23 September 2014

Persuasive writing

The expression 'persuasive writing' may refer simply to writing that is persuasive.
It may also refer to writing that uses the art of rhetoric, propaganda (cf. Propaganda by Edward Bernays, aka the 'father of spin'), other long-established tchniques of persuasion (cf. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard), or marketing. (Thanks to Rannheid Sharma for her input and feedback.)
Or, it may refer to writing that uses the more modern art of Persuasion Science.

Question: Is Persuasion Science an issue in technical journalism and its translation?
Question for all readers: Would you be able to detect it?
Subsidiary question for translators: Would you be able to detect it?
And if so how much would you need to know about its use in your target language in order to produce a good translation?
And finally, what, precisely, would 'good translation' mean in this context.

Having encountered the words 'Persuasion Science' only today, I have yet to form an opinion.
One thing I do know, however, is that it's the translator's job to identify the philosophical, cultural, fad-based and other underpinnings of any document that comes their way.

Some links:
In the political and corporate spheres we're talking about the work of spin doctors and the theories behind the methods they use.
If your answer to my first question was 'Never!', perhaps, like me, you're now having second thoughts.
Resisting the temptation to comment on the ethics or intellectual merits of these methods, let me say again that it is the translator's job to identify the underpinnings of any document that comes their way.

Starting to feel out of your depth? Me too.
Conclusion: If you're asked to translate a document that you suspect to be the work of a spin doctor or that is based on any of the techniques discussed on the above links say 'No thank you' unless you're quite confident that you can do the job with a clear conscience.

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