Language contact through translation: The influence of explicitness in English–Chinese translation on language change in vernacular Chinese
Shuangzi Pang and Kefei Wang
Shanghai Jiao Tong University | Beijing Foreign Studies University
This article investigates the role of translations from English in language change in Chinese. It employs a new
corpus, the Chinese Diachronic Composite Corpus (CDCC), which incorporates a parallel corpus and comparable corpus in three
sampling periods in the twentieth century, and a reference corpus as a starting point in the timeframe. We examine whether
explicitness in English–Chinese translations has exerted an impact on the target language, focusing on adversative conjunctions as
a measure of explicitness. The results of the study demonstrate that: (1) translated Chinese texts have changed in step with
original Chinese texts in the frequency of adversative conjunctions; (2) translated Chinese texts and original Chinese texts are
interrelated throughout the three periods, but the correlation between them has changed perceptibly over the three sample points;
and (3) source language interference found in translated Chinese texts increases over the three periods.
Translation has played a significant role in the history of languages, just as it has in the histories of ideas and cultures. Not only do translations show interference from source languages, but translation also exerts an impact on target texts and languages.
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