How frequent are the contractions? A study of contracted forms in the Translational English Corpus

Maeve Olohan
University of Manchster, Manchester, UK

Abstract

This paper analyses contractions in translated language, comparing the use of contracted forms by translators of fiction and biography into English with the contraction patterns of writers of similar texts in English. Significant differences are found between the English of literary translation and contemporary literary English writing, in terms of both variety of contracted forms encountered and frequency of occurrence of contractions. Qualitative analyses then focus on the functional description of some contracted and non-contracted forms, and also consider the contraction practices of different translators. The relationships between contractions and other linguistic features, explicitation in translation, translator style, discourse function and genre are touched upon, and avenues for further research of this nature are suggested.

Keywords
Table of contents

The use of electronic collections of texts, compiled according to specific research criteria and questions, to analyse occurrences of linguistic patterns or features is a relatively new approach to translation research, but one which has rapidly gained in popularity. The attractions of working with large quantities of authentic translation data and of quickly and easily uncovering patterns and tendencies within these data, as well as the ease with which corpora can be [ p. 60 ]compiled and the user-friendliness of corpus software such as Wordsmith Tools, have led to a recent surge in corpus-based translation studies research, increasingly prominent in workshops, conferences, postgraduate training programmes etc. However, adoption of research methods from other disciplines can be problematic; it is all too easy to apply them selectively or inappropriately, without sufficient understanding of their scope or significance, or without adequate consideration of the degree of applicability and usefulness for investigation of a particular object of study. By way of an introduction to the use of comparable corpora to study translation, the warnings and encouragement of two translation scholars are considered here. These views serve to highlight in broad terms the strengths and limitations of corpus-based translation studies and set the scene for the analysis which follows.

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