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What makes translations different? A top-down approach to identifying distinctive lexis Ana Frankenberg-Garcia Instituto Superior de Línguas e Administração.

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Presentation on theme: "What makes translations different? A top-down approach to identifying distinctive lexis Ana Frankenberg-Garcia Instituto Superior de Línguas e Administração."— Presentation transcript:

1 What makes translations different? A top-down approach to identifying distinctive lexis Ana Frankenberg-Garcia Instituto Superior de Línguas e Administração ISLA, Lisboa

2 Traditional view of translations Inferior Contaminated by source texts Translationese i.e. “odd, unnatural language which only appears in translations”

3 Translation Studies: paradigm shift Translations are not automatically inferior Constraints of source-text language inevitable, but not necessarily negative Frawley’s third code (1984) –translations different from source texts –also different from non-translated texts –deserve being studied in their own right What makes translations different? –e.g. explicitation (see parallel session )

4 A less well-known third-code feature Distinctive distribution of lexis Shama’a (1978) –day & say in English translated from Arabic: twice as frequent than in non-translated English Tirkkonnen-Condit (2004) –Finnish verbs of sufficiency: less frequent in translations than in non-translated Finnish

5 Distinctive distribution of lexis Over-represented lexis –words markedly more frequent in translations than in non-translated texts Under-represented lexis –words noticeably less frequent in translations than in non-translated texts

6 How to identify distinctive lexis? Bottom-up approach –Start with a lexical item –Frequency in translated and non-translated text Shama’a’s (1978) day & say Tirkkonen-Condit’s (2004) Finnish verbs of sufficiency –But which lexical items are worthy of this comparison? Informed decisions needed at the outset From bilinguals’, translators’ and foreign language teachers’ intuitions

7 Intuitions regarding Portuguese translated from English Adverbs ending in mente (Bastos 2008) –simplesmente [simply] –exatamente [exactly] –perfeitamente [perfectly] –absolutamente [absolutely] Verbs (Tagnin 2008) –poder [can/may] Adjectives –diferente [different] –possível [possible]

8 Bottom-up approach can have limitations Focus on over-represented words Under-represented words escaped perception –No one could think of words that were less frequent! Could there be over-represented words that went unnoticed? This study: Exploratory, top-down approach Confirm existing bottom-up intuitions Find out about over- and under-represented lexis not immediately visible to the naked eye

9 Method Bottom-up approach –start with a lexical item (informed decisions) –compare frequency in translated and non- translated texts This top-down approach –start with comparable corpus of translated & non-translated texts –identify over and under-represented words

10 Method Corpus –COMPARA 10.0 (Frankenberg-Garcia & Santos 2003) –Parallel, bi-directional corpus of English and Portuguese literary texts (3 million words) –www.linguateca.pt/COMPARAwww.linguateca.pt/COMPARA EN-STPT-TT PT-ST EN-TT Comparable corpus of original & translated Portuguese

11 Method Corpus 39 Portuguese originals (635 K words) 32 Portuguese translations (733 K words) No distinction between different varieties of Portuguese –may have affected some of the results

12 Method Portuguese part of COMPARA annotated with PALAVRAS parser (Bick 2000) Distribution of lemmas Conjunctions, prepositions Broader POS categories for –Nouns (excluding proper nouns) –Adjectives –Verbs –Adverbs

13 Method Threshold over 10 hits per 100K words in at least one sub-corpus 482 nouns113 adjectives309 verbs99 adverbs Noun lemmas (excluding proper nouns) Adjective lemmas Verb lemmas Adverb lemmas Translated-PT 733K words Original-PT 635K words

14 Method Alternate spellings counted as one e.g. direção/direcção [direction] Loan words excluded e.g. sir Lemmas with over 1/3 hits from single author excluded e.g. cego [blind] occurred mostly in one single text (Saramago’s Blindness) 482 nouns113 adjectives309 verbs99 adverbs

15 Method Criteria At least 2X more frequent in translated-PT = over-represented in translations At least 2X more frequent in original-PT = under-represented in translations 482 nouns113 adjectives309 verbs99 adverbs Distribution in Translated-PT Distribution Original-PT Frequencies per 100 K words compared

