Communication as a cultural construct at the United Nations Arabic Translation Service

Communication as a cultural construct at the United Nations Arabic Translation Service

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Communication as a cultural construct at the United Nations Arabic Translation Service
Iraqi, Amina
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[Tampa, Fla.]
University of South Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Communication models
Ethnography of communication
Metaphors of communication
Translation issues
Speech community
Dissertations, Academic -- Communication -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: In this thesis, I examine the practical challenge of constructing communication at the Arabic Translation Service (ATS) of the UN through the process of translation. Unlike in English in which "communication" has only one equivalent, in Arabic it has many depending on the context. My analysis focuses on analyzing the occurrence of two translation equivalents, namely ittissal and tawassul given that their use in translation sometimes proves to be cultural. I conducted participant observation over the course of a two-month internship at the UN Headquarters in New York.Using grounded theory, I pieced together insights from a database of occurrences of the term "communication," interviewed staff members about their opinion about previous translations of "communication," witnessed staff interactions during their weekly meetings, and participated in a communication framework to create closer relationships between the ATS and other duty stations outside the UN. The way this framework is designed helps define how communication is understood as both theoretical concept and word used for translation purposes. Adopting an ethnography of communication approach, I illuminate the cultural differences involved in translating the term "communication" into Arabic in UN documents by an Arab multicultural team. By means of exploring translation issues, I aim at defining the prominent model of communication in the UN ATS community, and showing how this community's talk reflects tensions between different culturally embedded models.My conclusion is that ittissal is preferred over tawassul, the first involving more technical meaning and less contact among people. Some translators disagree with some translations. The UN ATS has its own language, given that it communicates to particular audiences. I aim at finding out why ittissal is the preferred term, why is standard Arabic not used for communication among the staff, and what aspects during translation are cultural.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Amina Iraqi.

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Communication as a cultural construct at the United Nations Arabic Translation Service
h [electronic resource] /
by Amina Iraqi.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 76 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: In this thesis, I examine the practical challenge of constructing communication at the Arabic Translation Service (ATS) of the UN through the process of translation. Unlike in English in which "communication" has only one equivalent, in Arabic it has many depending on the context. My analysis focuses on analyzing the occurrence of two translation equivalents, namely ittissal and tawassul given that their use in translation sometimes proves to be cultural. I conducted participant observation over the course of a two-month internship at the UN Headquarters in New York.Using grounded theory, I pieced together insights from a database of occurrences of the term "communication," interviewed staff members about their opinion about previous translations of "communication," witnessed staff interactions during their weekly meetings, and participated in a communication framework to create closer relationships between the ATS and other duty stations outside the UN. The way this framework is designed helps define how communication is understood as both theoretical concept and word used for translation purposes. Adopting an ethnography of communication approach, I illuminate the cultural differences involved in translating the term "communication" into Arabic in UN documents by an Arab multicultural team. By means of exploring translation issues, I aim at defining the prominent model of communication in the UN ATS community, and showing how this community's talk reflects tensions between different culturally embedded models.My conclusion is that ittissal is preferred over tawassul, the first involving more technical meaning and less contact among people. Some translators disagree with some translations. The UN ATS has its own language, given that it communicates to particular audiences. I aim at finding out why ittissal is the preferred term, why is standard Arabic not used for communication among the staff, and what aspects during translation are cultural.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Mariaelena Bartesaghi, Ph.D.
Communication models
Ethnography of communication
Metaphors of communication
Translation issues
Speech community.
Dissertations, Academic
x Communication
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Communication as a Cultural Construct at the United Nations Arabic Translation Service by Amina Iraqi A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Communication College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Mariaelena Bartesaghi, Ph.D Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D Fred Steier, Ph.D Date of Approval April 6, 2009 Keywords: Communication models, ethnography of comm unication, metaphors of communication, translation issues, speech community Copyright 2009, Amina Iraqi


Dedication To my parents, Brahim Iraqi and Nour El Houda Ketta ni, whose strong guidance and continuous support highly pushed me to realize my g oals. To my two sisters, Bousayna and Oumayma, in recognition to their love and encouragementÂ…I dedicate this thesis, to them all.


Acknowledgements I start by thanking Allah who has given me the guid ance, motivation, and patience to persevere and fulfill my ambitions. “A nd my success (in my task) can only come from Allah. In Him I trust, and unto Him I look” (Qur’an V.11:88). I owe gratitude to the staff of the United Nations Arabic Translation Service for facilitating my research process, for their ava ilability to answer my questions, and for their welcoming attitude throughout my internsh ip. This research could not have been conducted without their help. I am very grateful to my advisor Dr. Mariaelena Bar tesaghi for her encouragement and valuable feedback. Dr. Bartesaghi ’s help during the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process was invaluable. She was so kind as to drive my application to the IRB office when I was in New Yor k. My application process would have been very complicated without her cooperation. I give special thanks to Mr. Mohamed Elgrini and hi s wife Mrs. Zahra Ben Abdeljalil for their hospitality since I came to Ta mpa and for acting like my family here. I owe immense gratitude to my parents Brahim Iraqi and Nour El Houda Kettani, and to my two sisters Bousayna and Oumayma for their love, support, encouragement, and mostly for their patience when I was away from them. I hope that they are satisfied with what I achieved so far.


i Table of Contents List of Tables iii List of Figures iv Abstract v Chapter One 1 The Cultural Construction of Communication at the A rabic Translation 1 Service Getting into the ATS 2 Literature Review 7 Chapter Two: Data and Method 21 My Data 21 Method 23 Chapter Three: Textual Analysis 26 The Etymology of the Term “Communication” in Arabic 26 The Term “Communication” Etymologically in English 29 “Communication” for the UN ATS Service 31 The ARABTERM Database 31 The UNTERM Database 32 The DtSearch 33 Tawassul 33 Ittissal 40 Chapter Four: Interview Analysis 43 Cultural Differences 44 Communication as a Construct 47 Differences of opinions 49 UN Translation Restrictions 51 Unification of Terminology 52


ii Chapter Five: Analysis of ATS Meetings 57 Chapter Six: Communication in the ATS Communication Framework 63 Components of the ATS Communication Frame work 63 Chapter Seven: Conclusion 66 References 70 Appendices: 74 Appendix A: Interview Questions 75 Appendix B: Arabic Phonetic Alphabets 76


iii List of Tables Table 1: Example of a term translated in the UNTERM database 57 Table 2: Example of a term translated in the ARABTE RM database. 61


iv List of Figures Figure 1: Diagram summarizing the process of commun ication at the ATS 67


v Communication as a Cultural Construct in the United Nations Arabic Translation Service Amina Iraqi ABSTRACT In this thesis, I examine the practical challenge o f constructing communication at the Arabic Translation Service (ATS) of the UN t hrough the process of translation. Unlike in English in which “communication” has only one equivalent, in Arabic it has many depending on the context. My analysis focuses on analyzing the occurrence of two translation equivalents, namely ittissal and tawassul given that their use in translation sometimes proves to be cultural. I conducted participant observation over the course of a two-month internship at the UN Headquarters in New York. Using grounded theory, I pieced together insights from a database of occurrences of the term “communication,” interviewed staff members about their opinion about previous tr anslations of “communication,” witnessed staff interactions during their weekly me etings, and participated in a communication framework to create closer relationsh ips between the ATS and other duty stations outside the UN. The way this framewor k is designed helps define how communication is understood as both theoretical con cept and word used for translation purposes. Adopting an ethnography of co mmunication approach, I illuminate the cultural differences involved in tra nslating the term “communication” into Arabic in UN documents by an Arab multicultura l team. By means of exploring translation issues, I aim at defining the prominent model of communication in the UN ATS community, and showing how this community’s tal k reflects tensions between different culturally embedded models. My conclusion is that ittissal is preferred over tawassul the first involving more technical meaning and less contact among peopl e. Some translators disagree with some translations. The UN ATS has its own lang uage, given that it communicates to particular audiences. I aim at find ing out why ittissal is the preferred


vi term, why is standard Arabic not used for communica tion among the staff, and what aspects during translation are cultural.


1 Chapter 1: The cultural construction of communicati on in the Arabic Translation Service The two-month summer internship at the United Natio ns headquarters in New York was both a learning experience and a research opportunity in an organization that carries a lot of weight in today’s political a nd humanitarian world. The models of communication used in the Arabic Translation Servic e (ATS) and the extent to which these models prove to be successful in ensuring a g ood flow of communication among the ATS staff members greatly intrigued my intellec tual curiosity. Also, the richness of Arabic language, the beauty of Arabic, and its i mportance in the UN makes the ATS an interesting service to examine in the UN. Th e fact that the ATS has a multicultural team of Arab translators who are all combining their efforts to produce high quality translations of UN documents calls for special attention to the linguistic cultural variations during terminology decision-mak ing. Being a student of communication, the cultural dimension of the transl ation of the term “communication” into Arabic mostly as either ittissal or tawassul was the first element I noticed. Though each of the terms ittissal and tawassul has different nuances and particular contexts in which it gets us ed, I noticed that there are some contexts in which the use of either equivalent beco mes a matter of personal choice. It is this aspect which I investigate through this res earch, attributing it to the cultural differences of the ATS translators. The way transla tors engage in the decision-making in the ATS, either through their terminology meetin gs or through taking the initiative to design communication frameworks for developing t he quality of their communication, all reflect the models and metaphors of communication that they use. The way the ATS looks at the communication process and its willingness to improve reflects the importance of effective communication within the ATS, as it is the case for any other organization. In the first chapter, I start by giving some intere sting accounts from my internship experience at the UN ATS, and I also inc lude an interview which highly impacted this research as well as a literature revi ew. In the second chapter, I describe


2 my data and the methods that I used in analyzing it In the third chapter, I analyze my textual data. I provide the etymology of the term “ communication” both in Arabic and English, using some leading dictionaries. I then an alyze the occurrences of the translation equivalents ittissal and tawassul from the UN terminology databases: ARABTERM, UNTERM, and the DtSearch. Additionally, I point out to some particular contexts in which ittissal and tawassul have been used in UN documents. It is in the fourth chapter that I move to analyzing t he interviews I conducted with the ATS translators pointing out to the themes that eme rged out of these interviews, such as: the cultural differences of these translators, their way of understanding communication, their differences of opinions during translation, the UN translation restrictions on these translators, and the process of terminology unification that they are going through. The fifth chapter is about my an alysis of the weekly ATS meetings where I show some translation issues encountered by the ATS translators. I then talk about the translators’ interactions in their meetin gs, and their process of terminology decision-making. Finally, the sixth chapter has my analysis of a communication framework that was designed at the ATS in order to improve the communication between the ATS and the contractory translators who are outside the UN main headquarters. I show how this communication framewo rk follows the transmission model of communication that was suggested by Shanno n and Weaver (1969). By this, I aim at finding out how the ATS constructs communi cation, starting from pointing out to the models and metaphors of communication th at it makes use of to analyzing the cultural manifestations involved during the tra nslation process. Getting into the ATS On my first day of the internship at the United Nat ions Arabic Translation Service, located on the 17th floor of the UN secretariat building, I was direct ed to the office of the chief of the ATS, an Egyptian and a h ighly-experienced translator. During my first encounter with the chief, he asked me about my educational background, my area of study, and the name of the u niversity where I was studying. He then asked me if I knew how to talk and write we ll in standard Arabic. I answered that I was good at the Arabic language both in writ ing and speaking. But when I said that I was studying tawassul in University of South Florida, he corrected me th at I


3 should rather use ittissal, given that tawassul refers to relationships among people, such as love and emotions. This remark suggested that the chief was correcting my mistake in the use of the Arabic language when I did not pay attention to the nuance between ittissal and tawassul I thought that his statement about tawassul was interesting given that he is a well-experienced and talented translator. I felt th at the choice of this term is cultural because tawassul was the common term people use in Morocco to refer to communication studies. On the second day of the internship, I was assigned a nice and very spacious office, and translators started knocking at my door in order to greet me and show their readiness to help whenever I needed anything. The t ranslators are very friendly and their daily interactions include smiles, laughs, gr eetings, and various signs of respect in the different local languages of the Arab countr ies they come from. The chief was also very nice when he expressed to me that he want ed me to get a feel for what the staff is doing in the ATS. He added1: I want you to be part of this place. Now, just go a nd communicate ((smile)) with the people and have an idea about the work the y are doing. He then was precise in expressing that I should com municate with people with the meaning of tawassul, as a way to be introduced to them and know about t heir work. The first location at the ATS is an open office of the chief secretary of the service, and it has among other things a computer, a printer, a phone and basically a time sheet where translators sign their names upon their arrival and exit every day. The ATS has a library with various dictionaries and glossaries in many languages. The ATS is also made of a long corridor with differ ent offices on the right and left, each occupied by two staff members. Lastly, the ATS has a processing unit where translations are technically revised and printed. Transcription notation symbols: Underlining of speech marks emphasis. (( )) mark non speech features of talk.


4 After expressing my research interest about the cul tural meaning in translating “communication” into Arabic when it comes to ittissal or tawassul a translator whose name is Mr. Samir related the following: Mr. Samir: We encourage people to look at our docum ents in the UN database. All these documents are public. This data base is a sophisticated way of showing data. We encourage people to use our doc uments. These documents come from the meetings of the Gener al Assembly, the report of the Secretary General, committee reports like the Inter national Law Committee, the Committee of Human Rights, summary of meetings, rep orts from different countries about their adherence to Human Rights Issues, repor ts from NGO’s, etc. About eighty per cent of these documents are originally in Engli sh. The ATS translates these documents from the other languages into Arabic. I s tarted wanting to know if all the translators agree on the translation of the term “c ommunication” into Arabic. After asking a translator about how he would translate th e term “communication” into Arabic. The following dialogue emerged: Amina: How do you translate the term “communication ”? S: It is difficult to say. It comes either as “comm unication” or “communications” or “telecommunications.” If it is “telecommunications,” we use ittissal In the Maghreb, we prefer the word tawassul, but it is less used in the Middle East. For you as a student of communicat ion, you should say: I am studying n [ ilm al ittissal], i.e. the science of communication A: I say tawassul T: I know (smile) A: Why? T: Because in the Maghreb, we have this thing. We h ave regionalism. For example:


5 1Gestion (a French word meaning management in English), we in the Maghreb say rr [al-tassyir], but in the Middle East people say [?idara]. 2[ la?iha]: In the Maghreb, people say “ une liste” but in the Middle East, people say “regulations”. But, wheneve r we have “ liste” we translate it, as [qa?ima] and not [la?iha] because we try to unite the terms of the Maghreb and the Middle East. Ther e are some words used in the Maghreb which makes it difficult for th e Middle East to understand. Also, in the Maghreb, we use [mistara] for “ une regle” which in English means a rul e, but in the Middle East people use rn [al-ijra?at or alqaw id al-ijra?iyya], which means “the regulations” or “the regulation rules” i n English. Thus, being from the Maghreb region, Mr. Samir is a ware that the Maghreb people generally use tawassul to refer to the process of communication. He is al so aware of the cultural differences that exist in tra nslation. But still in his opinion, I should rather use ittissal to refer to my studies of communication. This sugg ests that cultural differences are overcome in the translatio n of UN documents. Mr. Samir also refers to a process of terminology unification that the ATS is going through. From his reply, this unification process will create more un derstanding between the language of countries of the Maghreb and those of the Middle Ea st. Mr. Samir then recapitulates by saying: S: So we use ittissal for any mechanical operation, telephone cable, etc but we use tawassul whenever there is exchange of communication with people. But they don’t understand it like that in the Middle Ea st. Yet, the answer of the Egyptian chief of the ATS di d suggest an understanding that tawassul is used for an exchange of messages among people a nd that ittissal is used for the technical aspect of the communication proce ss. However, from this Mr. Samir’s response, there appears to be no rule for u sing either tawassul or ittissal in relationships, except for the technical aspect whic h is the context where ittissal is clearly the term to use. This pushed me to ask Mr. Samir about how the UN manages to overcome the cultural differences in language du ring translation.


