Translating (im)personalisation in corporate discourse. A corpus-based analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility reports in English and Italian


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports constitute a relatively new form of corporate disclosure used by companies to present their values and philosophy with respect to socially relevant themes on which they may have an impact, mainly the environment, the community and employees. Companies thus publish CSR reports to communicate with a variety of stakeholders and provide information about their sustainability initiatives, with the ultimate aim of building, reinforcing, and promoting their corporate image. Personalisation plays an important role in the discursive construction of identity and in the definition of relationships between social actors. The personification of the company – obtained through 1st person plural deixis within corporate reports – is a very powerful rhetorical tool to convey a collective subject which takes responsibility for the actions and results it is giving account of, indicating and enacting a specific relationship with the reader. As a sociopragmatic item, however, it is largely language/culture-dependent, and thus represents an interesting locus to observe the impact of translation strategies on the meaning conveyed to the target audience. This paper sets out to analyse how CSR reports translated into English from Italian compare – as regards personalisation – with reports originally produced in English, in order to detect differences in the way corporate identity is construed and conveyed. The study is based on a bilingual corpus which includes translated English reports and their Italian source texts, as well as comparable originals in English and Italian. Corroborating previous research conducted on similar genres, the study shows that (im)personalisation patterns are considerably different in original and translated English CSR reports, largely due to a tendency for the latter to reproduce Italian conventions in this form of specialised discourse.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v29p205

Keywords: corporate discourse; sociopragmatics; (im)personalisation; translation; corpus linguistics


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