Chapter published in:Cross-linguistic Correspondences: From lexis to genre
Edited by Thomas Egan and Hildegunn Dirdal
[Studies in Language Companion Series 191] 2017
► pp. 149–175
Premodification in translation
English hyphenated premodifiers in fiction and their translations into German and Swedish
The present study concerns English hyphenated premodifiers translated into German and Swedish. The material was collected from the fiction part of the English–Swedish Parallel Corpus and the Oslo Multilingual Corpus, and includes almost 700 instances of translations into both German and Swedish, as well as 500 instances each of translations from German and Swedish into English. In the material, hyphenated premodifiers come in many different forms. However, they are mostly short, often containing nominal heads (head-office (man)), ed-participles (water-filled (ditches)) or adjectives (gray-green (tweed)), and only a few are longer, creative hapaxes ((her) “take-me-seriously-or-I’ll-sue-you” (demeanor)). The translations into English contain less variation than English originals, as predicted by translation theory. When the premodifiers are translated into German and Swedish they are often restructured, and only half are translated into German and Swedish premodifiers. German and Swedish premodifying compound adjectives/participles are the most frequent equivalents of English hyphenated premodifiers. More complex English premodifiers are often rendered as postmodifiers in German and Swedish. As could be expected from the preferred noun-phrase structures in German and Swedish, German translations have a (slightly) stronger preference for premodification (e.g., the all-embracing unit → die alles umschließende Einheit), while Swedish (slightly) more often uses postmodifying clauses and prepositional phrases (fifteen-year-old schoolgirls → skolflickor i femtonårsåldern). German and Swedish postmodifiers are very rarely translated into English hyphenated premodifiers.
Published online: 23 November 2017
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