Using the features of translated language to investigate translation expertise : a corpus–based study
Redelinghuys, Karien Reinette
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Research based on translation expertise, which is also sometimes referred to as translation competence, has been a growing area of investigation in translation studies. These studies have not only focused on how translation expertise may be conceptualised and defined, but also on how this expertise is acquired and developed by translators. One of the key observations that arise from an overview of current research in the field of translation expertise is the prevalence of process-oriented methodologies in the field, with product-oriented methodologies used comparatively infrequently. This study is based on the assumption that product-oriented methodologies, and specifically the corpus-based approach, may provide new insights into translation expertise. The study therefore sets out to address the lack of comprehensive and systematic corpus-based analyses of translation expertise. One of the foremost concerns of corpus-based translation studies has been the investigation of what is known as the features of translated language which are often categorised as: explicitation, simplification, normalisation and levelling-out. The main objective of this study is to investigate the hypothesis that the features of translated language can be taken as an index of translation expertise. The hypothesis is founded on the premise that if the features of translated language are considered to be the textual traces of translation strategies, then the different translation strategies associated with different levels of translation expertise will be reflected in different frequencies and distributions of these features of translated language in the work of experienced and inexperienced translators. The study therefore aimed to determine if there are significant differences in the frequency and distribution of the features of translated language in the work of experienced and inexperienced translators. As background to this main research question, the study also investigated a secondary hypothesis in which translated language demonstrates unique features that are the consequence of various aspects of the translation process. A custom-built comparable English corpus was used for the study, comprising three subcorpora: translations by experienced translators, translations by inexperienced translators, and non-translations. A selection of linguistic operationalization’s was chosen for each of the four features of translated language. The differences in the frequency and distribution of these linguistic operationalization’s in the three sub corpora were analysed by means of parametric or non-parametric ANOVA. The findings of the study provide some support for both hypotheses. In terms of the translation expertise hypothesis, some of the features of translated language demonstrate significantly different frequencies in the work of experienced translators compared to the work of inexperienced translators. It was found that experienced translators are less explicit in terms of: formal completeness, simplify less frequently because they use a more varied vocabulary, use longer sentences and have a lower readability index score on their translations, and use contractions more frequently, which signals that they normalise less than inexperienced translators. However, experienced translators also use neologisms and loanwords less frequently than inexperienced translators, which is suggestive of normalisation occurring more often in the work of experienced translators when it comes to lexical creativity. These linguistic differences are taken as indicative of the different translation strategies used by the two groups of translators. It is believed that the differences are primarily caused by variations in experienced and inexperienced translators‟ sensitivity to translation norms, their awareness of written language conventions, their language competence (which involves syntactic, morphological and vocabulary knowledge), and their sensitivity to register. Furthermore, it was also found that there are indeed significant differences between translated and non-translated language, which also provides support for the second hypothesis investigated in this study. Translators explicitate more frequently than non-translators in terms of formal completeness, tend to have a less extensive vocabulary, tend to raise the overall formality of their translations, and produce texts that are less creative and more conformist than non-translators‟ texts. However, statistical support is lacking for the hypothesis that translators explicitate more at the propositional level than original text producers do, as well as for the hypothesis that translators are inclined to use a more neutral middle register.
- Humanities 
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