Article published in:Information Structure in Parallel Texts
Edited by Hilde Hasselgård, Stig Johansson and Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen
[Languages in Contrast 2:1] 1999
► pp. 1–25
Bridging the Cleft
An analysis of the translation of English it-clefts into German
Using real translation data, this paper examines the facts and reasons underlying the various translations of English it-clefts into German. Corpora of translated English-German texts reveal that only about a third of English it-clefts (or less, depending on text type) are translated with the German equivalent, a Spaltsatz. This may in part be due to differences in the restrictions the two languages place on the focused XP with regard to both grammatical function and category. Against this background we look at the different structures that German uses to render the English it-cleft. It is notable that even where the German Spaltsatz is a grammatically possible translation, other structures are frequently employed instead. This shows that factors such as the discoursefunction (s) of cleft sentences also play a decisive role in selecting stylistically well-formed translations. After a thorough study and analysis of a small sample of translated it-clefts (English-German) in their contexts, we propose the following hypothesis: The main discourse function of English it-clefts — the focusing of an XP element — may not only be translated into German with a Spaltsatz, but can also be presented adequately by introducing specific word orders, focusing particles, or both. In this way, the often cumbersome German cleft construction is dropped in favor of mono clausal sentences.
Published online: 06 September 2000
Cited by 5 other publications
Egan, Thomas & Hildegunn Dirdal
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