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Corpus-based Approaches to Translation and Interpreting

From Theory to Applications

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Gloria Corpas Pastor and Miriam Seghiri

Corpus-based translation studies have come a long way since they were introduced in the last decade of the 20th century. This volume offers a balanced collection of theoretical and application-orientated contributions which establish novel trends in the area of corpus-based translation and interpreting studies. Most of the theoretical contributions report on studies related to translation universals such as simplification, explicitation, normalisation, convergence or transfer. The application-orientated contributions cover areas as diverse as corpus-based applied research, training, practice and the use of computer-assisted translation tools.

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Do translations simplify the language of the original? Some evidence from translated migrant literature

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Abstract This communication sets out to investigate to what extent the ‘style’ of a literary work differs from its translation. Focus will be put on novelists who do not write in their mother tongue and whose ‘accent’, or any other ‘trail’ of their mother tongue, adds a particular flavour to their writing. The authors under scrutiny here are Yoko Tawada (Das nackte Auge), Emine Sevgi Özdamar (Das Leben ist ein Karawanserei) and Kader Abdolah (Spijkerschrift). The works of these authors are known to be relatively ‘simple’ in the sense that they apparently want to distinguish themselves from native authors by using a style that, lexically and syntactically, appears to be plainer. This lexical simplicity will be more closely analysed here with the help of corpus analysis tools (Wordsmith 6.0). This leads to the conclusion that the lexical density of the translations is almost always lower than the original, even if the original is already relatively ‘poor’ in this respect. This validates a hypothesis of the Translational Universals theory and allows us to link it to Berman’s Retranslation hypothesis and Toury’s Descriptive Translation Studies. The case of migrant writers gives us the opportunity to study the problem in a peculiar daylight, since the low lexical density of their work can be part of a political statement. As can be deduced from this piece of research, caution is mandatory, since Tawada’s case shows that the simplicity which characterises migrant literature might not be detectable by means of a type-token analysis...

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