6 A: How do you go about that in the UN? How do you m ake a decision to choose the most common term both in the Maghreb and in the Middle East? S: In the IT, it is difficult to put tawassul but in general it is not understood. Sometimes there are things that are understood only in your region. You should be aware of regional use which is problemati c. And the solution is both easy and difficult. This service started with Orien talists; that is why the problem was not big. There was a problem in terms o f use between Egypt and Syria and between Morocco and Tunisia. For example, for the term “training”, Moroccans use "# [tadrib], but Tunisians use $% [tarabbuss] and in any domain. For instance, to say that you are an intern in Morocco, you say & % [ana mutadarriba] but in Tunisia you will say %& [ana mutarabbissa]. In Morocco, you will say r( r [ma?had attasyyr], but in Tunisia you will say )(' [ma?had attasarruf]. Historically, the corpus did not have much difference because the language o f the Middle East was the one which was spread. After that the people of the Maghreb came and a different perspective started. The debate is still going on. A good example is the weekly terminology meeting in which there are l imitations of regional usages. Thus, it is after translators from the Maghreb regi on were recruited that cultural differences in language started to emerge. Mr. Sami r raised a very interesting point that emphasizes the reason why some terms are avoid ed in some cultures. In his words: S: Sometimes the term is related to dialectal usage like: “Une interrogation”, French of interviewing we use in the Maghreb *+, [istintaq], but in Egypt it has the meaning of “to vomit.” So the equivalent [istintaq] was completely erased from our documents. In the UN we use -., [istijwab] instead of it. This translator then moved to another aspect which is the different forms that the term “communication” appears in and which resul ts in a change of meaning:


7 S: For “communication,” there are ranks. It might b e used in singular or plural or as an adjective and when a rank shifts the meani ng might also change. Mr. Samir concludes by saying that ittissal refers to the phenomenon of communication and that tawassul refers to the act itself. For him, it is for this reason that I should say that I am studying al-ittissal rather than al-tawassul This suggests that ittissal is the science of communication in general, wherea s tawassul is when this science is put into practice. I aimed through this long excerpt at giving an over view about some major translation issues that I will be discussing in the chapters about interview analysis and textual analysis. Literature Review Writing about communication as a cultural construct at the ATS was both easy and difficult to me because communication is a so a bstract and broad concept whose components need to be specified by the researcher. James Carey writes that one of the major problems one encounters in talking about comm unication is that the noun refers to the most common, mundane human experience (Carey 1989, pp.23-24). This was revealed to me through the reactions to some of the staff members to my questions about communication at the ATS. For them, the conce pt of communication was a clear and very simple aspect of everyday life that maybe did not require all the attention I was giving it. However, researching com munication at the ATS proved to be complex given the multiplicity of aspects that n eed to be analyzed starting from everyday interactions and meetings to translated do cuments and terminology databases. These simple daily interactions reveal a lot about the nature of work at the ATS. My research approach is based on grounded theory, w hich is the use of data to generate a theory. Charmaz and Mitchell (2001) defi ne grounded theory as consisting of “flexible strategies for collecting and analyzin g data that can help ethnographers to conduct efficient fieldwork and create astute analy ses” (p. 160). These authors mention various strategies of grounded theory. Firs t, the researcher should collect data and analyze it simultaneously. Second, the research er should extract themes out of the


8 data and relate the social processes that emerge fr om the data. Third, the process of this type of research is inductive, as the research er has to construct, define and summarize these social processes. Fourth, the resea rcher should also construct a theoretical framework under which he or she should include these categories and point out to the results of these processes. Additi onally, using grounded theory, the researcher has to be open to the social atmosphere of the data, considering every piece of data to be meaningful. Adopting a grounded theory approach, I exposed myse lf to the social atmosphere at the ATS, considering everything to be meaningful. My simultaneous analysis to the data allowed me to pay attention to more aspects in the field. The terminology unification process, the translation is sues and the cultural dimensions of translation were all themes that emerged out of the data. I started by gathering textual data in the form of translation occurrences of the term “communication” in the DtSearch to find myself interviewing translators an d analyzing interactions during translators’ meetings. In their book, B. Glaser and A. L. Strauss (1977) d escribe qualitative research as being an ‘adequate’ and ‘efficient’ way to obtai n data and overcome the difficulties of empirical research. The authors also mention tha t grounded theory has four conditions of applicability: First, it should “fit the substantive area in which it will be used”. Second, it has to be “ understandable by laymen concerned with this area”. Third, it has “to be general to be applicable to a multitude of diverse daily s ituations within the substantive area”. Fourth, “it must allo w the user partial control over the structure and process of daily situations as they c hange through time” (B. Glaser and A. L. Strauss, 1977, p. 237). Charmaz (1990) conducted a study in which she appli ed grounded theory on analyzing the behavior of people having chronic ill nesses. Charmaz argues that grounded theorists proceed in the following way: By starting with data from the lived experience of the research participants, the researcher can, from the beginning, attend to h ow they construct their worlds. That lived experience shapes the researcher ’s approach to data collection and analysis (p. 1162).


9 This reminds me of the accounts that translators at the ATS gave me about their job experience during the interviews I had wi th them. Most of them were very expressive, which made me get an overall idea about the extent of their satisfaction with their jobs as translators. Charmaz (1990) also mentions how grounded theorists “begin with general research questions rather than tightly framed pre-conceived hypotheses” (p. 1162). This means that the grounded theorist starts as a Tabula Rasa, and that the categories only emerge after the data are gathered. For instance, there are some aspects that some translators raised to me dur ing the interviews which I did not ask them, which is the case for the translators’ sa tisfaction aspect about their jobs. Thus, I did not start the data gathering process wi th, as Charmaz calls them, preconceived hypotheses. Rather, findings emerged from my data. Charmaz (1990) also argues that Glaser and Strauss developed grounded theory when formal theory was be coming more arid and distant from the worlds of interacting people, when the primary value of qualitative research lay in sharpening later ‘rigor ous’ quantitative research, and when field research studies generally remained ethnographic or consisted of analytic descriptions (p. 1163). Thus, grounded theory came as a better substitute f or some previous research methods. My finding through the data is about the difference in the use of ittissal and tawassul in the ATS. I believe tawassul to invoke the ritual model of communication “in which communication is linked to terms such as ‘sharing’, ‘participation’, ‘association’, ‘fellowship’ and ‘the possession of a common faith’. This definition exploits the ancient identity and common roots of t he terms ‘commonness’, ‘communion’, ‘community’, and ‘communication’ (Care y, 1989, p. 18). This model is so little used by the ATS because it is not needed in its context and domain and is not directed towards its audience of professional polit icians. Carey (1989) also mentions that “communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed” (p.23). The process of terminology unification is geared toward s repairing the terminology


10 databases of UNTERM and ARABTERM and transforming i t in a way that produces a better version. This is also part of the ATS cult ure of maintaining high standards of professionalism in translation. In an effort to locate the elements of the speech p atterns of the ATS community, I found Philipsen’s (1992) article entit led: “Speaking like ‘a man’ in Teamsterville” to be a great resource for that. In this article, Philipsen locates these speech patterns of the Teamsterville’s community an d mentions the cultural values of this speech community through which a person is con sidered a man. Using an ethnography of communication approach, this author shows how being a man in Teamsterville is more of a social category defined by cultural values. Philipsen also (1992) notes that the Teamsterville community is si milar to “a universe of discourse with a finely organized, distinctive pattern of mea ning and action” (p.4). Thus, through analyzing the speech of the translators at the ATS, I attempt to show how speaking is a deep cultural activity in the ATS. Fo r the ATS translators, issues about work, translation unification, communication models provides an idea about their values, motives, and goals. Their translation is di rected to an audience of diplomats, delegates and other politicians. For the ATS transl ators, speech is the accurate translation of documents using a unified language u nderstood by politicians. Speech is for them also a reflection of the UN language and a preservation of the UN image and reputation. Philipsen (1992) also believes that “to understand speaking in a particular speech community, one must come to understand how i t is culturally shaped and constituted” (p.7). Understanding the translation r ules at the ATS necessitates an understanding of the ATS culture and goals. To this aim, I started with observing the speech of the ATS community, mainly through the mee tings and through the interviews I had with the translators. I also paid attention to the pattern of frequency of the ATS speech behaviors. I observed the jargon and the language(s) that the translators use while speaking. These languages are mainly the local Arabic languages, such as Egyptian for Egyptians, Syrian f or Syrians, Moroccan Arabic for Moroccans, etc. Some words in languages, such as Fr ench and English, appear as well in the speech of this community depending on their cultural reference. Moroccans, for instance, tend to use some French words while speak ing while Egyptians or Syrians


11 tend to use some English. This is mainly due to the colonial past in these countries which included these two foreign languages in the e ducational system. However, my remark is that a foreign language is rarely used at the ATS and that what I heard is the exception. Walking in the corridor of the ATS remin ded me of walking in Arab corridors. The ATS has a purely Arab culture to the extent that it becomes difficult to realize that one is in an organization in the Unite d States. The ATS meetings were very helpful to understand th e ATS culture. The preferred translation and producing the right versi on of a translation are perceptible in these meetings. As Philipsen (1992) also notes, “w herever there is a spoken life, there is a distinctive system of predicables, preferences and practices for spoken conduct” (p.11). Also, translators of the ATS are all linked through a social relationship within the work domain that makes them similar and united towards achieving the same goals of making successful translations to sometime s problematic terms. Thus, their speaking is structured, distinctive and social. Philipsen (1992) also argues that “not every social moment is a speaking moment, but every speaking moment not only occurs i n, but also contributes to, a particular moment of sociality” (p.13). It might ha ppen that translators call each other to discuss translations of certain terms. This mome nt of discussion is not only a speaking moment, but also a social moment that make s these translators communicate with the meaning of tawassul rather than ittissal I further discuss the difference in the use of ittissal and tawassul in the textual analysis in chapter 3. The nuance o f tawassul is very similar to what Philipsen (1992) calls as close/distant dimension of communication. “Communication” is the medium of intercourse betwe en those who are “close,” such as “close friends” and intimates. Alt hough the spatial metaphors of proximity and similarity are relevant here, perh aps of most relevance is the spatial metaphor of penetration. Specifically, “com munication” is high on interpenetration of the interlocutors’ unique psych ologic worlds (p. 74). What is intimate, close, interchanged and no longer private among people is more referred to as tawassul in Arabic. This explains why this equivalent of communication is not very used in the translation o f UN documents. It is, however,


12 used in the Arabic Language Center of the UN given that communication in the context of language learning refers to interchanged conversations and learning. It is also similar to what Philipsen also calls as ‘openn ess’. “By openness is meant a willingness to listen to and acknowledge the other’ s presentation of self, to listen to and actively try to understand the other’s evaluati on of oneself, and to be willing to consider changing one’s perception of self and the other, contingent upon the meanings that emerge in the speech event” (p. 74). This kind of reality often occurs in language centers and during language learning. The ATS community also has a code of speaking, a sy stem of meanings and symbols that define its culture. The code of honor is a very common speech code at the UN ATS. According to Philipsen (1992), “honor r efers to the worth attached to individuals by virtue of their attained social iden tity, as that identity is found to be valued in a particular community. It is concerned w ith the persona built up out of heritage, residence, and valorous past conduct” (p. 103). Translators are always cautious not to make any mistake in translation tha t would affect the image of the ATS either by politicians or even by the future gen eration of ATS translators. This suggests that these high standards of professionali sm in translation are what is considered honorable in the ATS. The value of these standards is reflected in the promotion of the staff members who show commitment to the UN work and continuous hard-work. Such a promotion is announced along the ATS corridors for all the staff to know. It also suggests an incentive fo r other translators to work similarly to get the same reward. Every staff member congratu lates the promoted translator for his/her achievements. According to Philipsen, “comm unication [under the code of honor], is considered the means by which socially d ifferent people coordinate their activities and cognitively similar people link them selves to each other” (p. 103). Similarly, Katriel & Philipsen (1981) discuss the d ifferentiation between communication and mere talk in American everyday li fe. Through two case studies, these authors show the meaning of communication for Americans as being either a way of constructing the self, “open communication” with people, “supportive communication”, and talk about talk. One of the dim ensions the authors found out about communication is that it is “high on interpen etration of the interlocutors’ unique psychological worlds. To the extent that each inter locutor makes public what was


13 previously private information about his or her uni que self image, closeness one feature of “communication,” is manifested. “(p. 308 ). This suggests that not all talk is considered as communication. The authors then move to an analysis of an American TV show called The Phil Donahue Show, in which the process of communication is portrayed as a way of getting in touch with others. The show also embodie s the communication ritual as a performance which is more linked to the closeness w ith others. The authors mention that their ethnographic study of American culture l ed them to “think of ethnography less as a journey into a foreign land or culture, a nd more as a journey into a no-man’s land, which is neither the territory of the self no r of the other” (p. 316). In this way, adopting an ethnographic approach to communication allowed the authors to know about people’s ideas but also their own ideas. Thus it is through hearing translators’ accounts about what communication means for them as Arab people that I personally had more insight about what communication means for me as an Arab. The Arab culture is revealed in the ATS through the Arabic language that translators use more than any other language that t hey use in translation. Language in this context emphasizes the common aspects shared a mong the ATS community, and their identity and sense of belonging. Aoki (2001) conducted a study about how Mexican Americans construct their identity and conv ey their ethnicity through their codes of speaking. Social acts contribute in establ ishing an identity and a sense of belonging within the Mexican community given the ex istence of similarities in the way of life, language, and culture. This study show s how hard work, religion and family life are characteristics of this Mexican Ame rican community. Similarly, the ATS translators share an Arab culture that shapes t heir interactions in the ATS. I also realized that there are some tensions betwee n different communication models within the ATS. This notion of tension also appears in Rudd’s (2001) study about the tensions within an artistic group of musi cians during their performance. In the same way that Rudd (2001) discusses a tension b etween the artistic code of the symphony and the business code, there is tension be tween two communication models at the ATS, namely the transmission model and the c ontrol metaphor of communication. The fact that the ATS urges translat ors to follow the unified


