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What happens in translation? A comparison of original and translated texts containing verbs meaning SIT, STAND and LIE in the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC)1

Author:

Åke Viberg

Uppsala University, SE
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Abstract

This article studies translation effects by comparing the use of verbs meaning SIT, STAND and LIE in original and translated texts in the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC). Effects on both the frequency of use and the use of lexical and structural translation shifts are studied. Postural verbs have a much higher frequency overall in Swedish than in English. In Swedish translated texts, postural verbs are significantly under-represented in comparison to original texts, whereas postural verbs are significantly over-represented in English translations. At a more fine-grained level, it is possible to show that various categories are treated differently, in particular the types of subjects. The effect on frequency is stronger for Human subjects, which represent an unmarked category, than it is for Inanimate subjects, which are more marked. However, the pattern of over- and under-representation presupposes a functional overlap across languages. Writing as subject, which is a category that is unique to Swedish in relation to English, follows a different pattern. (This type of subject appears in examples such as: Nyheten står i tidningen ‘The news is (literally: stands) in the paper’). The result is discussed both from the point of view of the research methodology used in contrastive studies based on translation corpora and from a theoretical point of view. For methodology, the conclusion is that frequencies can be considerably skewed, whereas a language remains true to its system of basic semantic contrasts in professional translations. Theoretically, the result can be related to theories of language contact and studies of second language acquisition and bilingual development.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.378
How to Cite: Viberg, Å., 2016. What happens in translation? A comparison of original and translated texts containing verbs meaning SIT, STAND and LIE in the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC)1. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 15(3), pp.102–148. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.378
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Published on 20 Sep 2016.

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