Language contact and change through translation in Afrikaans and South African English : a diachronic corpus-based study
Redelinghuys, Karien Reinette
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Languages are constantly changing and there are numerous reasons as to why languages change. One of these is contact-induced language change. It refers to the situation where languages synchronically influence one another in shared socio-semiotic environments. Translation is a site of language contact, but it has hardly been considered a factor in contact-induced language change. This study sets out to investigate the role of translation-induced change using an innovative corpus design developed specifically for the purpose of testing the role of translation in multilingual settings. The corpus combines a bidirectional comparable and parallel design with both synchronic and diachronic components. The corpus is furthermore divided into four time frames based on key events in South Africa’s history (1910-1947, 1948-1975, 1976-1993, 1994-2016) and four registers (creative writing, instructional writing, persuasive writing and popular writing). The corpus design, in other words, will help determine how certain linguistic features are treated the same or differently in English and Afrikaans writing, across time periods and registers, both in original writing, in translations and their source texts, and in comparable translated and non-translated texts in each language. The linguistic features selected to study the role of translation in language change are genitive variation and modality. Ultimately, the study aims to determine (a) how translation-induced language change can be differentiated from other factors that are involved in contact-induced change and (b) if there is evidence for translation-induced language change in the development of Afrikaans and South African English in the twentieth century. The results show that while it is possible to distinguish the role of translation from other factors that are involved in language change, there is limited evidence for translation-induced change in Afrikaans and South African English. This is because translators are quite aware of target-language norms, which gives the ability to adapt and normalise their translations in such a way that it closely follows the norms and linguistic tendencies of original texts in the same language.
- Humanities 
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