Language plurality as power struggle, or: Translating politics in Canada * Chantal Gagnon (Concordia University) [This version has been slightly revised since the publication of the article in Target.] Abstract For this paper, heterolingualism or language plurality will be considered as the presence in a single text or in a social environment of both French and English, Canada's official languages. Language plurality will here be studied from an institutional viewpoint: the influence of the Canadian government on the translation of political speeches. The first part of this article will establish that political speeches are written in a bilingual environment where the official languages are often in contact. This bilingualism, however, is homogenised when it comes to speeches translation and publication. Therefore, the second part focuses on the speeches’ paratextual features and third looks at the speeches textual features. Keywords: Bilingual Institutions, Pragmatic Translation, Language Plurality, Translation Status, Political Speeches, Canada.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau: Let us [English Canadians] treat our minority not with equity, but with generosity as they have learned to do in other countries with minorities. […] Mr. Lynch: I thought you said earlier the English had been generous and had been --Pierre Elliott Trudeau: I was saying that in French. I say they are not as terrible as they are painted to be. Some of them can be pretty bad. Press Conference, November 25, 1976
0. Introduction In Canada, a patriotic speech would be incomplete without reference to the country’s great natural resources, the vastness of its land and the diversity of its cultures. Such a speech would also include a few words on how the two official languages enrich the country as a whole. Yet, Canadian power struggles are quite often associated with the language issue, which might help explain why translation has been so heavily institutionalized in Canada. For instance, since the introduction of the Official Languages Act in 1969, all governmental documents have been produced in one official language and translated into the other, giving the francophone minority language rights within federal institutions. Among other things, the Official Languages Act set out the right for Canadian citizens to deal with Parliament, the federal government and federal institutions in the official language of their choice. According to Statistics Canada (2001), only 17.65% of Canadians can speak both French and English. It is often said that Canada is composed of two monolingual peoples: French-speaking Canadians (most of whom are located in the province of Québec) and English-speaking Canadians. Hence, heterolingualism (or language plurality) is part of Canada’s reality but perhaps not as much as it could be expected from a country promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism as its national ideals. For this paper, heterolingualism or language plurality is considered as the presence in a single text or in a social environment of both French and English, Canada’s official languages. This article analyses the issues of institutional translation from a single perspective: the influence of the Canadian government on the translation of political speeches. Multilingual institutions such as the Canadian federal government not only use translation in a political fashion, but they also shape national and international discourse through these translations (Gagnon 2002). Canada’s political, cultural and sociolinguistic setting has had an impact on what has been translated, and has also exercised control over how these texts have been translated. It has been claimed that the Translation Bureau serves as the Canadian federal government’s “Translation Machine” (Simon 1992). The following excerpt from the Translation Bureau’s web site gives indication as to what norms regulate governmental translation in Canada (emphasis is part of the original): (1) Only you know it’s a translation. Translation Bureau translators are world-renowned as being among the best in the industry. Their dedication to providing their clients with on-time, quality texts that are true to the original in style, tone and message is unsurpassed. […] They can help 2
bring your thoughts to life in the right idiom, making sure that the translation reads like an original in the target language. (Translation Bureau 2005)1 This kind of statement has led Mossop (1990: 349) to study institutionalized concealment of the French “otherness” in governmental translations in Canada. I have proposed elsewhere (Gagnon 2002 and 2003) that the translation of English political speeches into French also conceals the English “otherness” to French-speaking Canadians. Federal translators, it would seem, homogenise their target texts to the point that readers/listeners forget that they live in a bilingual country. In other words, the “audience” of such governmental texts has no way of knowing that it is the beneficiary (or victim) of the institutional contact between the two languages and/or cultures. The above excerpt also leads us to investigate the concept of translation itself. In example (1), the Canadian federal government clearly presents translation