14 terminology can also be interpreted as a type of co ntrol over them. Thus, there is a tension between the ATS attempt of terminology unif ication and the communication of values of unification to the staff. The ATS sees its attempt to unify terminology as a good aspect that will improve the quality of its translation although some translators still seek more explanations to why the unification is important, especially when they are asked to unify even linking words. This also refers to a whole ideology imposed on the ATS that affects the organizational interactions, exactly as was mention ed in Rudd’s (2001): “The dialectic tension between the business and artistic codes as it is expressed in the routine speech of symphony members demonstrates how ideological differences impact the nature of organizational interactions” ( p. 128). Rudd further maintains that cultures and organizations are never in harmony alt hough he believes that “a cultural system, when applied to organizations, suggests a c oherency, purpose, and particular pattern of symbolic action that functions to bond o rganizational members in some meaningful and lasting way” (p.119). The staff at t he ATS is caught between the transmission and control models in an attempt to re construct the ways they are used in the translation process. Some translators feel a re striction to follow UN terminology and language and are not allowed to be creative dur ing their translations. In fact, this is the first rule that translators of the UN learn when joining the organization. The ATS considers the fact of abiding by UN terminology very helpful in improving the UN work and any opposition to that is silenced. The UN has its own language. Talking about communication and power within organi zations, Richmond et al (1984) argue that “supervisors are responsible for directing, coordinating, and guiding subordinates’ activity so that organizational objec tives may be reached” (p.86). According to these authors, one of the strategies t hat supervisors use to convince their subordinates to act in particular ways is the Legitimate-Higher Authority namely “Do it, I'm just telling you what I was told. It is a r ule, I have to do it and SO do you” (p.9). My interviews with translators, both the hig hly-experienced revisers and the newly-recruited translators showed this aspect of p ower relations. The revisers supervise the translators by showing them the rules of translation within the UN. Two of my interviewees said -in a surprised tonethat revisers tell them to follow terminology unification even in the translation of linking words. It also came in the


15 speech of a reviser that there is no space for crea tivity in translation at the ATS. The reason behind this is that this is UN language and that the process of unification will make it understood by everybody. Thus, organizational culture of the ATS is embedded in the discourse of the ATS translators. However, I believe the tensions th at occurred between the artistic and business codes in the case of the symphony to b e different from the tensions between the control metaphor and transmission model of communication in the ATS. The transmission model is how people have been perc eiving communication through history and the control metaphor comes to improve t his transmission. In a way, the transmission and control metaphors complement each other although they prove to be in tension at the ATS. Such a tension might be a te mporary condition, given the newly launched procedure of unification. Thus, tension ma y prove to be positive rather than negative in the ATS, as it is a tool of organizatio nal improvement and proper functioning. If people constructed metaphors of communication, i t is because these metaphors are important to help them articulate som e concepts that are difficult to articulate either because they are too abstract or not defined through our personal experiences. So it is the concrete examples of the metaphors that come to explain these concepts (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). Lakoff a nd Johnson further mention that “our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (p. 3). Thus, metaphor is not only language and words that organize cognition about the world, but also thoughts. One way of looking at metaphors is through arguments with the others which are usually structured in terms of war. For example, one might say to the other “your claims are indefensible ” or “He shot down all my arguments” or “you disagree? Okay, shoot !” (p. 4). The war metaphor structures people’s argume nts and helps them understand their interactions with others. In his article “Major Metaphors of Communication an d Some Constructivist Reflections on their Use,” Krippendorff (1993) poin ts to some metaphors of communication that people encounter in everyday lif e, such as the container metaphor, the conduit metaphor, the control metapho r, the transmission metaphor, the war metaphor, and the dance-ritual metaphor. Kripp endorff’s argument is that these


16 metaphors play an important role in structuring ou r thinking about communication, According to Krippendorff, “the expression ‘ her thoughts were locked in cryptic verse’ depicts language as a container of particular obje cts, here thoughts, to which access seems complicated by the absence of a key” ( p. 4). However, Krippendorff mentions that this metaphor is unequal, favoring th e container over the message itself. Another entailment of this metaphor is that it conc eptualizes communication as transportation of messages and information from one place to another. Second, there is a big similarity between the container metaphor and the conduit metaphor because the latter involves the notion of channels of commu nication which depicts communication as “a flow of certain substances thro ugh complex networks” (p. 7). Third, the control metaphor calls for “the inventio n of forces presumed capable of causing desired effects” (p. 8). It involves a cont roller and a controlled. In Krippendorff’s words: With the aid of control metaphors, controllers, aut hors, and producers of communications assume the privileged position of knowledgeable agents capable of conceptualizing the process of communica tion, setting their goals, and judging the success of their own activities. Fr om their point of view, the targets of communication, listeners, readers, or vi ewers become means (p.8). The control metaphor is very important in analyzing the tensions that occur within the ATS, as there is some control over the t ranslators to follow certain translation rules that are followed by the UN. Four th, as far as the transmission metaphor is concerned, Krippendorff notes that “her e, the problem is to encipher a perfectly understandable message, also called 11 cl ear, “into a form, also called “cipher,” that unauthorized interceptors can not ma ke sense of but authorized addressees could decipher and read” (p. 9). In this way, the message will not be received except by the right addressees. Fifth, the war metaphor, as I previously defined, involves defending one’s argument which is the case in terminology meetings where translators suggest their equivalent s to certain terms and account for these suggestions using convincing and strong argum ents. Sixth, Krippendorff also mentions the dance-ritual metaphor which gets manif ested during conversation, involving taking turns during talk and keeping peop le into one community. Under the ritual metaphor, talk can always be reproduced with so many people.


17 Thus, these metaphors of communication will reappea r throughout this thesis, as they shape the life of the ATS speech community in so many aspects. The transmission model of communication that emerged in my interview talk with the translators at the ATS is connected to the conduit metaphor identified in Lakoff and Johnson (1980) in which “the speaker puts ideas (ob jects) into words (containers) and sends them (along a conduit) to a hearer who takes the idea/objects out of the word/containers” (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980, p.10). However, the conception of communication as a sende r-receiver relationship is questionable given that it reduces human relatio nship to a sender and receiver relationship only. At first, Shannon & Weaver’s tr ansmission theory started from the domain of engineering and then was applied to the d omain of human communication. In their article “Shannon and Weaver: Unravelling t he Paradox of Information,” Ritchie, D. (1986) mentions that The most straightforward way of applying a theory i nto a new domain is to analyze its assumptions, compare them to the new si tuations, and determine whether the new situation satisfies the assumptions (p. 293). Thus, it is unfounded to say that the action of a m achine sender-receiver is similar to the action of a computer sender-and rece iver. This means that the senderreceiver aspect of communication that was construct ed in the talk of ATS translators is not to be considered a characteristic of human c ommunication as this reduces human communication and gives it a mechanical aspec t. In the chapter about the analysis of meetings, I sh ed light on some problematic terms in translation encountered by translators. Be cker’s (1998) Beyond Translation touches on this problematic aspect of understanding what is beyond the language of a different speech community. Becker (1998) narrates his experience as a Fulbright scholar in Burma learning and teaching Southeast As ian languages. He is surprised that even after spending twenty year studying these languages and teaching them, he still could not master them. Becker argues that eac h person learns aspects of the host community depending on whether he or she is “a phil osopher, a linguist, a language teacher, an ethnographer, a translator, a poet, or some other such category of person who does not simply use language but is compelled, for one reason or anoth er, to


18 think carefully and repeatedly about it” (p. 3). Thus, it is depending on one’s area of interest that we manage to memorize some particular ities of a language. Becker also believes that it is through what he calls “the part icularity” of certain patterns in a speech community that the person learns specificiti es of a certain language. An interesting point that Becker makes is that transla tion is not the end but the beginning of a further meaning, which explains his title Beyond Translation. Becker further points out to the problematic aspect of translating from Burmese into English, mainly because Burmese is cha racterized by silence which makes the precise meaning difficult to be expressed during translation. Becker attributes this fact to the deficient aspect of lan guaging which “says less than we wish it to” (p. 5). In Becker’s words: In considering these silences, we come to some of t he limiting factors of languaging---whether we are languaging in our own n ative language or translating across languages (p. 7). For Becker, learning a language is more than learni ng its words and grammar and that an utterance never reveals the whole meaning. Becke r also mentions that silence is a part of the deficiencies of language, and at that t ranslation is about finding out the meaning including the silence part. Therefore, tran slating the meaning of the silence part in Burmese would necessitate an understanding of the Burmese culture. Another option would be that the translator consults a Burm ese person about the meaning of silence in a certain context. The ATS translators o ften consult with specialists in many domains in order to understand more about certain t erms, especially in the scientific, medical, or judicial domains. The following quote e xplains another translation issue mentioned by Becker: I can say with real assurance that if we compare an y sentence of Burmese and a translation of it in English, at least half of wh at is there in English will have no counterpart in the Burmese original and at least half of what is conveyed by the original won’t make it into English (p. 7). Not finding a counterpart of a term in a language i s a very problematic case that reveals some major difficulties that translators mi ght encounter. Hatim & Mason


19 (1997) argue about the nature of translatorsÂ’ work, describing it as being intensive, necessitating a close reading to the text and a goo d concentration and focus. The translator is, of course, both a receiver and a producer. We would like to regard him or her as a special category of communic ator, one whose act of communication is conditioned by another, previous a ct and whose reception of that previous act is intensive. It is intensive bec ause, unlike other text receivers, who may choose to pay more or less atten tion to their listening or reading, translators interact closely with their so urce text, whether for immediate response (as in the case of the simultane ous interpreter) or in a more reflective way (as in the translation of creat ive literature) (p. 2). The authors believe that a translatorÂ’s reading and understanding of the text is in itself a communication. They consider the transl ator as being a communicator of meanings and ideas. Hatim & Mason also give the exa mple of creative literature in which translators can be creative in reflecting upo n what they read and express themselves. Thus, each text can follow certain crit eria of translation depending on the nature of the language used in it, i.e.: either poe tic, juridical, political, etc. This explains why in the ATS, creative and expressive tr anslation is totally not accepted given that the ATS documents are mainly directed to an audience of countriesÂ’ delegates. There is a difference between studying translation in the university and applying the knowledge gained from there in the pro fessional environment. Schon (1983) notes that there is an attempt to purify and restructure professions in a way that makes them contribute in societal development. For him, professionals should be asked to perform tasks in which they were previousl y taught how to perform. Their profession should also match the education they rec eived in school. They should be aware of the complexity of the system that they are working in. Otherwise, any misunderstanding of their employersÂ’ expectations w ould engender their failure to better contribute to their professions. Thus, altho ugh translators learn the translation skill from their universities, they have to apply t hese skills using some specific standards of translation imposed by the ATS. They h ave to become accustomed to the UN language and to be bound by it. Most of their su ccess in translation would depend


20 on how much they followed terminology unification. The ATS translation is different from the translation in any other translation offic e. The ATS speech community has unique translation practices and is bound by certai n translation rules. As the interviews will show, it is not allowed to be creat ive during translation at the ATS or to keep changing translation equivalents to certain terms. Once a term is set to be translated in a certain way, then the UN translator has to abide by that term in a way to help unify UN terminology. It is through this un ification of terminology that the ATS aims at improving translation. There is also a big difference between the ideals t hat the ATS wishes its staff to apply and the tensions involved while the staff attempts to put these ideals into practice. The ATS translators’ talk that emerged in my interviews resembles the talk in Tracy’s (1997) academic colloquium in its dilemm atic aspect. Tracy (1997) describes academic colloquia as being “a dilemmatic situation-a communicative occasion involving tensions and contradictions” (p. 4). Tracy talks about how these dilemmas can affect understanding of the act of con versation in a positive way as to help highlight hard ideas. The training sessions he ld by the revisers of the ATS to the translators reveal how the ATS is constantly teachi ng its staff the rules of UN translation. It is the fact that certain staff memb ers find it too restricting to follow these translation rules that creates a tension with in the ATS, a tension in applying the rules and in being totally convinced with them. In the same way that Tracy (1997) defines the talk in the colloquium as an intellectual discussion, the talk of the ATS transl ators about their issues during translation and their opinions concerning previous translations of terms can be seen as an intellectual discussion for the reason that it i s a discussion over ideas. Additionally, the interviews I had with the ATS translators recon struct the problems of these translators and highlight them. Interviews were com municative events about translators’ issues, opinions, and preferences.


21 Chapter 2: Data and Methodology I: Data I collected two kinds of data. First, textual data in the form of UN translations of “communication” in its terminology databases, na mely UNTERM and ARABTERM. Additionally, I took excerpts of UN docum ents having the term “communication” translated into Arabic in different ways and contexts. I gathered these from the DtSearch, which is a sophisticated s earch engine at the UN that enables translators to look at how certain terms have been previously translated in UN documents. Second, I have conversational data, both formal in the form of interviews with ATS translators2 and informal in the form of everyday conversations with the translators. I interviewed the ATS translators taki ng into consideration the importance of choosing informants from both the Middle East an d from the Maghreb region, (the region of North Africa that has Morocco, Algeria, T unisia, Libya, and Mauritania). I had eight interviews with both newly recruited and highly experienced translators, both male and female, young and old. For the sake o f confidentiality, I do not give the real names but rather nicknames to my interviewees. One of the Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) exemption instructions is that “the i nvestigator is responsible for ensuring that the rights and welfare of participant s in the research are protected and that the methods used and the information disclosed to participants gain their voluntary participation and are appropriate to the activity” (p.1). Before attempting to have these interviews with staff members, I had to apply for IRB approval. After explaining that my topic does not incur any risk fo r participants given that it involves participants’ analysis of textual data, I was asked to apply for IRB exemption. My interviewees were: Leila, Arif, Samir and Safae from Morocco; Bilal from Syria; Karim from Palestine; and Mohamed and Fihr f rom Egypt. I received their consent before interviewing them. In these intervie ws, I focused on the extent that these translators agree with previous translations of the term “communication” in 2 See appendix A for a list of questions asked during inte rviews.


