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Cultural standards and ways of translating: the case of human rights


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Language and languages
Foreign languages
Appearance (Philosophy)


Some authors closely associate human rights with the French language, encouraging the already widespread notion that human rights are a fundamentally European cultural product. But human rights are intended to become a universal legal-cultural norm. To achieve this goal, human rights promoters have opted for extremely vague language, in a strategy to avoid any cultural norms. However, the translation of these unclear texts (from English or French into other languages) has the prima facie paradoxical effect of encouraging a massive return of cultural standards in translated texts. However, this reappearance of cultural norms specific to the target cultures at the time of translation is twofold: conscious and strategic in languages such as Arabic, it is supposed to allow acclimatisation and acceptance of human rights, while inadvertent and experienced in languages such as Danish or Italian, it can be more problematic. In any case, it is important to assess whether these translations benefit from the promotion of human rights.

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