Chapter in:Time in Languages, Languages in Time
Edited by Anna Čermáková, Thomas Egan, Hilde Hasselgård and Sylvi Rørvik
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 101] 2021
► pp. 95–127
Translating verbal tenses between tensed and tenseless languages
A contrastive study of multilingual corpora
In this chapter, we investigate how verbal tenses are translated into a tenseless language (Chinese) and whether the translation of temporal information from a tenseless language into tensed languages (English and French) is influenced by the formal structure of the source language. The results of our corpus analysis show that English and French verbal tenses like the Present Perfect and Imparfait are not systematically translated into Mandarin using an aspectual marker. We find that present-time French and English verbal tenses are most often translated into Mandarin using non-marked VPs, past-time verbal tenses using aspectual, temporal markers and linguistically non-marked VPs, and future-time verbal tenses using temporal markers. These patterns also apply for the translation of Mandarin VPs into French and English.