22 certain UN documents that I selected from the UN da tabases. I drew these examples from the DtSearch database. The interviews were for half an hour, and I was mainly taking notes. I was not authorized to tape record i n the ATS given that the ATS chief wrote to me that “statements for outside consumptio n are only done through the Department of Public Information (DPI) who has the specifics of what can and cannot be said or done.” Yet, the chief highly encouraged me to talk to translators and to take notes. The main point that emerged out of these int erviews is that the UN language is different from the language used in other translati on stations. Translators are obliged to stick to the unified terminology at the UN. I an alyze these interviews using Krippendorff’s (1993) analysis of metaphors of comm unication to find out which model is used within the ATS and to account for thi s use. This author argues that a major part of human communication is composed of me taphors that give logic to everyday interactions. The following is one of the examples given by Krippendorff: “There is no chemistry” is a metaphorical statement but its very utterance can create or constitute the fact it states, which happens here to be a social phenomenon (p.3). Thus, these metaphors of communication construct a certain reality and influence people’s actions. The behavior of people among each other borrowed the idea of the behavior of scientific substances in relation to ea ch other, and this human relationship started to be understood in terms of chemistry. Throughout the internship, I was taking field notes that included common interactions at the ATS, my remarks and opinions ab out some translations, and the list of events I attended. I noted down staff interactio ns during the weekly meetings in which they discussed terminology issues. Every tran slator wrote down any term he or she found problematic during translation and sugges ted them to be discussed during this meeting. I consider staff interactions during these meetings to be interesting as they give rise to cultural issues encountered durin g translation. They also give an idea about the staff members’ communication, since this meeting is the translators’ chance to professionally communicate as a team about termi nology. I also participated in a communication framework de signed to create closer relations with the ATS and other duty stations outs ide the UN. I consider that the way


23 this communication framework is designed will clari fy the model of communication used by the UN ATS. I will include it in a separate section, pointing to how this model is used by a specialist to improve the commun ication between the ATS and its contractory translators. As an intern, I participated in the ATS attempt to unify the terminology databases. My task was to see if the translation of certain terms exists in the ARABTERM, UNTERM and DtSearch databases, and see if the term was translated in one way or in different ways. I searched for var ious terms through writing down all the equivalents about a given term that I found in these databases. This task helped me visualize the future goal of the ATS to unify the t ranslation these terms and to include them in the UN official terminology databases. II: Framework I consider the talk of the ATS translators about th eir translations to be a reflection of the different Arab cultures they come from. Therefore, I use PhilipsenÂ’s (1975) ethnography of communication as a theoretica l framework for my thesis. In the same way that Philipsen (1975) talks about the cultural values of the Teamsterville community in Chicago, by deducing facts about this communityÂ’s views about talk and silence in relation to gender power relations, I show through my interviews what the talk of Arab translators reflects about their o wn culture and about their own understanding of communication. I also examine, thr ough the process of terminology unification, how the UN directs its translators, re gardless of the differences of their Arab cultures, in following certain rules of unific ation in their language that excludes cultural manifestations. My research is based on grounded theory as a resear ch methodology that focuses on using data to generate theory (B. Glaser and A. L. Strauss, 1977). Thus, using grounded theory, the researcher starts from a n inductive point of view, considering data as a way of making research statem ents. Since my first day at the internship, I exposed myself to peopleÂ’s ideas and thoughts and took notes of various interactions of the staff members at the ATS. The c omplexity of Arab culture lies in the fact that it is not homogeneous given that Arab s of each country might have similarities but also differences within their cult ures. There are many Arabic


24 equivalents to the term “communication,” which is r elated to the richness of the Arabic language in the sense that each difference i n the nuance referring to the term “communication” has a specific equivalent in Arabic Thus, I got very interested in looking at the multiplicity of these Arabic equival ents to the term communication during translation, particularly the two terms ittissal and tawassul, which are used interchangeably in some contexts, but in other cont exts one appears to be preferred over the other. In general, ittissal is preferred as a generic equivalent rather than tawassul The latter is usually avoided, as it suggests clo seness of relationship among people while they are communicating. The fact that I was an intern made my research easi er because I had access to a database called DtSearch through which I could find all the occurrences of the term “communication” in UN documents. The database lists the paragraph or sentence in which the term “communication” appears in UN docume nts together with an Arabic translation. In addition to the DtSearch, I paid sp ecial attention to the translation of the term “communication” in the UN online translati on databases, called ARABTERM and UNTERM. I consider ARABTERM to be very interesting given that it is the terminology database of the ATS, and therefore displays the terms that have already been decided upon as accurate translat ions during the weekly ATS terminology meetings. After gathering a large numbe r of the equivalents of the term “communication,” I analyzed the contexts in which ittissal and tawassul are used in an effort to give a general statement about their c ontexts. While it is true that ittissal and tawassul both refer to the same phenomenon of communication and that there exists a nuance in meaning between them, my researc h shows how the use of these two terms is a cultural choice. Philipsen (1975) me ntions that “each community has its own cultural values about speaking and these ar e linked to judgments of situational appropriateness” (p.13). Translators from the Maghr eb region tend to refer to the process of communication as tawassul while translators from the Middle East tend to refer to it as ittissal Note that this is a tendency, not a rule, as I en countered many exceptions during the interviews. However, the UN i s going through a process of terminology unification in which it aims at choosin g ittissal as the major equivalent to communication in UN documents regardless of cultura l differences. I also provide definitions of communication ( ittissal and tawassul ) from Arabic dictionaries as well


25 as their etymology to clarify this multiplicity of equivalents for non-Arabic speakers. I use dictionary definitions to provide the nuances a mong different equivalents and to account for the choice of each equivalent in specif ic contexts in UN documents. I show in my chapter of textual analysis how, even if the context is the same, the equivalent might not be the same, which is due to c ultural choice.


26 Chapter 3: Textual Analysis In this chapter, I will examine the etymology of th e term “communication” both in Arabic and English in an effort to find out any nuances in meaning that exist concerning communication as a concept in both langu ages. Being aware that there is a slight difference in meaning between ittissal and tawassul as two equivalents of the term “communication,” I will choose from my data th e terms of the highest frequency and the most problematic ones during translation. I will also analyze the contexts in which each translation equivalent is used and point out to the problems that occur during the translation at the ATS. This will allow generalizing over terms used in specific contexts as well as highlighting some cult ural aspects in the use of certain terms. The Etymology of the Term “Communication” in Arabic The term “communication” is translated into Arabic as: ittissal,/0 tawassul, 12%iblagh,/& Nakl etc, depending on the context in which it appears There is the meaning of a continuity and link in al l the Arabic definitions. Jamaluddin Muhamad Bin Mukkarram Ibn Manzour, the author of th e most comprehensive dictionary of Arabic, Lisan al Arab (2000), translates the term “communication” as the following: Tawassul and Ittissal are both nouns derived from the verb /0 [ wasala ] whose noun is /0 [ wasl ] means a link, a non-interruption, and a non-detachment. It is the opposite of forsaking and breaking a relationship, detachment and separation. This term is also stated in the Quran with the meaning of reporting a message. The message should reach the audience. The wasl root also refers to the descendence from a certain family or having a link to it. It has the meaning of belonging to this fami ly. Also, the last night of the month is called the night of al-wasl because of being directly linked to the first day of the following month. Altawassul is the opposite of breaking apart The wasl within family ties refers to family constantly vis iting each other to


27 stress the continuity of the family tie and blood-kindred It also reflects the love and care of family members even if they prove to be distant. So tawassul reflects this link as well. It appears to be more emotional, and more used in contexts involving feelings and relati onships. Note that in this definition, both ittissal and tawassul tend to overlap and it becomes difficult to differ entiate between exact contexts when to use each equivalent especially in the case of people who are not very knowledgeable in Arabic language o r for foreign people of nonArab cultures. This is because the author Ibn Manzo ur (2000) started defining the term communication as having the two forms ittissal and tawassul at the same time. He then moved to defining tawassul separately, pointing out to the act of breaking apart which the root wasl already conveys. However, the fact that tawassul involves more feelings and close relationship is openly expr essed in the context of tawassul In other words, the difficulty in translating the term as either ittissal or tawassul manifests itself in non-emotional contexts as it be comes clear from the definition that tawassul has to be more used in emotional contexts. In his Al-Mawrid al -akbar : Qamus Inkilizi-Arabi Hadith (2005), Munir AlBalabakki translates communication as: ittissal communicated information, and as tawassul : exchange of ideas or opinions or information thro ugh talk, writing, or gestures, personal communication ( ittissal ), and as communications: various means of communications like road networks, phone, telegraph radio, etc. In this definition, ittissal and tawassul appear to mean the same thing. But, in the case of tawassul some more expressive ways are involved, such as: id eas, opinions, gestures and personal information. Thus, tawassul involves more expressive talk than ittissal I found another definition of communication in A New Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (2005) by Ahmad Shafiq Al khatib who translates communication as ittissal transmission, wire or not wired transfer, means o f communication, and informing. It is interesting tha t in this scientific dictionary, the equivalent tawassul is not mentioned given the technicality of the ter ms that it has. I also looked up the term communication online and got various translations depending on the meaning conveyed and the contexts in which it is used. Thus, I see this term as being polysemic. Sakhr a well-trusted online bilingual dictionary that


28 defines communication as “the act of passing on (ne ws, information, heat, motion, an illness, feelings, etc) or means of communicating; roads, telephone, etc”. Sakhr provides thirty ways of translating the term commun ication into Arabic, examples are: 12%[Iblagh ],34 [ikhbar],4[ ikhtar],'5[ ish ar],62n[ i lam],72n[ i lan], !3&[inbae], 8%[beth],12% [balagh], 9r3[tabligh],8# [tahdith], /,[tarassul],:#' [ta rif] ,"; [takatub], [mouallaf] ,[mourassalah],[mussattar],3; [moukatabah],? [mouwafakah], and /& [nakl]. The multiplicity of the equivalents provided in thi s dictionary can be due to the general way that the process of communication i s explained, i.e. the act of passing on everything. It is interesting that another online dictionary, Dr. Mohammad Imam Terms translates the term ‘communications’ into Arabic as /, [rassael], referring to communications through letters. Al-Awwal English Arabic Dictionary has nine entries to the term communication. What is interesting is that in one e ntry communication is translated as ittissal, but in another entry it is suggested that the term can be translated either into ittissal or tawassul This is another instance of how the reader has to decide about which equivalent to use in a given context. The fir st entry has a defined context for communication to be translated as ittissal The second entry suggests that both equivalents can be used interchangeably. Sometimes ittissal and tawassul are defined as being exactly the same despite being two different terms. The Arabic-English Dicti onary called Al-faraidou Aldourya Fi al-louratayn Al-alarabya Wa Al-anjalizia (J. G. Hava, 1951) defines /0 [tawassala] (the verb derived from /0 tawassul third person masculine singular) as being friendly, and connected. However, / [ittassala] (the verb derived from the noun ittissal ) is defined here as a thing which is continuous an d uninterrupted. / [ittassala] with is to be connected with, to communicate to, to be contiguous, and


29 adjoining to. /0 [wasl] in this dictionary is union of friends, con nection of sentences, conjunction, match, fellow of a pair, a receipt, et c. Additionally, tawassul involves love among people and dictionaries always mention it in the context of strength of family tie s, language, and nation. People from different languages cannot communicate if they do n ot know each other’s language. tawassul also involves people acquainting each other. On th e other hand, ittissal was mentioned as the opposite of breaking apart. Additi onal meanings related to ittissal are similar to those that were given to tawassul So some meanings given to tawassul exist in ittissal as well. These dictionary definitions for both ittissal and tawassul reveal that there is no clear separation in the definition of these two terms. It is implied from the definitions that readers should find out which term to use depending on the context and the meaning they would like to convey. I someti mes found it difficult to show the exact precise nuance between ittissal and tawassul There are contexts in which both terms could be used interchangeably, but there are other contexts in which ittissal appears to be more effective in conveying the meani ng than tawassul, and vice versa. This might be due to the richness of Arabic languag e given that one generic term in English, such as “communication,” could be translat ed in various different ways into Arabic. It is however very clear that ittissal refers to the generic aspect of communication and includes even the technical aspec t of the communication process. Tawassul on the other hand, involves more close contact, m ore emotions, and fewer technicalities. The term “communication” etymologically in English The New Thesaurus defines “communication” as a noun which refers to the exchange of ideas by writing, speech or signals. Th e synonyms in this case will be “communion,” “intercommunication” and “intercourse. ” The same dictionary also explains “communication” as “information being comm unicated”. The synonyms here are “message” and “word.” Other synonyms that this online dictionary provides are: “bulletin,” “call,” “connection,” “contact,” “conve rsation,” “directive,” “exchange,” “fax,” “impartment,” “intelligence,” “kinesics,” “l anguage,” “letter,” “liaison,” “link,” “message,” “news,” “note,” “radiogram,” “report,” “ telegram,” “telepathy,”


30 “telephone,” “telex,” “transmission,” “wavelength,” and “wire.” Thus, in English communication is expressed in only one term in vari ous contexts, both technical and emotional. “Communication skills” is an expression used to imp rove one’s skills in specific work areas like management, business and I T. “Effective communication” refers to the capability of thinking clearly and co nveying meaning. In English, there is the term “telecommunication” which refers to the te chnical aspect of the communication process, such as: “high speed interne t”, “digital phone”, “digital cable TV & Ethernet service”. Although “communication” do es refer to the technical aspect of communication, telecommunication is a more speci alized term to refer to the technical domain. In these cases “communication” as a term here might be seen as a very generic term having other terms as subcategori es that refer to the specialized communication domains that are part of the overall process of communication. Krippendorff (1993) notes that “communication” “ha s the same root as “common,” “commune,” “community,” even “communism,” all of which construct individuals as being in some respects the same, for example, regarding habits, world views, or language competence”(p.5). This definitio n calls attention to the wasl root of the term communication in Arabic. Thus, in both Arabic and English, the reference to communication as a process is the same. In both Arabic and English, “communication” refers to the human process of communicating ideas, messages, feelings, informatio n, etc, in a continuous, noninterrupted way. The difference between the two lan guages lies in the degree of richness of their vocabulary. The fact that Arabic has a specific equivalent for each nuance in meaning that the process of communication involves makes of it a very rich language. The general rule is to use both ittissal and tawassul to refer to the overall process of communication, but to use ittissal only in the technical domain and tawassul only in the emotional domain. In the next section, I will look at the use of these two equivalents in UN language and find out t he cultural dimensions behind the use of each one of these two equivalents.


