous languages. That is the precise reason why the translation is necessary to include all
possible translation technique possible, in order to render a clear, cohesive and coherent massage
all around the world.
Along similar lines, Vinay and Darbelnet mentioned in their book seven translation
techniques and divided them into two kinds of translation: Direct Translation which contains
borrowing, calques and literal translation; and Oblique or Indirect Translation which contains
transposition, modulation, equivalence and adaptation.
Inaugural address, being a political speech, incorporates all language that is literary and
reflective of traditional values. Obviously, when translated, almost all translation techniques
described by Vinay and Darbelnet are used. Therefore, in Obamas first inaugural speech we
were able to find some brilliant examples that illustrate the translators pallet of tactful and
skillful procedures they magically used in their translation trying to keep the original meaning
and render the message as close to the source language as possible.
Direct translations occurs when there is an exact structural, lexical, even morphological
equivalence between two languages. According to the authors, this is only possible when the two
languages are very close to each other. As scientist say, direct translation is a stable, not-
complicated process, however, one need to observe and keep in mind that every president has an
ideology, according to which they set the directions of their Administrations. This is also the case
of Obamas speech.
Firstly, we tackle the techniques translator used when working on interpreting Obamas
inaugural address into Romanian .Therefore, the translation of Obamas inaugural speech was
first published online by the news portal Mondnews on January 21 st, 2009. There is no indication
in the Romanian text about the identity of the translator and it is only mentioned that the source
is Reuters news agency. From a general point of view one can state that the text is translated. In
a comparative analysis, the original version and the translation version differs. Even if the
Romanian text closely follows the original structure of the speech as the translator used mainly
direct and sentence-for sentence translation.
It is also important to mention that , at the beginning of his address Obama states: I stand here
today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the
sacrifices borne by our ancestors. Mondanews translated Obamas introductory phrases as
follows: Stau astzi aici umil n faa misiunii pe care o avem de ndeplinit, recunosctor pentru
ncrederea pe care mi-ai acordat-o, contient de sacrificiile fcute de strmoii notri. Humbled,
and grateful, a linguistic dichotonomy, through which Obama manages to reduce the distance
between the public and the speaker, creates a bond between the nation and the leader. Through,
his modesty, another element of American culture can be identified: a story of someone who
worked hard and who achieved success due to his own efforts, and most of all, the story of an
African American who becomes the most powerful leader in the world. One of the most
important American values, sincerity, is present in Obamas speech, which ensures the publics
tolerance towards him, as his rhetorical strategies exclude aggressiveness, audacity or cynism.
Subsequently, from a pragmatic point of view, this qualities, tone and ideology needs to be kept
when also rendering meaning into Romanian. Therefore Mondanews managed to render the
message using concordance as a translation technique and succeeded quite well. His translated
version was the one given by all national TV channels in Romania and even Moldova. Therefore,
Mondanews, sought to translate a word of the original by the same word in the target language,
meanwhile taking into account such notions as accuracy, coherence and cohesion. For instance: I
stand here today humbled by the task before us which in Romanian equals Stau astzi aici umil
n faa misiunii pe care o avem de indeplinit.
Regarding the foreign policy of the new Administratiom, Obama declare that America is
a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seek a future of peace and dignity,
and we are ready to lead once more, which is to say that democracy shall not be imposed upon
others by using tanks. The Democrats ideology is fundamentally different from the Bush
doctrine. The Democrats policy is based on diplomacy, rather than violence: Recall that earlier
generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the
sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. Mondnews once again keeps the meaning unchanged
and translates using concordance: America este prietenul oricrei naiuni i oricrui brbat,
femeie i copil ce vrea un viitor panic i demn; suntem gata pentru a conduce din nou.
As it is understandable, Obamas whole speech is structured around the idea that strength
can be drawn from the nations heroic past in order to overcome the challenges of the present.