from a “sourcetext-and-target-text” point of view. However, research in Translation Studies has shown that the boundaries between ‘originals’ and ‘translations’ are not as clear-cut as they appear to be. For instance, Simon (2000: 74) has found several examples where Canadian writers/translators experiment with languages, “creating hybrid literary texts informed by a double culture.” Canadian Translation Studies has in fact conducted extensive research on the relation between literary translations and issues such as borders, identity and power. In contrast, Canada’s pragmatic translations have rarely been studied from this point of view, even if the institutional implications may be just as important as they are for literary translations. For this reason, this paper will focus primarily on a particular category of pragmatic translation: the Canadian government’s translation of political speeches. The corpus studied contains 14 speeches, delivered during national crisis situations, by four Canadian prime ministers: William Mackenzie King (1874-1950), Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919-2000), Brian Mulroney (1939-) and Jean Chrétien (1934-). National crisis situations have occurred throughout Canadian history whenever the unity of the country was at stake due to strong political disagreement between the French and English linguistic groups. These speeches were all published, after delivery, in a variety of newspapers and government publications. This article will take a three-part approach to developing its observations and conclusions. The first part will establish that political speeches are written in a bilingual environment where the two official languages are often in contact. This bilingualism, however, is often homogenised when it comes to speech delivery and publication. Therefore, the second part focuses on the speeches’ paratextual features and the third looks at the speeches’ textual features of the speeches. 1. Languages in contact in the Office of the Prime Minister By looking at different yet complementary aspects of translated political speeches, namely, the writing/translation process, the publication and the translation itself, this study produces a comprehensive picture of institutional translations. The first part of the analysis relies on two main sources: interviews and archive research. Interviews were conducted with Michel Parent (personal communication, January 31st 2005), head of the Translation Bureau section in the Privy Council, and with Colette Riley (personal communication, March 25th 2005), Jean Chrétien’s professional translator between 1998 and 2003. In terms of archives, the William Mackenzie King Fonds and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fonds were researched. For national security reasons, the archives for Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien are at present closed to the public. 3
The priministerial speeches investigated were delivered between 1942 and 1995. The writing and translation process for these political speeches depended both upon the prime minister’s work habits, as well as the time period. For instance, William Mackenzie King dictated several of his political speeches, using, as a starting point, a written English outline prepared by his assistants (Library and Archives Canada, Prime Ministers’ Fonds, King, MG 26 J5, vol. 68). Then, the typed transcript would be reviewed by a political assistant and/or by the prime minister himself. There is no indication that Trudeau, Mulroney or Chrétien dictated their speeches. These prime ministers appear to have been less involved in the writing process than their predecessor was. In fact, during the second half of the 20th century, most prime ministers relied on draft speeches written by political assistants. There are many systems in place for the translation of political speeches in Canada. Debates in the House of Commons, for instance, have been translated by a team of federal translators since 1876 (Delisle 1984: 9).2 Since 1935, federal translators have been commissioned to work on the debates overnight, in order to produce the French and English versions of the Canadian Hansard more or less simultaneously (Delisle 1984: 21). A Hansard is defined as the complete and official report of the debates in a parliament, and takes its name from the first publisher of the debates in the British House of Commons. This system is still in place today. In the past, however, many prime ministers have released written copies of their speeches in both languages prior to the speech’s delivery. In these cases, the speeches were translated within the Office of the Prime Minister or the Privy Council. William Mackenzie King could not speak well in French. His speeches were written in English and translated into French (PMs’ Fonds, King, MG 26 J5, vol. 68). The translators who worked on translation into French probably came from the Privy Council, though Mackenzie King’s archives provide no information on the topic. Only a fraction of King’s non-parliamentary speeches were translated into French, as at this point in Canadian history, there was no (legal) obligation to provide versions in both languages for speeches delivered outside the parliament. However, French