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The Translation of a Crucial Political Speech:

George W. Bush’s State of the Union 2003 in Le Monde
A Study of Shifts in the Translation and the Analysis of a Crucial Political Speech:

Gilles Quentel

CSGR Working Paper Series 204/06

April 2006

This paper aims to emphasize the translation process of foreign political speeches in newspapers and its relation with the constraints of the target-culture trends. It focuses especially on excerpts from George W. Bush’s ‘State of the Union 2003’ (01-28) related to Iraq and WMD. This speech was partly translated in the French newspaper “Le Monde” and widely commented during the following month: the main trend in France being a strong opposition to a war in Iraq at this time, the commentaries of the French newspapers generally were quite biased. The paper analyzes how the French journalists selected the sentences that they wanted to quote from the original speech and how they translated them. It points out the crucial part played by translation in this process through both a semantic and an oratorical point of view. The latter aspect is the most studied in this paper, particularly through its relations with phonetics: it shows how a sentence or a phrase can be acoustically distorted in order to produce a definite effect.