Barack Obama uses historical and cultural references in order to install hope in his fellow
citizens, which was translated into Romanian as dragi, compatrioti. Therefore, Mondanews chose
a cultural substitute. Nevertheless it has the same function in the context as the original item, be
as similar in form as possible and be compatible with the culture of the original text.
Therefore, inaugural speeches have certain aspects that can be very well rendered into
Romanian; on the other hand, it contains certain features that make it impossible to make the
reader understand the real meaning the original source language expresses. To take for instance,
Obamas inaugural speech, it is culturally and historically related to the American society.
Subsequently, it is difficult to transpose the message into another language and make it available
for other cultures, especially high- context. According to scientists, political discourse can be
translated into almost any target language. However, Silvia Irimiea claims that in most cases, the
translation loses its symbolism, its implicit meaning and its metaphorical and figurative
In general, the language used in translation is common, understandable, and clear. At the
beginning, there is a small introduction clearly stating that the text is a translation. In addition,
the introduction summarizes the speech stating that it is about fundamental American values. The
target audience of the translation is any Romanian reader interested in foreign politics and,
specifically, in American politics.
From a translation point of view, the text follows very closely the structure of the speech
as the translator used mainly direct and sentence-for-sentence translation. Subsequently, the
translation manages to transfer Obamas message clearly. It can be understood by any reader
with a minimum knowledge of international current events and politics. Nevertheless, the speech
is full of cultural and historical references which are inherent in American political culture.
Obama uses historical references to demonstrate that the American nations has overcome
situations of crisis in the past and to instill hope in citizens. Although readers of the translation
are able to understand the overall message of the speech, the implicit meanings of the presidents
discourse are lost through translation.
Finally, according to Irimia, the Romanian translation of Obamas speech should not
only render strictly the presidents words in a denotative manner, but it should also facilitate a
better understanding of American culture and ideology and bridge the gap between cultures by
expressing the connotative meanings.
The data suggest that the Romanian translation is quite similar to the source text. Along
similar lines, the structure of the original speech was well preserved. Regarding cultural,
historical and religious references, they are translated, but without any explanations or
interpretations. It is worth mentioning is that metaphors, idiomatic expression and figures of
speech were not transposed into Romanian, thus, the translator opted for semantic content rather
than rhetorical effect. Furthermore, the translators made no attempts to adapt the text to the
Romanian culture, thus taking risk of losing some of the symbolic meanings of the speech.
Finally, after reading Romanian and English version of the same speech we were able to
identify certain translation techniques used by translators when trying to render a close version to
the original. Subsequenlty, a translation technique most used in translating Obamas speech was
transposition. According to Newmark and Vinay, the transposition technique is a translation
procedure involving a change in grammar from SL to TL. It is actually a basic technique and
therefore has to be comprehended by translator because each language is different. English has
some differences with Romanian, especially in grammatical aspects like word order, tenses, etc.
Typically, English language has a subject+ a predicate+ an object+ an adverbial modifier +
place+ time. As for Romanian language, the object can be place either at the beginning, either at
the end of the sentence. For instance: That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.
The same sentence in Romanian sound like this. Este bine neles faptul c ne aflm n mijlocul
unei crize. This technique helps the Romanian version be more comprehensible, coherent and
cohesive for the reader. It is good knowledge and good skills the avoidance of word-by-word
translation at this point.
Data shows the frequent use of another translation technique that was used by translators
is addition. This happens when the translator find it necessary to add more words into the TL, to
render a clear message. For instance: So it has been; so it must be with this generation of
Americans. In English, it was used present perfect, and therefore, Americans understand what the
speaker means, however in Romanian it needed the addition pn acum to express what was
intended. Aa s-a ntmplat pn acum. Aa trebuie s se ntmple i cu aceast generaie de

