Changing conventions in German causal clause complexes
A diachronic corpus study of translated and non-translated business articles
This paper contributes to the field of diachronic corpus studies of linguistic change through language contact in translation by replicating Becher’s (2011) study which found a trend from hypotaxis to parataxis in concessive clause complexes of German popular scientific articles, and examining whether a comparable trend can be found in causal clause complexes in another genre. The study draws on a one-million-word translation corpus of English business articles and their German translations, as well as on a comparable corpus of German non-translations. The corpora consist of texts published in two time periods, 1982–3 and 2008. German translations of English causal conjunctions are compared for both time periods to determine diachronic changes in causal clause complexes. The comparable corpus is then analysed to find out whether those changes also happened in non-translated language. While a trend from hypotaxis to parataxis in both corpora can be observed, hypotaxis remains more frequent than parataxis. The study also detects a shift in preference for the causal conjunctions weil, denn and da, which partly causes the decrease in hypotaxis.
Keywords: language contact in translation, features of translated language, English/German, syntactic change, diachronic corpus linguistics
Published online: 08 March 2013
Cited by 4 other publications
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