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Translation corpora and the quest for Translation Universals UCCTS 29.07. 2010 Anna Mauranen.

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Presentation on theme: "Translation corpora and the quest for Translation Universals UCCTS 29.07. 2010 Anna Mauranen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Translation corpora and the quest for Translation Universals UCCTS Anna Mauranen

2 Search for Translation Universals Characteristics that translations generally have began in the early / mid -1990s roots in translation studies and corpus linguistics Toury, Klaudy Blum-Kulka Baker, Laviosa Olohan

3 Why ”Universals”? Objections from Translation Studies ”Translations inextricably linked to their particular contexts” Any science seeks general laws, why not Translation Studies (Chesterman) ”Impossible to capture translations from all times and all languages” (e.g. Tymoczko) What discipline has such access?

4 Not all translations are typical; Borderline cases of blends, shortened versions etc. (Paloposki) Translations can import new genres to cultures, thus precede spontaneous texts in the target language/culture - not all specimens are typical, let alone ’pure’, why not take on the reality rather than deplore the absence of purity? “Talk rather about ‘laws’ or ‘tendencies’ (Toury) Just a watered-down version of the same? Universals are absolute, translation is probabilistic” (Frawley) Are universals absolute?

5 The difference? Cf. language universals: “Language universals are by their very nature summary statements about characteristics or tendencies shared by all human speakers.” (Greenberg et al. 1966) “...universal features of translation, that is features which typically occur in translated texts rather than original utterances and which are not the result of interference from specific linguistic systems.” (Baker 1993)

6 Universals not just linguistic features A variety of ‘universals’ suggestions in linguistics E.g. Bybee (2003): “...the true language universals are universals of change.” Most TU hypotheses phrased in process terms, as shifts; In translation, the processes involved may be the most interesting candidates, or, the nature of translation as a particular kind of language contact.

7 Not an exclusive focus The quest for universals is not the only ’core’ issue in understanding translation. Others: Typology Variation Change

8 So, why? Theoretical interest: what is translation? Descriptive interest: what are translations like? Applied interest: can we improve translations and translator education with a deeper understanding of what translations tend to have in common?

9 Data for universals research From differently related languages: - typologically and genealogically distant - with closer typological fit Different kinds of corpora

10 Corpus types Bi- /multilingual corpora Parallel corpus Comparable corpus Texts Matched texts in the and their translations same language: (one or multiple)translated and ‘original’/‘spontaneous’ Matched L1 and L2 texts (no translation)

11 Hypotheses on Translation Universals Early hypotheses based on small-scale studies, more recent on large-scale corpus studies Most studied ‘explicitation’, ‘simplification’,‘conventionalization/normalization’; ‘source language interference’ More recent ‘underrepresentation of unique target language items’, ‘untypical collocations’

12 Explicitation The most widely accepted hypothesis, much support, little counterevidence Translations more explicit than source texts, i.e. the translation process tends to add information and linguistic elements – verbalise more Observed at different levels (syntax, lexis, text)

13 Finnish > English (Parallel corpus, FECCS) Puolueen johto oli sopinut Kekkosen miehenä tunnetun entisen ulko- ja pääministerin tohtori Ahti Karjalaisen ehdokkuudesta ja puolueen eduskuntaryhmän enemmistö tuki häntä. ’had agreed on... Karjalainen’s candidacy’ The party leadership had already agreed among themselves that a known Kekkonen follower, former foreign minister and prime minister Ahti Karjalainen, should be their candidate.  Syntactic explicitness, e.g. degree of ‘sentence-likeness’ increases (non- finite>finite constructions) (cf. also Eskola 2004)

14 Explicitation found also in other kinds of language contact, e.g. lingua franca use

15 Simplification Controversial; findings conflicting Simplification at one level may increase complexity at another. E.g. simple main clauses may cause complexity at text level, reducing coherent textual flow, making it fragmented and hard to follow.

