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Translating Sensitive Texts

Linguistic Aspects

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Edited by Karl Simms

This volume brings together twenty-two of the world's leading translation and interpreting theorists, to address the issue of sensitivity in translation. Whether in novels or legal documents, the Bible or travel brochures, in translating ancient texts or providing simultaneous interpretation, sensitive subject-matter, contentious modes of expression and the sensibilities of the target audience are the biggest obstacles to acceptance of the translator's work. The contributors bring to bear a wide variety of approaches - generative, cognitive, lexical and functional - in confronting this problem, and in negotiating the competing claims of source cultures and target cultures in the areas of cultural, political, religious and sexual sensitivity. All of the articles are presented here for the first time, and in his Introduction Karl Simms gives an overview of the philosophical and linguistic questions which have motivated translators of sensitive texts through the ages. This book will be of interest to all working translators and interpreters, and to teachers of translation theory and practice.

Synchronic Corpus Linguistics

Papers from the sixteenth International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora (ICAME 16)

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Edited by Carol E. Percy, Charles F. Meyer and Ian Lancashire

Synchronic corpus linguistics contains select papers from the sixteenth International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora (ICAME 16). The papers reflect the state of the art in the design, analysis, and annotation of corpora. Corpora new and old facilitate the description of single registers of English (e.g., London teenage English, business English) and of specific grammatical topics across registers (e.g., the grammatical flexibility of idioms), including variation studies (e.g., popular vs. technical registers of English). Other corpora permit the comparison of English to other languages (Norwegian, German, Swedish); of L1 English to L2 English; and of English as an original language to English in translation. A number of these papers emphasize pragmatics: indeed, among the papers on spoken English is an assessment of corpora annotated for discourse analysis. Other papers describe different aspects of the automatic analysis of text. Two papers describe semantic analysis of large text corpora composed of news/business text. Automatic grammatical analysis is the subject of other papers: two evaluate existing automatic parsers and wordclass taggers, while two describe how annotated corpora are being used to develop two new and innovative automatic parsers.

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Douglas Biber and Jerry Kurjian

Abstract

This paper uses multi-dimensional analysis to investigate the extent to which the subject categories used by Google are linguistically well-defined. A 3.7 million word corpus is constructed by a stratified sample of web pages from two Google categories: ‘Home’ and ‘Science’. The corpus is tagged (using the Biber Tagger) and factor analysis is carried out, resulting in four factors. These factors are interpreted functionally as underlying dimensions of variation. The ‘Science’ and ‘Home’ categories are compared with respect to each dimension; although there are large differences in the dimension scores of texts within each category, the two Google categories themselves are not clearly distinguished on linguistic grounds. The dimensions are subsequently used as predictors in a cluster analysis, which identifies the ‘text types’ that are well defined linguistically. Eight text types are identified and interpreted in terms of their salient linguistic and functional characteristics.

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Adrián Fuentes Luque

Audiovisual translation has certainly seen one of the greatest and fastest evolutions in the field of Translation Studies over the last few years. Most studies have focussed on audiovisual materials that share a similar function – entertainment and/or instruction – and audiovisual advertising texts have hardly been studied to date. These texts differ in many ways, from the length of the message and its function (mainly persuasive) to the purpose (to sell a given product or service). They are also distinct in that audiences are constantly exposed to them, and most of the time viewers are forced to watch them even if they do not want to. In addidition, they are designed in numerous, new forms and distributed in several media, like TV, cinema and the internet. As audiovisual texts they are subject to many of the media constraints and yet they also have their own characteristics. In this paper, some of the main characteristics of audiovisual advertising texts and their evolution in the media in terms of format, mode, and constraints are analysed. Examples are used to illustrate some of the current translation procedures used for commercials.

