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Krisztina Károly

Aspects of cohesion and coherence in translation

Across Languages and Cultures
Author: Sonia Vandepitte
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What is the translator’s impact on the information structure (IS) of causal expressions? This study proposes a description method for the internal IS of causal expressions with connectors and their translations. We implement Lambrecht’s view (1990) that IS relates to interlocutors’ ‘mental states’ and look upon information structuring as a cognitive patterning of linguistic elements with varying degrees of manifestness. These degrees are hypothesized to be determined by a set of at least five different features, three of which have been investigated in a parallel corpus of Dutch, French and English causal expressions: the presence of a causal connector, clause status and clause position. Primary results indicate that about one fifth of explicit causal constructions in the Dutch source texts have been rendered without their explicit causal connector in the target texts both in French and in English. In addition, the internal clause manifestness in causal sequences turns out to show more differences between the Dutch source texts and the English target texts than between the Dutch source texts and the French target texts, which mirror the Dutch source texts more closely.

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This paper argues in favour of a more rigorous methodology for corpusbased translation studies. According to our proposal, research papers in the field should be minimally required to (i) provide a meticulous overview of the corpus materials used and of the exact procedures for selecting, annotating and sifting the data; (ii) comment on any specific problems encountered during data selection and annotation, including explicit and motivated statements as to the solutions being adopted; (iii) include elaborate testing for statistical significance as a complement of, not in opposition to, thorough qualitative analysis. This approach, we suggest, not only offers a way around many theoretical and methodological problems that have been noted in the recent literature (e.g., House 2008; Becher 2010; Bernardini and Ferraresi 2011), it also facilitates more rigorous replication and reinterpretation of previous work, potentially leading to a re-assessment of some popular but unproven assumptions such as the notion that linguistic features in translations are independent of source language or genre. By thus moving forward the empirical cycle of testing and re-testing of hypotheses, the methodology advocated here encourages collaborative research, and leads ultimately to more scientific progress.

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