Translation: universals or cognition?A usage-based perspective
University of Sheffield
This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on the existence of translation universals by investigating the use of aspect in modal contexts in translated and non-translated legal Polish and by analysing the observed differences with reference to insights from cognitive linguistics. Corpus analysis highlights significant distributional differences in the use of the two aspectual forms of Polish verbs (imperfective and perfective) in modal contexts. I argue that cognitive mechanisms called ‘chunking’ (Langacker 1988; Bybee 2006) and ‘entrenchment’ (Bybee 2010) underlie these differences. I show that what may at first glance seem as behaviour unique to the translation process, is in fact caused by general cognitive processes. The study has implications for both translation studies and cognitive linguistics: it offers support for the basic assumptions about the usage-based nature of linguistic knowledge and highlights the importance of taking these assumptions into consideration when investigating the translation process and translation universals.
Frawley (1984) put forward the idea of translated language being a language in its own right – a ‘third code.’ This notion inspired the search for translation universals, that is, “features which typically occur in translated texts rather than original utterances and which are not the result of interference from specific linguistic systems” (Baker 1993, 243). In other words, translation universals are features inherent to the translation process and to translational behaviour – they are not influenced by the languages that the translator works with. There are claims that non-translated and translated texts differ at the level of syntax, lexicon and discourse in a way that is not a result of properties of the target or source language. For example, it has been shown that the language of the source text is simplified in the target text (Baker 1996, 176), that idiosyncratic features of the source text are transformed to conform to the conventions of the target language (Laviosa 2002, 54), or that information that is implicit in the source text is made explicit in the target text (Olohan 2001, 424). Few scholars have looked at differences at the semantic level to see whether the process of translation influences the use and meaning structures of lexical items. One recent exception is the work by Vandevoorde, De Sutter and Plevoets (2015), who use the semantic mirroring technique to measure and visualize similarity in a semantic field (129).
Arnon, Inbal, and Neil Snider
2010 “More than Words: Frequency Effects for Multi-Word Phrases.” Journal of Memory and Language 62 (1): 67–82.
1993 “Corpus Linguistics and Translation Studies: Implications and Applications.” In Text and Technology in Honour of John Sinclair, edited by Mona Baker, Gill Francis, and Elena Tognini-Bonelli, 17–45. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
1996 “Corpus-Based Translation Studies: The Challenges That Lie Ahead.” In Terminology, LSP and Translation: Studies in Language Engineering, in Honour of Juan C. Sager, edited by Harold Somers, 175–186. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
2015 “Individual Differences in Grammatical Knowledge.” In Dąbrowska and Divjak 2015, 650–667.
De Sutter, Gert, Isabelle Delaere, and Koen Plevoets
2012 “Lexical Lectometry in Corpus-Based Translation Studies. Combining Profile-Based Correspondence Analysis and Logistic Regression Modeling.” In Quantitative Methods in Translation Studies, edited by Michael Oakes and Meng Ji, 326–346. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Dickey, Stephen M.
2000Parameters of Slavic Aspect: A Cognitive Approach. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.
2006 “Ways of Intending: Delineating and Structuring Near-Synonyms.” In Corpora in Cognitive Linguistics. Corpus-Based Approaches to Syntax and Lexis, edited by Stefan Th. Gries and Anatol Stefanowitsch, 19–56. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
2011 “Predicting Aspectual Choice in Modal Constructions: A Quest for the Holy Grail?” in Slavic Linguistics in a Cognitive Framework, edited by Marcin Grygiel and Laura Janda, 67–86. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
2009 “Corpus-Based Cognitive Semantics: A Contrastive Study of Phasal Verbs in English and Russian.” In Studies in Cognitive Corpus Linguistics, edited by Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Katarzyna Dziwirek, 273–296. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
2009 “Manifestations of Inference Processes in Legal Translation.” In Behind the Mind: Methods, Models and Results in Translation Process Research (Copenhagen Studies in Language 37), edited by Susanne Göpferich, Arnt Lykke Jakobsen, and Inger M. Mees, 107–124. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur Press.
2014 “Correspondence Analysis: Exploring Data and Identifying Patterns.” In Corpus Methods for Semantics. Quantitative Studies in Polysemy and Synonymy, edited by Dylan Glynn and Justyna A. Robinson, 443–486. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
2006 “Corpus-Based Methods and Cognitive Semantics: The Many Senses of to run.” In Corpora in Cognitive Linguistics: Corpus-Based Approaches to Syntax and Lexis, edited by Stefan Th. Gries and Anatol Stefanowitsch, 57–99. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
2013 “Implications of Cognitive Linguistics for Translation Studies.” In Cognitive Linguistics and Translation. Advanced in Some Theoretical Models and Applications, edited by Ana Rojo and Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano, 33–74. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
2004 “Modals and the Boundaries of Grammaticalization: The Case of Russian, Polish and Serbo-Croatian.” In What Makes Grammaticalization: A Look from its Fringes and its Components, edited by Walter Bisang, Nikolaus Himmelmann, and Björn Wiemer, 245–271. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
2010 “Does Frequency in Text Really Instantiate Entrenchment in the Cognitive System?” In Quantitative Methods in Cognitive Semantics: Corpus-Driven Approaches, edited by Dylan Glynn and Kerstin Fischer, 101–133. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Šmelev, Alexej, and Anna Zaliznjak
2006 “Aspect, Modality and Closely Related Categories in Russian.” Unpublished paper. Inaugural meeting of the Slavic Linguistic Society in Bloomington, Indiana8–10September 2006.
Snider, Neal, and Inbal Arnon
2012 “A Unified Lexicon and Grammar? Compositional and Non-compositional Phrases in the Lexicon.” In Frequency Effects in Language Representation, edited by Dagmar Divjak and Stefan Th. Gries, 127–164. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
2011Quality Control in Legal Translation: Translation of EU Legislation into Polish. Unpublished MA thesis University of Sheffield.
2015 “Behavioral Profiling in Translation Studies.” Trans-kom 8(2): 483–498.
2003Cross-Linguistic Variation in System and Text. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Vandevoorde, Lore, Gert De Sutter, and Koen Plevoets
2015 “On Semantic Differences between Translated and Non-Translated Dutch. Using Bidirectional Parallel Corpus Data for Measuring and Visualizing Distances between Lexemes in the Semantic Field of Inceptiveness.” In Empirical Translation Studies. Interdisciplinary Methodologies Explored, edited by Ji Meng, 128–146. Sheffield: Equinox.
Venables, William N., and Brian D. Ripley
2002Modern Applied Statistics with S. New York: Springer.
2014 “On Linguistic Features of Legal Discourse.” Studia Anglica Resoviensia 11 (85): 105–115.