Assessing morphologically motivated transfer in parallel corpora
This paper proposes a new way of identifying and analysing positive transfer on the basis of corpus data. Taking stock of process-oriented research into what is called ‘literal translation’, transfer is defined as an instance in which a translator is primed into using a target language item that is formally similar to the source item to be translated, when alternatives are available. In order to measure the extent to which morphological transfer is present in translation, a study is conducted on translations of negative prefixes in parallel corpora of French, Swedish and Dutch. The corpus study revealed that (1) transfer is by far the main translation option translators choose in all corpora involved, (2) transfer is more frequent when translators have the opportunity to use a cognate prefix in the other language, (3) transfer is more frequent between languages belonging to the same language family. The results of the study contradict the generally acknowledged fact that transfer is more likely from a language which is culturally dominant to a language which is not.
Keywords: corpus-based translation studies, transfer, morphology, negative prefix
Published online: 29 September 2016
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