31 “Communication” for the UN ATS Service The ARABTERM Database The ARABTERM database is the United Nations multili ngual database for the Arabic Translation Service. It has 42 000 entries i n 4 official languages of the UN, namely Arabic, French, Spanish and English. After s earching the term “communication” in the database, I found 419 occurr ences of the term in UN document. What is interesting is that all these occ urrences have ittissal as equivalent. No tawassul is found. This reflects the efforts I mentioned in the interview analysis section about unifying the terminology databases. I t appears very clearly that the term communication is set to be translated as ittissal Ittissal is used as an equivalent in the following cases: “ Communication programs,” “communication services,” “communication channels,” “communication officers,” “transport,” “communication committees,” “satellite communications,” “lines of communication,” “centers of communication ,” “networks of communication,” “sections of communication within a dministrations,” “policies of communication,” “systems of communication,” “commun ication units,” “mass communication media,” “communication planning,” “co mmunication skills,” “communication zones,” “broadcasting and electronic communication,” “communication technicians and coordinators,” “ad h oc working groups on communication,” “offices of communication and publi c information,” “written communications,” “visual communication,” “space com munication,” “oral communication,” “mass communication,” “communicatio ns,” “right to communicate,” “interpersonal communication,” “inter cultural communication,” “global communication support fund,” “digital commu nication,” “technologies of communication,” “communicable diseases,” etc. Thus, ittissal is used in working life contexts, in the official labeling of work division s, in the technical and administrative context, and to refer to types of communication. There are terms in this database that get translate d as ittissal given the link and continuity they suggest. Examples are: “liaison,” “ channel,” and “connection.” This further suggests the generic nature of using ittissal for other terms involving a communicative process.


32 The UNTERM Database The UNTERM is the United Nations multilingual termi nology database. It has 80 000 entries in all the six official languages of the UN: Arabic, English, French, Russian, Chinese and Spanish. The database displays the term “communication” in 1000 UN documents. Thus, it is much larger than ARA BTERM. The ATS attempts to unify the terminology of both ARABTERM and UNTERM. Like in ARABTERM, most communication terms are translated into ittissal (sing.)/ ittissalat (pl.). An example about how the databases are not yet fully u nified is when “communication” gets translated into tawassul in some contexts. The translation of the term “communication” proves to be problematic when trans lators do not agree on its unification. In the context of learning a foreign language and its communication skills, the Arabic Language Center prefers tawassul However, there are exceptions which I consider problematic given that they reflec t a difference in views concerning tawassul such as: Language and Communication Learning Program @'A&% /0 ( [barnamaj ta aloum allourat wa maharat al-tawassul]. Here, communication is seen as tawassul Yet, in another UN document, communication in the context of language learning r ather gets translated as ittissal as in: Language and communication program @A&% [Barnamaj alloughat wa al-ittissalat]. After interviewing Mrs. Alia, the director of the A rabic language Center at the UN, she informed me that each division in the UN ha s its own language that achieves its goals depending on its own audience. She pointe d out that the audience of the ATS includes members of diplomatic corps and other tran slators at the UN who are used to the type of language of UN documents. However, some translations might appear wrong for the Arabic Center although it is correct for the translation service given the differences in the criteria followed by each divisi on. Mrs. Alia preferred tawassul as an equivalent in the context of teaching Arabic lan guage. Other examples of differences in translations and l ack of terminology unification are:


33 In “operating language” @ / /'@ [Loughat al-ittissal/ loughat alamal], ittissal is used. This might reflect the difference in view s concerning translating the term communication. Another instanc e of this is: o “National Information,” “Monitoring and Outreach Br anch” BC /00'D+E [Alfar Alwatani lili lam wa al-rassd wa altawassul]: Here, it is not the term communication w hich is translated into tawassul but rather the term outreach. “Global e-school and community initiative”: no tran slation of this term into Arabic was agreed upon so far. “Communication skills” /0 ( / r ( [maharat al-tawassul, almaharat al-ittissalya]: Here it is suggested that both tawassul and ittissal can be used. The translation of “communication skills” as: r2n ( [al-maharat ali lamya]. It appears from these examples that the process of unification is not easy and is a long term project that necessitates e normous efforts and lack of opinions’ conflict among translators. Although the ATS agrees that “communication” be translated as ittissal this translation is still problematic. Thus, ittissal and tawassul can be seen as not yet unified terms in UN translation databases. The UN DtSearch The UN DT-search database enables to search for all the occurrences of a certain term in UN documents and archives. It also provides the bi-texts, i.e.: each term appears with a translation into the language s elected. I tried to search for communication both from English to Arabic and from Arabic to Eng lish to get as many contexts as possible. In this section, I will analyze the different contexts in which both tawassul and ittissal have previously been used in UN documents and come up with some deductions about its use. The que stion that I will address here is whether there are really agreed upon contexts where either ittissal and tawassul are used or whether their use depends on the cultural b ackground of the translator and his opinion.


34 Tawassul My sample includes 254 occurrences of the term tawassul in UN documents. I selected this term from LEO-English-Arabic-Bi-texts LEO Arabic Terminology, and LEO-Arabic 07-08. LEO stands for Language Exchange Operations. Tawassul is used as an equivalent for communication in the following contexts:


35 Humanitarian context Tawassul is used as a translation equivalent to “communicat ion” in the humanitarian domain, as in communication among fami ly members with disabilities, and for using sign language for instance. By humani tarian, I emphasize the idea that tawassul is used to express close relationships and in huma nitarian issues. In these cases, it is also used to convey the meaning of hav ing contact between the secretariat and other countries concerning conflict situations and children’s rights. Additionally, it is used as an equivalent for ‘to pursue’ efforts and increase funding resources. In addition, families that need skills in communicatio n are in need of tawassul Networking context Tawassul is used in the context of communication as network s. It is also an equivalent of “knowledge networking,” “networking w ith central governments,” “linking up with other institutions,” and “assistin g in networking and experience sharing.” At first, I was typing the term “communic ation” in order to get its occurrences in UN documents and see which equivalen ts were used in translating it. However, given that the DtSearch was not retrieving the translation equivalent as tawassul as much as it was retrieving it as ittissal I typed tawassul in particular rather than the term “communication” in order to get most of the occurrences of tawassul in UN documents and study its contexts. Thus, I put st rong focus on studying the networking equivalent as tawassul rather than ittissal for the sake of examining the reasons tawassul in particular is used in the networking context. I analyzed 193 occurrences of networking in UN documents. My searc h was in LEO-English-ArabicBi-texts, LEO Arabic Terminology, LEO-Arabic 07-08, and in documents from 20062007-2008. “Networking” gets translated in three w ays: Literal translation as in: ;3F!F& [Inshae al-chabakat], D;3FG% [Al-rabt al-chabaki], ;3F [Iqamat al-chabakat]. Tawassul : contexts are: (faculty and students networking to implement a project, knowledge networking, and networking activ ities to ensure access to a vast store of UN knowledge). D;3F/0 [Al-tawassul al-shabaki]: this is a blend between tawassul and inshae al-shabakat


36 For example3: ENG] 116. The Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS initiative continued to provide an important mechanism for stronger collaboration and networking on children at all levels. E/ICEF/2008/10 [ARA] 116 /HI3J0 K LrMr?N#O(D?PCE N#OCEK7QF%RH/07'/HI #SrTn [ENG] To achieve these objectives, all regional commissions, through their convening power, will continue to generate multilateral dialogue, knowledge-sharing and networking at the regional level, and will work together to promote intraregional and interregional cooperation, both among themselves and through collaboration with other regional organizations. [ARA] /0,P)LKUVLWr Sr nTn(24IPrrO7. P)EK'X!YrZ+P n Y)', ;3F DrOr'Tn +/47'Sr.FTn'/', S7'24I(+r%r?PDrK7' TnR4HrrY Z+ !,X A/63/6 (Prog.16) ENG] We need to enhance networking capacities and coordination for international joint action. A/62/PV.80 [ARA] Wr+/0 N['&7H".# \FD/' [ENG] 10. In the same resolution, the Economic and Social Council noted the work undertaken by the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on defining basic United Nations terminology in governance and public administration and the input by the Committee on the theme of the annual ministerial review, held during the 2007 high-level segment of the Council, and the proposals for themes for the review for 2008; and requested the Secretariat to continue to expand the reach of the United Nations Public Service Awards and the United Nations Public Service [ARA] /'%n].EXHP<^D? :#'D?'O!34+.<%6_V =D.D?r,,KK /#r?+.<_V6(,OP'O ` H_V_+_Na',Bb% Sr?![.24 6'].IR 2007 a',Srb%' XP 6'_N 2008 7H'&KTY"Ec dK[*&Sr,/0 K6#3,+%[. OD?[r[#['a@%'d ;35%%*&Sr,TY?bO%P

37 Day to foster and disseminate excellence in public governance and to expand the outreach of the portal of the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance (UNPAN) at the regional and subregional levels as a one-stop shop in promoting knowledge management and networking among public sector leaders around the world. '!&HT5D?6'BIr%r? }}E/C.16/2008/4 { The multiplicity of referring to networking in Arab ic and the non-unification of its translation in UN translation databases is similar to that of translating communication. The only difference lies in the fact that networkin g is a new concept that modern life started witnessing unlike communication which is a general process. Networking might also be considered as a category of communica tion. Communication strategies Tawassul is used to convey the meaning of reaching agreemen ts. It is used to refer to the communication among organizations, the commu nication that involves transparency between the director of an office and a certain committee. Improving the communication with delegations is also tawassul and the suggested strategies for that are: internet access iSeek that only UN staff can h ave access to from their computers at UN headquarters. It is useful in order to have n ews about UN events, conferences, the Secretary GeneralÂ’s speech, other staffÂ’s UN co ntact information, resources for new staff to familiarize them with UN procedures, e tc. For example: [ENG] 17. In order to improve communication with delegations, a key component of knowledge-sharing, the Department of Public Information and the Department of Management have been working jointly to identify cost-neutral [ARA] _VP?S /0Ir 17 P)'30+nIr,,H+n/;F# #O7>FY62nO7>5Y7' Ir;/HI:r;_HS3r%# D 'TnB2EI!gnK r&;O;3FTnF+DP( h ( r4


38 measures to enable relevant information posted on iSeek to be made available to Member States; iSeek content will be included on the Member State portal accessible only to the permanent missions. '&i )iSeek( ;3FUVLRj k ` r,c #D!gnKr&;O%3D? l'3Tn(rY07;Y }}E/2008/65{{ In addition, tawassul refers to improving communication in organizationa l and procedural aspects of meetings, to clear communicat ion, to deficiencies in communication, to developing communication among mi nistries, and to dialogue as in: [ENG] – Methodological assistance is provided for the development and implementation in general and vocational education institutions of variable models for fostering a culture of inter-ethnic dialogue; [ARA] ,>r.(+n# D?r?lr%#@j^&nYD?rr' D?(r3PCd rIr% /0. cD+(r'6'r' ,> }}E/C.19/2008/5/Add.8{ Dissemination of Information Tawassul refers to disseminating information and concepts t hrough communication. It also refers to direct engagement with governments and stake holders and to the enhancement of communication amo ng member states in a conference. It is also used in the context of an en gagement with international partners as one of the responsibilities of the chief mediato r within his role in the Joint Mediation Support Team. It is also used to convey t he meaning of communication and information exchange to members of the council in a systematic and transparent way, and the meaning of having access to an entity and t he communication and interaction with a certain population. It also refers to commun ication through developing and disseminating information and sharing of experience about forest management, to the


39 contact with nature, to channels for communication. Being in touch with somebody is also referred to as tawassul Outreach efforts Tawassul is used as the equivalent of a mission outreach th rough maintaining a good presence in a country. It is also used to conv ey the meaning of a leader reaching out to the other leaders of that country, to the co ntact between mission personnel and host communities, and to facilitating interface. For example: [ENG] The existence of a central coordinating government mechanism would greatly facilitate interface and coordination with UNDP for substantive policy dialogue and for ensuring alignment between national priorities and areas where UNDP can bring clear added value. [ARA] Wr+#[=r;XrMrr, /HID&OA&3SWr+ /0 C=/HIrnb ,r7QF% I;#D .r+E #KIr%* b?grD&OA&3(r?6#7H }}DP/2008/27{{ Tawassul also refers to people to people contact, a governm ent reaching out to its provinces, outreach activities, the lack of goo d information technology does not support communication, reaching out to neighboring countries, video outreach, and to the communication between sessions individually or in teams. Technical context Tawassul is used in the context of improving ICT communicat ion, when referring to electronic communication and to the la ck of good information technology does not support communication. Language learning context Tawassul is used to refer to effective multilingual communi cation.


40 Ittissal My sample includes 265 occurrences of communication in UN documents. Out of these, 8 only were translated as tawassul All others were translated as ittissal Contexts are: The names of communication departments Ittissal is the equivalent used in translating the names of communication departments, such as: “communication and Informatio n Technology Section,” “Department of social communication,” “The Higher C ommunication Council,” “Global Communication Fund Unit,” “Mass communicati on research.” Al-tawassul was rather used in contexts like: peer communicati on among adolescents, facilitating communication with local populations, a more timely communication regarding discharges dates for mother and baby, the implementation of realignment plan is governed by clear communicat ion, the consolidation of communication platforms in Latin America. It is als o in the context of Liaison, communication and exchange of information with both parties, to convey the meaning that communication and outreach should be emphasize d, to encourage communication and networking among centers, etc. Apart from these exceptions, it is ittissal which is used. There are many contexts in which either ittissal and tawassul can be used as equivalents to communication, and this could be due to the lack of terminology unification that the UN aspires to achieve given that informants already expressed their preference to using ittissal as an equivalent and given the findings from the d atabase which show a huge number of occurrences of ittissal as opposed to tawassul I also looked at 220 occurrences of the term commun ications and found no tawassul as an equivalent. It is translated as [ittissalat], as the following example: [ENG] Recognizing that population and development issues, education and training, health, nutrition, the environment, water supply, sanitation, housing, communications, science and technology, and employment r'r+7;#g7Q%^Y Urr?mr3#V@"# 7;,OD) !g(0+n/l/'n?r+; P(+r;H%a(+CTn'?/;F%


41 opportunities are importan t elements for effective poverty eradication and the advancement and empowerment of women, }} nn Here, tawassul is not used given that it is never put in its plur al form. It is impossible to say: 20 [tawassulat], which explains the use of [ittissalat ]. Also, I gave special attention to the translation o f the term “electronic communication” into Arabic given that I could see t hat ittissal is mostly preferred in technical contexts. I was very interested in lookin g at those exceptions when tawassul or -4 [khitab] is used in this electronic context. [ENG] (g) Noting the progress made in establishing the Traditional Knowledge Information Portal, urged the Executive Secretary to fully operationalize the Portal to further facilitate effective participation of indigenous peoples through the provision of electronic communication mechanisms. [ tawassul ] [ARA] ) N ( ZX2 '%%!F&YD?6 Tn_VrC+IrK8XP#r)'%0d 3=H%r#%=%%3f/r@F 24Ir0K-'F"&I'C=F D&;O/0 rMr? }}E/C.19/2007/8 [ENG] (d) “Originator” of an electronic communication means a party by whom, or on whose behalf, the electronic communication has been sent or generated prior to storage, if any, but it does not include a party acting as an intermediary with respect to that electronic communication; [ khitab ] [ARA] ) ( r3'%# “ oF+ ” D&;O-d /3UQF&HHD&;O-d/,H_V) <+;P<+n%r&fV%6IHPI#[dpX7YP<+# [d f^$d#r?Gr,=)#_V)/F# cD&;O-d }}A/RES/60/21{{ [~]


42 [ENG] In this context, emphasis will be placed on support for national and international scientific and technological data centres with appropriate electronic communication links between them. [ ittissal ] [ARA] [=nTnr=Qr,P*rVLD? r+E &r3r %r+;r' (+r%r?3,+D&; Here, as well, the term “electronic communication” is translated in different ways. Conclusion In most cases, tawassul and ittissal get used in similar contexts, to refer to technical communication, quality of information dis semination and communication strategies. However, it appears from the number of results given in the translation databases that there is more use of ittissal than tawassul Tawassul is used in those sentence constructions which do not accept tawassul and is more preferred in the humanitarian context and networking.


