K4: Covert Translation
Project Director: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Juliane House, Institute of General and Applied Linguistics
Project Researchers: Viktor Becher, Svenja Kranich
Project hypothesisDue to its status as a global lingua franca and prestige language, English impacts on German communicative conventions, particularly through German translations from English but also in monolingual German text production.
Over and above massive borrowing of lexical items from specialized languages and registers (so-called Anglicisms), contact with English results, for certain genres, in an adaptation of German communicative preferences and textual norms to preferences and norms operative in English texts. An influence of English on German would manifest itself in (for the most part quantitative) changes in the use of certain linguistic items and grammatical structures in German texts that result in a shift towards the more Anglophone communicative style, i.e.,
- a shift from a conventionally strong emphasis in German discourse on the ideational function of language to an Anglophone interpersonal orientation focussing on addressee involvement;
- a shift from a conventionally strong emphasis on informational explicitness in German texts to Anglophone inference-inducing implicitness and propositional opaqueness.
- English and German translation and comparable text corpora from the genres popular scientific prose and external business communication (letters to shareholders, mission statements), covering the two time frames 1978 to 1982 and 1999 to 2002.
- Approx. 800000 words
- Alignment on the basis of translation equivalent sentences
MethodologyDiachronic-contrastive qualitative and quantitative analyses in a mainly systemic functional framework.
ResultsAs a result of English-German language contact in translation the frequency of occurrence and the co-occurrence patterns of particular items from the functional categories of conjunctions and pronouns have changed in German translations of English popular scientific writing.
Genre-contrastive analyses, in order to establish whether the results are genre-specific
Quantitative analyses of the translation relation, in order to establish which lexicogrammatical structures in the English source text trigger the use of a particular structure in the translation
Selected bibliography and presentations:
- House, J. (forthcoming): “Using Translation and Parallel Text Corpora to Investigate the Influence of Global English on Textual Norms in Other Languages”.
- In: Alet Kruger (ed.) Corpus-based Translation Studies: More Research and Applications. Manchester: St.Jerome
- Kranich, S. (2008). “Grammaticalization, subjectification and the layering of meanings How to deal with the semantics of the present-day English progressive”.
- New Reflections on Grammaticalisation 4, University of Leuven (Belgium), July 16-19
- Kranich, S. (2008). “Epistemic modality in English popular scientific texts and their German translations”.
- Third Conference on Intercultural Communication, Stellenbosch University (South Africa), January 14-16
- Becher, V. (2008). “The diverging use of connectives in English-German translations and German comparable texts”.
- 5th International Contrastive Linguistics Conference, University of Leuven (Belgium), July 7-9
- House, J. (2008). “Beyond Intervention: Universals in Translation?”. trans-kom 1(1)
- Becher, V., J. House & S. Kranich (2007). “Divergence and convergence of communicative norms through language contact in translation”.
- International Colloquium on Convergence and Divergence in Language Contact Situations, University of Hamburg, October 18-20