was not absent from the Cabinet, since many of Mackenzie King’s colleagues were Francophones. Furthermore, under King’s leadership, three ministers acted as King’s French-speaking lieutenant (Ernest Lapointe, Pierre Cardin, and finally Louis St-Laurent), whose role was to speak to French Canadians on Mackenzie King’s behalf. Hence there was real contact between Francophones and Anglophones in the Office of the Prime Minister, though everything took place in English. During the second half of the 20th century, many prime ministers (Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien) were bilingual. Hence, both official languages were used in the Office, though English was predominant. A correlation appears to have existed between the prime ministers’ mother tongue and the number of professional translators working for them. For example, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, born to a French-speaking father and an English-speaking mother (Granatsein and Hillmer 1999: 152), did not have translators from the Translation Bureau working in his Office (personal communication, Michel Parent). Many of his assistants were Francophones, and they could do the translation themselves. Some speeches were sent to a Privy Council translation team, but most were dealt with internally (personal communication, Michel Parent). In other countries such as the United-Kingdom or Germany (Schäffner 2003 and 2004), it is also relatively frequent to see non-translators working on the translation of political discourses. Brian Mulroney had English-speaking parents, but was brought up in a Frenchspeaking neighbourhood in the province of Quebec (Murphy, Chodos and Auf der Maur 1984: 12). Both his French and his English sounded “native”. When Mulroney came to 4
power, he asked the Translation Bureau to send a full-time translator to his Office. During his tenure, much of the work in the Office of the Prime Minister was carried out in English, requiring that speeches be translated into French. Mulroney also worked with his own personal translator, a former employee of the Translation Bureau. A third external translator was also hired to help with the work (personal communication, Michel Parent). Finally, Jean Chrétien’s mother tongue was French, and he learned English at the age of 29 when he became a member of parliament (Chrétien 1985: 26f). Many of Chrétien’s political assistants were Francophones: in fact, no other prime minister has hired as many French-speaking employees for the Office (Hébert 1995: A1). Chrétien only asked for a translator from the Bureau in the second half of his mandate (personal communication, Colette Riley). The speeches investigated for the present study were hence translated by political assistants (personal communication, Colette Riley). Trudeau’s archives revealed that most speeches were written in only one language, and then translated. Speeches to be delivered in front of an English-speaking audience were first written in English, and speeches for French-speaking audience were written in French. Research so far has shown that, in general, if the speech was to address the entire nation, it would first be written in English, as illustrated in the following memorandum: 3 (2) Note to the Prime Minister: […] I have attached a suggested text for your [broadcasted] message. […] [Someone] is preparing a French version. (PMs’ Fonds, Trudeau, MG 26 – O14 – vol. 5) However, translators sometimes had the power to change the original, as observed in the following memo, sent to a political assistant regarding another of Trudeau’s broadcast speeches: (3) […] As I explained to you on the phone, [the] adaptation into French of the English draft involved a major revision to two paragraphs. These are now being completed in the English text and will be sent to Montreal. (PMs’ Fonds, Trudeau, MG 26 – O14 – vol. 8) Another feature found in Trudeau’s archives is that some of the speeches were partly written in French, and partly in English. The excerpt below relates to a parliamentary speech prepared in the Office of the Prime Minister. (4) […] Attached is a first draft of the Speech […]. […] I need only add that the present division as between English and French need not bind us although it will be exceedingly difficult to find English which will match the opening paragraphs which are in such beautiful French. (PMs’ Fonds, Trudeau, MG 26 – O11 – vol. 64) 5
In general, over the second half of the 20th century, speeches delivered in the House of Commons by bilingual prime ministers or governors were mostly delivered partly in French and partly in English. In the memo above, the political assistant mentions that the opening paragraph was originally written in French, and that it would be a good idea to read it in French in the House. It seems that with the contact between French and English in Trudeau’s Office, the writing and translating processes were not unidirectional. One can assume that similar situations occurred under Mulroney’s and Chrétien’s leadership. In fact, for most speeches delivered by bilingual prime ministers, it is often impossible to assess with certainty in which language(s) the speeches were written, unless somehow specified. According to Lambert (1995: 103), paradigms such