16 Studies on comparable corpora The first corpus study supported lexical simplification (Laviosa- Braithwaite 1996): Most frequent lexis even more frequent in translations, [But no less lexical variation (type/token ratio)] Studies on CTF (comparable Corpus of Translational Finnish, 10 million wds) Support Nevalainen (2005) (CTF) Tirkkonen-Condit (2005) (CTF) translations have more repeated n-grams: ihan niin kuin, aivan niin kuin; samalta kuin ennenkin… No support Jantunen (2004, 2005) - lexis (CTF) Eskola (2004) – syntax (CTF)

17 Example: degree modifiers Jantunen (2004) : synonymous degree modifiers (hyvin, oikein, kovin) E.g. major collocates of hyvin (Comparable corpus, CTF) 1. Original Finnish adjectives: väsynyt, pieni adverbs: hiljaa, hyvin, hitaasti, pian, varovasti 2. Translated Finnish adjectives: erikoinen, hieno, kaunis, lyhyt, nuori, pieni, sairas, suuri, tyytyväinen, tärkeä, vaalea, vaarallinen, vaatimaton, vahva, vaikea, vakava, väsynyt, yksinkertainen, ylpeä adverbs: harvoin, hitaasti, hyvin, kauas, korkealla, lähellä, nopeasti, pian, pitkään, selvästi, vakavasti, varhain, varovasti  more variation in translations

18 Simultaneous simplification of lexis as overall frequencies proliferation of variety

19 Example: verb frequencies Mauranen 2000 (CTF) e.g. Finnish verb HALUTA HALUTA, academic texts Original Finnish 46 /mio w Transl from English 101 / mio w Transl from other lgs110 / mio w HALUTA, popular non-fiction Original Finnish 19 / mio w Transl from English 31 / mio w

20 Example: verb collocations HALUTA Original Finnish: commonest collocate KOROSTAA (‘emphasise’) nearly 40% of all collocations...moniaineksisuus ei ole ainoa asia jota haluan korostaa, ‘heterogeneity is not the only thing I want to emphasise’ Translated Finnish: KOROSTAA less than 8% of all collocations even though HALUTA itself was more than twice as frequent

21 Instead, strongest collocate of HALUTA in translations: OSOITTAA (‘show, prove’), Tämän ainakin halusin tässä varsin luonnosmaisessa todistelussani osoittaa ‘this at least I wanted to show in this very sketchy proof’.

22 But OSOITTAA never co-occurred with HALUTA in Finnish originals where OSOITTAA collocates with PYRKIÄ (’try’) Koko järjestelmä on turha, kuten olen pyrkinyt osoittamaan. ’the whole system is unnecessary, as I have tried to show’

23 Are these findings incompatible with the “overrepresentation” of the most frequent words? Not necessarily: items participating in the collocations may be very frequent if considered individually  Simplification more complex than first meets the eye  Postulate untypical collocations as a hypothetical universal (also supported by Jantunen 2004 and Kemppanen 2008)

24 Untypical collocations and unusually high proportion of very common words also found in learner language and lingua franca speech Simultaneous simplification of lexis (as overall frequencies) and proliferation of variety also in lingua franca speech

25 Transfer /Interference Baker’s definition excluded interference Earlier, Toury had formulated a “law of interference” : “in translation, phenomena pertaining to the make-up of the source text tend to be transferred to the target text.” (Toury 1995)

26 More recently, transfer has resurfaced as a potential translation universal E.g. Eskola (2004) on the basis of syntactic research (comparable corpus, CTF) Mauranen (2004) on the basis of lexis (comparable corpus, CTF) Also Teich (2003) “shining-through” (?)

27 English and Russian Translations compared to Mixed Source Languages and Original Finnish (Mauranen 2004) Frequency bands based on rank order (Comparable Corpus of Translational Finnish, 10 million wds) Difference from the reference database: Vs. Mixed-source Translations vs. Finnish Originals Freq. Eng Russ  Eng Russ  Band 

28 Translations from different source languages had different profiles but Translations differed from originals more than from other translations  Transfer looks plausible but the remaining variation must have other explanations

29 What Transfer? SLA research: transfer from L1 affects L2 Translation studies: transfer from L2 affects L1 Recent SLA research: L2 influences L1 (Cook 2003); L2 learners have better L1 skills than monolinguals (Kecskes & Papp 2000) Transfer ubiquitous (Jarvis & Pavlenko 2007) Translation studies: SL / ST influences TL /TT?

30 Optional vs. obligatory: personal pronouns to and from Finnish In Finnish person reference either by verb inflection alone or by a combination of pronoun and inflected verb Verb inflection obligatory, pronoun optional.