For long sentences the translators opted for a word-by word translation or literal
translation. In this strategy, the SL word order is preserved and the words translated singly and
literally by their most common meanings, there are no changes in its from, according to Vinay
and Darbelnet. For instance: At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of
the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the
ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents. The same sentence in Romanian
sound like this: n aceste momente, America a mers mai departe nu doar datorit capacitilor
i viziunii celor care dein funcii importante, ci datorit faptului c Noi, Poporul, am rmas
credincioi idealurilor naintailor notri i documentelor fondatoare. As one can see the
translation focuses on accuracy and even if literal translation includes high risks as neglected
accuracy, the above example shows that this technique works very well for certain sentences.
The same examples includes attachments like high office, which was translated into Romanian
like: funcii importante. The attachment is welcomed in this situation for it would be less
cohesive for Rumanian readers to understand the expression of high office if there was used
word by word translation, oficii nalte, has no meaning for the TL reader and it would have
become very confusing. Another eloquent and illustrative example of successful literal
translation would be: Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across
our land, a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower
its sights. In Romanian the same sentence is almost identical. Mai puin cuantificabil dar nu
mai puin profund este o pierdere a ncrederii pe teritoriul rii, o temere scitoare c declinul
Americii este inevitabil i c urmtoarea generaie trebuie s i coboare nivelul.
Another translation techniques tackled by translators is commentary. The commentary
explains the meaning of a text. Translators often use commentaries to help the target reader
understand the meaning of a text. Translators often used commentaries to help the target reader
understand the meaning of various parts of the original. For instance: The nation cannot prosper
long when it favors only the prosperous. The Romanian text sounds like this Dupa cum spunea
J.F. Kennedy, o natiune nu poate prospera pentru multa vreme atunci cand ii favorizeaza pe cei
mai prosperi. The translator used commentary as a translation technique, because without this
explanation, the Romanian reader has no clue about its historical significance. Likewise, the
translator used concordance, with prosperous like prospers. Nevertheless this did not steal from
accuracy and also it did not affect the overall comprehension of the text.
One more illustrative example of such translation technique is the following sentences
uttered by Obama: At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the
father of our nation ordered these words be red to the people:Let it be told to the future word
that in the depths of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the
country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it. However, the Romanian version
of the speech includes a commentary to let the people know what the speaker meant. For
Americans, it is well known the information provided into Romanian, and doesnt need to be
mentioned again, nevertheless for Romanian audience, might not be that comprehensible what
the speaker is is trying to say. ntr-un moment in care rezultatul revoluie noastre era mai mult ca
oricnd pus sub semnul ntrebrii, printele naiunii noastre, George Washington, a ordonat ca
faimoasele cuvinte a lui Thomas Paine sa fie citite oamenilor: S fie spus genera iilor viitoare
c n mijlocul iernii, cnd nimic nu ar putea supraveui n afar de speran i virtute, oraul i
ara, alarmate de un pericol comun, s-au ridicat sa-l nfrunte. Therefore, the Romanian text
mistakenly attributes a passage from Thomas Paines The Crisis to the father of the American
nation- George Washington. Indeed, in the original speech, Obama does not mention Thomas
Paine; however Americans are aware of the author of the quotes identity and also know who the
father of their nation is and they also know that he ordered that Paines words of
encouragement be read to the troupes at Valley Forge, during the Revolutionary War.
It is also important to emphasize the fact that Romanian translation illustrates how
cultural and historical or geographical references can be lost through the translation of political
discourse. Therefore, it results in loss of implicit meaning of the presidents discourse through
Another speech that we analyzed was the Ronoald Reagons inaugural address from 20th
January, 1981. The Romanian version was provide by Liviu Craciun on 25 th of January. Craciun
was very close to the original text and kept the same tone, story line as the one provided by the
original. Therefore, The Roumanian audience was able to understand all shades of the English
speech. Consequently, even if L. Craciun used a lot of compensation techniques, it did not affect
and did not change the meaning of the text. For instance: Mr. President, I want our fellow
citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. In Roumanian, the I want our
citizens disappears and instead we have : Domnule Preedinte, concetenii notri trebuie s
tie ct de mult ai contribuit pentru a continua aceast tradiie.
Along similar lines there are lots of literal translation used in Obamas and Reagons
inaugural addresses and it seems like it worked in both cases. Ronald Reagan mentioned:
You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited
period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we're not bound by that
same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no
misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today. The Romanian version
propose the following translation: Tu i cu mine, ca indivizi, putem, cu ajutorul mprumuturilor,
trim dincolo de mijloacele noastre, ns doar pentru o perioad limitat de timp. De ce, atunci,
s ne imaginm c n colectiv, ca naiune, nu sntem limitai de aceleai obligaii?Trebuie s
acionm astzi pentru a ocroti ziua de mine. i nu vreau s fie nici o nenelegere vom ncepe
s acionm, ncepnd de astzi.
What we found impressive is that the translator used omission of an entire sentence in
order to focus the Romanian audience on an important fact the speaker wanted to emphasize. For
instance the English version of: In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our
problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that
society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is
superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of
governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us
together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be
equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. However Romanian translation
skipped the first sentence completely. Din cnd n cnd sntem tentai s credem c problemele
societii actuale au devenit prea complexe pentru a putea fi gestionate de un om obinuit
autonom, c guvernarea asigurat de un corp de elit este superioar guvernrii pentru, prin i
de ctre oameni. Dar dac nici unul dintre noi nu este capabil s se autoguverneze, atunci cine
dintre noi are capacitatea de a guverna pe altcineva? Noi toi, mpreun, dinuntrul i din afara
guvernului, trebuie s purtm aceast povar. Soluiile pe care le cutm trebuie s fie
echitabile, nici un grup nu trebuie s plteasc un pre mai mare. Nevertheless, even if the
translator took this decision, the reader understands exactly what Reagon was referring to. The
Romanian text did not suffer major changes and did not miss any important details. Also, in the
above example we could certainly notice the expression to be managed by self-rule, that was
translated into Romanian as a putea fi gestionate de un om obinuit, autonom. For sure, one can
recognize the specification and attachement made by the translator. In Romanian there is no
literal translation for self-rule, therefore, to avoid awkward translation, Craciun went into
arbitration and explained the concept for Romanian audience.

In the following example We have every right to dream heroic dreams. In

Romanian it was translated: Avem tot dreptul s vism la fapte mari. Subsequently, we were able
to identify translation techniques as generalization of the expression heroic dreams with fapte
mree. The translator tied to make the generalization to give the reader a broader idea of what
was said.

To summarize, Ronal Reagons inaugural address had a clear, comprehensive and

coherent translation. His ability to express himself in a simple and clear language made the
Romanian translation equally general and clear, the translation follows closely the original
structure of the speech, using direct translation and sentence-by sentence translation. The
message of the text can be understood by any reader interested in such current international
events. On the other hand the Romanian translation illustrated how cultural, historical, or other
references can be lost through translations or renditions through the use of specific strategies,
such as footnotes, translators notes, insertions or additions, and by replacing the items with
more adequate equivalents which come as close as possible to authors intended meaning.