as “source-text-and-targettext” do not always account for translation phenomena. While such labels might provide a useful frame of reference (Lambert 1995: 103), translation as a whole is much more complex and should be acknowledged as such. In the world of pragmatic translation in Canada, translation is most often defined with the aforementioned “source-text-and-targettext” labels. For instance, Delisle’s excellent translation textbook defines translation according only to this structural model (2003: 63). Presenting translation as a unidirectional process serves a certain institutional purpose in Canada: with translation, official languages seem not to “contaminate” each other (Brunette 2002). Yet in my corpus, the source texts were written and revised by more than one person, and sometimes in more than one language. Moreover, in the case of parliamentary speeches, the final text was in fact a collage of many texts in two languages. Hence, the official languages do meet up in the federal government, but institutional translations do not account for such phenomena. Not only is the idea of a homogeneous source text wholly misleading here, but when published by the Canadian government, source text is not always identified as such. Indeed, the Canadian government always presents the French and the English versions of federal political speeches as equivalent originals. Similar examples can be found in the European Union, where all language versions are presented as originals (Schäffner 1997 and Wagner 2001). In general, readers can only tell they are reading a translation if the publishing institution provides the status of the text. For the purposes of this paper, “translation status” is defined on a reader/listener’s ability to ascertain whether they are reading/listening to an “original” or “translated” text. Sometimes, within an institution, only a handful of people are able to identify the “true” status of a text. In the Canadian government, even when the word “translation” is used, it can mean different things. For instance, in their memos, Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s assistants used “translation”, “adaptation” and “version” almost interchangeably. It will be argued in the next section that even in the paratext of parliamentary speeches, the word “translation” does not necessarily indicate the language in which the original text was written. 2. Concealing hybridity in parliamentary speeches When spoken political dialog is transcribed and translated in written form, are the receivers made aware that they are reading a translated text? To answer this question, paratextual features of translated texts in parliamentary proceedings, press releases and newspaper article will be studied. Gérard Genette’s term “paratext” (1987/1997) refers here to titles, headings, subheadings, kickers, footnotes and other such features. The current investigation will focus on how these paratextual features (or the absence thereof) 6
relate to the translation status of a Canadian parliamentary speech. It is possible to focus only on parliamentary speeches because the layout of federal press releases is usually the same for parliamentary and broadcast speeches. Furthermore, parliamentary speeches are also printed in the Canadian Hansard, providing additional material for comparison. In the Canadian House of Commons, bilingual speeches contribute to the promotion of institutional bilingualism, and they symbolise the union of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. They also serve as an indication to the French-speaking audience of the value placed on the French language within the bilingual institution, despite the minority status of French speakers. As established in the previous section, bilingual speeches are a collage of different texts, in two languages. They are thus considered to be at an early stage of “hybridity”. Simon (2001: 217) argues that hybrid texts question the borders of identity, and are written by individuals who want to highlight their position between cultures. To some extent, that is what these bilingual speeches do: they are purposely (and politically) situated in a greyish zone between the FrenchCanadian/French-Quebec culture and the English-Canadian culture. Nowadays, when published in the Hansard, portions of bilingual speeches are labelled with translation status indications such as “translation” or “traduction”. Paratextual features in the Canadian Hansard have changed a great deal since it was first published in 1875. In the 1960’s, these features were more or less standardised to their present their present form. The Hansard has always been printed in two monolingual versions, English and French. Below are extracts of a speech delivered by Brian Mulroney in September 1991, taken from the English and French versions of the Canadian Hansard (the brackets are part of the original): (5a) English version [Translation] Renewal is what Canadians everywhere seek for our country - not confrontation, not division, not rupture. Renewal of our values, of our institutions, of our working arrangements - renewal of the spirit of Confederation, so that we can face the future more confidently together. (…) [English] We seek improvements to our proposals and we expect changes. The Joint Committee will hold its first meeting tomorrow. (…) (Canada. Parliament, 1991a:2585f) (5b) French version [Français] C’est bien là ce que veulent les Canadiens de toutes les régions, le renouveau et non pas l’affrontement, ni la division ni la rupture. Le renouveau de nos valeurs, de nos institutions, de nos modes de fonctionnement, le renouveau de l’esprit de la Confédération, de sorte que nous puissions ensemble envisager avec plus d’assurance notre avenir collectif. (…) [Traduction] Nous cherchons des améliorations à nos propositions et nous nous attendons à les voir modifier. Le Comité mixte tiendra sa première séance demain. (…) (Canada. Parliament, 1991b:2585f) 7