43 Chapter 4: Interview Analysis My aim in this section is to address the implicati ons of adopting ittissal rather than tawassul for the purpose of unifying UN terminology, as wel l as the cultural dimensions that this choice involves. I interviewed eight ATS staff members who occupy positions as translators to generate their a ccounts of “communication” in UN documents. I selected a set of paragraphs from diff erent UN documents each having a different Arabic equivalent. I also chose those par agraphs that would enable respondents to compare different translations, most of which having a similar meaning but a different equivalent referring to “co mmunication” like /& [naql], [ittissal], /0 [tawassul], # [issal], D&;/0 [al-tawassul aliliktrouni], i.e. “electronic communication,” 12% [al-iblagh] ( [maharat al-ittissal], i.e. “communication skills” ,# [taqdim] and [al ittissalat], i.e. “communications”. I also asked my informants if the y encounter any cultural issues in their translation. The people I interviewed are fro m different Arab countries: Mohamed and Fihr are from Egypt; Leila, Arif, Samir and Safae are from Morocco; Bilal is from Syria, and Karim is from Palestine. I t is this cultural variety that will highlight some cultural issues in translation that I will discuss in this section. Given that I was not allowed to tape-record the interview s in that service, I was only taking notes during interviews. The interviews were face-t o-face. I was showing my respondents the passages that I selected while aski ng them about their opinions about the previous translation of the term “communication ” in these passages. In the following examples, “electronic communicatio n” is translated as “electronic ittissal ,” and in another document is referred to as “elect ronic tawassul :” Document 1: The annual staff retreat has become a lessons learn ed exercise to discuss planning and report preparation, working paper docu mentation, the use of electronic communication and information tools, and the monitoring of recommendations. A/62/34/Add.1 [tawassul]. Document 2:


44 In addition to securing a greater total amount of r esources from a larger number of Member States, UNIFEM hopes to secure mor e resources from non-traditional sources. UNIFEM plans to invest in mobilizing these sources, including through more strategic use of media and e lectronic communication to support grassroots fundraising; scaling up effor ts with its Goodwill Ambassadors; and expanding partnerships with founda tions and socially responsible private sector sources. DP/2007/45 [itt issal]. Mr. Karim from Palestine, Mr. Bilal from Syria, and Mr. Mohamed from Egypt think that the translation with tawassul as an equivalent is the right one given that it is pertinent to the context and has more se nse of interactivity among partners. The term ittissal in their view does not have this sense of interact ivity, and thus it does not convey the same meaning in this context. T hese translators base their opinion on the stem of the term tawassul which is wassala (the verb) and silah (the noun) meaning: link. Another argument they give is the te rm wissal derived from the verb wassala which refers to an active relationship between pa rtners (love). Another important derivation is coming from /nC tafa ala and hence tawassala i.e.: tawassul On the other hand, /'? [ifta ala] is the origin of / [ ittassala ], hence ittissal However, some translators, like Samir and Safae fro m Morocco preferred ittissal basing their argument on the fact that tawassul is not common in the domain of electronics. Cultural Differences Philipsen (1975) notes that “cultures are not only varied but are also internally diverse in the emphasis they place on the value of talk” (p.13). Some important cultural differences emerged during my interviews, between informants of the Arab countries of the Middle East and those from the cou ntries of the Maghreb region. The term :# [ al-rif ] refers to either the countryside in Morocco or to an area in the North. In Egypt, however, the plural )# [ al-ariaf ] is used to refer to the inhabited areas of the desert. Thus this term is usually avoi ded so that no confusion is incurred. The term “training” in the Middle East gets transla ted as "# [al-tadrib]. However in Tunisia, it gets translated as $% [al-tarabus]; and in Morocco as I#; [al-takwin]. The reason behind this difference is t he linguistic reference of this speech community. In Morocco, the linguistic reference is French. Thus, I#; [al-takwin]is a translation done through French.


45 Another example is the translation of “information technology” into Arabic. In Morocco, it is translated literally as 'r+; [tiknologia al-ma loumat]. In the Middle East, it gets translated as r+ [tiqniat alma loumat]. Note that the Middle East one is closer to Arabic than the Morocc an one because r+ [tiqniat] is the Arabicized version of the term “technology.” The translation of “students” into Arabic is also c ultural as indicated by one of my participants. In Morocco, 3E [talabah] is used for the masculine plural “studen ts,” and 3E [talibat] is for the feminine plural. However, in the Middle East -2E [toullab] is used as the plural referring to both m asculine and feminine forms. Not all people from the Middle East agree with the plural 3E [talabah]. It is necessary to note here that Arabic dictionaries list all these f orms as correct. It is the use of these terms which is cultural. Translators are always referring to multiple dictio naries to make sure they are using the right equivalent to the terms they use an d that these equivalents are the closest to the desired meaning. When asking one of my informants about his opinion about one of the translations of the term communica tion into Arabic, he expressed how he found the given translation ‘okay’ and then started suggesting some other possible translations to the given term. He then ha d to refer to an online dictionary in order to be more precise. What is more interesting is when the cultural backg round affecting the language use of the ATS speech community plays a ro le in deciding over the terms to be used in the final UN documents. It is senior rev isers that seem to have more credibility in deciding over final translations to terms and documents. At the same time, many informants maintained that there is no p articular person who decides over the terms to be used in UN documents. According to them, this is generally done through the terminology meetings in which most tran slators exchange their opinions and agree on certain terminologies. In an exchange about linguistic and cultural issues in translation, Mr. Fihr, who is a very experienced Egyptian staff member cri ticized cultural differences in terminology use within the ATS. The exchange went a s follows:


46 A: How do you know if a term is common or not? A te rm might be common in a culture but uncommon in another? And, if these terms are correct in dictionaries, why would they not be used? T: Each culture imagines that it has the right to f ind its own expressions and its own language as part of the language of UN docu ments, even when these terms are not common and spread. If a certain term is not common, I prefer not to use it even if it is in classical Arabic. Fo r instance, V3( [jahbad] and the plural V%( [jahabidha], referring to powerful people is an un common term which should never be part of UN terminology even i f it is a correct word in classical Arabic. As we can see from the transcript, the UN language does not allow cultural differences in translation, and only common terms s hould be used. The speech of Mr. Fihr reveals themes of patriotism and pride connect ed to the Arabic used in Egypt. The fact that this participant questioned how each culture thinks to have the right to have its own terminology in UN documents when he ex pressed how the ATS prefers commonly used terms, made me think that there are t erms which are common in the media of a certain culture but are uncommon for ano ther. Being from a certain Arab country, this translator would not find terms of th e other Arab country as common although they are correct in classic Arab dictionar ies. It seems that he has the power for decision making and that he is afraid that thes e cultural differences affect the language of UN documents. Further, Mr. Fihr maintains that it is through Egyp tian media, cinema, newspapers, etc, that Egyptian language got spread in the Arab world. He also refers to the political leadership of Egypt, the media, an d the Egyptian literature as having an impact over the spread of Egyptian language. Som e prominent Egyptian literary figures that he mentioned are: Taha Hussein, Najib Mahfoudh, tawfik Al-Hakim, AlAkkad, etc. This is shown in the following transcri pt: It was in 1975 that Arabic language first entered t he UN. The first Arabic UN documents were translated by Egyptians. Egyptians w ere the people who put terminology from English to Arabic and the first ba sic foundation for Arabic in the UN. The history of Egypt, its political lead ership, the Egyptian newspapers and Egyptian literature all contributed in making Egyptian language spread in the Arab world.


47 Also, by saying that Egyptian Arabic is the closest language to al-fusha i.e. standard Arabic, Mr. Fihr confounded the standard A rabic used in writing with the Egyptian language which is mainly a spoken language only in Egypt, and which Arab people understand in general given the reasons this informant mentioned about this spread, i.e. the literary achievements, the media a nd Egyptian leadership. This is shown in the transcript below: Until recently, it was the Arabic terminology used in Egypt that was used in UN documents. However, this started to change when a big number of translators from the Arab Maghreb and Syria were re cruited. It is from this point that the problem started, and we felt obliged to keep the correct language only. The Arabic Egyptian language is the closest l anguage to the fusha Thus, the fact that Egyptians were the first people to be staff members of the ATS is tied to the rules for appropriate speaking w ithin the ATS (Philipsen, 1975). Egyptians put the first foundations for UN translat ions. It is after appointing translators of other Arab countries that language d ifferences started emerging. Mr. Fihr considers these differences as being a “proble m.” Communication as a Construct In the course of my interviews, one of my interview ees Mr. Mohamed from Egypt looks at communication as “a circle,” which i nvolves a sender, a receiver, a message, a channel, and feedback. As the informant said: For the communication to be effective, the message should be formulated according to the receiver and the means should be c hosen in a way that brings the desired effects. If the audience, for instance, is children the message and the means should be carefully chosen. The sender sh ould have the knowledge and expertise that enable him to choose the right m essage for the right audience. Feedback is very important for the effect iveness of communication. Similarly, Krippendorff’s (1993) control metaphor w hich describes communication as “ a means” or “instrument” to reach one’s objectives and intentions (p. 8) does involve this idea of a “circ ular causal network” (9). It necessitates a controller sending messages that “ direct or cause particular effects and the (feedback) messages returning to inform the controller of successes and failures” (9).


48 Mr. Mohamed argued that the translation for compute r-mediated communication is better to be as tawassul because it is a two-way communication involving a give and take. However, he believes tha t not any computer-mediated communication can be tawassul Further, he argued that “electronic communication ” in a list-serve to two thousands people is to be tr anslated as ittissal as it is not expected that all these 2000 people will respond. T he fact that the interlocutor might not respond strongly emphasizes Mr. Mohamed’s argum ent that tawassul has to involve two people. Therefore, any communication in volving more that two people, notwithstanding the means of such a communication, will be considered ittissal rather than tawassul Many participants have the idea that communication involves an exchange and that it is a mutual act. Many informants mentioned the example of communication in instant messaging which involves this idea of a giv e and take between two people. Also, they agree that each of these equivalents of communication have nuances in meaning that differentiate it from each other. As I mentioned in the first chapter, “networking” i s a term that gets most of the time translated as “communication” with the Ara bic equivalent tawassul Yet, in the following example, networking comes close to co mmunication which does not allow that the term communication gets translated a s tawassul : Encourages communication and networking among exist ing fistula centers to facilitate training, research, advocacy and the dev elopment of universal standards and fund-raising, and urges the internati onal community to address the shortages of trained doctors, space and supplie s that limit the capacity of most of the fistula centers. A/62/435. “Networking” is in some cases translated literally into Arabic as D;3FG% [ al-rabt achabaki ], i.e. network connection. Mr. Karim from Palestin e admitted that he preferred a literal translation and thought that the equivalent “communication” as tawassul should be avoided given that such a context relati onship does not involve two people. In this case, Mr. Bilal preferred a mod el of communication close to a transmission model (Shannon and Weaver, 1949) in wh ich a sender transmit information to a receiver through a channel. This t heory focuses more on the process of transmission rather than on the information to b e transmitted. For this reason,


49 communication for these translators is a simple, lo gical and general process. According to this model, communication is a transmi ssion of information by which the people within the fistula centers communicate a mong themselves in a way that causes a facilitation of training and send messages that would influence the international community to deal with social problem s. The people of these centers transmit “understandable” messages that act as sign als. The audience to whom the message is transmitted therefore “translate” these signals according to their understanding of the situation. Similarly, Krippend orff (1993) maintains that meanings reside in human understanding, not in the signals transmitted”(10). Thus, it is the way signals are understood that affects thei r process of communication. Differences of opinions For translators, tawassul involves a give and take between two people but it might extend to more people or to even teams in pre vious translations, as shown in the following example: Members of the advisory committee are encouraged to communicate between sessions, individually or in teams. A/62/434. Mr. Arif from Morocco disagrees with “communication ” being translated as tawassul in this document. He believes that the list of agr eed terms found in ARABTERM and UNTERM should strictly be followed. He further argues that the translator here did a mistake and did not abide by the terminology in ARABTERM and UNTERM. This will help in the unification of UN terminology. For Mr. Arif, a term should never change according to the context. This is what Krippendorff (1993) calls as the container metaphor of communication wh ich looks at communication as “transportation, as a problem of getting the conten t of messages, thoughts, feelings, meanings, information, and other entities from here to there”(5). Thus, Mr. Arif believes that UN translators should abide in their translation to terminology databases and never change the translation of certain already approved upon terms. In addition, the UN terminology databases might be well seen as what Krippendorff (1993) calls the conduit metaphor of communication, which concep tualizes communication as having channels and networks from which messages fl ow.


