Political speeches in translation: an outstanding Churchill

UDC 81’255.4
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/2520-6397.2021.1.07

Mykhailenko O. О., PhD in Philology, Associate Professor
Institute of Philology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv


This paper deals with the problems related to the translation of a political speech as a genre of political discourse, with the aim to investigate the translation solutions used to achieve the pragmatic equivalence of the original and translation texts. The theoretical framework of the article has been equivalence-based translation studies by the prominent scholars in the field. The paper starts by outlining the oratory style features that should be a guide for the translator of political texts. Special research attention is paid to W. Churchill’s oratory style, with the focus on the linguo-argumentative strategies that he used to persuade the audience. Consideration of the theoretical framework is followed by the contrastive analysis of the Ukrainian- and Russian-language translations of one of W. Churchill’s most influential speeches – “Their Finest Hour”. The paper highlights the translation solutions used by the Ukrainian and Russian translators in rendering W. Churchill’s unique expressive style. The translation techniques in Ukrainian and Russian versions of the speech have been compared, with the view to trace the cross-linguistic variations in translation techniques and to determine whether the Ukrainian and Russian translators succeeded in conveying the strong emotional impact that W. Churchill’s speech had on the audience. The paper concludes with summarising the appropriateness of the translation techniques in achieving the pragmatic equivalence of the original and translation texts. The research results prove that rendering political speeches is not just a matter of their faithful translation. It is a matter of understanding background cultural, historical and political situations, what influences the choice of translation solutions.

Key words: political speech, political discourse, linguo-argumentative strategies, expressive means, stylistic devices, translation solutions, translation techniques.