Idioma: Español
Fecha: Subida: 2021-04-13T00:00:00+02:00
Duración: 15m 38s
Lugar: Conferencia
Visitas: 57 visitas

On the features of translational language: the thematic approach

Tingyan Li and Juhong Zhan (Xian Jiaotong University)


The descriptive turn of translation studies gives translation more of its own rights.
Translated language distinguishes itself from other language varieties by some typical
linguistic features, which are called “translation universals” by Baker or “translation
laws” in Toury’s term. Since Baker’s pioneering study of comparing translated texts
and original texts within the same language, studies on translation studies have gone a
far way. First, the very concept of translation universals is refined with a probabilisitc
sense. It is suggested that related hypotheses be parsimonious and constrained. Second,
research corpora are varied in the type and content despite the dominance of European
languages. Third, indicators of linguistic features are expanded, some going beyond the
lexico-grammatical level. Furthermore, empirical studies move beyond low-level
description to situated explanation. Supporters attribute the typical translated features
to a cognitive process unique to translations, while dissenters claim that this cognitive
basis is common to all language events. Some researchers also resort to linguistic
factors such as SL interference or socio-cultural factors such as risk-aversion for
The present study aims to add another piece of evidence for or against translation universals by introducing thematic indicators from Systemic Functional Grammar with
a combination of parallel and comparable corpora. Specifically, it compares the
thematic structure and thematic progression patterns of translated English from Chinese
(TE) and native English (NE). Meanwhile, native Chinese (NC) are included in the
corpora for a contrastive study. The TE corpus contains the English translation of
Chinese President’s New York Speech. The NE corpus contains British Queen’s
Christmas Message. The NC corpus contains the Chinese source texts of New York
Speech. This study adopts Halliday and Matthiessen’s (2014) classification of thematic
structure and Xu’s (1982) typology of thematic progression patterns as the theoretical
framework so that the thematic structure of each T-unit and thematic progression
between units are annotated.
The results show that thematic structure within clauses and thematic progression
patterns across clauses can differentiate English translations of Chinese texts from
native English texts. With respect to thematic structure, first, topical themes are more
prone to be elided in TE than in NE. Second, NE employs more textual and
interpersonal themes than TE does. Third, the proportion of unmarkedness in topical
themes in TE is higher than that in NE. The first two findings disapprove the
phenomenon of explicitation (Blum-Kulka, 1986), while the last one shows a trend of
conventionality (Chesterman, 2004) in translated language. As regard to thematic
progression, in spite of the domination of linear patterns in both TE and NE, TE enjoys a proportionally higher parallel pattern. The explanation lies in SL interference and
cognitive organization, that is the effect of the gravitational pull of category prototype
(Halverson, 2003).


Congreso Cilc 2021


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Serie: CILC2021: Corpus, estudios contrastivos y traducción / Corpora, contrastive studies and translation (+información)