Changing conventions in English-German translations of popular scientific texts
This contribution summarizes results of the project Covert Translation, where we investigated the influence of Anglophone communicative conventions on German via translation. Our hypothesis was that the prestige of English as a lingua franca and the growing number of translations from English into German leads to a decline in “cultural filtering”, i.e. a diminishing tendency of translators to adapt conventional Anglophone norms to German norms. In this way, English-German translations may introduce linguistic variation to certain target language registers, with Anglophone usage norms also spreading to non-translated German texts. We will here review a number of project studies using a corpus consisting of (1.) English popular scientific texts, (2.) their translations into German, and (3.) comparable non-translated German texts. These studies show that English-German translations are characterized by a considerable degree of source language ‘shining-through’, which has, however, only in one case led to Anglophone communicative norms spreading to non-translated German texts. We conclude that, for the popular science genre, translation-induced influence of English on German is a marginal phenomenon.