50 The annual staff retreat has become a lessons learn ed exercise to discuss planning and report preparation, working paper docu mentation, the use of electronic communication and information tools, and the monitoring of recommendations. A/62/34/Add.1 [tawassul]. In UN documents, ittissal is used in a technical sense in the case of telecommunication domains. Tawassul however, is used to establish links between people and different civilizations. According to Mr Arif, there is no difference in the Arab world in the translation of ittissal and tawassul into Arabic language. It was interesting to me that this opinion was expressed b y a very experienced staff member like Mr. Arif. However, the fact that Mr. Arif believes that the t ranslator has made a mistake in translating the term “communication” as tawassul is interesting. Becker (1998) mentions that “beyond the last word of the translat ion has not been a neutral, painless act. It has been necessarily full of politics and s emi-intended errors of exuberance and deficiency” (p. 19). Thus, my understanding to what Mr. Arif expressed is that for the sake of abiding by the policy of unification, trans lators should use ittissal instead of tawassul despite the fact that tawassul might be more effective in conveying the meaning. Becker then points out to the importance of what he calls a “confession of failure” in translation fidelity. Mr. Arif made a “ confession of failure” by certain translations, and this only reveals his professiona lism. However, Mr. Samir from Morocco who is a new staff member believes that context is the most important thing to consider in any translation of a particular term. According to Mr. Samir, translation is not ‘a preci se science’, but is rather a personal effort from translators depending on their cultural backgrounds, knowledge, style and richness of their vocabulary. He disagrees with the above translation of “communication” as tawassul given that the use of tawassul for an electronic communication context is uncommon in the media. He believes ittissal to be better. Mr. Mohamed who is an experienced staff member also disagrees with the above translation of “communication” as tawassul This is because if there were communication between the staff and one of them did not respond, then there would be no tawassul For him, tawassul does not occur unless there is explicit interactio n with the other. He further argues that tawassul is an equivalent for the term interaction


51 and that using it for communication would not leave any other equivalent for interaction. Thus, interaction and communication fo r him should not be translated in the same way. However, for Leila from Morocco, tawassul is used in literary contexts while ittissal is used in more scientific contexts. This difference in accounting for translation exist s more between the experienced staff members and the newly recruited o nes who are still learning about the rules of translating UN documents. From here th ere emerge many divergences in the translators’ accounts. One of the divergences w as illuminated when Mr. Arif who is an experienced staff member informed me about ho w the term should not change depending on the context. Mr. Samir who is a new st aff member, however, considers that context is the criterion according to which a term should be translated. The latter further assumes that translation is not a precise s cience and that it depends on the cultural background of each translator, the richnes s of his vocabulary, his knowledge and style. For him, each translator has his own lan guage. However, the fact that the experienced translators have always expressed to me that the UN has its own rules of translations and that it has its own language expla ins how the UN is undergoing a process of teaching the new translators these UN ru les. Translators sometimes express their disagreement w ith certain previous translations and think that this is ‘human error’. If it is not due to human error, then this translation depends on the translator’s own un derstanding of the English context of the term. Given that translators have to follow UN rules of translation, they are not free in their use of terminology. UN Translation Restrictions Many informants believe that translation should alw ays depend on common sense and context. As soon as a certain translation of a specified term gets approved, translators at the UN should only translate it in t hat way. Informants further maintain that translations have to be regular and to follow the UN standards. Translation should also depend on the way the translation understands the context in English and the way they demonstrate their argument about a certain tra nslation. Mr. Karim argues that: Some translations started becoming like a model for us to follow. We’ve been translating for 20 years now and there are terms th at have to be translated in


52 only one way. In some other contexts, we are not fr ee to express our personality during translation. There are restricti ons. One of the questions I asked my participants was ab out their opinion concerning the equivalent they believe to be correc t for my studies of communication. I got several responses. Mr. Mohamed thought that ittissal should be the right equivalent given that it is the term used academica lly. He further argued that tawassul rather refers to a more general meaning which is th e communication among people, relationships and ties, connections, etc. He also thought that tawassul is limited to interactions between two people unlike ittissal which makes him think about one side only. Another account by Mr. Karim was that he was not su re what I am studying in communication, which I thought was a logical answer given the broad aspect of the field. After explaining to him that my program is a bout the theories and research in human communication and interaction in everyday lif e, family and organizations, rather than telecommunications and systems, he then thought tawassul to be the right equivalent. This is because I am studying the whole process of human communication. From this exchange, I understood tha t the term communication is set to be translated as ittissal Exceptions occur in very few cases involving rela tionship between people. Unification of Terminology During terminology meetings, translators of the AT S agree upon certain terms for future use in UN documents. Once a term gets ap proved, it gets added to the online database. Translators at the UN have to abid e by that specific equivalent. Differences in opinion among translators might exis t given that they come from different Arab countries. However, this should not affect the specific use of equivalent terms that have already been agreed upon in meeting s. An interesting point raised by some other translato rs is the use of either ittissal or tawassul in the examples above does not affect the meaning because they both mean the same act of “communication” in those examp les. However, informants believe that it is better to use ittissal for the sake of unification. They prefer to use th e technical equivalent ittissal over tawassul just for the sake of avoiding differences and


53 confusions in the use of these terms together. In o ther words, informants believe that communication should better be translated only as ittissal as there is a risk in using tawassul instead of ittissal in some contexts and vice versa. Another aspect of unification includes going as far as linking terms. The ATS believes that this would further unify the terminol ogy of UN documents. Mr. Karim believes this to be an over-restriction by the ATS as this will affect the richness of the language. Mr. Fihr believes this unification to be highly nec essary despite the possibility of having a better language. Change should be made only in cases where there is an error in translation. He does not believe that unif ication is cultural. Unification involves discipline according to one of my informan t. The more the translator sticks to unification, the more discipline and professiona lism is reflected. The most important thing is correct and precise translation regardless of one’s culture. For him, creativity should not be welcomed as only authors c an be creative. A similar statement was articulated by Becker (1998) in his Beyond Translation where he argues that translation is a very profound process that can result either in enrichment of the text if the translator is translating into h is native language or in impoverishment if the translator is translating from his native la nguage. Talking about his on personal experience while he was translating into Old Javane se, Becker says: For many years I have tried, without success, to wr ite an essay called “Going Out and Coming Back” in which I want to argue that translating into one’s own language is a profoundly different process, at all levels, from translating out of it. Enrichment versus impoverishment, gain v ersus loss (p. 297). Thus, sticking to what Mr. Fihr calls as unificatio n when translating UN documents into Arabic without the creativity in expression ca n cause an impoverishment of language as was mentioned by Mr. Karim. An example of the terminology unification in the AT S is the attempt to translate some linking words in one way throughout UN documents. Linking words are those parts of speech that connect ideas, add i nformation (in addition, as well as, furthermore), summarize (to conclude, to sum up), a nd generally mark transitions. For


54 instance, “as well as” could be translated as both In 2g? [fadlan an] and ?b T [idafatan ?ila]. It has been decided to unify it as [fadlan an] in all UN documents. Another example is the translation of “through” int o Arabic. Through can be translated as [bi], 24I [min khilal], W#EIn [ an tariq] and 3n [ abra], but it has been agreed to translate it into [ an tariq]. This informant believes that this attemp t of unification will affect the richness of Arabic lang uage. According to this informant, the people who have the final say in terminology tr anslation are the revisers, most of whom are Egyptians. On the other hand, Mr. Arif maintains that in trans lating the linking word adverb through translators are rather not obliged to follow a ce rtain equivalent. He further maintains that “We are a free community and we try to utilize our rich language in our writings”. I found that this diffe rence in my informants’ accounts is interesting in the sense that some translators beli eve they are free in their translations while others believe they are not. A third category of translators believes that they are free in translation of certain terms but not free i n translating other terms, particularly those which have already been agreed upon in termin ology meetings and which are part of the UNTERM and ARABTERM databases. Mr. Bilal from Syria believes that it is ‘unfortuna te that UN documents are not unified and are incoherent and that there are diffe rences in understanding terms’. This informant refers to the problem of counting Egypt a s one country of the Middle East rather than part of North Africa. In his view, ther e is more agreement among people of Syria, Lebanon and Morocco rather than with peop le of Egypt. An ideal position is when the primary text in English is very clear and perfectly understood by the translator. This informant finds it unfortunate tha t this is not the case because more than 50% of English UN documents are written by non -native English speakers. The conclusion is that for the sake of unification, it is always believed to be better to use ittissal instead of tawassul tawassul being not very common in certain contexts by some Arab cultures. There are always co ntinuous corrections, modifications, and additions to the UN language bas ically through terminology meetings. It is not a static language.


55 Krippendorff (1993) points out to the control metap hor of communication which “subordinates all aspects of communication, m essages, contents, individual involvements, truths, and social consequences to ra tional pursuits governed by particular aims” (p.8). The attempt of unifying the UN terminology use can very well be seen as a control metaphor whose aim is to produ ce a very clear, common and correct UN language. This unification might also be seen as an attempt to remove the cultural associations of certain terms. Given that the control metaphor necessitates “knowledgeable agents capable of conceptualizing th e process of communication” (8), the agents of the ATS are the revisers who goa ls is to make sure all terms are the right ones. Conclusion My research about the cultural dimensions of transl ation within the ATS was one of the big issues that translators at the ATS e ncounter and that makes them feel perplexed. However, Mr. Fihr who is the highly expe rienced translator from Egypt expressed how my research should focus on how the A TS in the UN tries to be aware of the cultural differences in different Arab count ries and tries to overcome the problems that arise out of these differences throug h helping the staff members to get immersed in the spirit of the UN language. This fur ther emphasizes the unique characteristics of the translation at the UN as opp osed to translation in any other organization. Many translators expressed to me that the term tawassul is preferred in the Maghreb and that Ittissal is the preferred term in the Middle East. However, my interviews showed how this assumption cannot be gen eralized, nor is it a characteristic of a specific country to prefer eith er ittissal or tawassul as a translation to “communication”. Most translators appeared to re ly on the context and on the commonality aspect of terms. It was difficult for translators to answer my quest ion about the lack of using standard Arabic as a language of communication amon g the ATS staff members. Answers included the fact that standard Arabic is n ot the language with which these staff members communicate among themselves in their countries, and that maybe English acts as a lingua-franca even inside the ATS There was a final reflection about


56 this issue: the answer was that ‘yes, classical Ara bic should be used in our everyday communication’. The ATS community perceives communication as compos ed of two models: the transmission model and the control model which I will further analyze in chapters 5 and 6.


57 Chapter 5: Analysis of ATS Meetings When each translator encounters a problematic term while working on his/her daily translation, he/she suggests this term to be discussed in the course of weekly meetings. In this section, I analyze the interactio n between translators in three meetings I attended. The terminologist officer is t he person in charge of combining all the terms suggested by translators and of putting t hem in a chart. Charts are composed of five columns: a column with the name of the tran slator who suggested the term to be discussed in the meeting, another column with th e term itself, a third column with the suggested Arabic translation, a fourth column w ith the context in which the term occurred and its different examples, and finally th e fifth column has a definition of the term. Meetings might start with jokes, creating a f riendly atmosphere. No drinks are served during the meeting which reflects Arab cultu re during work. This is despite the fact that the UN is in the USA, a culture that favo rs having drinks during meetings or in classrooms. Translators express the importance o f looking at various nuances in meaning and of conducting research about terms. The re are terms which might sound awkward after their translation into Arabic. I also provide in this section illuminations of some problematic terms, together with an analysi s of the translators’ interactions, and their decision-making process. Example 1: Arbre de dcision Translators defined the phrase arbre de dcision in the handout distributed at the beginning of the meeting as: “Pictorial representation of a decision situation, normally found in discussions of decision-making under uncertainty or risk. It sh ows decision alternatives, states of nature, probabilities attached to the sta te of nature, and conditional benefits and losses. The tree approach is most usef ul in a sequential decision situation”. (Terminology meeting hand-out, p. 2). The fact that this phrase is “a pictorial represent ation of a decision situation” makes it problematic during translation. Without un derstanding this pictorial meaning, the translator might not be successful in giving an accurate translation to this phrase.


58 A translator, Mrs. Safae, mentioned this example in the meeting, and her translation was.5 [shajartu al-qarar]. However, comments in the meeti ng were that this translation was strange and inadequate be cause it is literal. Mr. Samir, suggested trying to understand the concept of this phrase and context in which it was written. He added that it is used in statistics and the social sciences. It is an image in which each decision is represented as a branch that takes to another branch. It is a whole process by which we arrive to a conclusion. H e also suggested looking at how the French and Spanish translate this term. If this term has an image, then this translator believes that the translation should be also in the form of an image, rather than being literal. Table 1: Example of a term translated in the UNTERM database. Card Subject(s) English French Spanish Russian Chinese Arabic science and technology decision tree arbre de dcision; diagramme de dcision binaire rbol de decisions qrstusvvs wuxyz{{s wur|}~r uzz|r} .5 This chart from UNTERM shows the translation of the phrase Arbre de dcision into the UN six official languages. Finding this t erm in this database reflects that it has already been used in UN documents. Yet, some translators disagree with this term and want to improve it and choose the bes t possible translation to it. Thus this example reflects the ATS dissatisfaction with some Arabic translations in this database, and its desire to improve on it. Sometimes translators express their shock upon hear ing some translations and laugh while expressing their shock. Nelson (2008) m entions that laughter is a discharge behavior that results from a humorous exc hange among people. Nelson maintains that “in the conflict/ appeasement system [laughter] indicates, ‘I am making light of this so I am not a threat’ or deliver the message as ‘I am no longer angry’ ” (p.45). Thus, ATS translators’ laughter may be seen as an appeasement or mitigation of their critiques to each others’ translations and an affirmation to the fact that they pointed out the awkwardness of a certain translatio n without offending anybody.


59 It is also common that translators use some express ions when they care about how the reader will respond to certain translations For instance, one translator commented about a certain translation that it will make the reader “tired”. Example 2: “Statement of Interdiction Principle” Translators found different translations of this ph rase in UN documents and pointed out to the importance of unifying the way t his phrase gets translated. Translators did not provide a definition to this ph rase, but rather noted down all the contexts in which this phrase appears in UN documen ts as well as all the meanings of the term “interdiction”. This term mostly appears i n the context of illegal trade. Translators suggested that the term be translated a s: g€37r% [bayan mabadi’ al adr]. Although g [al adr], i.e. interdiction, means also S+ [al-man ], Mr. Arif prefers S+ [al-man ] because it is more common and closer to “practica lity” as he calls it. He added that it would be better if th ey could see the extent to which this term gets repeated because it seemed to him that th ere is a kind of insistence on using g [al adr] instead of S+ [al-man ]. He also commented that [al adr] carries with it the meaning of danger. However, Mr. Samir interferes by saying that interdiction itself is not a trivial term and that it has a cargo of meaning. This term was translated differently and translators call for its unification, given the terminology unification attempt. Translators check dictionaries during meetings. The y also conduct research in different websites, encyclopedia, specialized dicti onaries, UN documents, etc, to look for domains and contexts of the term. Translators t ake into consideration the meaning and context of the term. Example 3: “Drug Dependence” Translators provided online definition to this phra se looking at the various contexts in which it appears. Mr. Samir suggested t he following definition which he took from (2008): Habituation or addiction to the use of a drug or ch emical substance, with or without physical dependence.