The translation status of the text in these excerpts is readily apparent. There is no question as to what has been delivered in French and what has been delivered in English. Except for William Mackenzie King’s monolingual speeches, all the parliamentary speeches in my corpus are similar to the above example. However, looking at example (5) raises a question: in the Hansard, does the word “translation” refer to homogenous and autonomous source and target texts? Let us consider the question in terms of political text production. We know that speeches are sometimes drafted in a fragmented way, and that it is difficult to assess the language(s) of the source text with certainty. Hence, in federal proceedings, the words “translation” and “traduction” only account for those portions of speeches that were not delivered in the reader’s tongue. When a parliamentary speech is considered to be of importance, it is not only printed in the Hansard, but it is also sent to the press as a release or as an official document. In these releases and documents, the word “translation” or “traduction” disappears. The speeches are presented to the press as though they had been uttered in one language only. In my corpus, Brian Mulroney’s (Canada. Prime Minister 1991a and 1991b) and Jean Chrétien’s (Canada. Prime Minister 1995c and 1995d) speeches were sent out as press releases, and were indeed presented as monolingual speeches. In comparing the Hansard record of these translated texts with the versions available in official documents and press releases, it appears that translation status is revealed only within the legal-political context of the parliamentary record. The status of the parliamentary speeches clearly changes from bilingual and overtly translated, to monolingual and covertly translated. The terms “overt” and “covert” translations are loosely borrowed from House’s work (1997), where an overt translation is openly presented as a translation, and a covert translation is one that appears to be a second original. By looking at the way translation is dealt with in press releases, it is not surprising, then, to see that in the Canadian press, political speeches are seldom presented as translations. This trend has been steady over many decades: a study of 26 newspaper articles written between 1942 and 1995 showed that journalists tend not to reveal whether the parliamentary speech they are quoting is a translation or not, nor do they regularly mention the language in which the speech was delivered. The articles investigated came from La Presse, Le Devoir, The Gazette and The Globe and Mail. The newspaper La Presse has a wide readership of Francophone Montrealers and it promotes a Canadian nationalism. On the other hand, Le Devoir, also based in Montreal, targets a small Francophone elite and promotes a Quebec nationalism. The Gazette is one of the only newspapers to target an English-speaking readership in Quebec. It is mostly read by Anglophone Montrealers. Finally, The Globe and Mail is a Canadian-wide newspaper based in Toronto. It is well knows for its high-quality profile. Of course, both The Gazette and The Globe and Mail support a Canadian nationalism. Out of all the newspaper articles, only one mentioned that the quoted speech was a translation. Below is the “kicker” that was used by Le Devoir to introduce the French version Trudeau’s 1970 October Crisis speech in the House of Commons: (6) Voici la traduction de la déclaration que le premier ministre, M. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a faite hier, en invoquant la loi sur les mesures de guerre. (Presse canadienne 1970: 6) With the example above, there appeared to be no corresponding press release for the 8
parliamentary speech. The press agency (Canadian Press) likely had access to an early copy of the Hansard, in which the word “traduction” was used. The fact that most of the Federal Government’s press releases and official documents do not mention whether or not the speeches are translations could have an impact on the way journalists present political speeches in their article. However, when speeches are improvised, Canadian journalists often translate political statements without explaining that they have done so. Institutional norms set by the federal government in Canada are not the sole explanation for the journalists’ writing habits. For instance, journalists from Agence France Presse also quote translations in a covert manner (Wishart 2004), and Christina Schäffner (2004) has found similar examples in European and North American newspapers. A