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Agnieszka Szarkowska

The present article examines the accessibility to audiovisual translation (AVT) of hearing impaired viewers in Poland. After offering an overview of AVT modes in Poland – including subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) and sign language interpreting (SLI) – and of the Polish target group, the article explores the availability of SDH and SLI on television, DVDs and in cinemas. Although SDH has been available on Polish public TV since 1994, its provision is still inadequate. Similarly to other countries, it is also subject to stormy debate on edited vs. verbatim subtitles, as demonstrated by preliminary results of an SDH reception study discussed in the article. Unlike other countries, SLI available on public TV does not use Polish Sign Language, a natural means of communication among Deaf Poles, but Signed Polish, a system of signing based on the Polish oral language. This has also fuelled controversy within the Deaf community since not only is Signed Polish incomprehensible to many viewers, but it is also ideologically unacceptable. The article ends with a discussion of legal regulations on media accessibility and some suggestions for improving accessibility to AVT products for hearing impaired viewers.

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Maria José Veiga

Designing an AVT module requires the development of both practical and theoretical approaches. Reflection on translation has taken place throughout the centuries, thus contributing to the shaping of a contemporary theoretical framework, and students must be made aware of these issues. However, it can be hard for translation teachers in general, and more particularly audiovisual translation (AVT) teachers, to approach translation issues with their students from a theoretical standpoint, particularly when the technical component of AVT courses seems so appealing when compared to reading texts. This article seeks to suggest some avenues for exploring scenes in films that relate directly to the discussion of some seminal texts on translation matters. The methodological approach posited here emphasises the use of films directly related to questions posed by the topic of translation: its aims, practices, limitations, and so forth. The main focus is on feature films, namely Lost in Translation(2003), The Interpreter(2005) and Babel(2006), so as to underline their potential grounds for theoretical reflection on translational dynamics, and to shed light on some methodological questions raised when approaching the complexity of (audiovisual) translation as a subject.

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Elisabetta Adami

Abstract

After a brief review of the existing literature, this paper investigates the use of generic pronouns in the academic written sections of several corpora of English, namely, (a) the so-called ‘Brown Family’ of the ICAME collection, (b) six components of the International Corpus of English, (c) the British National Corpus and (d) the current extent of the American National Corpus. The analysis shows that the 1970s and 80s debate about sexism in language has apparently influenced academic writing, to the extent that the frequency of generic he is lower in the post-debate texts, while other alternatives have been introduced, some of which, such as ‘he or she’ are now widely used in academic writing. Furthermore, in a genre which is most concerned with ‘correctness’, some so far proscribed pronouns, like singular they, show a slight increase, while the usually disregarded generic she attests a quite significant use. The data testify to variations in use between BrE and AmE and, less conclusively, between other geographical varieties of English. In addition, the analysis makes some observations on the contexts of use, both in terms of domains and of type of antecedents, of s/he, singular they and of the rare, yet attested, generic she, generally disregarded by the literature on the subject.

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Juhani Rudanko

Abstract

There are robust grammatical differences between to infinitive and to -ing complements in English, but some predicates have exhibited variation between the two patterns. This study examines one such predicate, the adjective accustomed, and the focus is on the period around the end of the nineteenth century, when the to -ing pattern was starting to emerge as a rival to the to infinitive pattern. The period is studied on the basis of the third part of the Corpus of Late Modern English Texts. Attention is paid to extraction as a syntactic factor bearing on complement selection. From a semantic point of view, the notion of a sense of choice on the part of the referent of the subject is then examined as a semantic property, and it is argued that lack of a sense of choice was associated with the emerging pattern. The article also inquires into the complement selection of the adjective in a corresponding corpus of present-day English, showing that the to -ing pattern is now the rule even in contexts linked to a lack of choice. At the same time, the adjective has become much less frequent in the language.

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Claudia Claridge

Abstract

This paper investigates the challenges and chances involved in creating a corpus of message board (or internet forum) language, in particular one that also reflects the regional varieties of English. Message boards as an asynchronic and public form of computer-mediated communication function as an ‘electronic agora’ (Largier 2002: 287), in so far as they are used for a variety of functions ranging from the more private to the more public, including the discussion of highly topical socio-political subject-matter. Thus, content orientation, evaluation and interactive argumentation are potential characteristics of this text form. Firstly, the technical aspects of corpus compilation will be highlighted, examining such matters as how to transform the web interface into a suitably annotated corpus, how to adequately represent the sequencing/relatedness of messages and how to establish regional speaker identities. Secondly, a pilot study on interaction and stance markers will examine how these are realized and distributed in this genre, and whether there are any regional differences in their use.