60 Here, translators suggested dTn7 [al-idman ala al-moukhaddirat]. However, another translator, Mr. Arif, suggested d%7( [al-irtihan bi almoukhaddirat]. He maintains that it is better to us e the term 7 [al-idman] in the context of drug addiction and not in the context of drug dependence. He supports his view by the fact that, in 1964, the World Health Or ganization stopped using the terms “addiction” or “habituation” and started using “dru g dependence,” given that the term “addiction” created a problem. Thus, it is better t hat the terms of the ATS be in unification with the terms used in other UN related organizations. Many translators expressed their approval to 7( [al-irtihan] because it is smooth and it is a noun that comes from the verb I( [irtahana] which refers to being “at the mercy of the pills.” A counter argument asked if the term “dependence” w as used as a euphemism to be used in what he called “well-mannered societies”. H e wondered how the ATS could use 7( [al-irtihan]. Another opinion was that the ATS sho uld have translation equivalents for any terms and these equivalents sho uld be smooth. The final decision was d%7( [al-irtihan bil moukhaddirat]. Direct criticism is sometimes an aspect of the ATS meetings, especially when meetings do not end with decisions on many terms. T he ATS encourages translators to be more productive in these meetings. The ATS tr anslators make huge efforts to correct ARABTERM and UNTERM based on the discussion s in these meetings. This team of translators also has a sense of mutual acco untability and appreciates each others’ efforts and contributions. One of the issues that the ATS translators have con cerns the translation of new terms which do not yet exist in UNTERM and ARABTERM or even in UN documents. The translators in this case suggest var ious equivalents to these terms and then suggest that their translations be discussed i n the meetings. The ATS never adds the terms to the UN terminology databases that have not yet been discussed during meetings. The terminology officer sends emails to t ranslators reminding them to attend. Attendance is not compulsory but is always appreciated. Translators openly express their worries during mee tings. The ATS translation team proves to be highly professional when it looks for precise translations and conducts research to look for the right translation for the right nuance in meaning for


61 each term. Mr. Samir expressed that his team should avoid the risk of possibly being criticized by the coming generation of ATS translat ors. Thus, translators look many times at specialized dictionaries, articles and res earch which have the terms that they are translating. Sometimes translators decide to as k specialists about certain terms before deciding on their translation, such as: the agricultural context, nuclear context, etc. Each translator gives his/her opinion until everybo dy reaches a consensus. Sometimes there is a vote. Sometimes there are diff erences in opinion: One translator might look at the Latin root of a term, especially in French, English and Spanish, to facilitate translation of a certain term while anot her translator believes that the root does not help at all in that case. Example: The Eng lish term “Operational” can easily be translated into French as oprationel given that the root in Latin. But its translation becomes more difficult when it comes to Arabic. It is possible that not many translators may attend a particular meeting which means that not all translators may contribute to a translation decision. Flexibility in translation is appreciated. Also, short translation s are always preferred over long ones, as in translating the expression “late-developing c ountries”. There were some suggested translations. Comments about translating this term were: first, it is a process describing the timely development of these countrie s. Second, a translator in the meeting asked the following question: compared to w hich country is the development of this country late? The third comment held that i s translation of this term should not be made complicated. Then decision over this term w as postponed to the following meeting. There are also some tricky terms, such as: “early” in the phrase “early developing countries”. A translator expressed that early developing always triggers late developing, and that it is difficult to classi fy a country as being developed or less developed. He added that if “early” has to be appli ed to childhood. It is meaningless to say “early childhood” or “late childhood” as the re is no late or early childhood. Finally, another translator suggested putting a tem porary term as a translation. Given the high professionalism of the ATS translato rs, they often judge the quality of certain translations and even refer to s ome as being bad. Making sure a


62 translation is very precise reflects the good commu nication that translators at the ATS emphasize. Example 4: “Non-entrant country” This phrase was used in one UN document in a politi cal context. When this phrase was translated into Arabic as 4IB+% [balad mamnou mina doukhoul], Mr. Samir expressed how the Arabic trans lation shocks the Arab reader. He added that “their language allows this translati on but Arabic does not”. He calls for finding an accepted formulation in Arabic. This is another example of translators unhappy with current translations in their database Card English Arabic French Spanish Non-entrant country 4IB+% Table 2: Example of a translation of a term in ARAB TERM database. Note here that no French and Spanish translation wa s given to this phrase, which emphasizes its problematic nature. I wonder here th e reason why this phrase was first coned in English, as this term sounds awkward even in its English form. It is an example of how translators have to cope with the ne w terms coined as a result of some political, social, etc, challenges that face t he world nowadays. Conclusion The ATS team is made up of very professional transl ators and linguists who can translate from at least two languages into Arab ic. Translators value preciseness, terminology unification, short, succinct, smooth, a nd preferably common translations. Meetings are an opportunity for translators to comm unicate their views, worries, and differences in perspectives. Interactions are frien dly with an equal and shared contribution in decision-making of terminology tran slation and on enriching the UN Arabic terminology databases. Translators seem to h old the idea that Arabic translation will reflect the image of their team an d therefore it should follow the highest standards of translation.


63 Chapter 6: Communication in the ATS Communication F ramework In addition to the seventy staff members working in the Arabic Translation Service (ATS), there are other translators recruite d at translation offices outside the UN main building. Currently, the ATS is organizing a communication structure to establish good contact between the UN main building in New York and these outside offices related to it. It is also planning to have a focal point dealing with these people regularly. The goal is to create a structured commu nication process in order to ensure that the ATS traditions are maintained by these out siders. In the UN ATS, a communication framework was designed to develop clo ser relations with Arabic language services in other duty stations. The way t his framework is designed reflects how the ATS community looks at communication as a p rocess. In the course my interactions with the designer of this framework, M r. Mohamed, I realized that communication is constructed in terms of a conduit (Krippendorff, 1993) or transmission (Shannon and Weaver, 1963). In this se ction, I describe the elements and components of the ATS communication framework and s how in what ways communication is seen as a conduit metaphor which I already defined in the literature review chapter. Components of the ATS Communication Framework According to the designer of the ATS communication framework, Mr. Mohamed, the contractory translators are retirees s pread both in their countries and in New York. They are working from their homes because they are not affiliated with an organization. They are non-UN staff. They translate some work, and they therefore need to be guided to useful references. They need t o be given advice that would facilitate their work and need be introduced to the latest technology available. They also need to improve the quality of their work beca use the quality of these peopleÂ’s work would reflect the quality of the ATS work, alt hough they are working from the outside. The contractor translators have a long exp erience and the UN cannot afford to loose them. They are some kind of an asset to the o rganization. Part of the UN work is done internally in the ATS and the other part is do ne externally. For the internal work, it is the in-house staff that is needed to do the w ork. However, when there is a lot of work, then external staff is recruited, most of who m are retirees. This is called work through the contractory unit.


64 Mr. Mohamed relies on electronic communication like building websites, emailing, etc, in order to contact these contractor translators. He started the communication with these translators through the ma iling list. From time to time, he used to send them messages about terminology, circu lars, useful websites and other references which they can use in their work. Mr. Mo hamed always received phone calls and messages from them containing questions a bout terminology and other things in their work and responded to their questio ns. He also sent them the links of the terminology databases that the UN staff have. M r. Mohamed has created a website for this reason as well, so email and the website a re both used to contact them. The goals of the ATS communication project are to i mprove the quality of contractory translation, to show to these outside t ranslators that their work is under evaluation, and that consistency is needed in the t ranslation, and to facilitate their work. In their Mathematical Theory of Communication Shannon and Weaver (1969) have pointed out to three levels of communication p roblems. First, there is the technical problem which addresses how “accurately” communicators could transmit the message. Second, the semantic problem addresses how “precisely” a message can represent the intended meaning. Third, there is the effectiveness problem, and this addresses how effective the message is causing the desired effect. The ATS choice of electronic communication as a bas ic means for communicating with the outside translators reveals the ATS conclusion of the possibility of encountering technical problems with the accuracy of message transmission. Emails, phone calls, and websites are efficient ways of transmitting messages. In the case of phone calls, the caller, i s sure that the interlocutor is with him on the phone. As far as emails are concerned, there is usually an email notification if the email did not reach the recipient. The website is also an efficient way of transmitting information given that the creator of the website can easily make sure if it working without technical difficulties. Thus, these technical ways of communication chosen by the ATS can prove to be accurate in trans mitting messages. According to Shannon & Weaver (1969), any potential errors in tr ansmitting the message or changes and distortions of the required message are considered as noise. However, it


65 is interesting that noise can be beneficial given t hat it breeds more information. Shannon & Weaver (1969) mention: If noise is introduced, then the received message c ontains certain distortions, certain errors, certain extraneous material, that w ould certainly lead one to say that the received message exhibits, because of the effects of the noise, an increased uncertainty. But if the uncertainty is in creased, the information is increased, and this sounds as though the noise were beneficial!! (p. 19). Through this communication project, the ATS aims at making translators feel comfortable in their jobs by providing them with al l the means of translation that they need, such as websites, online dictionaries, etc. N oise at the ATS can be interpreted as the lack of good communication between the main sta tion and the other duty station, an issue which this communication design is trying to solve. The ATSÂ’ is making good efforts in helping contractory translators to improve in their work.


66 Conclusion This research about communication at the ATS pointed out to some major cultural differences in the talk of Arab translator s and to the models of communication used in an Arab multicultural context My analysis of the implications of using ittissal and tawassul is also fundamental in differentiating between the use of the two equivalents in writing or formal talk. Alth ough they refer to the same process of communication, ittissal and tawassul differ in their use depending on who the audience is. The ATS adoption of a transmission mod el of communication rather than a ritual model also reflects its intent in dissemin ating information to the translators, both the full-time staff and the temporary ones. Th e control metaphor used during the transmission of communication among the staff is hi ghly necessary in ensuring that the improvement agenda of the ATS is going in a smo oth way. If I were allowed to tape record and to have transcribed interviews, this would have revealed more about translatorsÂ’ opinions, fru strations, reactions to my questions, and tone of voice while they are respond ing. Additionally, each part of this research can be further extended as I touched upon some major issues encountered in the Arab world. For example, the intercultural comm unication among Arab countries, the implications of viewing communication as a tran smission model, and the right communication strategies to use in the ATS all dese rve further study within the frame of the ethnography of communication. Another issue disseminating further research is the use of standard modern Arabic in daily communic ation among the Arab staff. Although standard Arabic is normally only written, it could be a language of communication in the ATS, especially when Egyptians do not fully understand Moroccan Arabic and when Moroccans try to make thei r language sound closer to standard Arabic in order to be understood. My belie f is that Standard Arabic should be the language of communication at the ATS. The interview analysis showed how the c ultural differences among translators can be revealed during their translations, a fact w hich the ATS is trying to overcome through holding the weekly meetings, the terminolog y unification attempt, and the training sessions given to translators by some very experienced translators. Additionally, the terminology unification attempt r eveals the control metaphor of


67 communication that exists at the ATS. This further emphasizes how the UN has its own language characterized by unified terminology a nd commonality of terms. It is the textual analysis chapter that revealed how Arabic language has a lot of terms which refer to communication and which are us ed depending on the context. This chapter also shows how ittissal is the translation equivalent that the ATS prefers for the term “communication”. The term tawassul is rather used in the humanitarian context, the context of networking, and the outreac h efforts. The analysis of ATS meetings showed how translators try to overcome the issues that they encounter in translation, such as the translation of tricky terms or the correction of certain awkward translations. The ATS meetings are an open atmosphere where translators communicate their opin ions and reach a consensus. Finally, the analysis of the communicat ion framework stressed the fact that the translators at the ATS view communication as the tr ansmission model. At the same time, they try to find strategies to successfully c onvey their information and ensure a good flow of communication. These are all attempts to have a high quality translation. Communication at the ATS can be summarized as follo ws: Figure 1: Diagram summarizing the process of commun ication at the ATS


68 This diagram shows how the relationship between the revisers and the translators is a sender-receiver relationship. Revi sers give training sessions to translators, showing them the rules of translation at the UN. The diagram further depicts how the transmission model of communication functions as a circle involving a sender and a receiver of information. The transmi ssion model goes in parallel with the control metaphor, creating a tension for positi ve outcome. The control metaphor is constituted in the UN terminology unification attem pts and creation of a language free from cultural manifestations. In studying the work of the translators at the ATS by means of participant observation and interviewing, this thesis reconstru cted the cultural dimensions of translation. Specifically, I focused on the import ance of differentiating between ittissal and tawassul when referring to communication in Arabic. The pre ference that the UN has to ittissal reveals how the ATS speech is situated and conting ent on the speech community’s construction of its own work wit h respect to an audience. A translation service whose audience is composed of p oliticians is different from another service whose audience is language learners In this respect, my contribution was to raise questions about the use of either ittissal or tawassul for the translation of the term “communication” and to point to some cultu ral dimensions involved in the use of each of these equivalents. That which emerges as cultural manifestatio ns during translation become major issues that the translators encounter, which is its elf a manifestation of the dynamic of a multicultural organization. The thesis also contr ibutes to highlighting the models and the metaphors of communication that the ATS tra nslators use without necessarily being aware of them. It is this embededness in ever yday languaging of often incommensurate models and the difference between id eals and everyday practice (Tracy, 1997) that is considered by participants as miscommunication; one powerful example of this is the translators’ tension between maintaining a term’s uniqueness and the ATS unification policy. It is always a first step to find out wha t the problem is in order to seek ways of solving it. Thus, there might be a possibility of c reating sessions in which translators could reflect on their own practices, perhaps using this thesis as a catalyst. These


69 sessions would be an opportunity in which translato rs communicate to each other about work problems. After all, communication was o ne of the reasons why human beings were created. “O mankind! We created you fro m a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other” (Qur’an, V.55:13).


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74 Appendices


75 Appendix A: Interview Questions 1What do you think about the following Arabic equiva lent of the term “communication”? Do you think it is accurate? Pleas e justify. 2Are there any cultural issues concerning translatio n that arise in this service? If yes, what are they? 3Who decides over which term to be used by the ATS a s an equivalent? 4What does communication mean for you? How do you se e it as a process? 5Why is standard Arabic not the language of communic ation between the ATS staff members? 6What do you think about my research topic? Do you h ave any suggestion that I can investigate in during this research?


76 Appendix B: Arabic Phonetic Alphabets [‚] glottal stop. [  ] pharyngeal fricative. [q] uvular consonant. [ ] pharyngeal fricative.


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