31 Translators often use inflected verb alone (i.e. ‘drop pronouns’) “ I was going to wait until another time we met, but I may as well tell you now. I've decided to marry you.” (EO) – Ajattelin säästää sen johonkin myöhempään kertaan, mutta voin yhtä hyvin kertoa sen nytkin. Olen päättänyt mennä naimisiin sinun kanssasi. (FT) But even more often they opt for pronouns.

32 Translations of I, ich and minä Two-way parallel corpus Finnish – English English – Finnish I → minä → 3763 (2.9 : 1) I ← minä 5518 ← 1471 (4.1 : 1) Two-way parallel corpus Finnish – German German - Finnish ich →minä 2315 → 1393 (1.7 : 1) Ich ←minä 3850 ← 942 (4.1 : 1) (Mauranen & Tiittula 2005)

33 In sum, translations tend to translate pronouns in the source text  This would support text interference Translations also reduce or add pronouns depending on the target language  This would support working at the level of language

34 Unique items Tirkkonen-Condit (2000, 2004): linguistic features unique to the target language (“untranslatables”) proportionally underrepresented in translations.

35 Verbs of sufficiency Tirkkonen-Condit: Finnish verbs with the semantic feature ’sufficiency’ (Comparable corpus, CTF) EHTIÄ (‘have enough time’, ‘be early enough’), JAKSAA (‘be strong enough’), MALTTAA (‘be patient enough’), USKALTAA (‘have enough courage’), VIITSIÄ (‘have enough initiative or energy’) and pragmatic clitics (-kin/-kaan, -han/hän) All proportionally more frequent in Finnish originals than in translations.

36 Generic person Similarly the Finnish ‘zero person’, i.e. 3.person verb with no pronoun and generic meaning: Ei tarvitse sanoa. (FO) You don't have to say it. (ET) ‘there’s no need to say it’ For generic meaning, translators tend to use more pronouns where original Finnish employs the zero person (Mauranen & Tiittula 2005)

37 Unique lexical items: keli, kinos and hanki Kujamäki (2004): text first translated into German and English, Then students translated into Finnish (experimental study) …lumi muuttui rännäksi ja keli vain paheni… tien viereen jäi jo matalia kinoksia. …pian löysin itseni ja autoni hangesta. …conditions… /..die Strassenverhältnisse… …a low snowbank…/…ansehnlichen Häufchen… …in a snowdrift… / im Schnee…

38 keli - die Strassenverhältnisse/ conditions 36 tie/ liikenne/ajo-olosuhteet, katujen/teiden kunto, tiet, sääolot…25 keliolosuhteet, ajokeli, keli11 kinos - den Schnee… Häufchen/ snowbank36 (lunta)…kasoiksi/-hin, töyräiksi, penkoiksi, tienreunaan; lumikasat…23 lumikinoksiksi; (lunta)…kinoksiksi, lumikinos, kinosti lunta 13 hanki -...im Schnee/ …stuck in a snowdrift36 lumen …keskellä, saartamana, ympäröimänä; keskellä …lumipenkkaa/-kasaa/-sohjoa/-kinosta;…23 keskellä lumihankea; lumihangessa13

39 Underrepresentation of TL unique items – simplification or something else? Would seem to suggest some sort of suppression of the TL – even though it’s the translator’s “best” language

40 Conclusion Three important things: -Data -Language contact -Cross-linguistic influence

41 Data Different kinds of corpora and a broad range of languages (also non-IE) bring out regularity and variation in translation

42 Language Contact Translation universals deepen our understanding of language contact Shared features: Translation, L2 learning and L2 use - untypical collocations - very high proportion of commonest words Translation and lingua franca communication - enhanced explicitness - simultaneous simplification and increased variety in lexis Language contact leads to cross-linguistic influence

43 Cross-linguistic influence Translation is bilingual processing; It seems to suppress some processes and activate others compared to monolingual processing -activates rare collocates and rare syntactic structures -suppresses TL-specific phenomena (‘unique items’)

44 Transfer /interference /shining-through highly plausible even if not the whole story Cross-linguistic influence takes many forms and is omnipresent (Jarvis & Pavlenko 2007) Translation studies: SL / ST influences TL /TT?

45 In all: Translations share many typical features, but they are neither simple nor pure Much remains to be discovered about the product and the processes


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