number of key issues arise from these findings. First, it must be said that the translation status of political speeches is occasionally acknowledged in Canada. It is also true that when comparing the Canadian Hansard with the Verbatim Report of Proceedings in the European Union (European Communities 2005) or the one in Belgium’s Federal government (La Chambre des représentants de Belgique 2003), translations seem more visible in Canada than they are within the official publications of other bilingual or multilingual institutions. However, the cases of overt translation studied did not present translation as it is often understood in terms of an original written text being transferred into another language, the standard “source-text-and-target-text” model. A second issue relates to the status assigned by the Canadian government to its translated parliamentary speeches. The fact that the Canadian government can present a text as both a translation and as an original appears to be ideologically motivated. In one case, the text is bound by the legal-political requirements of the Hansard, whereas in the case of press releases, more freedom is allowed. The audience also has an impact on the paratextual strategies chosen by the Canadian government: the Hansard mainly addresses members of parliament, while the press targets the nation as a whole. How would Canadians have reacted if, while reading the press on a daily basis, they had been under the impression that their prime minister had talked to them through translation? In Canadian society, “original” texts are still considered superior to translations, as the fact that the Translation Bureau prides itself in the quality of its covert translations demonstrates well. In brief, the type of language plurality within the Office of the Prime Minister has had only a small impact on the publication of bilingual parliamentary speeches. Indeed, outside parliament, bilingual speeches have mostly been presented as monolingual speeches, either in press releases or in the press itself. The third part of this analysis will deal with textual shifts in speeches broadcast to the nation. It will be argued that whereas publication of bilingual speeches leads more often than not to monolingualism, the French versions of broadcasted addresses sometimes leads to a form of monoculturalism. 3. Ignoring differences in addresses to the nation As for the textual features of broadcasted speeches, recurrent translation-trend shifts demonstrate that French Quebecers are often the first targeted addressees when Canadian prime ministers speak to a pan-Canadian audience during national crisis situations. Since other French Canadians are also part of the audience and readership for these speeches, I will discuss the reception of translated speeches by non-Quebecers, using the concept of audience design (Mason 2000), as well as a critical discourse framework of analysis (Fairclough 1989). Due to partisanship and parliamentary procedure, the text of parliamentary speeches often reveals power struggles that often go beyond the concept of 9
national identity, which is why such speeches have not been included in this section. In 1977, when the Quebec Premier René Lévesque delivered a sovereignist speech in New York, the American public did not react very well to the content. Quebec journalist Claude Ryan said that the speech was too partisan and that it did not take its American audience into account (Lisée 1990:225). In actual fact, the Premier himself had translated the speech from French to English, and although some effort was made to adapt the translation to the American public, these strategies were not effective (Gagnon 2002). This example points out the importance of the addressees in the case of translated political speeches. One interesting tool to look at the reception and translation of political speeches is that of audience design. Following Bell (1984), Hatim and Mason (1997) define audience design as “the adaptation of output by text producers to the perceived receiver group. Central to this notion is the extent to which speakers accommodate to their addressees and how speech style is affected” (213-214). In reference to translation reception, Mason (2000: 4) uses four categories of receiver groups: Addressees Auditors Overhearers Eavesdroppers
whose presence is known, who are ratified participants known, ratified but not directly addressed known but not ratified participants and not addressed whose presence is not even known
