Author: Liu, Yufeng
Title: (Re)framing to (re)evaluate : metaphors in cross-national COVID-19 news translation
Advisors: Li, Dechao (CBS)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2023
Subject: Metaphor
Discourse analysis
Translating and interpreting
Journalism -- Language
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xvii, 361 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: The current thesis sets out to converge metaphor, translation and journalistic studies via the sociological concepts of framing and evaluation. It takes the global COVID-19 pandemic as a case study, in specific, the Chinese-English bilingual opinion articles published by the Chinese Global Times (GT), the American The New York Times (NYT) and the British The Economist (TE) in the year 2020. The utmost objective of the thesis is to explore the interrelationships between evaluation, translation and metaphorical framing in news discourse. Overall, it is aimed at addressing the following three research questions: (1) what metaphorical frames were used, and how were they distributed in source texts and target texts of GT, NYT and TE Chinese-English bilingual opinion articles in 2020? (2) how were these metaphorical frames translated and how was the translation associated with mediated stance? (3) to what extent did the metaphorical framing and the expressed stance evaluation in GT, NYT and TE Chinese-English bilingual opinion articles in 2020 undergo changes over weekly time intervals? To achieve these goals, the current study mainly draws upon Extended Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Stance Evaluation Framework and Corpus Approaches to Discourse Analysis. A multifactorial analysis was carried out to examine the factors influencing metaphorical frame use and distribution, including the countries of origin of the newspapers (China vs. the US vs. the UK), languages of reports (Chinese vs. English), and coronavirus progression sections (four quarterly sections), addressing RQ1. The translation of metaphorical frames and the mediated stance expressed through metaphor translation were coded and analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively using measures of association and difference to address RQ2. The study also adopted the Box-Jenkins time series analysis (TSA) method with ARIMA (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average) models to capture the autocorrelations across time for those findings addressing RQ1 and RQ2, thus answering RQ3.
The study’s results indicate that compared to the NYT and TE, the GT used a significantly higher number of metaphorical frames to describe the COVID-19 pandemic and the parties involved, such as China and the US. Overall, Chinese readers were presented with more metaphorical frames than English readers. However, the three newspapers shared many source domains when framing the pandemic, with minor differences observed between languages and newspapers. The most frequently used domains were WAR, FORCE, OTHER DISASTER, and HUMAN, but their scattering patterns differed significantly in the source news and translated news, which were further influenced by two factors: the country of origin of the newspaper and the time of the reports. Moreover, under the same source domain, the three newspapers might use different vehicle terms, which did most of the evaluating job. For instance, the metaphor of COVID-19 as a “war” could be interpreted differently by the newspapers and in different languages. The “enemy” could be the coronavirus or Chinese and American politicians, depending on the newspaper’s stance. The pandemic “war” could be portrayed as “the West’s Waterloo” or as a result of “a military maneuver”. The three newspapers differed significantly in their use of metaphors to frame China-related and the US-related topics. In general, the GT had a pro-China and anti-US stance by framing China as a “scapegoat” and the US as a “poison-maker”. The NYT and TE generally held an anti-China attitude, but they also used negatively connotated metaphors to frame US-related topics.
The study’s findings suggest that translation plays a crucial role in shaping readers’ attitudes toward COVID-19 and parties involved in the pandemic. Chinese readers and English readers may not have access to the same metaphorical frames, and different translation methods were found to result in varying degrees of attitudinal transfer and intensity towards the same event. Specifically, although most metaphors in the three newspapers were retained in the translation process, the GT also had a large proportion of metaphors omitted, the NYT more often paraphrased COVID-19-related metaphors but created more metaphors to describe China, and the TE used relatively balanced proportions of translation methods for COVID-19-related metaphors. A major consequence of such translation processes is a transfer of attitudes and a shift of the intensity of attitudes. Metaphors were retained (i.e., M-M strategy) mainly to keep the degree of a certain attitude (i.e., positivity, negativity and neutrality) unchanged. Metaphors were omitted or paraphrased (i.e., M-0 and M-P strategies) mainly for a weakening of a certain attitude. Metaphors were created from a zero-element or a literal element (i.e., 0-M and P-M strategies) mainly for a strengthening of a certain attitude. And the substitution strategy (i.e., M1-M2 strategy) was less used and it was mainly for keeping the degree of a certain attitude unchanged. Goodman and Kruskal’s lambda test results have shown that there was a strong association between metaphor translation method and attitudinal transfer (λ = 0.554, ρ < .05) and a strong association between metaphor translation method and attitudinal intensity ((λ = 0.648, ρ < .05). Results of Pearson’s Chi-Square test of independence have also shown that there were significant differences in the use of metaphor translation methods, the displayed attitudinal transfer and attitudinal intensity across the three newspapers.
The ARIMA modelling outcomes suggest that the GT and the TE used different translation methods for framing the COVID-19 pandemic “war” than the NYT did. While the NYT only framed the pandemic as a “war” in immediate contexts in both its source news and translated news, the GT and the TE also exerted much control at a macro level in their source news (Chinese news in GT and English news in TE), which was structured over time. GT used translation methods for these WAR frames more strategically than NYT and TE. At one level, GT used M-M and M-P methods interchangeably across time to ease the English readers’ nerves about the pandemic. At another, GT created WAR metaphors regularly to frame a negative image of Western countries, especially the United States (the Trump Administration) during the pandemic. The GT’s strengthening of negativity towards COVID-19 was structured by time, with an aim to call for cooperation among countries in the face of the common “enemy” of human beings. On the other hand, the NYT’s and the TE’s practice of keeping their negativity unchanged in translation was modellable across time, which might be more “ethical” as they presented the same narrative for news readers regardless of their differences in socio-political backgrounds. Meanwhile, the EGBR strategically weakened its negativity towards COVID-19 across time, attempting to constantly convince the Chinese readers that returning to normality was not that difficult.
The interdisciplinary approach and methodology of this study offer a unique contribution to the existing literature on metaphorical framing, particularly in the context of news translation and stance mediation. The incorporation of cross-domain mapping and vehicle-topic pairing in the coding scheme, as well as the analysis of time series data, adds further depth and nuance to the study. The use of a mix method approach is also commendable, as it combines the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative methods to provide a more comprehensive analysis. Researchers in Translation Studies, Metaphor Studies, and Journalistic Studies may find the findings and methodology of this study helpful in their own research, particularly those who are interested in exploring the interplay between language, ideology, and power in media discourse.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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