At present, there are few attempts to provide external explanations for the patterns subsumed under the heading of “translation universal”. In this paper, I discuss the possible cognitive basis for the patterns/processes that have been variously referred to as simplification/generalization, normalization, standardization, sanitization, and exaggeration of target language features. The framework that I adopt is that of cognitive grammar, and my claim is that all of the above arise from the existence of asymmetries in the cognitive organization of semantic information. I also propose that the converse case is true: cases involving a lack of conspicuous cognitive asymmetries will demonstrate the opposite effect in translated text. In closing, I place the argument in a larger perspective by adopting Croft’s (1990) scalar notion of generalization in a discussion of explanation in translation studies.
Research into so-called “translation universals” is a productive and innovative area in Translation Studies. Not only is empirical research expanding through the development of electronic corpora; the theoretical constructs on which this research is based are also being questioned and refined (see e.g. Chesterman 2001, Englund-Dimitrova 2001, Mauranen 2001, Tirkonnen-Condit 2001). The level of activity and increasing generation of empirical results make it all the more imperative that we begin to posit explanations for these findings.
1993 “Corpus Linguistics and Translation Studies: Implications and applications”. Mona Baker, Gill Francis and Elena Tognini-Bonelli, eds. Text and technology: In honour of John Sinclair. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1993 233–250.
1995 “Corpora in Translation Studies: An overview and suggestions for future research”. Target 7:2. 223–243.
1987 “The instability of graded structure: Implications for the nature of concepts”. Ulric Neisser, ed. Concepts and conceptual development: Ecological and intellectual factors in categorization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1987 101–140.
1997 “Translation of dialect in fictional prose—Vilhem Moberg in Russian and English as a case in point”. Norm, variation and change in language: Proceedings of the centenary meeting of the Nyfilologiska sälskapet, Nedre Manilla, 22–23 March 1996. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell 1997 49–65.
1998 “Patterns of experience in patterns of language”. Michael Tomasello, ed. The new psychology of language: Cognitive and functional approaches to langauge structure. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum 1998 203–219.
1992a “Bilingual lexical representation: A closer look at conceptual representations”. Ram Frost and Leonard Katz, eds. Orthography, phonology, morphology, and meaning. Amsterdam: North Holland 1992 389–412.
1997 “The cognitive study of translation and interpretation: Three approaches”. Joseph H. Danks, Gregory M. Shreve, Stephen B. Fountain and Michael McBeath, eds. Cognitive processes in translation and interpreting. Thousand Oaks/ London/New Delhi: Sage 1997 25–56.
1996 “Norwegian–English translation and the role of certain connectors”.
Thelen and Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk 1996
In preparation. “Investigating gravitational pull in translation: The case of the English progressive construction”.
1993Right words, wrong words and different words: An investigation into the lexical coping of Norwegian advanced learners of English. Department of English, University of Bergen. [Unpublished master’s thesis.]
1986 “Linguistic and cognitive determinants of lexical acquisition in a second language”. Language learning 36:4. 401–451.
Jääskeläinen, Riitta and Sonja Tirkonnen-Condit
1991 “Automised processes in professional vs. non-professional translation: A think-aloud protocol study”. Sonja Tirkonnen-Condit, ed. Empirical research in translation and intercultural studies. Tübingen: Gunter Narr 1991 89–109.
1987Women, fire, and dangerous things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
1987Foundations of cognitive grammar 1. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
1991Concept, image, and symbol. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
1999Grammar and conceptualization. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
1998 “Core patterns of lexical use in a comparable corpus of English narrative prose”. Meta 43:4. 557–570.
[ p. 240 ]
2001 “Simplification before and after the advent of corpora”. Paper presented at the Third International EST Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 August–1 September 2001.
1996The English Comparable Corpus (ECC): A resource and a methodology for the empirical study of translation. Manchester: UMIST. [Ph.D. thesis.]
Levenston, Eddie and Shoshana Blum
1977 “Aspects of lexical simplification in the speech and writing of advanced adult learners”. S. Pit Corder and Eddie Roulet, eds. The notions of simplification, interlanguages, and pidgins and their relation to second language pedagogy. Genève: Droz and Neuchâtel: Faculté des Lettres 1977 51–71.
1998Much ado about ( ): Explicitation in translation. Department of English, University of Bergen. [Unpublished master’s thesis.]
1998 “Love thy neighbor: Will parallel corpora endear linguists to translators?”43:4. 534–541.
Marmaridou, A. Sophie S
1996 “Directionality in translation processes and practices”. Target 8:1. 49–73.
2000 “Strange strings in translated language: A study on corpora”.
2001 “Issues of data in the search for translation universals”. Paper presented at the Third International EST Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 August– 1 September 2001.
ed.2000Intercultural faultlines: Research models in Translation Studies. Textual and cognitive aspects. Manchester: St. Jerome.
2001 “Changing the myth of the native speaker’s competence in translation theory”. Paper presented at the Third International EST Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 August–1 September 2001.
1975 “Universals and cultural specifics in human categorization”. Richard W. Brislinet al., Cross-cultural perspectives on learning. New York: John Wiley & Sons 1975 177–206.
1978 “Principles of categorization”. Eleanor Rosch and B. B. Lloyd, eds. Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum 1978 27–48.
Schreuder, Robert and Bert Weltens
eds.1993The bilingual lexicon. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
1989Linguistic categorization: Prototypes in linguistic theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Thelen, Marcel and Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk
eds.1996Translation and meaning Part 3. Proceedings of the 2nd International Maastricht-Łódź Duo Colloquium on “Translation and Meaning”. Maastricht, The Netherlands, 19–22 April 1995. Maastricht: Universitaire Pers Maastricht.
2001 “Unique items—over-or underrepresented in translated language?” Paper presented at the Third International EST Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 August–1 September 2001.
1999The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
1995Descriptive Translation Studies and beyond. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
[ p. 241 ]
1997 “What lies beyond descriptive translation studies, or: Where do we go from where we assumedly are?” Miguel Ángel Vega and Rafael Matín-Gaitero, eds. La palabra vertida: Investigaciones en torno a la traducción. Madrid: Instituto Universitario de Lenguas Modernas Y Traductores. Universidad Complutense de Madrid 1997 69–80.
1985Dutch novels translated into English: The transformation of a minority literature. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
1996In search of the third code: An investigation of norms in literary translation. Department of British and American Studies, University of Oslo. [Unpublished master’s thesis.]