When examining the Lévesque example above, it could be argued that the Quebec Premier had not adapted his speech to the addressees because he was convinced that Quebecers and Americans were alike (Godin 2001 and Lisée 1990). Hence, for Lévesque, the addressees and auditors were on the same level, and it might explain why the speech was written in French first. In a study on political speeches of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, Pierre Laurette (1981) held that these politicians did not always address minority groups in their speeches. In other words, these groups were auditors of the speeches, and were not considered as main addressees. In politics, when a speech is delivered to a wide audience, the targeted addressees are the ones with the greater political weight, i.e., the group whose discourse is the strongest. In this context, “discourse” is defined by Kress, as: systematically-organised sets of statements which give expression to the meanings and values of an institution. Beyond that, they define, describe and delimit what it is possible to say and not possible to say (and by extension – what it is possible to do or not to do). (1989: 7) For the purpose of this study, three different nationalist discourses have been identified: the Canadian discourse, the French-Canadian discourse and the Quebec discourse. In short, the Canadian discourse supports Canadian unity, the French-Canadian discourse fights for the survival of French across Canada, and the Quebec discourse strives for Quebec to be recognised as a nation. The examples below will show the extent to which power struggles in Canada lead to the exclusion of minority language groups in translated political speeches. For instance, when a prime minister delivers an address to the nation, French Canadians outside Quebec should theoretically be considered as addressees on the same level as other Canadians. However, in the French versions, they are sometimes treated as auditors, taking the homogenisation process one step further, in ironing out the diversity withing French Canada by only focusing on its dominant sociolinguistic group, French Quebecers. 10
In 1942, when Mackenzie King addressed the nation by radio, he started his speech like this (emphasis mine): (7a) English version Fellow Canadians: Since I last spoke to you, there has been much discussion of the forthcoming plebiscite over the radio, in the press, and at public meetings. (Canada. Prime Minister 1942: 3) (7b) French version Chers concitoyens, Depuis la dernière fois que je vous ai adressé la parole, on a beaucoup discuté à la radio, dans les journaux et dans les réunions publiques, la tenue du prochain plébiscite. (Presse canadienne 1942: 6) In French, King did not refer to his audience as “Canadiens”, but preferred the more neutral “concitoyens”. Before the 1960s, the francophones in Canada would describe themselves as “Canadiens français” and formed a single community. French Canadians also made a distinction between “Canadiens” and “Canadiens français”. Therefore, King’s French version was an attempt to not exclude or aggravate French-speaking Canadians at large. From the 1960s onward, French Quebecers started to consider themselves as “Québécois” rather than “Canadiens français” (Warren 2003). This change in identity could be seen in the way Canadian prime ministers started to address these Quebecers in the French versions of their speeches. The following speech was delivered in 1970 (emphasis mine): (8a) English version Our assumption may have been naive, but it was understandable; understandable because democracy flourishes in Canada; understandable because individual liberty is cherished in Canada. (Canada. Prime Minister 1970a:1) (8b) French version Notre présomption était peut-être naïve, mais elle s’expliquait aisément, parce que la démocratie est solidement enracinée chez nous, et parce que nous avons toujours attaché le plus grand prix à la liberté individuelle. (Canada. Prime Minister 1970b:1) Here, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau avoided the word “Canada” in French, knowing that his Quebec audience would react strongly to an imposed concept of nationhood (Gagnon 2006). Trudeau also played on his own double identity, since he was both a French Quebecer and an English Canadian. With Trudeau’s strategy, French Canadians outside Quebec were included in the speech, since they could take “chez nous” to mean “in Canada”. Ten years later, Trudeau addressed Canadians on the night of the Quebec Referendum. In that speech, it is clear that Trudeau addressed French Quebecers first (emphasis mine): 11
(9a) English version However, I cannot put out of my mind all those “Yes” supporters who fought with such strong convictions, and who tonight have seen their option defeated by the verdict of the majority. (Canada. Prime Minister 1980a:1) (9b) French version Pourtant je ne peux m’empêcher de penser à tous ces tenants du OUI qui se sont battus avec tant de conviction et qui doivent ce soir remballer leur rêve et se plier au verdict de la majorité. (Canada. Prime Minister 1980b:1) The idea of a broken dream was only included in the French speech. In doing so, it took into account the many sovereignist French Quebecers, who were deeply disappointed by the referendum results. However, like English Canadians, most French Canadians outside Quebec were happy about the outcome of the referendum: outside Quebec, Canadian bilingualism is often seen as a burden (Hudon 2004: 72) and French Canada could not survive without Quebec’s political power. Furthermore, the French-Canadian and the Quebec discourses often collide, as explained French-Canadian historian Claude Couture in 1999: “[…] les francophones [hors Québec] résistent. Il y a des gens en chair et en os qui se sont battus pour leurs institutions. Le discours pour la souveraineté, même si on nous dit qu’on va vous [sic] aider, court-circuite nos efforts” (quoted in Buzzetti 1999 : A2).4 Hence, while not explicitly keeping French