Tuesday 23rd of July 2024


Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address Interpreted on Italian TV: Cultural and Pragmatic Aspects
Emanuele Brambilla – University of Trieste pdf_icon_30x30



Abstract: This paper reports on the findings of the analysis of two simultaneous interpretations of the inaugural address delivered by US President Joe Biden, which were broadcast live by Italian TV news programmes RaiNews24 and SkyTG24. The analysis is part of a broader project on the simultaneous interpretations of inauguration speeches delivered by American Presidents and builds on a previous study concerning the renditions by Italian interpreters of the addresses delivered by Bill Clinton (1993), Barack Obama (2009) and Donald Trump (2017). The source speeches (SSs) are analysed against the backdrop of Jakobson’s theory of communicative functions, which are performed using various rhetorical strategies that determine the SS pragmatic force. The transcriptions of the interpreted speeches (ISs) are, instead, explored by considering the specific constraints of TV interpreting and those of the interpretation of political speeches, with the aim to assess the extent to which the rhetorical force of the SS is preserved or mitigated in the ISs. The results confirm that the inaugural address puts the interpreter’s knowledge of the source culture to the test and challenges their ability to transfer at least part of the SS rhetorical power into the IS. In the passages in which the poetic function prevails, interpreters struggle to preserve SS vividness and often end up either producing incomplete sentences or eliminating portions of the speech. In particular, metaphors and unusual collocations compound the interpreter’s task because they restrain the possibilities for anticipation. Besides unveiling translation difficulties and corroborating previous results, though, the analysis of Biden’s speech and its interpretations into Italian enriches the diachronic study with additional insights, revealing the presence of lexical and discursive patterns that are bound to enhance the interpreter’s general and contextual knowledge and assist them in the interpretation of a challenging speech.


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