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Variation and regularities in translation: insights from multiple translation corpora Sara Castagnoli (University of Bologna at Forlì – University of Pisa)

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Presentation on theme: "Variation and regularities in translation: insights from multiple translation corpora Sara Castagnoli (University of Bologna at Forlì – University of Pisa)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Variation and regularities in translation: insights from multiple translation corpora Sara Castagnoli (University of Bologna at Forlì – University of Pisa) Using Corpora in Contrastive and Translation Studies Ormskirk (UK), July 2010

2 A short premise In the last decades, the language of translation has repeatedly been suggested to represent a language variety of its own, characterised by “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: 243) since the mid 90’s, search for laws of translational behaviour or translation universals ( = regularities)  e.g. explicitation, simplification, interference the question of variation in translation has been confined to a few studies comparing the style of literary translators  but variation is the rule in translation!

3 This paper’s main objective  suggest that analysing the interplay between variation and regularities in translators’ behaviour can provide new insights into presumed common features of translated texts, as e.g. explicitation and interference  and that, for this purpose, comparing the performance of several translators translating the same ST appears to be a more reliable methodology than relying on more traditional corpus resources Monolingual Comparable Corpora  fail to consider the influence of STs on patterns observed in TTs Parallel corpora  need to be complemented by contrastive stylistic studies (e.g. Blum- Kulka 1986) or by monolingual comparable analyses to take into account SL and TL preferred patterns  provide one translation solution for each ST unit, concealing the variation that would inevitably emerge if translations produced by different translators were available ( e.g. Malmkjær 1998, Mauranen 2002)

4 A basic example

5 Multiple translation corpora (MTCs)  “Special” parallel corpora in which several translations into the same TL are available for each ST, aligned to be searchable in a 1:many relationship.  MTCs offer a range of solutions for each ST item, which makes it possible to observe both regularities and variations in the way different translators cope with the same ST.  Each translation in a MTC can be analysed from a double perspective: against the relevant ST but also against concurrent TTs. can concurrent TTs be seen, albeit to a limited extent, as a surrogate for reference TL corpora?

6 MTCs and the nature of explicitation Hypothesis:  Comparing various translations of the same ST should help distinguish obligatory and recommended shifts (i.e. shifts connected to TL norms or preferred patterns) from translation- induced (non-linguistically- motivated) and idiosyncratic behaviour, on the basis of the proportion of translators performing similar shifts.  Similar explicitating shifts may indicate shifts towards TL standards  variations from observed regularities may represent less “correct” translations

7 MISTiC – corpus facts Multiple Italian Student about 480 translations into Italian of 59 source texts (30 En, 29 Fr) produced by 107 Italian- native post-graduate students translation exams (not corrected, not marked) translating from En (357) and Fr (125) from 1:1 to 1:42 (!) ± 175,000 TL tokens Translation Corpus

8 Connectives as selected indicators Connectives can be good indicators of explicitation and interference in translation because their use: is rarely obligatory  juxtaposition shows that readers can infer most conceptual relations (see example below) varies across languages (see comparative stylistics, contrastive textology/rhetoric etc.)

9 Research questions and findings Q1 - Does the use of connectives point to conjunctive explicitation? Is there a relationship between explicitation and TL preferences (  normalisation) ? Do patterns of explicitation vary according to the source language? Q2 - Can MTCs inform about the nature of shifts? (based on the proportion of translators performing similar shifts) First step: counting the frequency of connectives (as a whole, and by connective category) in STs and TTs + in comparable non-translated Italian texts

10 Insights from quantitative analysis Considering the sheer frequency of connectives in STs and TTs, the trend towards conjunctive explicitation (given by the addition of connectives) is stronger than the opposite trend, i.e. implicitation, in both English>Italian and French>Italian translations

11 Insights from quantitative analysis - 2 Considering the frequency of the three types of connectives in STs and TTs, there also seems to be a trend towards conjunctive explicitation by specification

12 Translated vs. Original Italian

13 Identifying interesting translations for qualitative analyses Measures used to identify TTs in which the frequency of connectives is significantly higher or lower compared to ST  binomial test compared to other TTs  standard deviation  these can be seen to reflect the two main corpus approaches (parallel + MCC)  identified TTs are then taken as starting points for the production of multi-parallel concordances for subsequent analyses

14 Obligatory shifts 6:6 translations

15 Recommended shifts

16

17 Optional shifts

18

19 Lack of variation – preferred translations (?)

20 Lack of variation – interference (?)

21 Conclusions - 1 MTCs enable two types of analyses:  Search for something that is in the ST and see how it was translated in different TTs lack of variation (relative degrees of invariance) in the translations of specific ST items may  point to the existence of preferred translations  betray ST shining-through (i.e. interference)  Start from particular TTs (e.g. TTs with statistically significant frequency of connectives) and compare them with the ST with concurrent translations

22 Conclusions - 2  When most translators translating the same ST are observed to depart from it in similar ways (e.g. by adding connectives in TTs), there must be a reason for this, and that reason may lie in their attempt to approach TL preferred patterns. In this case (vs. interference) regularities might indicate compliance with TL usage, whereas variations from observed regularities may constitute less “correct” translations.  The comparison of multiple translations of the same source text proves to be an effective method for distinguishing shifts linked to target language norms/preferences from non-linguistically-motivated shifts  Valuable support to the researcher’s intuition about the appropriateness of alternative renditions.

23 THANK YOU! Sara Castagnoli (University of Bologna at Forlì – University of Pisa) Using Corpora in Contrastive and Translation Studies Ormskirk (UK), July 2010


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