16 Distinctive nouns 482 nouns 42 over-represented in translated-PT 49 under-represented in tranlated-PT + abstract gênero, fato, problema, possibilidade, discussão, dificuldade, procura, oportunidade, questão + manner tom, modo, expressão, aspecto, atitude + groups bocado, membro, grupo, lista, maioria - humans sobrinho, moço, menino, velha, soldado, menina, velho, padre, senhora, dono, senhor, primo - Portuguese psyche saudade, lembrança, alma, tristeza type, fact, problem, possibility, discussion, search, opportunity, question tone, manner, expression, aspect, atitude bit, member, group, list, majority nephew, young man, boy, old woman, soldier, girl, old man, priest, lady, owner, gentleman, cousin nostalgia, souvenir, soul, sadness

17 Distinctive adjectives 113 adjectives 12 over-represented in translated-PT 11 under-represented in translated-PT + evaluative/abstract calmo, maravilhoso, evidente, familiar, pessoal, especial, horrível, suficiente, principal - visible/concrete gordo, grosso, igual, nu, morto, rico - feelings triste, alegre calm, wonderful, obvious, familiar, personal, special, horrible, enough, main fat, thick, equal, naked, dead, rich unhappy, happy

18 Distinctive verbs 309 verbs 32 over-represented in translated-PT 19 under-represented in translated-PT + link verbs encontrar-se, constituir, tornar-se, sentir-se, sentir-me, manter + reporting verbs revelar, exclamar, lamentar, sugerir, comentar, replicar + movement verbs inclinar-se, regressar, dirigir-se, baixar, virar-se, apanhar, apoiar, acenar, abanar + verbs preceding other verbs tentar, conseguir, permitir - dramatic, literary verbs vencer, fugir, beijar, cantar, quebrar, sonhar, amar, roubar, chorar, matar, morrer, nascer find oneself/be, constitute, become, feel, keep reveal, exclaim, regret, suggest, comment, reply bend, return, turn to, lower, turn, pick up, lean, wave, shake win, escape, kiss, sing, break, dream, love, steal, cry, kill, die, be born try, manage, allow

19 Distinctive adverbs 99 adverbs 13 over-represented in translated-PT 10 under-represented in translated-PT + adverbs of manner (many ending in mente) demasiado, profundamente, bastante, claro, absolutamente, completamente, simplesmente, perfeitamente, imediatamente, exatamente + adverbs of time & frequency enfim, logo, ora, ontem, jamais, amanhã, hoje too, deeply, rather/quite, clearly, absolutely, completely, simply, perfectly, immediately, exactly at last, soon, at times, yesterday, never, tomorrow, today

20 Near synomyms with contrastive distributions Translated-PT Original-PT rapariga menina [girl] recordaçãolembrança [souvenir] escolacolégio [school] compreenderentender [understand] apanharrecolher [gather/catch] completamentetodo/toda [completely] edifícioprédio [building] enormeimenso [huge] recordar lembrar [remember] repararnotar[notice] observarexaminar[observe] decidirresolver[decide] obrigarmandar[force/order] manterguardar[keep] finalmenteenfim/afinal[finally]

21 Were initial intuitions confirmed? Adverbs ending in mente (Bastos 2008) –simplesmente [simply] 2.9 –exactamente [exactly]2.3 –perfeitamente [perfectly]2.7 –absolutamente [absolutely]3.8 Verbs (Tagnin 2008) –poder [can/may]1.2 –conseguir [manage]2.2 –permitir [allow]2.1 Adjectives –diferente [different] 1.7 –possível [possible] 1.9

22 Beyond intuitions Portuguese translations may read differently because of too many –Abstract nouns & abstract, evaluative adjectives –Nouns depicting manner & adverbs of manner –Nouns depicting groups or group membership –Reporting verbs, movement verbs, link verbs & verbs preceding other verbs

23 Beyond intuitions Portuguese translations may also read differently because of fewer –Human nouns & concrete/visible adjectives –Dramatic verbs & adjectives depicting feelings –Words related to Portuguese psyche –Adverbs of time & frequency

24 What else did I learn? Portuguese translations may also read differently because of word choice –In the case of synonyms and near synonyms, preference for the more formal option

25 Caveats Analysis based on lemmas is very general –Word inflections? –Polysemous lemmas? Lemmas do not tell the whole story e.g. acenar [wave] → acenar a cabeça [nod]

26 Conclusion Top-down approach generally confirmed existing bottom-up intuitions disclosed novel, semantic & cultural contrasts invisible to the naked eye Findings may have an impact on –translator education –multilingual-text processing –machine translation –translation aids I hope this will stimulate further research in the area


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