Canadians out of the speech, the wording in the French version did create the impression that the needs of the sovereignist Quebecers came before those of the French Canadians outside Quebec. The strongest example of exclusion in the corpus is found in a 1995 speech, a few days before the second referendum on Quebec independence. Prime minister Chrétien spoke only to French Quebecers in the French version of his national broadcast (emphasis mine): (10a) English version When my fellow Quebecers make their choice on Monday, they have the responsibility and the duty to understand the implications of that choice. (Canada. Prime Minister 1995a:1) (10b) French version Quand nous ferons notre choix, nous avons [sic] tous la responsabilité et le devoir de comprendre la portée de notre décision. (Canada. Prime Minister 1995a:1) Of course, French Canadians outside Quebec could not vote in the referendum, and they understood from such a statement that they were considered as auditors to this speech. The textual shifts from the 1970 and 1980 speeches might have been made French Canadians uncomfortable as addressees, but the 1995 text clearly excludes them. For Chrétien’s government on October 25th, 1995, there was no room for diversity in Canada’s “francophonie”. These examples all lead to the assumption that French- and English-Canadian cultures do not often meet in translated federal speeches. As argued by José Lambert (1991), most national governments, when it comes to languages, present a homogenous picture of their country. But such a picture is deceptive: the citizen’s personal skills do not 12
necessarily reflect those of a bilingual or multilingual institution (Marzocchi 2005: 9ff). For instance, French Canadians outside Quebec were not the only Canadians excluded from Jean Chrétien’s speech in 1995. Throughout history, there have always been Canadians who spoke neither of the official languages and could therefore not understand their prime minister’s speeches. According to Lambert, monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies shape the national discourse on unity while trying to exclude any differentiation (Lambert 1991: 139). 4. Conclusions To sum up, it has been shown that when defining the concept of translation, text production in multilingual institutions needs to be taken into account. Definitions are necessarily the product of discourse, and the concept of translation is no exception. Providing a narrow definition of translation fails to value just how dynamic and non-linear the process of translation can be. The present case is a good reminder that language plurality, even in an organised and controlled environment such as the one provided by the Canadian government, gives way to unconventional translation practices. This paper has also pointed out how paratextual features participate in the homogenisation of bilingual political speeches in Canada. For the reader, this homogenisation gives the impression that Canada is monolingual, and by the same token, it reinforces the idea that no other official language threatens (or competes with) the reader’s own language. Mossop (1988: 68) has rightly pointed out that Canada’s translation policy does not encourage inter-community understanding. Had the Canadian government truly valued bilingualism for its people, it would have advocated for a strong policy on language teaching. Instead, translation was chosen as the icon of a bilingual institution, where, at least in official written documents, French and English never meet. Finally, this study has demonstrated that targeting a particular audience in translation sometimes excludes other readers/listeners. This indicates that even when speaking during a national broadcast, a Canadian prime minister does not necessarily represent the entire nation: translated extracts highlight the power play taking place between different cultural groups that share the same language. All these findings seem to indicate that multilingual institutions promote certain ideologies through translation, often leading to the strengthening of society’s dominant discourses. Notes * Many thanks to Christina Schäffner, Sherry Simon and Pierre Larrivée for commenting on an earlier draft of this paper. Any remaining errors or omissions are, of course, entirely my own. I also wish to acknowledge financial assistance from the Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture du Québec. Finally, thanks to Brendan Brogan for revising this article. 1. Ian Mason (2003) discusses the questionable assumptions in the Translation Bureau’s discourse on translation. This aspect will not be dealt with here. 2. The first complete edition of the Hansard was published in 1875. That year, the translation for the French version was entrusted to a private company, but in-house translators were used in the following years. In 1934, the federal government centralized its translation services under the Translation Bureau (then the Bureau for translations) (Delisle 1984). 3. The examples (2), (3) and (4) are extracts from Trudeau’s archives. To respect the privacy of Trudeau’s former political assistants, names and information pertaining to their identity have been removed. 13
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