Article published in:Journal of English for Research Publication Purposes
Vol. 2:2 (2021) ► pp. 104–128
Translating authorial presence
First-person pronouns in research article abstracts
Of increasing interest in cross-linguistic variation in academic discourse is the way in which writers use first-person pronouns (FPPs) to promote their agency. While research has shown that language specific socio-cultural, rhetorical and lexico-grammatical factors impact levels of self-concealment vs. self-promotion, less attention has been paid to the ways in which translated texts are sensitive to these discoursal traditions. We address this gap by analyzing frequency, rhetorical use, and grammatical form of FPPs in a corpus of research article (RA) abstracts in biology written by Russian and international researchers in two peer-reviewed bilingual journals. Three subcorpora were analyzed: (i) L1 Russian abstracts; (ii) the same abstracts translated into English; (iii) abstracts by international biologists in English from the same journals. The FPP tokens were identified and their frequency, rhetorical use, and forms were compared. The results show significant differences between the corpora which supports previous findings on cross-cultural variation in authorial presence in research genres. The results also suggest that the translation not only transfers L1 linguistic code but also adds a stronger emphasis on author agency. Implications for translating RAs into English as an exercise in linguistic, cognitive, and pragmatic equivalence as well as for accommodating discourse conventions of English as a lingua franca of science are explored.
Keywords: abstracts, agency, pronouns, translation, English/ Russian
Published online: 10 January 2022
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